Reserva do Ibitipoca : The Experience

Located in Minas Gerais, Brazil

Reserva do Ibitipoca is a destination for foodies or outdoors enthusiasts, a haven of bucolic beauty as well as dense wilderness, a marvel of both geology and botany. The lodge offers two complimentary guided walking or hiking excursions a day, or you can opt to explore by horseback, bicycle, or 4x4, or go on an outing off site if you wish. With advance notice, a translator can be provided. This is a place to be savored, whether you’re watching the sunset from a mountaintop, enjoying a massage beside a waterfall, or just soaking up the ambience of an 18th-century farmhouse.

See our sample itinerary describing how you would experience this lodge during a 3-day stay.

Things to Do

The following experiences are included in the cost of your stay.

Hiking and Walking

The reserve has many miles of trails of varying difficulty levels, and hikes can range from two hours to three days. The following guided hikes are included in your stay, but guests are encouraged to get out to explore this magical wilderness on their own as well.

Hawk Stone Hike

Climb a steep stone trail to the top of neighboring mountain Pedra do Gavião—or Hawk Stone—which reaches skyward nearly 5,000 feet (1,500 meters). From here, enjoy incredible views that emcompass Ibitipoca State Park, nearby villages, and the main house of Fazenda do Engenho. Descend via the Garden of Bromeliads, the Cave of the Rising Sun, and the Tree of the Seven Cowboys. (3-4 hours on foot; also available on horseback at additional cost)

Water Circuit

Go waterfall hopping in the lush and gorgeous landscapes surrounding the lodge. Learn how minerals in the rocks and decomposing plants tint the clear water red; find hidden cascades deep in the jungle; and stop for a swim in their perfect, natural pools. (2 hours on foot; also available on horseback at additional cost)

Prainha Waterfall

Just a 15 minute walk from the main house, the Prainha Waterfall invites guests to swim in the crisp water, relax on lounge chairs set up near the falls, and enjoy a caipirinha.

Garnet Hike

Head up to the top of the highest mountain in the reserve on a trail that passes through the Garden of Bromeliads. Learn about the range and diversity of these tropical blooms, and then find a perch on the summit from which to watch the moonrise.

Reforestation

Take a walk through an area that is actively being reforested, and learn about the lodge’s efforts to return native flora to land that was long used for agriculture. A local expert will explain organic and permaculture approaches to reforestation and discuss the challenges and successes of replanting degraded land.

Bird Watching

Around 350 species of birds can be spotted on the Reserva do Ibitipoca. With a pair of binoculars and a trained birding guide, try your luck at finding green-billed toucans, seriema, green-headed tanagers, Brazilian tanagers, surucua trogons, and much more.

Yoga

The spa therapists offer morning and late afternoon yoga, as well as power yoga and stretching classes.

Optional Activities and Experiences

The following experiences, as well as excursions by 4x4 or bicycle or with a private guide, are offered at an additional cost.

Horseback-Riding Excursions

Horses are a major part of the scenery and the everyday life in Minas Gerais. Many of the included excursions are also available as horseback rides. The stable is as picturesque as the rest of the property, and guests are invited to relax in a cozy sitting room as their horses are being saddled, and return there for cup of tea at the end of the ride. The lodge’s Mangalarga and Anglo-Arabian horses have been trained specifically for the trails on the reserve.

Arraial Mogol (Mogol’s Village)

Set off on horseback and ride back through time to a village that has barely changed over the centuries. Take in spectacular views of mountains, valleys, and waterfalls along the way, and meet the few families who still inhabit this remote rural community. (5 hours on horseback)

Ibitipoca State Park Visit

Join a guide for one of several excursions to Ibitipoca State Park, just seven kilometers from the lodge and home to the unusual and endemic plant species of the Atlantic Forest. Go on hikes to discover fantastical geological formations, waterfalls, caves, and cliffs, and learn about the unique biomes that overlap here.

Rafting on the Salto River

Float right past the lodge on a rafting trip on the Salto River (dependent on water levels).

Food and Drink

The culinary experience at the Reserva do Ibitipoca is one of the lodge’s highlights. The lodge chef is a local who trained with a renowned French chef based in Rio, and the results are evident in her gourmet creations, which are grounded in regional recipes and ingredients and crafted using local techniques handed down over the generations. Vegetables and herbs are cultivated in the lodge gardens, a bevy of hens lay fresh eggs daily, and three cows yield the milk that’s transformed into cheeses and desserts. Baked goods are also produced on site—including pão de queijo, a traditional round cheese bread that’s a favorite among guests. As is typical of the state of Minas Gerais, the wood-fired stove is the centerpiece of the kitchen, and à la carte dinner specialties include roast suckling pig, leg of lamb, and chicken à mineira, though vegetarians are treated to excellent dishes as well. Guests are welcome in the kitchen to learn recipes or get a sneak preview of dinner.

Meals are served in the intimate dining room—or in unexpected and beautiful spots on the reserve. You might find yourself spooning lemon mousse under a magnificent jabuticabeira tree or sampling tropical fruit and handmade cheeses under the stars.

Spa

It’s not often that you enjoy a luxuriant spa therapy in a centuries-old barn. The spa at Reserva do Ibitipoca is a tranquil space where relaxing meets rustic, and expert massage therapists use soft linens, copper vessels, and locally made essential oils against a background of soft fabrics and weathered wood walls. Treatments draw on shiatsu, ayurveda, reflexology, and lymph drainage techniques, and include four-hands or hot-stone massage, and a natural facial therapy. The property also features a wood-heated sauna with a view of the mountains, and an outdoor heated stone hydro-massage bath.

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