Diary/Photo Journal

Week of December 16, 2007 (please see page 2 for the first half of the week)

Our week continues with more of our time lost in the magnificent canyons.

Our cozy stay in the pousada gave us a great start to see an extension of the Parque Nacional de Aparados da Serra called the Parque Nacional da Serra Geral and specifically the Canion da Fortaleza.  Like the Canion Itaimbezinho, the Canion da Fortaleza has stunning drops of over 900 meters (about 3000 feet) and its length is about 8 kilometers (approximately 5 miles).  Once again, stepping into this area was almost an other-worldly experience.

I climbed down to this small outcropping to take some
pictures and watched Marjorie cover her eyes

Veu de Noiva waterfall

Great photo opportunities

The terrain

Views from yet another side

Local color

A natural crystal geode embedded in another rock

One of the amazing hawks we saw on our drive back

As we seemed to run out of "trail", we decided to find our own way across the plateau and wander along the cliffs.  We saw a variety of birds that make their homes within the cliff faces and watched them catch the thermals as their flights were virtually wingless.

The view across the Canion da Fortaleza
Contemplating the view and the magnificence

I climbed down to a small outcropping (to
Marjorie's chagrin and worry) to take this
picture of the three of them

An interesting resident (about 8" long)

It was great to be in a National Park wherein you see more of the inhabitants that people.  There were, however, two residents eyeing us rather intently and seemingly trying to encourage us to get a little closer to the edge.

We trodded along for quite a while because there were just so many view points in which to take advantage.  Other than following Gerson through the proverbial marshland (shortcut!), the adventure was without incident and very extraordinary.

Where's Louise?

The cause of the canyon

Our watchers: "Yeah, that's it, come
just a little closer to the edge, yeah..."

A view back down the Canion Forteleza

Rodrigo enjoys the clear, cool water (very drinkable)

Our playground

Gerson's "shortcut"

Following this jaunt, it was off to another part of the canyons to wander around the Cachoeira do Tigre Preto (Black Tiger waterfall) and find our way over to the Pedra de Secreto (Secret Stone).

We walked along a clear river only to come to an abrupt halt with our toes dangling precariously over the edge of a large waterfall.  Again, no safety rails, no posted guards, just you, the waterfall and your common sense (as in do not be stupid).

In order to get to the across the river, you have to use the rocks along the lip of the fall as stepping stones.  Needless to say, we took our carefulness very seriously and had no mishaps.  The Tigre Preto falls are actually like two falls as one goes over the edge of the rocks and other water pours through a cleavage at the edge, exiting in lower places in the cliff.

The lovely river that feeds the Tigre Preto falls

The cleavage within the rocks wherein
the water seemingly is swallowed up

Have to take the obligatory pictures of the falls we had to cross over

After climbing across the waterfall, we made our way to another outcropping of rock for a great view of the falls.  Between the falls and the Pinheiro trees, we had plenty to keep our eyes and cameras busy.

Marjorie showing off her new shoes as she
skips across the stones

A view of the Tigre Preto falls

Stacked Pinheiros

I had the strangest feeling that we were being watched

Tigre Preto falls

They are called "Black Tiger" falls because from a
distance, they look like a tiger clawed at the mountain
face, exposing the black stone


We continued on to reach the beginning of the canyon (yes, even canyons have a beginning and an end) and then onto where Gerson was clamoring to see.  There is this large rock formation (Pedra do Segredo or Secret Stone) that juts out of the cliffs and we were determined to find the path down the 75+ feet canyon wall to get to this landmark. 

I thought the worst that could happen is one of us would fall and get hung up on a tree that juts out from the canyon wall.  The hard part would be figuring out how to get back up!  We did find the "path" and with the help of many rock handholds and plant clumps, we eased onto the stone platform. 

View of the Canion da Fortaleza beyond the infamous rock formation called the Pedra do Segredo (Secret Stone)

Yep, we made it

Look closely at the third picture and you will see how
we had to climb the last 20' (uh, Gerson, can you give me
hand here!)

Putting things in perspective

Enjoying the benefits of cool, clear water and natural
water massage therapy.  Marjorie now has experienced
what salmon go through

We found other waterfalls along the way and took our time peeking out over the ledges and cliffs.  There was such a freedom to experience this openly and I hope Brasil does not get too "liability conscious" and start to fence off these areas.

Our drive home was wonderfully scenic and we often felt we had taken a wrong turn and ended up in Ireland.  But then, we would cross a rather dodgy bridge and we knew we were right back in Brasil. 

One of our wrong turns and we ended up in Ireland One of those rather interesting bridges

We wound on down the curvaceous road and we were blessed with the sights of breathtaking landscapes. 

A typical little enclave

Gorgeous landscapes

Beautiful Pinheiro trees

So much beauty

A typical farm

Just before we were to creep down a nail-biter road built somewhat precariously along the steep mountain face, we stopped off at a small market that sells rather enviable salami and delicious cheese.  Of course, Gerson had to play with his salami before we left.

Our stopping off point and
Gerson playing with his salami

The view from on top of the mountain and yes,
that is our road (it's difficult not to think about
riding a bike down the road - "brakes, we don't
need no stinkin brakes")

See how the clouds get locked in the mountain

One thing about this time of year in these higher parts of Brasil is the blooming of the Hortencias (or as we know them, Hydrangeas).  It is one thing to see them as a small clump in someone's garden, it is an entirely different experience to see them covering entire hillsides, backyards, etc. with blooms that can get as big as1 to 2 feet in diameter.  This page would be incomplete without including some of the pictures of these stunning roadside displays.

Yes, a lot of Hortencia pictures; however,
each shows a sample of what we encountered
during our trip to Rio Grande do Sul
The roadsides and riversides
were covered in lavender
shades of the flowers

Our return from the mountains took us back to Camboriu where we once again, met up with Gabriel and his family.  The skies were blue, the water was turquoise, the boat was ready and we were more than willing.  We attempted to anchor just off a beach around a point but unfortunately, the winds were coming in such a direction that we just could not get a secure hold with the boat.  So, our plan B turned us back to our favorite watering hole, the floating bar, Caixa D'aco.

Marjorie, Jo and Gabriel enjoying a little shade

Gerson, Diego and Rodrigo cooling off

The crew at Caixa D'aco (all those plaques are the names
of boats that have visited the bar)

Our crew:  Marjorie, Joe, Gabriel, Diego, Gerson, Louise and Rodrigo

Getting the nerve to do a back-flip
(which I did!)

Gerson shucking and sucking fresh

Two moons rising

After our respite at the bar, we cruised over to a little beach on the Island of Porto Belo and just lazed in the shade.  A great way to wind down a tough day on the ocean.

Enjoying our "down time"

Gerson and Diego take a walk

Brotherly love

Wow!  What a fantastic week we had!  From the ocean to the mountains, from family to friends, from green landscapes to turquoise waters - we had such an outstanding time.  We are already talking about when we will go back to the canyons.  Looks like another webpage in the making.

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