The Canastra Mountains (Day 2)

Posted: April 14, 2012 by Ben Weber in English, Hiking, Training
Tags: , , , , , , ,

<— The Canastra Mountains (Day 1)

The second day at the Serra da Canastra was slightly less tiring, though from standing up pretty much entirely at the back of an open-aired 4WD truck going 80km or so over some pretty tough roads, it was nonetheless tiring on the body.

We went with the Central de Turismo (+55 37 3433164) on the journey into the Serra da Canastra national park itself (the previous day, our hike had been outside the park boundaries) – a journey which itself is not able to be done by foot simply because of the distances and because camping is prohibited in the park (which is a shame – they say because campers can damage the park and, which I can imagine happening with fires, pollution and going away from established trails and disturbing the wildlife (this can be dangerous as there are snakes… coral snakes… tropical rattle snakes (cascavel)… not things I would particularly like to encounter… but they are there). At the same time, the park authorities do seem to let vehicles in which have no pollution standard requirements speed through the park (there is a limit of 40km per hour though…). But ah well.

So standing at the back of the vehicle for the distance was quite tough, being thrown from one side to another with my camera (with a canon 70-200mm F2.8 L II, and a 2x II extender) weighing quite heavily around me, trying to focus on things. Our guide, nicknamed “Boca” (literally: “Mouth”), was great though as it seemed like he had a radar for everything which we passed, and he pointed us towards the laughing Seriemas we had heard on the previous day, owls, caracaras (though these were hard to miss as there were so many of them) and also towards a group of ducks (Pato Mergulhão) which he saw swimming in one of the rivers – this is a duck which is almost extinct as they require pristine clean an unpolluted habitats, and the Serra da Canastra is one of the last remaining such places they can live. So it was pretty special being able to see a family of seven ducks swimming along even though they were about 400 metres away from us (can just about see them in the photo below but in no great detail unfortunately).

It was ultimately a good day in spite of the lack of walking – good to swim in the streams and go under the waterfalls; see some of the wildlife (we didn’t see Onças (Jaguars), ant-eaters, or the wolves in the mountains though which was a shame though these are slightly harder to come across).

In terms of comparing this mountain park to the Intervales Park, which distance-wise is closer to São Paulo, I would recommend the Serra da Canastra – there are many more trails that go to great parts of the mountain outside the park which you don’t need guides to see. Being more open, I think it is easier to get pictures and see the wildlife as well, in comparison to the closed-in forests of Intervales. Ultimately, though it is a good 7 hours or so bus ride away from São Paulo, being able to get a bus at 10pm and arrive early in the morning is great so the longer distance doesn’t matter so much. And, unlike Intervales, if you are dependent upon public transport, you won’t need to spend a fortune on a taxi to get you to and from the park areas.


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