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Paraty Hiking Tips

Paraty Hiking Tips – all you need to know before you go

Paraty is a world class hiking destination with a wide range of options for all types of hikers – from experienced long distance hikers to day hikers and the casual walker. Whatever you are looking for, Paraty will have something for you. The beaches and fishing villages on the car-free Juatinga peninsular are linked via a network of trails through the Rainforest. The further you leave the road behind you, the wilder the Eco-reserve gets. Prepare yourself for some outstanding coastal walking with these Paraty Hiking Tips!

In the National Park behind Paraty the best Rainforest trails take you to remote waterfalls and freshwater pools. On the Gold Trail, the paved road built in the eighteenth century by African slaves, history fans get to trace the development of Brazil from ‘discovery’ by the Portuguese through to modern times.

You’ll find more detailed information here on the Guided Hikes and Attractions. In the meantime here’s a useful list of Paraty hiking tips and general guidelines. Check them out and make the most of your time in Paraty:

1 – A General Guide to Hiking Trails in Paraty

Trailheads
Expect to start your hike outside of the town. It takes 30-40 minutes by road to get to the best trailheads. Most are on bus routes (taxis/ uber also an option).

Time
Forget a half day hike. By the time you factor in travel time to and from the trailheads you’re already short on time. So plan on the basis of a full day hike, even if on some of the hikes, like the Mamangua Sugarloaf peak hike, you aren’t actually walking all day. If you can fit it into your schedule a 2 day hike, like the one to Saco Bravo Waterfall, is best.

Distances
Distances are deceptive due to uneven trail surfaces and the draining humidity of the tropical climate. We find it’s best to work on the basis of walking times. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself taking all day to do 12km. This may sound crazy, but there’s a high price to pay if you underestimate the conditions and overestimate your ability.

Trail characteristics
Uneven surfaces with lots of rocks and roots mean that you rarely get a chance to get into a pole-assisted hiking rhythm. Watch out for slippery surfaces in the rain when things can get muddy and slimy. In the drier winter months the dusty trails and loose sand can also mean you find yourself slipping and sliding.

This map shows many of our favourite hiking trails on the Juatinga Peninsular: a car-free tropical paradise!

2 – Footwear on the trails: shoes, boots or flipflops?

Walking shoes or trainers (tennis shoes) are best as they are lightweight and have good tread.
Walking boots are more than you need and bulky to bring so we advise against.
You will see locals in flip flops and even some barefoot. Whilst there are some great advantages of flip flops (nothing dries more quickly!) unless you’ve done a lot hiking in them its best to play it safe.

Note that a good guide will always recommend closed shoes for hiking (and will not be held responsible if you ignore this advice and go in flip flops that break, hurt your feet, slow you down, offer no protection against snakes etc). At best a hiking guide in flip flops is not taking his/her work seriously. But really a hiking guide in flip flops just isn’t really a guide.

Top Paraty Hiking Tip: let those feet breathe! Bring your flip flops for the ride home after the hike. Just don’t forget your shoes/ boots on the bus!

3 – What to bring 

On guided hiking tours in Paraty we recommend bringing water (good to work on the basis of minimum of 1.5L per day), sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat or baseball cap, flashlight/ torch/ headlamp, Insect repellent, and trail/running shoes. If you’re travelling from May to Sept., we recommend a light jacket or fleece. It should come as no surprise to hear that it rains a lot on the Costa Verde so rain gear is important. A lightweight rain jacket or ponhco works best.  If you’re not going on a guided tour it’s a good idea to bring your own first aid kit.

Shorts vs long pants
The trails are almost all open enough so you don’t need protection for your legs.
The main exceptions are the Melancia Falls hike and the Jamanta peak hike which take you through much thicker undergrowth that can scratch and cut.

Leave No Trace!
In addition to ‘what to bring’ it’s also important to consider the impact your visit will have on the local environment. Check out the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace which provide an easily understood framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors.

4 – Do I need a Tour Guide?

For maximum enjoyment we recommend going with a registered (!) local guide. An enthusiastic guide will have loads of info on the environment, wildlife, culture and history on the hiking route in addition to local anecdotes that you would otherwise miss. This is what gives Paraty Explorer tours their distinctive flavour.

The guide will take care of all the logistics – bus times or private transport, hiking route, lunch arrangements, taxi boats, safety and translation etc – so that everything runs smoothly and you get to concentrate on enjoying the hiking, the waterfalls and the beach time.

The following hikes are not well signposted (at the time of writing) and we strongly recommend you go with a guide: Melancia Falls, Juatinga peninsular multiday Crossing and the Jamanta peak hike (highest point on the Juatinga peninsular).

For the Saco Bravo waterfall hike a local guide is obligatory. Contracting a local guide is important for safety and security, supports the local community and helps in the preservation of the local forest and natural attractions.

For the Gold Trail you must have a local guide as it is an archaeological site. Also, be aware that it is 3-4 km stretch… a lovely walk in the woods rather than a full-on hike, and the guided tour is ideally done in 4-5 hours.

However, if you prefer to hike without a guide it is perfectly feasible to do the Mamangua Sugarloaf peak hike and the Sono Beach / Ponta Negra hikes on your own as they are well sign-posted. A little Portuguese will help with boat transport and general logistics.

5 – Wildlife on Hikes

There is no shortage of wildlife in the Atlantic Forest surrounding Paraty. However, the forest also provides an excellent hiding place for the wild animals. That said, it is possible to see plenty if you are quiet enough on the trails and go with a local guide.

With over 470 bird species identified locally, Paraty is a birdwatcher’s paradise and there are some great specialist birding guides who can take you out.

6 – Paraty Hiking Tips: dangers and annoyances

Getting bitten
Bring repellent, although during the day mosquitoes are not really a problem you will be new blood and an attractive proposition.
On multiday trips if there is a problem with mosquitoes it’s more the end of the afternoon, evening and night. Although this will also depend on the phases of the moon and the season.
Be aware of sand flies on the beaches. If you feel yourself getting bitten apply repellent straight away (sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised…)
There are some poisonous snakes and spiders so it’s always a good idea to use closed shoes and look where you are going. And if you’re on a guided tour, do let the guide go in front. The guide’s not just there to show you the way!

Sunburn
Just because it’s cloudy doesn’t mean you won’t burn. You will!
Apply the sunscreen. And in the evenings, after a cloudy day in Paraty, marvel at the brightly burnt visitors who didn’t read this, as they roam the old town centre.

7 – Hiking Tips in Paraty: where to stay

There are plenty of options in the fishing villages around the Juatinga peninsular from campsites to small guesthouses and houses and rooms that you can rent.

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