Why should you visit Reserva do Ibitipoca?
I have heard many times about the Reserva do Ibitipoca but I had never understood why people raved about it. However, the last stage of my Brazilian adventure was my opportunity to find out.
I was collected from my hotel in Rio de Janeiro at 10am. It was a miserable day and I didn’t expect much from the four-hour journey to Ibitipoca, but after leaving the city behind us, the sun came out a little and many hills began to adorn the scenery. The landscape was green and we passed small villages and towns along the way. My driver-guide told me interesting stories of Pedro II, the last emperor of Brazil, who built his palace in Petrópolis.
When we arrived in the lush and mountainous Reserva do Ibitipoca, a toucan flew overhead and landed on our car and I also saw the macaws that live there. You can find many other species of birds in the reserve, some of them endemic.
The charming hotel here originally dated back to the 18th century but was rebuilt in 2006. You would think that it had never changed, but I was told that the farmhouse had been reconstructed using recycled materials and furnishings from other old houses from the region. It has only eight rooms that are decorated individually with local handicrafts and wall hangings and full of small touches that make it very special. It feels as if you are in your own home.
Ibitipoca came alive on my first morning. The birds were singing outside the windows as if telling me to wake up and get out of bed. When I did, another surprise was waiting for me: the coffee had been prepared on the wood-burning stove in the dining room, and cakes and breads were on display, together with lots of fruit and juices.
On the 40sq-km reserve, there are many trails that can be explored on foot, by bicycle or in a 4WD – but after breakfast, my guide Edilson suggested we head out on the waterfalls trek. It sounded fantastic as I knew there were many rivers and lakes here. As we walked, he explained how the wildlife and environment were being preserved and how conditions for the local people were being improved. It was fascinating. He was very proud of working here and asked me to spread his message to potential travellers to encourage them to visit this area when they come to Brazil.
We discovered many small streams and several waterfalls, and Edilson told me about the local flora and fauna, including a variety of trees, orchids and bromeliads, the symbol of Reserva do Ibitipoca. Many wildlife species have sadly become extinct; but as a result of the 1988 law banning hunting, animals, such as deer, tayra, wild boar, ocelots and pumas, are returning. However, they are shy and sightings are rare.
Later, it became cloudy again and looked like it might rain, which I was rather unhappy about, as I thought the weather might spoil my stay. In fact, it only made the park’s gigantic sculptures by Karen Cusolito seem all the more impressive when we visited them.
As well as the natural environment, I loved the delicious, typical, homemade food prepared by the happy ladies here using the freshest ingredients. I also enjoyed the spa treatments and yoga classes on offer here, which provide you with a good opportunity to relax.
I would strongly recommend that our clients visit this beautiful reserve. We can arrange countless incredible experiences – from musical performances to lunches in remote spots or dinners under the stars – to make your time here even more unique and memorable.