Circuito do Abraao, Ilha Grande
After sleeping in a bit, I decided to spend my second day on Ilha Grande by exploring the island. This is always a bit more challenging when it’s swelteringly hot out! I remembered reading about a trail with a beach and a waterfall not too far from town (45 mins walk) so I thought that would be a good start.
Sure enough, I saw different groups of people heading that way and followed along until I reached the Circuito do Abraao, an easy 1.7km trail. It was only about 15 minutes before I hit an outlook (basically, a very large rock you could climb on to see the views below).
Shortly thereafter was a small waterfall. At first, there were only a few other people so I just enjoyed the scenery and took in the views. A quick dip too – but the water was icy cold! After a while, there was quite a crowd. They were all Brazilian travelers, which proved to be the case for the entire trip, as Ilha Grande is a popular holiday destinations for locals.
Next , I followed the trail back down and around to the other side, which had amazing views of the sea. And beautiful beaches! I set up shop on Praia Preta (Black Beach).
By this time it was nearing 3pm, and the only thing I had eaten all day was a Zone bar, so I headed back into town. I had just ordered a café from my hostel’s bar when in walked my friend Ryan! I was relieved to see that he made it after all of the travel mishaps. Similarly, he commented that he was glad to see that I hadn’t been abducted by the strangers in the van, ha. After a quick meal at the hostel buffet, we decided to go back out to the waterfall with a friend Ryan had made on the bus from Rio, Elisa, from Angola. Since it was pretty late in the day at this point, our only option was to head back to the Circuito do Abraao.
I saw a few things I had missed the first time around, including the ruins of Lazareto. Despite Ilha Grande’s current status as an idyllic paradise, the ruins of Lazareto are a reminder of the island’s sinister beginnings. Due to the island’s remote location and the strong ocean currents surrounding it, Ilha Grande was the perfect location for such illicit activities as slave trade and piracy, going back to the 1500’s. In the late 1800’s Lazareto became a quarantine unit for those with leprosy and cholera. As you can see, the conditions were less than stellar. Later, it became a federal prison, which remained open until 1964.
Also on the Circuito do Abraao is the aqueduct, which once transported thousands of liters of water.
And shortly thereafter, we realized that what I thought was “the waterfall” was actually “the pool,” and that the actual waterfall, Feiticeira (“witch” in Portuguese), was reached by an extension trail. Naturally, we decided to give it a go. But man was it steep!
It was an active trail, reaching a high elevation before descending to the falls. I don’t think that a swimsuit cover-up and a big beach bag was the ideal attire for it, but I managed. The bigger issue was that it was pretty late in the evening at that point, and we wanted to make sure we could make it there and back before sunset, lest we become lost in the jungle without any light. But we were so close that we wanted to just keep going. And finally, we made it!
The water was cold, as expected, but it felt quite refreshing at that point. We chatted with two Brazilian guys in the waterfall (mainly Elisa, because she is fluent in Portuguese), who assured us there was enough time for us to make it back to town before nightfall if we walked quickly, and also encouraged us to stand directly in the waterfall. It was a cool experience! Once the guys headed out, we thought it was time for us to head back too.
Back in town we had a quick dinner at a restaurant (another caipirinha and fresh fish – yum!), which featured live music. Hard to go wrong with that combination!