If you are travelling around Brazilian region Rio grande do Sul…
If you like hidden, not well known places…
If you like not well known places hidden even to Brazilians…
If you like natural wonders…
If you like adventure…
…Go to Itaimbezinho canyon!
Itaimbezinho canyon in southern Brazil was part of our Uruguay-Brazil-Argentina trip we did in January 2016.
Th starting point for the canyon is a village called Cambará do Sul located in the Rio grande do Sul region in southern Brazil. We got there by bus/buses (had to change once) from Porto Allegre. As far as I remeber it was cheap (less than 10$) and the journey took some 3 hours. Don’t worry about booking the tickets in advance, it was a local, regional-public transportation system bus. All the people paid once they got on, we were the only ones who booked it in advance. We were the only non-Brazilians as well. Couldn´t feel more like tourists. Anyway, you have to change the bus in Saõ Francisco do Paula. Although not speaking English, everybody was really helpful, so there was no problem with it.
We found our accommodation (Posada Aparados-highly recommended btw-they have the best breakfast ever!) easily. Finding someone to drive us to the canyon wasn’t that easy though. The canyon is some 18 km far from the village so we went looking for a taxi or a tour operator who could take us there. I don’t know what time of the year and day we went there, but everything was closed and the place seemed like a ghost town. After a good amount of time trying to find something that was open and looked like a travel agency, we finally found a place where they offered tours to the canyon. There are in total 3 agencies in Cambará and they are all situated close to each other, so once you find one of them, you have found the others as well. You can compare their prices, because they vary.
We decided to go to the canyon and do a little bit of hiking around the canyon in that afternoon and then go on a full-day Trilha do boi tour to the bottom of the canyon the next day.
Day 1: Walking around the canyon
The guy from the agency took as to the canyon for some 15-20$. Quite expensive, but well. There were only very few people in the whole place so that was great, we felt like we had the canyon just for ourselves. There are 3 trails that allow you to walk around the canyon and see its beauty from above. The trails are very easy, I wouldn’t even call it ‘hiking’, but rather ‘walking around.’ We did the longest trail and it took us some 3 hours, so one day (afternoon) is enough for this.
The place is impressive, one of those when you sigh ‘oh mother nature’, absolute beauty. We were really amazed. To me it looked kinda like from Avatar movie.
Day 2: Hiking hard at the bottom of the canyon
First thing-this was the hardest hike of my life. It involves scrambling through the jungle, wading through the river that is up to your waist like 40 times and climbing over slippery rocks. Keep reading only if you are still interested.
We were a group of 8 people plus the guide. It is an all-day trip, they picked us up at our accommodation at 8 am and then we spend some 2 hours in the minivan driving down towards the “beginning” of the canyon. Then the adventure started. The guide gave us calf protectors and when we asked him what was that for he just said “cobra.” Ok. Cool. Fine.
I have to mention that the guide (as everybody else) didn’t speak Spanish neither English, so we had no idea what he was telling us the whole time, which made it even more adventurous.
With our “cobra” protectors we started our hike. The first two hours you scramble through the dense, muddy, slippery jungle, so think twice about your shoe wear (Nikes weren’t the best idea as I found out). Then you come to the river. Along the river is no path most of the time, just big, slippery stones. You have to cross the river. For the first time, it was really exciting and super fun. All the group had to hold each other’s hands and walk in a line, carefully and slowly, since most of the time the river is up-to-your-waist high. But you don’t cross the river just once. You cross it like 20 times. And then 20 times on the way back. So, it becomes less and less exciting and more and more annoying. On the way to the heart of the canyon, which is the destination of this trek, we stopped several times- to eat, to admire some beautiful waterfalls etc. When we reached the final point, we could see the walls of the canyon from the bottom, the exact same walls which we saw the day before, so that was pretty impressive. Until that point I was still pretty excited about this trek, it was tough and wet but the views were beautiful and the final view worth it. But then I got to know that we will come back the exact same way, as we came. The exact same…! Of course, it’s not the guide’s fault that there is no other path, but anyway. That’s when it got a little bit annoying and foremost boring. The whole trek took around 7-8 hours, and we got back to our posada at around 9 pm.
Seeing it back in time it worth the pain and I would recommend it; it is definitely an experience you’d hardly get elsewhere. But think about your physical condition and expectations first. 😉