Fazenda Catucaba

Near Sao Luis do Paraitinga, Rio de Janeiro Environs, Brazil Book from

An 1850s organic farm in rural Brazil with adventurous activities, wonderful food and a real sense of peace
A beautiful 1850s farmhouse forms the centre of this 450ha estate between São Paulo and Rio, which holds mountains, lakes, stables, coffee plantations and organic vegetable gardens within its grounds, and borders a lush Unesco-listed rainforest. One visitor described her stay as a Brazilian version of Gone with the Wind, and there's certainly a colonial feel here: original wooden floors and fireplaces, antique gramophones, white sash windows framing stunning views of the verdant countryside. But it's not all as old as it looks: on the slopes above, owner Emmanuel has cleverly added new 'villas' which house 13 stylish but simple rooms and suites. Every detail has been carefully thought out, including the reclaimed roof tiles. Now, with impeccable service and local food provided by the women from the nearby village, his project is complete.

There's no internet or TVs in the rooms; you're here to immerse yourself in nature through a range of wonderful exploratory options, including horseback tours, guided nature walks and river rafting. It's popular with couples and families alike - you can rent a separate house, and there's heaps of space for all. It can easily be twinned with a stay in Rio, São Paulo or - best of all - Emmanuel's sister hotel near the coastal town of Paraty. Come here for a real adventure in southern Brazil - activities, nature, local culture and calm.


  • A stay here is simple yet utterly spoiling; we arrived weary and jaded, and left full of energy and optimism
  • Great activities: fantastic horse riding (you can even arrive on horseback), plus rainforest hikes, ziplining, wild swimming under waterfalls
  • Impeccable hotel-style service from Emmanuel and his team
  • A splendid sense of isolation and peace: perfect for a restful honeymoon
  • The homegrown and organic food - all included in the rates


  • It's expensive, but almost everything is included
  • The pool is currently closed, but you can swim in the beautiful, warm lake
  • It's remote - a 2.5-hour drive from São Paulo, twice that from Rio - but transfers from either are arranged (and included)
  • No internet or mobile phone connectivity; it won't suit those seeking all mod cons
  • It can rain a bit from Oct-April, but it tends to be in short bursts in the afternoon

Best time to go

The weather is warm all year round, and tends to be quite sunny, but you may experience some rainfall at any time of year. The warmest season, and probably the best time to come, is November to March, when skies are bright blue, though you might have afternoon showers or very occasional storms. April to October is the dry season, which is colder (you're at altitude here) but less rainy. Peak season is December and January; the hotel also fills up over Easter and Carnival.

Generally speaking the weather is similar to Sao Paulo, and a lot drier than in Paraty or Rio de Janeiro.

Our top tips

  • Take some good books to read - stories inspired by Brazil, if you can - because this place lends itself to a slower pace of life and, apart from dinner, there isn't much evening entertainment
  • Artistic types will enjoy seeking out the artist in residence at the fazenda and admiring their recent works
  • Great for...

    Great Outdoors
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Hotel
    • 10 + 3 villas
    • Full Board + bar
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym


    There are 8 Deluxe rooms, 2 Suites and 3 Villas, set in stone outhouse or timber buildings, a short walk from the main fazenda. They each retain the appeal of the old farmhouse, with décor and fixtures dating back to the 1850s, including original wooden floors, fireplaces and sash windows.

    Deluxe Rooms are spacious and all slightly different, with queensize beds and a feeling of peace and tranquility. Beds are made up with Egyptian cotton, and bathrooms have powerful showers and robes to pad about in. The Suites are bigger still, with great views of the countryside, plus kingsize beds, fireplaces and a tub in their bathroom.

    Or, if you want total seclusion, book Casa Do Lago (sleeping up to 2 adults and 2 children), plus a terrace and balcony with the very best views over the lake, mountains and gardens. Or there is the Casa Da Cachoeira, a rustic hideaway 300m from the fazenda, with simple whitewashed interiors (2 small bedrooms) and plenty of shady sitting spots, including its very own riverside and waterfall. Both casas feature a living area and basic kitchenette. Newest is the modernist Minimod, a wooden eco cabin, some 10 minutes from the main house, which has a queen bed plus bunks for children and a solar-heated shower.

    What makes Fazenda Catucaba really special is the details, and what Emmanuel calls the 'air of amateurism' that he wants to imbue the farm with. It's not about perfection and having all the latest gadgets on offer - there's a warmth and human touch to everything, from the white-washed sash windows to the old gramophones positioned on wooden side tables, and the shared library and lounge in the main fazenda, all designed to give you a unique experience.

    Features include:

    • Bathrobes (Suites)
    • Cots Available
    • Extra beds
    • Fan
    • Fireplace (Suites)
    • Kitchenette (Casas only)
    • Terrace
    • Toiletries


    As befits a working organic farm, the food is superb. Fresh from the field and handled beautifully in the kitchen, it really adds to the appeal of staying here. What's more, a recent visitor noted that there is always a cake fresh out of the oven when you visit the kitchen... Guests stay on a full-board basis. As there are no other eateries within walking or easy driving distance, it's probably a good idea.

    Breakfast includes the fazenda's coffee - this region once produced 90% of the world's joe - as well as milk and cheeses, freshly baked bread and delicious fruit pies. Lunch can be a picnic if you're out exploring, or is otherwise served at the fazenda. Tasty-sounding dishes include stuffed duck with manioc and inventive salads.

    Guests tend to congregate and kick off the evenings with a caipirinha, made from the fazenda's own organic sugar cane cachaça and lemons. After this, you can sit at shared or separate tables to enjoy your dinner. The 3-course evening menu is fixed and includes only organic food from the farm; most dishes are meat-based with 2 or 3 vegetable accompaniments. The picanha - the local barbecue cut of beef - receives rave reviews. Those staying in the villas can opt to eat on their private terrace.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • Full board
    • Organic produce
    • Vegetarian menu


      The range of fabulous adventures on offer is what makes this place really special.
    • Most people come for the horse riding; you'll visit beautiful lakes and hidden waterfalls, and canter through virgin rainforest. There are guided treks for all abilities, plus a fabulous-sounding full-moon ride, available a couple of times a month
    • If you prefer to travel on your own feet, strap on walking boots and take to the hiking trails for rainforest routes and walks to swimming lakes. Take a picnic from the fazenda for lunch
    • Zipline through the forest or go abseiling, tree climbing and rock climbing
    • Ask Emmanuel to book you in for a trip to the natural park nearby, where you'll also find waterfalls, a lake for wild swimming, and places to go fishing
    • Take a tour of the farm with a local guide, or book a bird-watching tour
    • Visit São Luis do Paraitinga, a lovely town 20km away, famed for its carnival, frequent colourful festivals and well-preserved colonial architecture
    • If it rains, relax at the fazenda: watch DVDs in the cinema room, read books in the library, chat to Emmanuel and his team about the estate and its history, or sit on the terrace and breathe the fresh air

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Fishing
    • Hiking
    • Horse-riding
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Private guided tours
    • Rock climbing
    • Swimming
    • Traditional cultures
    • Tree climbing and abseiling
    • Trekking
    • Wildlife
    • Ziplining


    This is a fantastic place for a family break - with no internet and plenty of wildlife at your disposal, it's somewhere to come and bond as a family, and have adventures on horseback and more. Staff go out of their way to make the experience fun for kids, with everything from fresh chocolate milk and extra French fries between meals to pony & cart rides and blankets on the lawn to make playing on the grass less itchy.

    Children aged 5 and under stay free of charge and there are baby cots and extra beds. For children aged 6+, there is a small additional charge.

    Best for:

    All ages

    Family friendly accommodation:

    The suites can fit 1 rollaway bed or baby cot. If there are more of you, rent a whole villa and you get 1 suite and 2 double/twin rooms. All have ensuite bathrooms (with a tub in the suite, and a shower in the doubles/twins). If you're on a budget, there's also the much simpler Casa Da Cachoeira and Casa Do Lago, small houses for 2-4 with 1 double and 1 twin room for the kids which also feature their own kitchenette.


    Free babysitting is available on request.

    Baby equipment:

    • Baby cots

    Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

    Kids Activities on site:

    • Pony & cart rides
    • Helping staff milk the cows
    • Tree planting
    • Harvest vegetables
    • Nature walks with a biologist to discover more about the local flora and fauna
    • Horse riding
    • Wild swimming
    • River rafting
    • Tree climbing
    • Abseiling and ziplining
    • Fishing

    Families Should Know:

    The small pool is unfenced so you need to keep an eye on toddlers


    • Airport: 2.5 hours (São Paulo)
    • Grocery store: 20km away (in São Luis do Paraitinga)
    • Medical facility: 20km away (in São Luis do Paraitinga)
    Kid Friendly:

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