The Parque nacioal “La Campana” is in any decent tourist guide as a day-trip from Santiago; though, unless you rent a car, it’s somewhat further. Other than that, it’s known for the fact that Darwin stopped by on his second trip on the Beagle. We went to La Campana from Valparaiso, by train, bus and some walking and arrived rather late in the day despite an early morning start.
Though it didn’t matter too much in the end as we would not have had the equipment to climb the top of La Campana. Plus, it takes 4:30 hours for the 7km trip (one way), of which 2 hours are for the last 1800 meters alone.
We, on the other hand, got all the way to the basecamp thanks to a really sweet couple that was driving up and kindly answered to our “hacer dedo“. As we already had walked and hiked 8km by that time, it was just perfect to get up this high and enjoy the beautiful view on the top. Before hiking a relaxing 5 km down to the park entrance and catching another ride into the nearest town where we enjoyed a well deserved late afternoon lunch.
The intention was to hike the way up to Morro do Sete and enjoy the view over to the Pico de Parana. After two and a half hours we gave up though we learned one more Portuguese word: barro – mud or clay.
With our shoes ankledeep in the same, that’s all there is to say about this.
The Tucum mountain belongs to the region of the Pico de Paraná – with 1800 meters Paraná’s highest – and allegedly offers a great view over the same.
Or so we were told by a couple on the way down who had spent the night on the mountain and woke up to a sunrise in the East and the full moon in the West.
By the time we reached the top of Tucum however, the Pico had firmly surrounded itself by clouds.
Maybe next time..
Turns out that the Morro do Anhangava is as close to Curitiba as the Morro do Canal and even easier to hike. As we were informed by the two rangers who sat by the parking lot, the fastest the entire hike has been done is 45 minutes.
With our almost 4 hours, we were very far from such a speed, also because there was no need to. What else was there to do on a sunny and moderately warm Saturday than to hike up, sit in the sunshine, chat with fellow hikers, enjoy the pick-nick and leisurely stroll down on the other side?
The Itupava trail is a historic path connecting the coast to the highlands of Paraná. For the best part of 200 years, right until 1873, it actually was the only one. Today, the traffic thunders along the highways and while a few hundred thousand Curitibanos choose to go this way to spend a long weekend on the beach, we picked the third of the three days to hike the old one.
The morning started early enough with a bus at 7:26 to the outskirts of the city Quatro Barras, and from there a taxi to the appropriately named Borda do Campo – the edge of the field. Or in our case: the forest.
The hike started easy and we made good progress while hoping for the fog to dissipate. Which it did around the same time that the proper, historic trail started: Stones, carried and laid by slaves almost 400 years ago. Slavery has fortunately long gone but the stones remain, polished by thousands of feed, burst through by trees, disappearing in mud, and grown over by moss.
While the nature in these areas is fantastic – we saw toucans, lots of other birds, frogs and the trees are each an ecosystem on their own – the trail itself is not very enjoyable. As we found out the hard way, the slippery stones offer little to no stable ground to walk on and the steep, downhill parts of the hike became quickly dangerous.
Being forced to descend carefully, it took us much longer than expected to cover the 16 km distance before we finally hit the gravel road again. This left us with an optimistic 25 minutes and still 2 km uphill to cover to the Marumbi train station where we had to catch our ride home. I was as pleased as exhausted when we made it.
All in all, was it worth doing the Itupava trail? Yes. Would I do it again? No.
When googling for hikes around Curitiba – fazer trilha – one of the first I came across was the Morro do Canal. Morro meaning as much as hill or top. At 1370 meters high, it’s the last top of the Marumbi mountain chain; or in other words, the closest to Curitiba, being within a mere 45 minutes drive.
Not knowing what expected us, we had invited a friend along. Luckily for us, this friend really loves hiking. While first part of the path is laid out extremely well, including via ferrata style iron chains and foot steps, the second part is slightly more adventurous.
OsmAnd served us again extremely well, indicating each, ever so slight, diversion of the trail. It also helped us to actually find the beginning of the second – longer- part, “It should be to the left here”; and there it was hidden behind some high grass. And, it made the decision ‘left or right’ easier whenever the blue little plastic band that was wrapped around branches, failed to show up at the decisive moment.
What OsmAnd hadn’t showed us, was the seven meter abseiling, secured only by two ropes. Let’s say that we managed and that I was happy that this would remain the only one. The rest was mainly finding our ways through the dense Atlantic rain forest, avoiding ankle-deep mud, snacking on bread and salami while enjoying the view, and generally being glad of having used sunscreen. In other words: A perfect 6 hour hike for a Sunday.
As I have found little to no English information online, here is a rough guide for hiking on the Ilha de Santa Catarina.
- We ignored Florianopolis, the capital – lovingly nicknamed Floripa – and drove straight to the other side of the island
- We stayed overnight in Barra da Lagoa and did 2 longer walks, 11 km each with 4 km optional*
- The first tour starts directly in Barra da Lagoa, on the other side of the pretty blue pedestrian bridge. Just ask the locals for a trilha and you’ll be shown were to go.
- Follow the lightly beaten path – there is no other till reaching Praia Mole.
- Take the road for a km or so direction Lagoa da Conceição till your GPS** (seriously, take one) indicates a path to Praia de Cravata.
- Enjoy the sights there but stop walking before getting your legs all scratched by these:
- For the second tour, we drove to the South of the Island and parked the car close to the Praia matadeiro
- The trail starts by taking left after crossing the little river on a small wooden bridge.
- Keep on walking, cross the next beach – at the end of it, you’ll find the continuation of the path.
- Up in the mountains it goes, and on and on till reaching the praia of Lagoinha do Leste – a beach that’s only accessible through trails.
- After a good break and another walk by the beach, find the wooden sign indicating the trail to Pantana do Sul and from here the bus back to where your car stands.
Honestly, the trails are sometimes not more than a washed out stream, in other words: steep, slippery and occasionally muddy. I hence highly recommend good hiking shoes even if you meet invariable and infallibly a Brazilian doing the same trail wearing floppies. Also take something to eat and lots to drink as there is sometimes a bit of infrastructure but sometimes not.
For us, it was very enjoyable to hike along this rough coast with its chilly winds alternating dense vegetation and lonely beaches.
É muito recomendado!
* Optional as in either taking the bus or walking back by the road
** We’re using the OsmAnd app as you can actually see the trails if zooming in closely enough.