SERRA DA BOCAÍNA
The Serra da Bocaína National Park, established in 1971, is located in the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The Park covers an area of 104,000 hectares in the municipalities of Paraty, Angra dos Reis, São José do Barreiro, Areias, Cunha, and Ubatuba, being one of the largest protected areas in the Atlantic Forest.
The Park, due to its size and wide range of altitude (over 2,000m), offers varied landscapes and many natural attractions such as beaches, natural pools, rivers, waterfalls, peaks and viewpoints, not to mention the wide variety of flora and fauna.
There are also many attractions of historical and cultural interest, such as the "gold roads and trails", reminiscent of the tropeiros era, and the redneck and caiçara cultures, preserved in the mountainous and coastal portion, respectively.
WHEN TO GO
Highland: The best period is between the months of May and August, when there is less rainfall. However, this is the coldest time and therefore less favorable to the waterfall baths. During this period the average temperature is 10°C and may reach the minimum of -2°C.
Coast: For those looking for tranquility, the visitor should avoid the high season (December to February, and July) and the long holidays, especially New Year and Carnival, when cities and the beaches are crowded and traffic jams are frequent.
The Serra da Bocaina National Park is headquartered and has tourist attractions both in the highlands and on the coast. The main attractions in the mountainous region have access by the city of São Jose do Barreiro, in the Paraíba Valley. It is also where the main headquarters is located. The attractions of the coast are located near Paraty, where the Park's sub-office is located.
São José do Barreiro
The city is located 200 km from Rio de Janeiro, 278 km from Sao Paulo, and 520 km from Belo Horizonte. There are regular bus routes between Sao Paulo and Guaratingueta, through which the visitor can take the bus to Sao Jose do Barreiro, also in regular line (Line Guaratingueta - Bananal / three daily departures). Once a week there is also a direct line between São Paulo (Tiete Terminal) and Bananal.
For those leaving Rio de Janeiro, there are regular lines to Resende (Graal terminal). There, visitors should take a taxi or collective to the central bus station and catch the bus to Sao Jose do Barreiro (two daily departures). Another option is to go down in Barra Mansa, take a bus to Bananal (several daily departures), where there are regular routes to Sao Jose do Barreiro (Line Bananal - Guaratinguetá / three daily departures).
From São José do Barreiro to the Park entrance: Access to the mountain region of the park is allowed only by the Sao Jose do Barreiro's entrance. That is where the visitor start crossing the Mambucaba Path (Gold Trail) and also arrives to the San Isidro and Posses waterfalls. The route is by the Francisca Mendes Ribeiro State Highway (SP 221), known locally as Bocaína road or Park road. It takes about 1 hour to go through the 27 km slope. The road was upgraded, so that it is now possible to go all the way in passenger vehicle.
There is no bus line to the Park's entrance. Having no car, the visitor can hire transportation in the city or negotiate it with guides, tourism agencies or hotels.
The city is located 240 km from Rio de Janeiro, 300 km from Sao Paulo and 610 km from Belo Horizonte. Paraty is serviced by regular routes from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, with several daily departures. For those parting from of Belo Horizonte, there is a regular line to Angra dos Reis, with departures to Paraty throughout the day.
Arriving to the park attractions in Paraty - Trindade region: On the coast, the main attractions of the Serra da Bocaína National Park are located in the vicinity of the Trindade village, in Paraty. Here the tourist finds the Middle Beach (Praia do Meio), the Steel Box Beach (Praia da Caixa de Aço), a natural pool and waterfalls.
The access is made by the BR 101 highway (Rio-Santos), starting from Paraty toward Ubatuba, until the Patrimônio clover (16 km). The distance from the clover to the village of Trindade is of approximately 6 km in paved road. There are regular bus between Paraty and the village of Trindade.
In the mountainous region of the Serra da Bocaina National Park, which includes the municipalities of Sao Jose do Barreiro, Areias, and Cunha, there are numerous options for ecotourism circuits.The highlight is the trails, usually made on foot paths ranging from half an hour to several days, going through rivers, waterfalls, valleys, peaks, scenic overlooks and places of historical and cultural interest. In this region, the only allowed access into the park is by the Sao Jose do Barreiro's entrance.
Santo Isidro Waterfall
Santo Isidro is the closest waterfall to the Park's entrance in Sao Jose do Barreiro: it is 1,5 km away, covered in a 45-minutes-walk. With about 50m in height, it forms a well with sandy bottom, excellent for swimming. The arrival is made by the top of the waterfall, which requires attention on the way down to the well.
Hat Tip Peak (Pico do Tira Chapéu)
The Hat Tip Peak, with 2.088m of altitude, is among the ten highest points of the São Paulo State. The view of the Paraíba Valley, Mambucaba Valley and Paraitinga compensates for the three hour hike. There are two different accesses. One starts with Pinheirinho farm, neighboring the park, where residents indicate the trail. The other access is by Cincerro farm, towards Uncle Tom's Cabin (Cabana do Pai Tomás), in a five kilometer hike. It is considered high degree of difficulty trail, so it is recommended to the monitoring of a guide.
The Sobrado Viewpoint is close to the park entrance in Sao Jose do Barreiro and has approximately 1.850m of altitude. The 2-hour walk leads to the highest point of the park which offers views of the entire Mambucaba River valley, where the visitor can see the Macela Stone and the Friar Stone. It is exactly located in the park bordering with the Forest Farm.
Mambucaba Path (Gold Trail)
The Mambucaba Path, also known as Gold Trail, starts at the park entrance in Sao Jose do Barreiro and ends in the hinterland of Mambucaba, in the municipality of Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro. With about 50 km inside the protected area, it is customarily divided into three days of walking.
In the first day, visitors can enjoy the Santo Isidro Waterfall and the Posses Waterfall.
The Posses Waterfall is located at 8 km from the park entrance in Sao Jose do Barreiro and has a fall with about 40 meters high. The ruins of the trail that leads to the waterfall is a historical record of an ancient farm responsible for the plantation and extraction of pinus, Portuguese cedar and eucalyptus. This plot can still be seen by the visitor, and it is a subject of study by the park's Exotic Species Eradication Programme.
On the second day, the visitor arrives at the Deer Waterfall, being the most famous in the park. Very close to the Mambucaba Path, it is an obligatory stop for visitors who cross the park through the historic path. The waterfall has three falls, and the second is the greatest. The access to the lowest drop (third) presents no difficulty, but the path is more complicated towards the second and first falls.
From there, already on the third day, the visitor begins a long descent towards the coast, on the Atlantic side of the park. The stone paving, from the Crown times, leads to a time travel and demands a lot of attention. From there, visitors can see the Splash Waterfall, located in an area of difficult access with no diving well.
Arriving at the trail end, there are still about 20 km (mostly on dirt road) to the BR 101, at Mambucaba Park (also known as Perequê). For this last stretch is worth combining a ride with friends or travel agencies.
The coastal region of the Serra da Bocaina National Park includes parts of the cities of Ubatuba, in São Paulo, partially overlapping with the Picinguaba nucleus of the Serra do Mar State Park; and Paraty and Angra dos Reis, in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
It is a region of beautiful beaches, rocky shores, natural pools and small rivers with rapids and waterfalls, with the backdrop of Serra do Mar covered by the Atlantic Forest.
Trindade is the only stretch of the Serra da Bocaina National Park with marine attractions. There are two of the most beautiful beaches in Paraty and a natural pool surrounded by native vegetation and the caiçara history.
The Middle Beach (Praia do Meio) is composed of two small coves, where it opens into a small river. It's the park's attractive park with easiest access in Trindade and so is often quite busy on holidays. Its waters are greenish and transparent.
The Steel Box Beach (Praia da Caixa de Aço) is the one of greater extension of the park. Its access is by a trail of 400 meters long, leaving from the Middle Beach. For its size and access, it is less frequented. It has blue-green crystalline waters and at certain times of the year is good place for surfing.
The natural pool, surrounded by rocks and shallow waters, is one of the most beautiful in the region. For being small and having a varied marine fauna, it is extremely sensitive to environmental impacts. Its access is by a trail coming from the Steel Box Beach or by boats leaving the from Middle Beach.
From the beaches the visitor can see a large rock called Indian Head, located on the tip of Trindade (Ponta da Trindade), which is the border between the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. There are currently no trail to reach the site.
In this region the visitor can also go hiking on trails that run through areas of the Atlantic Forest and bath in small waterfalls, such as the Pontal Waterfall and the Stone that Swallows (A Pedra que Engole), a rock formation through which runs a stream, where the visitor can be "swallowed" by the stone.
The source of the Mambucaba River is located on top of the Serra da Bocaina, in Sao Jose do Barreiro, and it goes down towards the coast, flowing into the border between Paraty and Angra dos Reis. Accompanying most of its course follows one of the most famous gold trails in the area, once used by merchants and smugglers, and today by ecotourism lovers.
In its final stretch, the so-called Mambucaba Hinterland, the river becomes shallow, with transparent waters and rocky bottom, presenting some rapids and small waterfalls. It offers optimal conditions for bath and rafting.
The access is by BR 101, in Mambucaba Park (also known as Perequê) in Angra dos Reis.
Friar Stone (Pedra do Frade)
The Friar Stone can be seen from different highlights of the park, as the Hat Tip Peak and Sobrado Viewpoint. The stone can also be seen around the coast of Angra dos Reis, including from the BR 101 Highway.
It is about 1,500m above sea level and its top has a 360° view, sighting to Ilha Grande Bay, the coastal plain of Angra dos Reis and Parati, Serra da Bocaina and the Serra do Mar.
The trail that leads to its top has difficult to access and climbing stretches, demanding fitness and attention. It is recommended to the monitoring of a guide.
WHERE TO STAY
The visitation is still in the qualification and planning process, but there are some areas suitable for overnight in the Mambucaba Path and some authorized campsites in Trindade. It is necessary permission to spend the night inside the park.