Pedra Grande and the Mata Atlantica forest

Posted: March 7, 2012 by Ben Weber in English, Nature photography/film, Training
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Pedra Grande hike is a 9.5km walk through remnants of the once massive Mata Atlantica tropical and subtropical forest that currently covers about 4,000 km2 of land in Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, though is estimated to be about 88% smaller than it used to be before human settlements really began to grow, particularly along the coastline of Brazil. In the middle of the hike, high up over the city, one can see the massive contrast between the forest and the grey and white urban skyline in the distance.

The São Paulo environmental website described the walk as a “high difficulty” hike. With that in my mind, I imagined that there would be tricky trail going through the forest, maybe a bit of climbing here and there up rocks to get up sections and altogether a bit strenuous. I was a little disappointed that the hike was on a tarmac road about 3-4 metres wide (no cars though apart from park staff) so it was an easy “trail” to follow.

What made it difficult was that the first half of the trail was almost entirely up quite steep hill slopes, so I guess that this helped with our leg muscles. And it was quite good training carrying reasonably heavy rucksacks up it. Furthermore, it was still great to be outside of the city and breathe much nicer air free of all the car fumes. It was great to be able to hear the sounds of the forest, see the butterflies, spiders and various creatures that lurk around. It was made all the more impressive that one of the first things we saw as we began the trail was the fight between the Wasp and a Spider – it was all by chance as we saw a couple of others looking at the struggle, and though at a small-scale, it really showed how tough nature could be even in a pleasant environment such as this. I am not sure if we would have seen it otherwise as we would not have known what to look for, and we would have been looking to the trees, trying to see monkeys hanging around.

There are a few other trails which can be done in the same national park as Pedra Grande which are well worth doing: On the way back down, we ended up doing a few of these extra side-walks and probably ended up walking a total of 15km by the end of the day. Going towards one such hike, after passing by a Chinese guy who was singing China opera at the top of his voice, and a few groups of foreign tourists, we eventually got to the Trilha dos Bugios – the Bugio Monkey Trail, which was along a nice dirt and rocky track and immediately made me happier (in spite of the blood thirsty mosquitoes, but we can’t have everything, can we..?!)

We didn’t really expect to see anything as we thought that if we hadn’t particularly enjoyed the singing, then the monkeys (who aren’t the biggest fans of us humans) would most likely have been terrified. But a few minutes into the walk, with only the sounds of the forest around us, we eventually heard some movement in the trees. With a little bit of looking around, we could see a couple of Bugios sitting and swinging around high up in the branches. After a while we could even hear the noise they made as they ate fruits and nuts. Quite a nice way to bring the day to the close.

The one point that was extremely annoying was caused by myself: I left my camera memory cards at home. A good point to remember is what Norm describes in his backpacking tips: preparation! And this was certainly something that could have been double checked. For this, I apologize – the quality of the photos from the video camera is not the best – regulating the light and focus is all automatic so there was no real control over it. But at least there is a good excuse to go back. Next time, I won’t forget anything – I promise!

  1. Lesley Weber says:

    I hear your frustration re a hike being termed ‘very difficult’ when in fact it is not. At all. London walking guides for hikes within a couple of hours of the city perimeter have a difficulty rating. We’ve tried and tested all most supposedly challenging and been sorely disappointed. Perhaps they are for the discerning city dweller? After having Scotland as our playground for so many years, where several hours uphill, scrambling, awful weather, sheer drops, ridges, navigational issues are all the norm, ‘challenging’ means something entirely different to us. Being told that primrose hill is a ‘hill’ where I can go for a walk left me speechless 🙂 I guess it’s all relative. Bear with it – it’s all good practice – get ideas from your experienced friend re challenging and exciting hikes. The lesser challenging ones can all be used as fitness and stamina building 😀 xx

    • Ben Weber says:

      Yeah, I guess the trail ratings on the site we looked at are for the city dwellers not used to doing too much! Plenty of them along the trail itself. But yup, as you say it’s nice to use them for fitness and stamina – definitely came in handy yesterday for a reasonably close place to go as all the harder hikes will take three hours or so to get to..! Would be very good to go to Scotland for some proper hiking though – hopefully we will be able to sort something out!

  2. Lesley Weber says:

    And your wildlife is exceptional!!!! 😀

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