Hiking in Brazil 2013
Hiking in Brazil is the adventure of hiking in an Atlantic Rain Forest National Park. You shall also discover historical towns, hike on the grounds of valuable treasures, listen to local music, hear sounds made by different animals and breathe Brazilian art.
We shall walk through the precious gem region of Minas Gerais on historic seventeenth century slave paths. The maned wolf native to this area, always shows up at dinner time in front of our cameras. We are on the grounds where you can find treasures such as diamonds, gold and the unique Imperial Topaz. Towns like
Diamantina, Ouro Preto and Congonhas have won titles of world heritage by UNESCO.
1st day – BELO HORIZONTE – SERRA DO CIPÓ National Park
Welcome to one of the most beautiful airports in Brazil. We are an hour’s drive (38 miles) from the hiking paradise known as the Serra do Cipó National Park. We shall have lunch, see ancient slave paths and waterfalls, in a great variety of hiking trails that bring you different possibilities of experiencing nature, according to your desires.
2nd day – SERRA DO CIPÓ
More than 1600 species of flowers are waiting for you to uncover them in one of the most important national parks in Brazil, with hiking trails, numerous springs, streams and waterfalls. The spectacular Espinhaço mountains, invites the visitor to observe with care bromeliads and orchids, and also new and unknown plants. The moss on tree trunks and rocks stand out in unusual colors like red, orange and yellow. In this
park the best hiking period is after the summer rains from April to November. Click here for a detailed description of the trails in the park, including lunch for an unforgettable hiking day.
3rd day – SERRA DO CIPÓ – DIAMANTINA
Today we are equipped with backpacks, water stores, sun block, and of course our cameras. We shall cross streams to get to the” Gavião” and ” Andorinhas” falls. We shall enjoy the day at the National Park and drive to Diamantina (125 miles) in the late afternoon. We arrive 3 hours later, in time for the dinner which is included.
4th day - DIAMANTINA
Diamantina is located in the north of Minas Gerais. It is a truly enchanting place, very much distinct from the other historic towns – perhaps owing to its diamond-studded past. There is an air of geniality whether it be in the colorful and delicately worked trimmings of the homes, public buildings and churches, in the hints of an influence of Arab luxury in ornamental details or in the very existence of the town which seems to challenge it’s arid and forbiddingly beautiful surroundings.
Today’s walk takes us to a especial stream with many lessons about mining gold and diamonds. Local freelance prospectors known as “garimpeiros” show us their work that until today provides them their support. Here at the source we can, if we wish to, purchase raw and polished authentic diamonds. After lunch we will step the grounds of an ancient slave path.
5th day -DIAMANTINA – CARAÇA
On Sunday mornings on a small side street a handicraft fair is a pleasant meeting place, you can get a cup of coffee or tea and local homemade baked goods, in a joyful coming together of visitors and street musicians. The city tour and departure shall be after lunch. On the road endless eucalyptus forests escort us on the 250 miles to Caraça a conservation area known as the “Sanctuary of Caraça (Santuário do Caraça). Dinner is served in the ballroom for visitors, and on the the stoned steps that lead to the seminar’s church the unforgettable feeding of the maned wolf will take place. At night everyone waits in silence wondering if today the wild male animal will accept the invitation of the priest as he calls for it by saying: “Guará, guará, vem (come) guará”. The “lobo guará” ‘lives in the wilderness of the forest that surrounds the seminar.
All meals are included for visitors.
6th day - CARAÇA
This seminary from the 19th century was a boarding school until 1965, known for its high standards it has had many famous Brazilian politicians as students. The first emperor of Brazil, Pedro I stayed overnight here, and so did his son Pedro II and wife on a later trip. Back from hiking we shall visit the small museum that recalls many episodes of the seminar and school, the beds of Dom Pedro II and his wife Teresa Cristina with ornaments of the imperial coat of arms is one of them. The picturesque landscape clearly shows the transition from the Atlantic Rain Forest (Mata Atlântica), to the “Serrado” forest. These two different forests hide a rich variety of flora for us to admire in the moments of relaxation during our hiking, in a spectacle of splendor and greatness.
7th day – CARAÇA – MARIANA – OURO PRETO
In the morning, before our departure, we shall take a walk for our last impressions of this original treasure from nature. After lunch, we shall cross a enormous mining areas on the way to Ouro Preto, this will leave no doubt: we have arrived in the iron quadrangle, the region responsible for the richest iron ore production in the state.
From here, iron ore is pumped with water through 250 miles of pipelines to the coast and we learn interesting facts about the main economic activity of the region. Two hours later we reach Antônio Pereira, an open pit mining in the district of Ouro Preto, the only place in the world where the Imperial Topaz is found. Proudly the miners will show you their work with pick and shovel, and the most recent findings.
With care, the yellow-red colored crystals are separated from the soft bedrock to be sold to collectors and stone cutters. Two of the most beautiful crystals from this mine we will admire later in the Mineralogical Museum of Ouro Preto. A short drive takes us to visit Mariana, the first town founded in Minas Gerais 300 years ago. The interesting story about how the German organ built by Arp Schnitger in 1701 found its way to the Mariana Cathedral, you will discover in details during a walk through the old town. An eight mile drive, takes as back to Ouro Preto in the early evening.
8th day – OURO PRETO
The historical center of the richest city of the 18th century has been very well preserved. Gold, Aleijadinho and Tiradentes , 3 terms that relate to Ouro Preto will be easily understood as they unfold the colonial relations between business, art and politics . The significance and consequences of this interaction will fascinate you.
Ouro Preto was the first Brazilian city to become a World Heritage Site in 1980, appointed by Unesco. After the tour we shall taste the many different dishes of the rich and flavorful regional cuisine. In the afternoon we have free time to visit the soapstone market, some of the many local shops and also visit a stone cutter workshop.
9th day - OURO PRETO
We shall leave in the morning to reach the 1772m high Itacolomi peak this distinctive rock also has historical significance, the black gold (Ouro Preto) was first found on the tripuí-river in the late 17 century. It was not immediately recognized as gold, only when better investigated the gray-black powder was confirmed as gold, the peak being the only reference to the discovery site. The year of 1697 marks the discovery and beginning of the gold rush to Minas Gerais and Ouro Preto. After a walking tour to this mountain we will be back in the early afternoon for a drive to the nearby “Passagem” gold mine (www.minasdapassagem.com.br/
It will take only five minutes for the mine car to pass inside the 900-feet-long tunnel. Water infiltration flooded part of the shafts and created underground rivers and lakes. On the way out a demonstration of the original panning process will show us the findings of a very fine gold powder. During dinner we have precious hints for those you who want to be prepared for the samba rhythms of Rio de Janeiro.
10th day - OURO PRETO – CONGONHAS – BELO HORIZONTE AIRPORT
On the way to the airport there are stills two highlights. We shall visit the most important art treasure of Brazil from the 18th Century. Aleijadinho´s masterpiece: 66 wood carved, life-size painted statues depicting the Passion of Christ, and 12 biblical prophets made of soapstone, adorn the garden and stairway to the Bom Jesus de Matosinhos Church. After a two hour drive, we stop at the outskirts of Belo Horizonte in the Pampulha district. Here the architect Oscar Niemeyer started to design, in the forties, the fundaments of the Modern Brazilian Architecture. He became famous for this project and especially for the construction of the Saint Francis church. The unusual design displeased the bishop of the city at the time and it took 17 years for the building to be consecrated as a church, even so it became known as the scandalous church of Belo Horizonte.