Ilha Grande: Jungle Jail

Ilha Grande is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to. When you arrive to this 150 km long island between Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo, you first keep wondering how they managed to preserve it so wild and untouched. There are no streets, no cars and no cash machines on the entire island. Well, the reason lies in it´s dark history. For almost a century Ilha Grande was closed by the Brazilian goverment because it housed a leper colony and after a top-security jail with some of the most dangerous prisoners within the Brazilian penal system. The jail was closed in 1994 but the island still looks like an unexplored piece of jungle – except the main village Vila do Abraão (approximately 1900 inhabitants), where you can find some bars, shops and affordable places to spend a night. Ironically, everything was booked out in the village at the time we were travelling. We still wanted to stay some days on the island, so we picked the last remaining pousada for nearly 300 euros/per night. First pretty grumpy about the price, by arrival we realized that it was probably the best forced decision ever.
P1210629P1210669How to arrive? There is a bus departing every two hours from Rio de Janeiro to Angra dos Reis (160 km, ticket aprox. 15 euros), then you take a ferry to Ilha Grande (1h, ticket aprox. 5 euros). Make sure to check the ferry hours before you go, it’s only operating in the mornings and in the evenings. P1220417P1210844We arrived in the main village where we were picked up by a smaller boat and it took us another half an hour to come to our pousada Atlantica Jungle Lodge. As we were approaching it, I could barely believe my eyes. A house in the middle of the jungle with only 3 rooms, a private beach and a lady preparing the catch of the day just for us. The rooms were beautiful but simple and I loved the smell of the sheets (I am crazy about fresh white sheets).P1210802P1210699P1210812 KopieP1210714P1210709P1210737P1210742P1210738We were having grilled fish and an octopus with a view to a floating bar, which also belonged to the pousada. You had to either swim or puddle to have a drink over there but it was not an option for me after finishing all these beans alone…P1220332P1220405P1220366In case you are asking yourself why I look so weird: This picture has a special story. Before my trip to Brazil friends kept telling me not to take jewellery and nice clothes with me – just some pants and old tshirts. Girls, now I will tell you one thing: It’s a trap! When I arrived in Rio de Janeiro, you really could tell I was a tourist, because all the Brazilian ladies were so dressed up – even at the beach. So I told my boyfriend I was not leaving the hotel room untill we went shopping. On Ilha Grande I finally had the right outfit on, but unfortunately nobody was there watching. Well, at least we took this picture haha.P1220413P1220300From our pousada you could hike to the famous Lopes Mendes beach (picture above), which is supposed to be one of the most beautiful beaches of the world. I liked our little private beach so much more to be honest, but still: It’s a nice hike through the jungle and you meet some apes and some bats on your way. P1220255P1210771P1220240P1210848If you are staying on the island just for a short period time a full day boat trip (aprox. 50 euros/per person) would be a perfect way to explore the most beautiful beaches of Ilha Grande. We shared our boat with a group of Columbian guys who brought some Pisco – so you can imagine the fun we had! P1210877P1210866P1220010 KopieP1220150P1220027P1220140At some point we ran out of Pisco. We were lucky the whole island was surrounded by floating bars though. P1220177P1220211P1220182P1220217P1220076P1220104P1220063This is the most famous palm tree of Ilha Grande and the pefect proof that it’s never too late to change your mind and go up! I would have loved to stay at least one week longer…P1220125P1220113 KopieP1220425

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