Capao Bonito and the Intervales Park

Posted: March 19, 2012 by Ben Weber in English, Hiking, Nature photography/film, Training
Tags: , , , , , , ,

After a three-hour bus ride then an hour’s taxi ride through the pitch black of the Paranapiacaba mountains to the south-west of São Paulo city, on Saturday night we got to the São Paulo state Intervales Park near the town of Capão Bonito. It was quite a long journey to say the least and quite an expensive one to say the least – park entry fees, taxis, buses… it all built up… Taxi drivers who see strangers to the area with not much of a clue of how to get to their final destination do have a big temptation to perhaps increase costs a little… But it was a break from São Paulo and nice to escape the city so I won’t dwell on that. Furthermore, for Natalia and I, it was more training with a good 15km hike planned for the next day.

The Park is well up in the mountains and features a load of caves as well as over 100,000 hectares of Mata Atlantica forest. Countless  species of birds, mammals, reptiles (snakes… I hate snakes….!) and insects inhabit park so we were looking forward to seeing more of what nature had to offer us. Also, in spite of us arriving at around 9.30pm, they had some dinner waiting for us, though we did have a little trouble finding where we would be staying at the park (stumbling through the pitch black even with our torches was not the easiest of things to do!).

The following day, up bright and early to meet our guide: we were not allowed to go alone on the trail we were going to do – it is pretty easy to get lost in the forest and both Natalia and I did get a little disoriented. Also the trail meant going through caves which were like labyrinths… without a guide we would not have had a clue! And the guide also kept his eyes to the ground to make sure we didn’t come too close to any of our scaly friends…

As it turned out, we didn’t see any snakes, nor monkeys. Lots of butterflies and birds (humming birds in particular) as well as cave spiders. We got pretty grubby going through the caves and waist deep through the streams, which was quite fun (quite tricky as well with the camera in one hand (stopping it falling in the water) and the torch in another as well). The humming birds are just so fast, they are very difficult to take decent pictures of – especially with manual focus (they blend in pretty well with the forest, making the auto-focus very tricky to use), though I think I managed to get a couple of decent shots (I hope you like!). Also, the hike was pretty tiring, going through the forest, up and down hills, and in the end worth the journey (though we will probably stick with places closer to home for the next month or so – at least until the Easter holiday when we would have more time) – if we had more time rather than just our one full day, we would have stayed longer to do some of the shorter hikes… but I suppose this is a good reason to go back there some day as well!

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