Kayaking, hiking and abseiling in Serra da Canastra, Brazil
An adrenaline junkie, adventure sports athlete Flávia Vitorino went to Serra da Canastra in Minas Gerais and gives tips for people who want to test their hearts
Labored breathing, heart beating fast, and the desire to do it all over again. It’s the adrenaline taking over the body: anyone who experiences this feeling in contact with nature wants more. Located some 186 miles [300 km] from Belo Horizonte, in southwestern Minas Gerais, Serra da Canastra National Park is a paradise for adventurers. The birthplace of the immense São Francisco River, which forms lovely waterfalls, it’s home to trails, mountains, preserved forests, wild animals and, as such, it has several options for extreme sports athletes. In five days, I explored the 190,000 hectares of the park, which crosses into such municipalities as São Roque de Minas and Delfinópolis, and I’d suggest three activities (and plenty of excitement) to get to know the area.
“I decided to go down Serra do Rolador to reach the base of the Casca d’Anta Waterfall, which is 610 feet tall, on a 3-hour hike. At the end of the trip, a dive into the pool formed by the waterfall tops off the experience and energizes visitors who want to take on the hike up to Morro das Cruzes, which has a lovely 360-degree view of the landscape at nightfall.”
“The dam constructed in the 1960s for the Furnas Hydroelectric Plant is known as the Ocean of Minas Gerais. It has natural pools where visitors can go kayaking, in addition to waterfalls like the Cascatinha. After spending the whole day paddling, the sun setting on the horizon is a great reward.”
“While hanging on an abseiling rope in Vale do Céu I saw one of the area’s most incredible landscapes: two beautiful waterfalls inside the canyon, covered by trees, combining shades of green and the intense blue of the sky. But get ready for a surprise: the rope is shorter than the distance to the ground, so visitors need to jump in the deep pool.”
Serra da Canastra, Minas Gerais, Brazil
From Belo Horizonte, the trip to São Roque de Minas, where the park’s main entrance is located, takes around four hours by car.
When to go
The best time to visit is during the dry season, from April to October, when there’s no mud on the dirt roads.
What to bring
Remember to bring a nature kit, with such items as insect repellent, water bottle, sunscreen, hat and first aid supplies.
Far from civilization, Pousada Vale do Céu has a country-estate atmosphere and serves the famous Minas Gerais food – including the delicious Canastra cheese, a delicacy typical from the mountain region.