There are some places that one dreams of existing, or reads about in books and wishes was real. A remote countryside idyll where you can completely get away from it all and disappear into a slower and simpler pace of life. Ibitipoca is just such a place. Tucked away in the heart of the countryside in the state of Minas Gerais, this farm is located on a nature reserve and surrounded by rolling green hills and a rich landscape of trees.
The house was once a colonial farm house and clearly belonged to a wealthy family. The corridors are long and wide as are the luxuriously polished, original floor boards. High ceilings and large rooms add to the feeling of colonial luxury. The house curves round a central courtyard and along the outside there runs a delightful veranda overlooking a lake where you can sit and watch any number of birds, flick through a design book or simply plan what you can do so you end up living here.
Design mixes perfectly with original style at Ibitipoca and the decoration is quite simply faultless. The furniture and decoration is original and tasteful. Beautiful murals adorn some of the walls, a large altar filled with religious idols harks back to the catholic colonials, a wonderfully extensive collection of cachaça, reaching back probably over the best part of a century covers a veranda wall and tells a pretty story of Brazil’s most famous alcohol. In the dining room there is always an open bottle and guests can help themselves to a small glass. Fresh flowers are always around and photos dating back to when the farm was first built contribute to a charming sense of history and the story behind the house.
If the inside of the house sounds beautiful, the grounds and surroundings are breath-taking. The farm is situated in a dip in the hills and surrounded on all sides by rolling hills and lush green forest. We were here in March meaning the Purple Glory was in full bloom and the colours were fabulous, green interspersed with bright purple all through the countryside.
The house overlooks a lake complete with a little rowing boat and some loungers to sit and enjoy the view. There is plenty of birdlife to see here both close to the house and all through the park. Bright yellow canaries dart about, the snake catching Seriemas make an appearance every evening and are striking with their long legs and distinctive plumage and there are forever a flock of parakeets flying around the trees, chattering away. Two of the most famous birds however are Antonio and Fernando, a blue macaw and a toucan who spend a lot of time in and around the house. Antonio perches outside the kitchen, sometimes venturing in and can often be seen enjoying some fruit given to him by the staff. Fernando is charming and cheeky, spending quite a bit of time in and around the house and will happily try and steal some fruit or a pao de queijo at breakfast. They are a delightful addition to the team at Ibitipoca and provide much entertainment for adults and children alike.
There is in fact so much to entertain guests here. Not long after you arrive, you are introduced to a guide who will talk you through the different options for activities during your stay. There are a few trails marked from the lodge which guests can walk on their own. Exploring on horseback is a great option as you can travel further and higher with ease. A popular and easy walk is to the little beach near the house. This is not a beach in the coastal sense of the word but a sandy area by a river complete with a beautiful waterfall. This forms a calm pool which is perfect for swimming. There are a number of loungers, a veranda and even a small kitchen meaning it is possible to while away most of the day there if you wish.
Another highlight is the viewpoint where a collection of stunning sculptures has been placed. The viewpoint, at the top of one of the hills, offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and is the perfect place to watch the sun go down. The sculptures were bought by the owner of the Fazenda from an American artist. She was invited to stay and agreed for her sculptures to be placed here, overseeing their transport from the US to inland Brazil, a long and precarious process. It was certainly worth it. The seven figures each represents something different and are lead at the front by a dancing woman symbolising ecstasy. This is certainly portrayed as her giant body is lifted to the surroundings in a completely ecstatic pose.
Other activities include yoga which is offered at 9am each morning and is a wonderfully invigorating way to star the day. Guests can take horses out to explore the surrounding countryside and for those that prefer a vehicle, there are the fantastic little electric ATVs which will tackle any bumpy hill with surprisingly good suspension.
For anyone looking to escape the real world for a bit and enjoy some downtime in the most beautiful setting, the Reserva do Ibitipoca should be top of the list.