Near Lima Duarte (Minas Gerais, Brazil)
Ibitipoca, a 5,000 hectare reserve about 4 hours inland by road from Rio de Janeiro (270km), began in 1981 with the purchase of the Fazenda do Engenho. The old farmhouse, built in 1715, was rebuilt in 2006, retaining many of its original features; it overlooks a lake and offers some wonderful views, particularly from the terrace. The dining room is traditionally furnished with a wood burning stove and guests can either eat ‘family style’ at the main table or be seated at individual tables. The main sitting room has an open fire and there is also a small TV/DVD room. Other facilities include a spa, sauna and outdoor hot tub.
The aim of the reserve is the reforestation of native flora species and to expand the habitat of animals in the region, many endangered. Though much of the soil is very poor and sandy there are waterfalls, caves and natural pools. Around 40,000 native trees have been planted and flora and fauna are slowly returning to the area. Mountain bikes and electric buggies are available and there is some lovely riding. The horses are Mangalarga and Anglo-Arabian and very comfortable. There is no swimming pool but it is possible to swim in the lake or at the waterfalls. The Ibitipoca State Park is about 5km away and visits can be organised.
The main lodge, Engenho, has 8 very comfortable rooms, well-equipped with an Ipod amplifier, telephone and safe, but without a TV. All the rooms are slightly different with traditional, tasteful furnishings and wall hangings that reflect local handicrafts and culture. The en-suite bathrooms are spacious, most with a Victorian style bath and shower, plus underfloor heating. The Gran Reserva room also has a Jacuzzi bath. Casa Carlinhos is a private villa away from the main house, with 3 large bedrooms, all en-suite, a small kitchen, living room, and solar energy and hot water generated by a wood-burning stove. Meals are eaten at the main house where wifi is also available. There are also 3 other smaller, more remote and rustic lodges for those seeking more privacy and tranquility.
A really unique property and project with wonderful friendly staff, most of whom are from the local area. The food is excellent, and typical of the Minas Gerais region. There is also a private air-strip and a helipad.