In June of 2002 I was invited by some Brazilian friends (I lived in Brazil at that time) to join them on a 4-day hiking trip, camping out along the way. One of these friends was an Outward Bound instructor (in charge of setting up the program in Brazil), so it was hard to say no! Packed in a tiny little car with 4 adult guys, 4 large backpacks (including camping gear), and a dog, we set out for the Serra da Mantiqueira in southeastern Brazil.
The Serra da Mantiqueira is a mountain range divided between the three Brazilian states of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Minas Gerais, to the northwest of the city of Rio de Janeiro. The name comes from an indigenous word meaning “mountains that cry”, referring to the many springs and streams in the area.
This range actually contains some of the highest peaks in Brazil, reaching almost 2800m altitude. But even though it was already late fall/early winter in that part of the world at that time, given that the area is only 22 degrees south of the equator, the weather was actually perfect for hiking. Not too hot, not too cold, and in the dry season.
Geologically speaking it is a relatively old mountain range, which means it is not extremely rugged, with even the highest peaks being fairly smooth. What’s actually more of a problem for hikers is the rather thick and tough vegetation in many places, which caused quite a number of cuts and scars on my legs!
With our “private guide” being an Outward Bound instructor, he was an expert in outdoor cooking. It was quite amazing how he managed to dish up the most delicious meals on just a simple camping stove. And he thoroughly enjoyed it too, so this was an extra bonus for us, next to the amazing natural surroundings. Spending 4 days & nights out in this beautiful Brazilian mountain area was definitely one of the highlights of my time in Brazil (although there were many others!).