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In 1832 Charles Darwin was overwhelmed by the beauty and diversity of Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest. This trail ride takes you through the same forests of ancient tree that enchanted the young Darwin all those years ago.
We call this ride ‘Darwin’s Trail’ because it offers you the chance to see some of the same environment and scenery that Darwin encountered. Although centuries of colonization have taken place, today there are still impressive remnants of the forest left, which rival the Amazon in biological diversity.
The rainforest of this area is located on slopes, which means more light penetrates and many trees drip with epiphytes. There are also a great variety of orchids and bromeliads to see along the way. Half of the tree species and two-thirds of the bromeliad and palm species are endemic – they are only found in this ecosystem — nowhere else in the world. Bird, reptile, butterfly and amphibian life is also plentiful, so keep your eyes peeled as you traverse the forest.
From the thick jungle and verdant rainforest, you begin to journey southeast, crossing a rural landscape of hills and mountains. Your adventure ends on the lovely beaches of Buzios.
The horses are pure-bred Peruvian Pasos, a breed famed for its comfortable ride. These horses have an additional pace called the ‘paso llano’, a four beat lateral gait which is about the speed of a steady canter but very smooth. Standing at around 14hh-14.2hh the horses may not be tall, but they are fit, forward going and great fun to ride.
Simple bridles are used and some horses also have breastplates. The saddles are 'Sela Australiana', a type of Brazilian trail saddle which is designed to be comfortable for long-distance riding.
The pace is varied, depending on the terrain. You will ride at a walk during steep sections and along narrow mountain paths. When you reach grassy areas or rural tracks there may be the chance to paso llano or canter.
You should be a competent rider, capable at all paces and happy to try a different style of riding. There are some river crossings as well as steep ascents, descents, and narrow trails to negotiate, so this is only for confident riders and not suitable for those who are fearful of heights.
Depending on the conditions, you may need to dismount and lead your horse for short stretches.
Accommodation ranges from basic dormitory-style rooms in a mountain refuge to comfortable en-suite rooms in rural guesthouses.
A single room is possible on a maximum of five nights of the ride (subject to availability); and a single supplement is payable. If you are willing to share throughout then a single supplement is payable when booking and refunded only once a sharer has been found for you.
On the first night the bathroom facilities are shared, but thereafter the bathrooms are en-suite.
Your first night is at a mountain refuge in the Jequitibá Reserve. There are two dormitory style rooms with bunk beds and shared bathroom facilities. Alternatively you can sleep in a tent if you prefer (to be requested in advance).
The next two nights are at Pousada Tapinuã. Here there are eight cottages, with en-suite bathrooms.
The following night you stay at Acacias Farm, with the horses grazing nearby. Accommodation is in chalets with en-suite bathrooms.
On the fifth night you stay at Fazenda São João, close to colonial Barra de São João. The fazenda has 18 rooms, with en-suite bathroom facilities. There are great views of the Morro São João in the background.
Your final night is spent at Massae's Guesthouse in Búzios. Here there are 5 en-suite guest rooms and each one is individually decorated.
Set departures are listed below, but additional dates may be possible for groups of two or more from March to June and August to November. Please enquire for details.
INCLUDES Accommodation; English speaking guide; meals; riding.
SMALL GROUP SUPPLEMENTS apply which depend on the total number of people booked:
2 riders in group: $712.50
3-4 riders in group: $375.00
5-6 riders in group: $137.50
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT $377.78 (refunded if we find you a sharer). A limited number of single rooms are possible on five nights of the ride; we cannot guarantee a single room throughout.
PAYABLE LOCALLY Drinks; tips.
NEAREST AIRPORT Rio de Janeiro Galeao.
TRANSFERS Transfers from Rio de Janeiro Galeao to the start of the ride cost $131.58 each way per vehicle (3 pax).
Group transfers from Rio de Janeiro Galeao airport are arranged for you (at set times).
On the first day your flight should arrive in Rio de Janeiro by midday or before.
On departure day the transfer is after breakfast. Your flight should leave Rio de Janeiro after 15:00.
Rio de Janeiro State in the southeast of Brazil.
Darwin’s Trail runs in Spring (September) and Autumn (June) when the weather is most pleasant for riding. Day time temperatures may rise to the mid to high 20ºC’s. Night time temperatures may fall to 10ºC. It can rain at any time but is unlikely to settle in for long.
A great riding holiday which takes you through the same spectacular scenery and exuberant rainforest that so enchanted young Darwin.
Extend your time in Brazil and explore the sights of Rio de Janeiro or further afield before or after your riding trip.