South America part 2 – onwards to Rio

After an epic few days at Iguazú Falls, it was hit the road time again, making our way to Rio.

Day 10.

Travelling fun – up early for a flight to Sao Paolo then onto a private bus for a 5 hour blast to the coast to Paraty for 2 night stop. Flight was the best then it was onto the bus with Iago through the nice rolling hill and red soil anthills of South Brazil.

Brazilian countryside bus views

Stopped for a great pick’n’mix style Lunch – you fill your boots from a buffet and they weigh your plate and pay by that; I went for fat seconds. Then it was the last blast to Paraty and the hills were swapped for rainforest – wet but stunning all the same. Paraty seemed a bit dodgy at first glance, Lynne selling it as the rich people’s holiday destination – didn’t seem like that from the street our hostel was on🙈

Giving it our best “Cocktail” impersonations – Jorge Amdao’s went down a treat

We got settled in and made Jorge Amado – a type of cachaca (rum) based drink specific to Paraty; Jorge Amado was a poet who made this drink to remember his other half, Gabriela. Gabriela cachaca has cinnamon and cloves in it, and for the cocktail we added lime juice, brown sugar and passionfruit – were really nice. We took a walk to the old town and it was really nice, all colonial cobbled streets and no cars allowed, loads of bars and cafes. Bed!

Day 11.

Had breakfast at the hostel then went for coffee at cafe in square and a ridiculous donut.

This was definitely picture worthy – finally a decent coffee, and a diabetes donut

Then Reggie, Phoebe, Seth, Vish and me jumped in a Land Rover and made for the hills for a cachaca distillery tour – stopped at Pedro Blanco waterfall, then on to the distillery – didn’t learn a thing about the distilling as they didn’t speak English, but tasted 10 different types – pure cachaca is 43% and would peel walls.

Barrels and barrels of rocket fuel

They have other flavoured types – passionfruit, pina colada, chocolate – and these were great.

Death by cachaca

Then it was on to 2 more waterfalls, time for a swim. The first one – Toboga – had a crazy local surfing down the rock face, we opted to slide arse first down it and it was super fun – Ellie managing to bounce and totally clear the last section, Vish managing to find the motion friction.

How it should be done….

My turn 💪

Then we took a short walk up to Tarzan, a waterfall and pool to swim in. Swim and pose complete, lunch and dried off to head back to the hostel – we had a ball.

Showing Seth the ropes

Headed back to the breakfast cafe for another coffee courtesy of Phoebe and Seth, cheers guys. They refused to buy me another donut though…

Note the lack of a ring of diabetes

Dinner was a super green curry, dessert was a mojito in a cool bar, bed was bed. Great day.

Day 12.

Journey time again, off to Ilha Grande (literally the Big Island). Was a short bus trip down the stunning coastline then onto a boat to cross to the island.

Bye bye mainland, time for island life

Really chilled spot, and we checked in, had another ridiculously good pick’n’mix lunch and back into a boat to go to Lopes Mendes beach on the other side of the island – what a trip. NZ had us do a water taxi to Aquapackers in Abel Tasman and this taxi ride was just a cool, along he coast through some of the island to the beach. Then it was a 20min hike over the island to Lopes.

It’s no strand, but it’ll do

We spent a few hours bouncing about in the waves and chilling on the beach before the weather broke and it was time for home. Most of the lads jumped on the water taxi home, I opted for the hike back to the village – 3 hours as per Lynne; Reggie decided to join in, and off we went. Got about 1hour into the dander and the heavens opened, the track got steep and slippy and the going got fun. A random dog joined us and led us the whole way back to the village, 1 hr 40 later; Strava should’ve been on. Drenched but was cool walk add good chats with Reggie.

Hike seemed like a good idea at the time…

The dinner of noodles went down a treat, bed came early.

Day 13.

A much needed and welcomed lie in – and it was still raining.

What’s the craic Ilha Grande? You were meant to be dead on

Hannah, Vish and me headed to a beach side cafe for a great coffee and an omelette, Reggie and Ellie catching up. But because of the rain, the cafe ran out of water before I could grab another coffee – Island life. Back to the hostel for a chill and a fierce game of Uno that annoyed a Vish so much he went to bed…. Hannah and me braved it back to the cafe but will no water so walked then length of the village to another recommendation where the hunger got hit by amazing fish and chips. Then it was back to the hostel where the rain finally stopped – a solid 24hour deluge. But it was great, no fuss about here, everyone still out and about, flip flops on, puddles to their ankles, not a care given. Stuck the headphones on and chilled on the porch until dinner of Sorrentinos; like ravioli but round and filled with amazing spinach and walnut – more good food from Brazil. Then bed.

Day 14.

Up and checked out to head for a coffee with Sami the racist and a chill at the beach before the rest of the guys landed for a coffee, then all aboard the water taxi back to the mainland to make our way to Rio; cheers Ilha Grande.

Ive has worse morning coffee views

We headed to Rio in the rain.

Harland and Wolfe, Brazil

It was a quick check in to our hostel and straight on to a favela tour of Vidigal (veg-e-gaow) – it’s home to approx 5000 people and is one of 700 favelas in the city.

We met our guide “Russo” who has lived and worked in Vidigal all his life, and jumped in VW bay window buses to head up to start the tour; the scariest drive I’ve ever had, bar none. The roads were steep and narrow but 2 way, with people and motorbikes everywhere, our driver roaring Portuguese profanities out the window. A kid shouted on the street so he stopped and the kid jumped in the boot, and off we went again, chaos. A lorry pulled out in front of us and the anger level went to 10; smallest gap in the world with a motorbike parked in the street, a pedestrian walking towards us and our lovely driver went for it, just making the gap by at most 10cms, no joke. I had front row seats the whole way and I dare say I shit myself just a wee bit😳. And then stop. More roaring, obrigado driver, and run.

We started at a football pitch and made our way down through the favela stopping at an eco garden project, Capoeira project, distillery and some “viewpoints” where the cloud cover and rain prevented any decent pics.

Room for one more?!

The favela was heaving – a total sensory overload with people, music, motorbikes, houses, shops, restaurants, singing, and the crazy buses. What an experience and what a welcome to Rio.

There’s a beach down there, promise

The projects are all G-adventures supported and good to see, but a drop in the ocean to everything there – just outside the eco park 2 guys were digging some form of foundation, about 1m deep and it was just layers of dirt and years of rubbish; stuff dumped everywhere, and tiny houses, all packed in wherever there’s an inch.

Capoeira in full go

And this is a safe favela, but I definitely spotted a few dodgy transactions. Then it was back to the hotel for a feed and bed.

Day 15.

Up after a lie in it was off to catch Stefi, a CEO from our Central Europe trip last summer, and it was good to catch up with her. Super coffee and breakfast in Sofa Cafe too. Then it was the City Tour – and it was simply amazing.

We drove from Copacabana through the city, past the lagoon where the Olympic rowing was held, through the National Park – the worlds largest urban forest, where the Olympic cycling was held- to our first stop at “Christ the Redeemer” statue, 700m above Rio. Built in 1931 to celebrate Brazil’s Independence from Portugal.

Passed past a few of the 700 favelas in Rio – they house about 20% of Ríos population, approx 6million people; the largest favela has a population of 100k 😳😳

The “Christ the Redeemer” statue is 30m high, and was all constructed in Brazil bar the face, which was a gift from France.

Epic views from the top, from the Maracanã on the left to Copacabana on the right – but they were to get better…

Then on to Santa Theresa – the first town built by the Portuguese colonists; cobbled streets, lots of graffiti, cool bars and restaurants, art shops. Apparently it’s lovely until 8pm, then not so much.

The Santa Theresa district

We made our way through Lapa – big party area, with about 10 blocks of bars and clubs, street parties, all sorts of music and dancing. We stopped at the biggest Catholic Church in Rio, San Sebastián – built in 1978, it has a 20k capacity and is just a stunning building, not like a church at all, reminds me of the NZ Parliament building in Wellington.

San Sebastián Catholic Church

Then it was to the Lapa steps by Chilean artist S – started in 1994 after Brazil won the World Cup and took 10 years to finish the entire project.

G (adventures) Unit – album coming soon

Then on to the last stop, Sugarloaf Mountain for some epic views of a stunning city. The trip start at “Christ the Redeemer” was pretty special, but Sugarloaf was something else. Pictures yet again will never do that view justice, but I tried –

Here we are now, all the City Tour lads

We got back i the hotel for a quick shower then our last supper – another pick’n’mix dinner and dessert where my eyes definitely outsized my boiler, I ate like a pig. Then it was a farewell and massive thanks to CEO Lynne for the trip and craic, and bed.

Day 16.

Last day in Rio, and Brazil – suns out, boilers out – Copacabana Beach was the only option.

Reggie, Ellie, Vish and myself all headed down. What a place, definitely one for the sunglasses perv in us all, and we got spoiled by the weather. Took a 3 hour sun battering, then checked into the hotel and straight to our rooftop pool for a soak and laze in the sun before Vish headed for home – cheers for all the laughs and inappropriate craic bud, will see you in London soon innit.

He literally is everywhere…

Phoebe called over and we had rooftop pizza to see off the day, Christ the Redeemer lit up on the tree line – bit crazy to be sitting there with that view, after that day. And then it was bed – hugs for the girls and away I went for 4 hrs sleep before the next adventure. Obrigado Rio, and Brazil.

Obrigado Rio

Day 17.

Back on a tube of farts for the next stop – Lima, Peru and the Inca Trail.

Just a reminder that I’m doing the Inca Trail as a bit of a fundraiser for Aware NI and Macmillan Cancer Support. As some of you know, Aware has been a charity I’ve been chipping in for over that past few years in the hope of gathering a few £ for them and raising some awareness of mental health issues; I’ve had my bother and it’s been the driving reason behind these adventures and the career break. Macmillan has been added off the back of my work in Lagan Valley Hospital, seeing the impacts cancer has had directly and indirectly across both patients and staff, and at home – we lost our Uncle Gerry Murray as a result of cancer and I have friends at home affected all too much the same, past and sadly present.

So, if you have a few pounds, pesos l, euros or whatever to spare, take your pick of charity – massive thanks to everyone who has sponsored me so far.

Aware NI –

Macmillan –


  1. Another fantastic read Ronan! I’m really jealous of your visit to Christ the Redeemer statue – something I’ve always wanted to see ! Onwards and upwards now, literally ! I look forward to chatting with you about Machu Pichu!I hope you travel through Cuzco too !Unforgetable !


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