The Canastra Mountains (Day 1)

Posted: April 11, 2012 by Ben Weber in English, Hiking, Training
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

So Easter has come and gone, and it is back to the five day working week. But the long weekend was quite welcome. We went to the Serra da Canastra mountains in Minas Gerais state on Friday night (we wanted to go Thursday but that didn’t quite work out – though it was fortunate in a way as we had a lot of work to do in terms of behind the scenes planning for the expedition). The bus ride ended up taking us about seven hours or so, and we got the small village of São Roque de Minas at around 7.30am. Again, the wonderful buses in Brazil meant that we were able to get some sleep in pretty comfortable seats (though as soon as one leaves the state of São Paulo into Minas Gerais, there is an instant change in the quality of the roads which can perturb even the heaviest of slumbers!), so when we got there, we were able to pretty much start hiking after having a quick shower and breakfast and have a full day of walking on the Saturday.

The mountains are wonderful for the hiker, casual drives and days out, and for wildlife admirers. We probably walked around 15 kilometres on the first day, and saw all sorts of bird life with the Caracara especially common, along with species of woodpeckers, parrots, and, though we didn’t see them… Seriemas. With these, we were walking along and heard a kind of laughing sound close by to us. We went to investigate, not knowing exactly what was making the sound, but just couldn’t see anything even though the “laughing” was right next to us. Then it stopped and while we investigated some more minutes, we just did not see anything. We were later told that they were Seriemas – a bird that generally stays on the ground though can fly small distances as it nests in trees. Fortunately we were able to see a couple on the Sunday.

And a quick note about ants… Always fascinating to watch and we saw some pretty big ones there, working away, cutting through leaves and carrying them away. It looked like the ground was moving. So efficient that whilst we were watching them, I had put my bag down and when I got back to it there were a few of them on it, and they actually cut a off a segment of some lighter mesh where we put the water bottle… Such endearing creatures…

I think that people in the area thought we were mad to be walking the distances we did – so many cars passed on the way there and on the way back, we were offered lifts by at least six or seven different groups. One guy called Venicius and his mother – nice people who shared a beer (I know, I know, terrible! though it was just the one!) with us when we reached waterfalls at mid-point of the trail – really did insist, but we were enjoying the walking (in spite of having to pass bulls, cows and calves in the middle of the road) and besides, the whole point of us walking the trail was (aside from to enjoy the wildlife!) to help us get used to good long distance hiking with heavy packs. So we politely turned them down and made our merry way back to São Roque. The meal at the end, though, was extremely welcome!

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