Hiking

Pousada Tankamana

High up in the Valley

Pousada Tankamana is located in the Cuiaba Valley in the mountain range outside the City of Rio de Janeiro. It is close to the major center of Itaipava, a region known for organic farming with products like Cheese, Jam and trout. Itaipava is a small town that could well have been a mountain town in Germany and so different from other places I have visited in Brazil. The best way to get there is by car and it is about a 2 hour drive from the international airport in Rio. It is just to follow the road to Petropolis and then turn off the main road when you see the road sign to Itaipava. Looking at the map we knew we had to pass Itaipava and then turn up in to the valley to get on the right road. We almost passed the junction where we had to turn, but managed to see the road sign at the last moment. After turning of the main road we continued on a narrow road for some kilometers, passing some horse farms, some restaurants along the road and some nice villas so this was looking promising. The road  became more narrow and got over to a gravel road so we started to think we might be on the wrong road, but again there was a sign telling us we were heading in the right direction. Continuing the road got more winding and deep in to the forest so we made a question mark to what places we had booked. It was getting late and dark outside so when we finally arrived at a big gate we were happy to find out we had arrived at the right place and could check in to our “Chalet” in the middle of the forest.

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We wanted a change from the City life and the beaches and booked a stay for the weekend at this pousada. If you are not used to driving in Rio it can be an adventure in itself and getting out of Rio on a Friday afternoon is the same as being stuck in traffic. Arriving late on Friday evening due to the traffic we where meet by the friendly staff showing us to our Chalet. They had made up the fire place as it was in August and a bit chilly so what a welcome after a long drive.  It was first when we woke up the next morning we realized how beautiful this place hidden far up in the valley was.

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There was no rush to get up for breakfast as there was no timing for it. Whenever you feel like getting up to have your breakfast they will serve you. So we enjoyed our time, walking around looking at the place.

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After Breakfast we drove down to Itaipava to have a look around as it was Saturday and the market day. All the local people come to town to sell and buy things, meet up with friends, have a chat over a beer or a coffee. I love this atmosphere. We where visiting the marked and some small shops along the road. We stopped for a coffee and found a nice wine store where we ended up buying some wine for the evening.

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The people where friendly and talking and even they don’t speak much English they kept talking in Portuguese and smiling. We went for lunch at a nice restaurant we where recommended in the city before heading back to the pousada.

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We where back in the valley and wanted to spend the rest of our stay enjoying this fantastic place. If your not in to just relaxing there are 2 swimming pools, sauna, gym and spa so more than enough for an enjoyable weekend and being surrounded by nature you have lots of options for hiking. And they have bow and arrow if you would like to practice that. We went to explore the forest and did some hiking.

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Followed by some relaxing time in the sauna and a refreshing swim in the pool.

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This pool connected with the sauna have running water from the mountain and is not heated so makes you wake up when you jump in the pool from the sauna and swim out. We enjoyed our stay to the fullest, with wine by the fireplace in our Chalet, followed by an amazing dinner at the restaurant. They serve Brazilian and International food and being in the area with fresh trout they had different options on the menu. We tried out a few during our stay and the food could not have been better. It’s a 5 star resort surrounded by forest hidden in the valley.

To get to Tankamana we rented a car in Rio and booked our stay at http://www.booking.com so if you are in Rio and want a break from the beach and the samba this is the place to go.

Hiking in Rio

Pedra De Gavea

There’s more to Rio than just the famous Beaches, samba and caipirinhas – the city’s peaks offer an amazing view of the city and have some of the most fantastic urban hiking. So during my holiday in August last year I challenged myself to Hike to the top of Pedra de Gavea. For me this was a bit of getting out of my comfort zone as the hiking includes some rock climbing that is probably not the most ideal when you having fare of heights. The rock climbing is a small portion and considered as beginner level. The part can be done without rope but for safety ropes are recommended and for me a must so we hired a guide from the company RioXtreme that provided all the necessary equipment needed.

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Arriving at the start point the guards warned us that there had been occasional reports of armed robberies on the trail, so this got us thinking that this might not be a good idea. I have been hold up and robbed before with gun so I can promise it’s not an experience anyone would like to have. But despite of this we decided to go ahead and do the hiking. The hike is strenuous and not for beginners. So if you have not done this type of hiking before I would recommend to chose one of the easier mountains in the Tijuca forest.

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Pedra de Gavea is a part of the Tijuca forest that is the world’s largest urban forest. With its elevation at 844 Meters it makes it one of the highest mountains in the world that ends directly in the ocean. The hiking to the top takes about 2.5 hours so we made sure we had enough water and snack to eat.

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A few short breaks was needed along the way.

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Us and the Guide with a nice view in the background. Reaching this point we got the first close-up view of the top, and looking closely at the rock you can see features of a human face. The mountain is surrounded by mysterious legends and stories.

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Reaching where the rock climbing part comes in, a crowd of people where climbing up, so we took a short rest and enjoyed the Bird-eye view of Barra de Tijuca.

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Now being in front of the 30 meter wall that is nearly vertical and getting ready to climb is where the ropes and hardness come in handy.  If you do this part without ropes you better be careful as people have died here from falling. I did my best to not look back at any given time during the climbing.

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And finally getting to the end of the wall, happy I made it this far. The rest of the trail was steep and muddy but not to challenging compared to this Rock climbing part.

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Arriving at the top we where meet with a spectacular view of the city of Rio de Janeiro. A bit foggy but we could still see both Corcovado and Pão de Açúcar. From this view, what is considered as one of the  greatest cities in the world looks more like a jungle surrounded with beaches than a big city.

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After some time at the top enjoying the view it was time to head down again. As most of the part going up is steep going down is a quite big challenge as well and a killer for the legs. The guards had recommended us to get down early. The guide was eager to go fast down so that made us a bit nervous as we where sure the reason was he was nervous as well due to the guards warning about the robberies, so we tried our best to follow his tempo. This made it even more hard for the legs so we where quite happy when we arrived down at the starting point and could rest again. But what a fantastic hike. Next time I’m in Rio I will try out some of the other peaks in the Tijuca forest.