Explore Rio de Janeiro
Another good way to see a bit of the landscape is to drive, cycle or catch a bus from Paraty’s rodoviária, following the Cunha road up into the Serra do Mar. The easiest place to head for is at Km 4, where there’s a well-signposted side road leading 900m to the Fazenda Murycana (daily 10am–6pm; R$5), a farm complex that dates back to the seventeenth century. As well as a farm, Murycana originally served as an inn for travellers on the Caminho do Ouro and also as a toll post where the royal tax of twenty percent on goods was levied. The restored buildings can be visited, the most interesting being the slightly ramshackle, yet still attractive, casa grande, now a museum. There’s a restaurant serving typical country food (R$25 per person), and you can taste and purchase the fazenda’s famous, but poor-quality, cachaça and liquors. Horse riding is offered, as are a number of adventure sports such as canopy walking in the surrounding forest. Be sure to note, however, that this is one of the most popular excursions and the fazenda can get unpleasantly crowded, especially at lunchtime, with the arrival of tour groups.
Continuing up the Cunha road to Km 6, you’ll spot signs pointing to the Cachoeira das Penhas, a waterfall up in the mountains that offers a chance to bake on the sun-scorched rocks of the river gully and then cool off in the river. From here you can descend from rock to rock for a few hundred metres before scrambling up to a road above you. About 2km along the road, just across a small bridge, you’ll enter Ponte Branca where, at the far end of the village, overlooking the river, is the Ponte Branca restaurant, where you can take a break and enjoy a cold drink. The easy walk from the waterfall takes you through the hills and valleys, and past tropical-fruit plantations – all very pleasant. If you don’t have your own transport, you’ll probably manage to get a lift back to Paraty from the restaurant or you can wait by the Cunha road for a bus.