Guest Post: Hiking in Brazil
An Adventure Hike for Beginners
To pull off this adventure hike for beginners to Tabuleiro in Minas Gerais, you’ll need good hiking shoes and a good physical condition. At some places, you will need to use hands and feet to get over rocks, or just to keep your balance and not slide down, which would land you in the hospital, or worse…
The almost 300m high Tabuleiro waterfall is the main attraction of the “Parque Estadual do Intendente” on the territory of the municipal of Conceição do Mato Dentro (also known as the “eco tourism capital of Minas Gerais”).
Its unique geological location, a transition area from Atlantic forest to savanna/alpine pastures, gave rise to many endemic species, which makes it very important for the preservation of the biodiversity of the Serra do Espinhaço region.
The Park is about 20 km away from the main road in the district of Tabuleiro. To get there, you need to take a 17 km dirt road.
A great place to stay here is Pousada da Gameleira. Note: The Tabuleiro district is small and remote, so don’t expect mobile phone coverage or internet here. The pousada didn’t even have a fixed phone line…
There are no banks either and paying with a credit card is out of the question too. Bring the cash you will need to avoid making an extra trip to the village.
The absence of the aforementioned things is also a blessing if you’re looking for the perfect eco-tourism experience. The place oozes peace and tranquility and you literally feel time slowing down.
You can start the hike to the waterfall from the district of Tabuleiro. The first leg is a 2.5 km easy walk to the entrance of the park. You normally pay a small fee to enter the park.
The hike starts out fairly easy, but after a while the path seems like winding straight down the slope of the hill, and keeping your balance is sometimes a challenge.
From the park to the Tabuleiro is about 2km. The average time that it takes people to get there is 1,5 hours. That should give you an idea of the level.
Once you get down to the river, it’s another 900m until the fall. The hiking trail becomes almost invisible and you’ll pretty much have to find your own way in the direction of the waterfall.
You’ll find yourself hopping from rock to rock, or climbing under and over tree roots to get ahead, slowing things down considerably.
After a while, the scenery opens up and you find yourself in front if an immense wall, almost 300m high, making you feel small.
At the foot of the waterfall is a big natural pool formed by the force of the water coming down. At its deepest, the pool is almost 20m deep.
There is a huge difference in the amount of water coming down from the fall, depending on the season. We were there in September, which is the dry season in most parts of Brazil, and so we only saw a small drizzle coming down, being blown away by the wind before it reaches the ground.
In the wet season however, the force of the water coming down creates a mist that goes almost 200m up in the air. A pretty impressive sight!
If you’re not afraid of cold water, you can take a swim in the natural pool, and some of us did just that.
This is not the only hike you can do around here. There are a lot more rivers, waterfalls, small lakes, a canyon and an archeological site in a 20-25 km radius around the Tabuleiro district.
Conceição do Mato Dentro is one of the 162 villages and cities that make up the famous Estrada Real (the ancient gold and diamond trails of Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro) and its historical center also has a number of interesting churches and other buildings (mostly 18th century) that are worth a visit.
Some info on Minas Gerais:
The state of Minas Gerais is the biggest of the south-east region of Brazil and also Brazil’s 4th biggest state. It is known for its many historical cities and villages that reflect the wealth generated from the gold and diamond mines were discovered here at the end of the 17th century.
Cities like Ouro Preto (Black gold), Diamantina, Tiradentes and São João del Rei, some of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites, are but a few examples of the country’s rich patrimony, left behind after the last drovers brought their loads of precious metal and stones from the interior of the state to the port of Rio de Janeiro.
Another way in which the state of Minas Gerais attracts visitors is its natural beauty. No less than 12 national parks, with a combined size of almost 6000km², are scattered all over the place.
Add to that 21 State parksand you get an idea of the great wealth in natural beauty you can find in this part of Brazil.
Raf Kiss aka @MotoToursBrazil is a Belgian expat, living in Brazil since 2009. He’s a motorcycle and outdoors enthusiast, tour guide, seeker of adventure. At age 17, he started working in a saw mill, then in a car body shop and a few restaurant kitchen. With an accountancy degree earned from evening school, worked 15 years in the Venture Capital industry administrating venture capital funds. After arriving in Brazil and buying a Yamaha XT660R dual sports bike, he started exploring Rio de Janeiro state and then most regions of Brazil. He hopes to inspire people to visit Brazil through his stories.