Sao Paulo to Pico do Parana
After a surprisingly quiet night at the airport parking I got up early and headed towards the beach. Luckily there was barely any traffic and after a shockingly high toll I reached the coast. It was raining for the last week but the weather was now warm and sunny and I found a few nice places to camp and beautiful roads to drive.
Pico do Paraná
My destination was the Fazenda do Paraná; the camping and trailhead to the Pico Paraná, the highest mountain in Southern Brazil and is part of the Serra do Mar.
I didn’t do a ton of research because the map I had indicated an not too crazy hike, 8km one way with about 800m elevation gain. I started early and packed lunch and a lot of water. The first 4km were steep but otherwise easy and I was confident I’ll easily climb this mountain. However, shortly afterwards the trail changed completely and turned into an endless scramble over wet and slippery rocks, roots and trees – in between, just for the fun of it, ropes and ladders.
After 8km and 1200m elevation gain I still had about a kilometer and 250m up to go. I decided to turn around and this was a good decision! I ran out of water 3km before getting back to the trailhead and by the time I arrived there I was completely exhausted. I must have looked pretty bad because the owner of the Fazenda gave me a Coca Cola and didn’t charge me for the second night. A bit later we chatted a bit and he told me that 75% of the people trying to summit in one day don’t make it!
Pomerode & Blumenau
From the Fazenda I drove via beautiful (and muddy) backroads and detours through the mountains of Sao Paulo und Santa Catarina to the famous German settlements in Pomerode and Blumenau. Blumenau hosts the biggest Oktoberfest outside of Munich. Obviously there are many breweries, bakers and German Restaurants in the area; but since I was too early for the Oktoberfest, there wasn’t much going on and after a bit of sightseeing I moved on.
After rainy and cold days inland it was time to go back to the beaches in Florianopolis. The relatively big city (the metropolitan area is home to 1.2mio) is located on the mainland and the Isla Santa Catarina and boasts over 60 beaches. The economy is mostly based on information technology and tourism. It’s waterfront reminded my of Bocagrande in Cartagena, or Miami Beach. Most people live on the central parts of the island and the southern part is much less densely populated. I spent a few days relaxing on different beaches before the bad weather reached me again and I left for more mountains.
Serra do Rio do Rastro
One of the most famous roads in Brazil (at least for Overlanders and Bikers) is the road up to Serra do Rio do Rastro. If you are used to Alpine Passes it’s not such a big deal but I guess for Brazil it is very unique. Over 160 corners lead up the mountain side up to the plateau and you have sweeping views over the country. Well, at least you would have that when it’s not foggy like when I was there. Nevertheless I spent a night at the parking area and was lucky to get a few minutes without clouds early in the morning.
Last Stop Before Uruguay
I travelled over more backcountry roads via the local tourist spots Canela and Gramado (a sort of Alp-Disneyland for Brazilians) to Porto Alegre and the Laguna dos Patos, a gigantic laguna of about 10’000km^2 (that’s a quarter of Switzerland!).
Wildlife and bird watching is the activity number one, followed by amazing sunsets and sunrises. I also met up with fellow Land Rover travelers from Brazil who just started their adventures.