Ilha Grande

Mountainous jungle and historic ruins
On the summit of Bico do Papagaio
Beautiful excursions along natural trails

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Ilha Grande/Angra dos Reis

The perfect starting place to discover the jungle

As you approach the low-lying, whitewashed colonial port of Vila do Abraão in Ilha Grande with your MSC cruise ship, the mountains rise dramatically from the sea, and in the distance there’s the curiously shaped summit of Bico do Papagaio (“Parrot’s Beak”), which rises to a height of 980m and can be reached in about three hours.
There’s really very little to see in Abraão itself, but it’s a pleasant enough base from which to explore the rest of the island. Ilha Grande comprises 193 square kilometres of mountainous jungle, historic ruins and beautiful beaches, excellent for some scenic tropical rambling. The island is a state park and the authorities have been successful at limiting development and maintaining a ban on motor vehicles.

Ilha Grande offers lots of beautiful excursions along well-maintained and fairly well-signposted trails, but it’s sensible to take some basic precautions. Carry plenty of water with you, and remember to apply sunscreen and insect repellent at regular intervals. According to legend, the pirate Jorge Grego was heading for the Straits of Magellan when his ship was sunk by a British fleet.

He managed to escape with his two daughters to Ilha Grande, where he became a successful farmer and merchant. However, in a fit of rage, he murdered the lover of one of his daughters, and shortly afterwards, a terrible storm destroyed all his farms and houses. From then on, Jorge Grego passed his time roaming the island, distraught, pausing only long enough to bury his treasure before his final demise.

If there is any treasure today, though, it’s the island’s wildlife: parrots, exotic hummingbirds, butterflies and monkeys abound in the thick vegetation.

Must see places in Ilha Grande

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    South Brazil

    Past Christ the Redeemer
    Past Christ the Redeemer

    In Brazil’s south-east, the three largest cities – São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte – form a triangle around which the economy pivots.

    All are worth visiting, but the must-sees during your cruise to Brazil are Rio, which really is as beautiful as it seems in the pictures, and the ravishing colonial relic of Paraty which lies between here and booming São Paulo. North of here, the city of Belo Horizonte sits at the heart of Minas Gerais, where the old Portuguese towns of Ouro Preto, Tiradentes and Diamantina drip with colonial history.

    The south, encompassing the states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, boasts the spectacular Iguaçu Falls on the border with Argentina – one of the great natural wonders of South America. From Curitiba the scenic Serra Verde Express snakes down to the coast, where you can chill out on Ilha do Mel or beach-hop around Florianópolis.

    Despite its proximity to the city, São Paulo’s 400km coast has sometimes been overlooked in favour of more glamorous Rio. North-east, towards the border with Rio state, the area is developing rapidly, but still offers great contrasts, ranging from long, wide stretches of sand at the edge of a coastal plain to idyllic-looking coves beneath a mountainous backdrop.