Where ever possible I have tried to keep this blog picture heavy, however there have been some mammoth hikes (8 hours plus!) that I think deserve a couple of sentences that go beyond what can be seen in a picture.
The one thing about being in a tropical country at the end of their spring/beginning of summer is that when it rains my god does it rain.
This was particularly true of the mountainous region of Chippada and something that took both Andre and I by surprise. We had been spending the day at a particularly beautiful stretch of a river (about a 2 hour hike from the Pousada) with multiple descending levels each with their own waterfall and mini lake, all set within a high valley overlooking the vast green vegetation of the national park.
Given the altitude of the place, we could see a storm in the distance which appeared to be moving away from us. After watching this storm develop from afar for about 30 mins debating whether or not we should leave, we both decided that there were enough locals and Rasta’s there to warrant us staying; thinking that the storm would most likely pass us by.
As you could probably guess that didn’t happen; the one crucial point that both of us failed to realise was that everybody else around us had modes of transport to take them home and so could afford the time to wait till the storm actually hit. We on the other hand only had each other, a vest and our trusty Havaianas,to walk the rugged dirt track back home.
It was this particular hike back which lasted the best part of 3 hours that conjured up the image of the 80’s classic “Stand by me” since it was such an epic journey back that was at times life threatening given the bolts of lightning and crushing roars of thunder. If that wasn’t enough the road had gone from being a relatively well constructed dirt road to a fast flowing river with large chunks of rock simply coming away from the at times quite steep sections of the road.
Whilst this was a rather stupid position to find our selves in it was one of the most exhilarating and beautiful things to go through; the rich soil of the road had created these streams of chocolate like milk similar to that of Willie Wonka.
Being completely soaked right through to the bone for over 2 hours began to get a little much, particularly since we would at times have to jump to the edge of the road to avoid a crazy Brazilian drivers who would be sliding around what has to be the worse road in the world. However it was all worth while when we got to the final bend in the road and the rain had subsided to reveal the most natural waterfall high in the mountain which we were later told had only ever appeared twice in the last 12 years…a truly magical experience I will never forget.
Given all the rain we decided to do an early morning hike to Fumaca, which is called the ‘smoking waterfall’ because it is so high that the water evaporates into mist by the time it gets to the bottom, it is also the highest waterfall in Brazil. We had already done the hike a couple of days before with a local tour guide knowing that there wasn’t any water but given the hight was told it provides the most breathtaking views across the national park.
This as you can see below isn’t simply a myth…
You would have thought that given our last experience with the rain we would have prepared slightly better for this mornings 4 hour return hike, however given the amount of rain that had already fallen and the glorious sunshine we as per usual left the house in shorts a vest and the most inappropriate foot wear…although today was slightly better since we ditched the flip flops for a more sturdy piece of foot wear given the steep climb up. For me this is a trendy pair of retro Hummel high top trainers and for Dre his work out vibrem’s.
Upon arrival to the base of the mountain you are made to sign into the trek, where we were asked if we knew the route up, for which we both responded yes given we had already done the hike, deep down hoping that each other would remember the route up. Given the downpour of rain over the last couple of days the hike had moved from a green ( easy) to red which is the final classification before closing the hike for being too dangerous.
The steep climb up was done with ease in half the time it took us with the guide, probably because we were like Mario and Luigi jumping from rock to rock in an attempt to use the hike as a work out ahead of the next stop being Rio were we had heard that the bodies on the beach were a lot hotter than we had seen so far!
However, this is where the ease ended, what followed was another freak storm which meant what had been a path turned into a fast flowing river which we had no choice but to navigate through…to add to the fear factor the water was pitch black which as you can probably tell from my facial expressions left the image of water snakes in my mind!
The fear was all worth while given the amazingly powerful waterfall we got to see;
After enjoying the view for about an hour we decided to see if we could get to the other side where we had been the previous day to see the opening of the fall from above. I won´t go too much into detail since Andres mother may read this, however lets just say Andre tried to cross what he said was a shallow part of the river about 500 yards from the end of the cliff only to lose his footing and get carried away in the power of the river.
As you can imagine my heart failed at this point with thoughts of whether i had life cover for him or not 🙂
luckily Andre (or GI JO Andre as he has been called) managed to find a rock to save himself. After this traumatic experience he put me through we decided to relax with some of that tobacco…this given the 3 hour hike back down wasn´t one of my brightest ideas!
It did however mean that we felt as if we were on the Krypton factor (for those of you who rember the show).
Since the rain had stopped the hike down was surprisingly easy, however I had decided that i was not talking to Andre given his stupidity which made the trek feel even longer.. thankfully Andre remembered that the area was known for its diamonds back in the day which lead us to occupy ourselves looking for Diamonds on the way and having one of those ´special chats` about what we would do if we found one and how we could smuggle it back and what we could do with a million pounds!….by this point i had completely forgotten about being angry with him!