Comuna de Ibitipoca is a well-guarded secret of those who have discovered the art of slow travel. The extraordinary project is equal parts luxury lodge, art gallery, conservation project, wildlife sanctuary, adventure centre, organic farm, historic preservation site and model community. And it is one of the world’s most ambitious sustainable tourism initiatives.
So, what is it about Comuna do Ibitipoca that makes it so special? Firstly, the location is absolutely magnificent. The highlands of Minas Gerais are a lush tapestry of rolling hills, hidden waterfalls and mountain streams.
Secondly, the ethos and philosophy behind the Comuna are truly admirable. Founded by one of the wealthiest families in Brazil, the private reserve now encompasses 13,000 acres. And with conservation and community development at the forefront of everything they do, the Comuna is a model of sustainable tourism.
And finally, the surprises which await around every turn. From the incredible steel sculptures by artist Karen Cusolito to mysterious picnic spots which seemingly appear out of nowhere on your hikes. From hidden waterholes to the resident toucan which greets you at breakfast. And above all else, the warm and authentic service that staff and the local community welcome you with.
Ultimately it is hard to explain the sublime appeal of Comuna do Ibitipoca. But take our word for it, this is our top tip for those who are ready to embrace slow travel. Get in touch with a South American Travel Specialist today! And discover more about this and other amazing adventures in Brazil.
A 3.5 hours drive will take you from Rio de Janeiro to the bucolic and sublime Comuna do Ibitipoca.
You will be welcomed by local staff upon arrival, and by a couple of wild toucans and macaw parrots that fly freely into and around the lodge throughout the day.
After a long trip to get here, you will want to enjoy the first afternoon wandering around the Fazenda to soak up the gorgeous setting while appreciating the incredible displays of art both inside and outside of the Fazenda. Take a stroll around the lagoon and while away the warm afternoon in hammocks strung between shade trees that dot the meadows.
Finish your first day at Ibitipoca with a caipirinha on the veranda (made with cachaca distilled on the property) while watching the sunset.
Then, get prepared to enjoy your first taste of delicious “miniera” cuisine. Chef Marly Silva has an infectious smile, truly loves what she does, and welcomes guests into the kitchen where she expertly heaves massive copper pots around the wood burning stove while digging through mountains of fresh organic produce grown here on the farm.
After breakfast in the dining room – get ready to explore nature with your bilingual guide.
The trip up and around Pico de Gaviao can be accomplished in numerous ways. By foot, on horseback, electric mountain bike or simply a 4×4. The staff will help in planning your mode of exploration today and the length of your excursion.
Pico de Gaviao is one of the tallest mountains in the area at around 1,500m, so provides options for stunning vista points as you ascend. If you make it to the summit, expect an incredible 360-degree panorama. And on the back side of Pico de Gaviao awaits one of Comuna do Ibitipoca’s most unforgettable highlights. Seven massive figures, made of recycled steel, appear in varying postures of worship toward the horizon. There’s a fascinating story behind these sculptures – your guide will fill you in as you soak up the view.
Only a few hundred metres downhill of the sculptures are a string of beautiful waterfalls that culminate in the private beach and natural swimming pool created by the Comuna. Plush loungers and daybeds are set atop sparkling white quartz sand which ring the swimming hole. The site is complete with onsite bathrooms and an elaborate outdoor kitchen and BBQ site where lunch is sometimes served for guests.
Spend as much time as you like at the natural pool before returning to the lodge for another magnificent meal.
Today you should explore the route between Fazenda do Engenho and the remote community of Mogol. There are numerous attractions and experiences along the way…but you won’t have time for them all.
Again, choose your mode of exploration with your guide and decide how long you can tear yourself away from the Fazenda. By horse, bike, or on foot – a combination of them all – or maybe some canoes or stand up paddle boards to keep things interesting.
The dirt road running from the Fazenda to Mogol village has myriad places to enjoy and explore. Choose from
– Swallows Cave and the nearby Black Lake
– Muruqui Rescue Project to see the conservation work for the critically endangered woolly monkey
– A cultural experience and lunch at Grotao Farm to spend time with the owners Dona Regina and Senhor Laercio
– The Mogol Waterfall Circuit – a 10km circuit exploring just a few of the incredible waterfalls in the area.
– Visit the village of Mogol itself, with options for overnighting at a community homestay.
Whether you decide to stay in Mogol for dinner at Yucca, where live music is often put on by the local residents, or head back to Fazenda do Engenho for more of Chef Marly’s incredible cuisine and a spa appointment is up to you. The experiences today along this stretch from Engenho Lodge to Mogol could easily be broken up into a full week of activity.
For your final full day at Comuna do Ibitipoca, we recommend visiting the horse stables and Gaia food production area, followed by lunch at Odette’s Bistro.
A short walk from Fazenda do Engenho, just over the stream which runs through the farm, sits the Gaia Food Production area and Odette’s Health Bistro. Community staff will surely be out tending to the gardens and will happily show you around and introduce you to some exotic fruits and vegetables you may have never seen before. A stay at Comuna do Ibitipoca is not complete without a hearty farm fresh meal served up by Dona Odette at her ranch bistro. This restaurant is a daily option and alternative to having lunch at the main Fazenda building for guests.
If you are interested in horseback riding, or just horses in general, you will want to visit the stables adjacent to Odette’s Bistro. Here you will find a stable of Brazilian bred, Mangalara Marchador horses which are prized for their intelligence, disposition and smooth gait. Horseback riding is a great way to explore the greater property, with miles of trails and dirt roads to traverse.
If you have not had enough jaw dropping gorgeous scenery so far at the Comuna itself, you may choose to visit nearby Ibitipoca State Park with a guide. It’s only a 45 minute drive from the Fazenda and offers more stunning caves, streams, waterfalls and vista points accessible via well-manicured and signposted trails.
Or you can choose today to revisit sites you fell in love with over the preceding days, explore areas you didn’t have time to fit in yesterday – or just relax with a book on the Fazendas terrace or swing in a hammock and enjoy the serenity of Ibitipoca.
Comuna do Ibitipoca is a very hard place to leave, and a place that will stay in your heart and soul forever, begging you to return. Comuna do Ibitipoca is not a hotel, it is a community, and the number of people you will want to say goodbye too can feel overwhelming after a visit – so it’s easier to say “ate a proxima” (until next time) than “tchau” (goodbye).