OverviewThe biggest canyon in Brazil lurks near the border of the southern states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, inside the Parque Nacional dos Aparados da Serra. Nearly 6 miles long and a mile deep, the Itaimbezinho can be either spectacularly beautiful or treacherously deadly. Or both. The famous Itaimbezinho canyon – Itaimbe in Tupi-Guarani means “cut rock” - is located in the Serra do Mar, Brazilian Highlands. The delimited trails take the visitors on incredible tours, discovering landscapes such as cliffs and waterfalls. The park also has a Visitor’s Center and guide service to welcome the tourists.
Most days, you walk along the lush banks of the Rio do Boi, marvelling at the countless waterfalls that plunge down from on high. Occasionally, however, an unexpected rain turns the gurgling Rio do Boi into a snarling torrent that chews its way through the canyon bottom, spitting out the corpse of anyone unlucky enough to have been caught in the chasm. Avoiding these days is a matter of timing. Hiking in the dry season (July-October) is generally safe, though it's wise to keep an ear to the latest forecast. Even during the wet season the trip's still possible, though the prudent may want to stick to the Cotovelo Trail, which follows along the canyon's edge. It, too, is beautiful and spectacular, with the only real danger being a trip too close to the edge.
In the Serra Geral National Park, one of the attractions is the Fortaleza Canyon, which is 8 kms (5 miles) long, 900 meters deep and 1,500 mts wide. There are several trail options to get there, including some that take visitors inside rocky formations. There are also high waterfalls, and long trails for hiking – some of them are more distant and more difficult and must only be taken in the company of a specialized guide, hired in the Aparados da Serra National Park.
When to Visit?The best time of the year to visit Cambará do Sul as well as the National Parks is during the winter months – between May and August – when the chances of fog are reduced, although it is very cold in this region. The city is located on the Araucarias Plateau, in Rio Grande do Sul State’s northeast, bordering Santa Catarina State and other cities in Rio Grande do Sul. In September, a month of rain and low visibility, tours are not recommended because of the fog in the canyons at the end of the afternoon.
Getting ThereThere are four ways to reach Aparados da Serra and Serra Geral National Park. The first is from Porto Alegre (capital of Rio Grande do Sul) through highway RS-020, passing by Taquara and São Francisco de Paula and reaching Cambará do Sul. This route totals 182 km of paved roads. From this point on, there are still 17 km of unpaved road until the main entrance gate and visitors' center. The second option is a variation of the first, via the tourist cities of Gramado and Canela town. This option adds 58 km to the trip. The third option is the most adequate for those coming from either the shore or the north, from highway BR-101. From BR-101 near Torres town, it is an additional 19 km on an unpaved road that goes up Faxinal ridge, until it reaches the front entrance of the visitors' center . The fourth option is driving up the Serra do Rio do Rastro Road, from Praia Grande – Santa Catarina State. There is no regular public transportation to the park.
Camping, Biome and WildlifeIt's Forbidden to camp inside the perimeter of both National Parks.
Cambará do Sul serves as a base to visit Aparados da Serra National Park and Serra Geral National Park. They border each other and share the same type of ecological environment, where large canyons formed by enormous rocky cliffs on wavy reliefs comprise the landscape. There are also sections of Mata Atlântica, fields of grass and Araucaria Forests. Spotted leopards, wildcats, woodpeckers, hawks, among others, are part of the local fauna.
External LinksAparados da Serra Area
Aparados da Serra Area 2
Weather in Itaimbezinho Canyon
Where to Stay Near Aparados and Serra Geral