Monday, March 29, 2010

Parque Nacional Dos Veadeiros

Here they don't want you to run over the snakes.
And finally I found one of the snakes, this was a big Rattler about 8-10 years old according to the amount of rattles on its tail.

The Vale de Lua ( Valley of the moon, lunar landscape in the river valley)

One of the water falls in the park that made a nice rainbow when the sun came out , notice the moon in the background.

The most spectacular waterfall I've ever seen. (Rio Preto Falls II, 120meters.)

It was time to roll out of Goias and hit the road with quite a long distance to cover before reaching Alto Pariso and the Parque Nacional Dos Veadeiros. From what the guide book described, the park was host to scenic vistas, waterfalls and canyons comprised in a 66,000 square Km mountanous protected area. The terrain is situated in a high altitude cerrado with 30% of Brasils biodiversity living in such habitat as found in the unique dry forest.

The highway there was plain with intermittent views. At one point I was daydeaming and I zoomed right past a log on the road that seethed backwards as passed. I glanced back over my shouder and verified my imagination. There in the middle of the road was a huge rattle snake the size of two baseball bats layed end to end. I spun the bike around and parked it on the road so that the lovely reptile wouldnt get run over by the oncoming cars and trucks. My tactic worked and the the vehicles unhappily drove around me and the snake. I was doing my best to keep distance between me and the snake but still close enough to scare it off the road and into the tall grass on the shoulder. I almost forgot to take a picture because of my excitement and fear of the deadly serpent. I essentially didnt want to take my eyes off of it even for a second...but I did and got a meadiocre picture nonetheless.

I found a great little pousada (hotel) In Alto Pariso called Pousada do Sol (hotel of the SUN). It was a great place to relax with garden trails meandering all throughout the property. It was very noisy with buzzing and chirping and whining insects all evening. I went out to a restaurant as per the hotel owners recommendation and ate the most delicious chicken curry...ha ha.

The next morning at the crack of dawn (Im crossing time zones to the east and get up early everyday) I found myself loading the bike and heading to the Park for hiking and god knows whatelse. The first stop along the way was a river valley known as the Vale da Lua (moon valley). From my limited study of gelogy I determined that he valley was a sort of fine grained sand stone that through the processes of erosion has formed many crater like indentations on the valley and along the river bed from swirriling currents and sand abrasion. Indeed one could determine that it looked like the moon. At this particular hiking trail no guide was required but, there was a guy at the entrance of the trail who lived in the park house who charged a 5 Real enterace fee.

On ward along a dirt road for 18km I rode further to the town of Sao Jorge. Sao Jorge is a small town at the gate entrance to the park that is dependant on tourism and the prices of the hotels reflected this. I opted for riding to the gate and spoke with the guides and security who agreed to watch my bike all day while me and my hired guide entered the Chapada Dos Veadeiros.

I was given three options for a hike and as it was midday. I had to hurry with my decision and get going immediatly with the guide to make it in and out of the park in the daylight. I decided on the canyon tour becaude I thought that seeing more waterfalls would be more of the same. The park official and I decided that 60 Real was a fair price and the guide (DeDe) and I headed out into the dry forest of the cerrado. The soil was interesting as it was mostly one inch square blocky aggregate of quartz crystals. I had seen a few cartoons in town showing a space ship crashing into the mountains and aliens etc...but didnt understand the significance. Apparenly in the past (50 yrs ago) this was a rich quartz mining area that was mined by hand for the purposes of jewelery and the other for military. Apparently the crystalline clear glasslike quartz was used in Bombas...BOMBS. Yea, the military loads about 1Kg of crystal into a bomb as an antipersonal weapon which explodes and cuts the victims to pieces.

Onward we walked at a brisk pace, a little too fast for my liking as I wanted to soak up the surrounding but I understood that we needed to make time as I arrived later than the usual departure time. The trails were all quartz stones which made for white paths to follow. Along the way DeDe showed me plants, trees, termite mounds, and many birds and explained everything in portugese. I pretended that I understood because I could kinda understand it from knowing a little french, and a little spanish. I pretty much got the just of what he was saying for the most part.

The temperature was cooler than in the lowlands as were were at about 1100 meters (3300ft). However, I was still sweating buckets because cooler meant that it was only 33 degrees C. I noticed that we were decending and in the distance I could see a huge canyon. In my minds eye I thought that we were going into a small canyon...not a Grand Canyon. The descent kept getting steeper until we were walking down stone boulder steps and grabbing trees and branches for stability. At about midway down I could hear the rumble of tremendous amouts of water cascading over a ledge. We rounded a corner and to my astonishment I witnessed the most impressive waterfall I have ever seen. The river (Rio Preto Falls II) dumped over a 120 meter drop into an impressive pool in a wild display of bluewater and white mist. At this point I thought that the trip was over and this was the climax of the endevor. Onward we walked. We decended to the top of the waterfall just before the water dropped off the ledge and continued along the rocks and shoreline to yet another smaller but very impressive water fall called Rio Preto Falls I. The guide, DeDe, suggested that I go swimming here so I tossed the T-shirt and boots and walked up to my knees into the water. There were several 4 and 5 inch long red colored fish in the tea colored water that began nipping at my legs and toes. I hurried out of the water and told the guide that the water was too cold. He said that it was warm and motioned me to get back in. I walked out half way to my knees and a big fish grabbed my baby toe.....that was enough!, I told the guide the truth and he laughed his head off while I sheepishly put my boots and t-shirt back on.

We got going again and the guide sugessted that we see a couple of more falls and I agreed that I still had the enery to make it. He sugessted that we Jog to the next falls so off we went jogging together. The next place was equally impressive as the first although the water poured over a large escarpment like water flowing through the fingers of an open hand, palming a stream of water. Still further we pushed through more dense forest then before on trail that looked like it was only used by animals or a few select people. Along the way I asked how many other Canadians he had guided in his 20 years as a guide. He simply explained that I was the first person ever to arrive by motorcycle and that everyone else had arrived by plane and bussed it to the park. I felt great about that comment. The small trail opened onto a barren bed rock plateau. I could hear water and neared the edge of a very deep canyon that was only about 5 meters wide and about 40 meters deep.

The sights were increadible and I enjoyed every moment. It was going on 6 hours of walking and darkness was encroaching. I was worried that we were going to see another sight but luckily the guide informed me that we were heading back now. The terrain was flatter now and the trails were of white sand (tiny Quartz crystals). The guide stopped at a brook and filled his water bottle and suggested that I do the same as I was out of water as well. I tried to explain that I couldnt but he didnt understand. To humor him I took a gulp and the water, it was plesant, I love drinking from brooks although I try to keep it to a minimum.

We returned to the base and I pulled out my wallet to pay. It was then that I was informed that I owed him 120 Real. I tried explaining to him that we agreed that it was 60. He was playing the oldest trick in the book of ripping off tourists. Bring the client back after hours and demand a higher price because its just you and him and youve got no one to help you. I stuck to my guns and simply told him that I was going to tip him 20 real but now I was getting ticked off. He quickly backed down and shook may hand and smiled and apologised. I was still kind of angry and the joy of the experience was now cloaked in disgust at this man. I gave him 80 Real and busted back out of town back to the Pousada Do Sol in total darkness while looking at the stars.

I checked back into my room and in the morning I rolled out of bed at my usual time of 630 am. I could hear this cawing noise and all kinds of birds. I walked outside to see a flock of Toucans land in a tree that also had two Maccaws roosting among the branches and making alot of racket. I quickly ran to get my camera and when I returned the owner had put some banana and sun flower seeds out for one of the more brazen Maccaws. The colorful bird landed and began eating only a few meters from where I was standing. It was an awesome experience and a great photographic opportunity. Next I had to plan my day to Lencois (Means "bed sheets") some 1000km to the east.

1 comment:

  1. Veadeiros Plateau: an oasis in the heart of Brazil: