For a week of festive and holiday cheer, what could be better than another week looking at our travel specialists’ favorite destinations in Central & South America? If you are dreaming of experiencing a hot rather than a white Christmas; our Travel Supervisor & Concierge, Montse may just have the answer you were looking for! Based in our Buenos Aires office, Montse knows the tricks of all travel related trades ensuring that you have the best possible travel experience with Encounter Latin America in Central & South America. To relax and unwind, Montse likes to escape the city, and who could blame her as her favorite destination is the idyllic island of Ilha Grande in Brazil!
Hola Montse! What is your favorite Central or South America destination and why?
Hey! My favorite destination without a doubt is Ilha Grande in Brazil! As it is close to Rio de Janeiro, it is really easy to get to and I love enjoying the beautiful nature and tranquility of this Brazilian island.
Ilha Grande is really laid back and the town center is small and quaint with cobbled streets and small restaurants with fairy lights.
Ilha Grande’s beaches are also some of the best and with so many to explore, you can spend at least a week just visiting the different beaches and coves scattered across the island.
What is your favorite activity to do whilst in Ilha Grande?
This one is easy! I love trekking through the jungle to get to amazing white sandy beaches! Hiking through the jungle, under the shaded canopy of the trees which occasionally break to show incredible views of the ocean and the island is in itself a great experience.
“When you arrive at one of the beaches, and the jungle gives way to the white sand and cool ocean breeze, that first view is my favorite moment.” – Montse
Also, living in Buenos Aires, I also enjoy just walking through the small town of Ilha Grande without the sound of car engines!
What is your favorite dish from Ilha Grande?
Delicious shrimps with creamed potatoes! You can’t beat the fresh flavors of the shrimp and there is nothing better than sitting in one of the restaurants near to the beach eating this tasty dish with a nice cold Caipirinha. It makes for the perfect, relaxing, Ilha Grande experience!
Where is your favorite place to stay in Ilha Grande?
My favorite places to stay are all the small accommodations that are located on the actual beach. I love waking up and looking out onto the ocean or just watching the stunning sunsets which are some of the best I have seen in South America! The accommodation on the beach is perfect to relax and take in the views either before or after heading to Lopes Mendes beach.
What would you say is the one place travelers to Ilha Grande have to see, do or try?
As Ilha Grande is a small fishing island there are no cars are allowed meaning the tranquility and ecosystem will fill you with renewed energy. Simply, walking around and getting to the untouched beaches is the best way to make the most of your time on the island and finding the hidden spots where you may have the beach all to yourself.
What would be your one travel expert piece of advice to give to travelers going to Ilha Grande?
Walk for around 4 hours passing rivers whilst soaking in the amazing views of the entire island and spending some time with the adorable monkeys on the island. You should therefore take some good trekking shoes, lots of water and a lot of bug repellent! Then you can arrive to different beaches and enjoy them before returning by boat so that you get a different perspective of the island.
Where in Central/South America is next on your list for places you want to visit and why?
Definitely Costa Rica! The photos I have seen of its beaches, ecosystem and culture look absolutely incredible and the stories I have heard from my colleagues that have worked in or visited Costa Rica makes me really want to go!
If you had to choose one essential item you always take traveling with you what would it be?
I always buy a book from a local writer and read it during the journey to the destination and whilst I am there. It gives an insight and different perspective to the destination as well as getting in touch with the local culture. Apart from that, I don’t really have any other essential item as I love to travel and as long as I get to travel and explore new destinations, I am happy!