02.03.2012 - 04.03.2012
We arrived in alto paraiso to find a cool little hostel waiting for us where we would camp for three nights.
It was pretty much a family home and we were camping in their garden. The toilet and shower situation was a little odd as we quickly blocked the one dedicated for us so we had to use the one in grandmas house whilst grandma was in there. We just wandered in and out of her little granny annex whenever we needed to go and usually found her crying in front of some soap or other with her face pressed up against the tv as she was totally deaf. Our other option was mum and dads bathroom but there were two doors leading to it, one from our side and one from theirs, so you were pretty much taking a chance of being walked in on every time you went there. Anyway, enough of that.We had a lovely little courtyard to camp in and were joined most of the time by Apollo the dog who was a black retriever and was really lovely.
We took a walk into town and explored the whole thing within 30 minutes. It basically consists of one long street which is full of lots of little hippy shops. It's very cute. The town is famous for its crystals so there are crystals in all if the shops and lots of people with dreadlocks who are really friendly. Alto paraiso is said to be one of the most visible places to see from the moon as a result of the amount of crystals in the area. They also have some weird alien thing going on there.
There are lots of murals of birds on the walls and some weird dome buildings that are all painted up too. Some with elephants, some birds. The whole town seems to have been painted up by the same person.
We were meeting a local guide at 6pm so we headed back to camp to hear what options we had for activities for the next couple of days. The guide, marcelo, agreed to take us to the national park the next day for some hiking and then the day after for a tour of moon valley and some waterfalls. We had the option of zip lining here too, but we chose to pass on this and stick to chilling at the waterfalls.
After marcelo left us we sat around at camp having a few drinkies and enjoying having a night off from cooking as tonight crew were cooking for us, an amazing dish of chill prawn pasta. Mmmmm.
At one point during the evening we had a blackout and Claire skipped off to find her head torch, forgetting that there was a slopey step thing behind her and all we heard was a massive thud as she landed heavily on concrete, twisting her knee and ankle, stopping her from hiking with us the next day and potentially stoping her from driving us too.
The following day marcelo joined us at 8am and we set off on the drive to the national park. The walk was only 5k in each direction but it was really hot so was pretty tough. The walk was beautiful, walking through the trees and over crystals which were everywhere underfoot. We walked past an old crystal mine and stopped a couple of times to admire the crystals we were walking on. Eventually we got to a huge waterfall, known as the 120 metre waterfall. Not hard to work out why. It was stunning, it doesn't seem to matter how many waterfalls you see they are still pretty amazing when you find them.
We walked on further to the smaller 80 metre waterfall and this time we stopped for a swim. There were loads of fish in the water including
More of the ones that nibble at any dead skin that we keep coming across in brazil. It was so relaxing and much needed to cool off after walking in the heat for so long. We stayed there for lunch and then made our way on a little further.
The next set of waterfalls we came to were very low but wider with lots of places to sit about and get a free back massage. Kate, Sarah and I played about for a while trying to get ourselves under one of them but getting blown back out each time. These ones might have been small but they were powerful!
The boys were all playing in the bigger ones diving in, until rudi dived and misjudged where he would land and cracked his head on a rock. Fortunately it wasn't too bad but there's a pretty big scar there now and it bled like hell. So now both of our drivers were injured. Things were going well!
At this point marcelo, our guide pulled it a weird pipe thing which the boys tried. It was kind of like two small bamboo tubes hinged together. He put this tobacco stuff in one tube, placed that tube up one nostril and then blew the other tube do that the tobacco shot up your nose. You do this in each nostril apparently. They were warned not to swallow it as it would make them throw up "all day". It really didn't look that nice, their eyes went red and their nose burned and they spent about 10 minutes washing their nose and hacking and spitting so as not to swallow anything. They did it loads over the couple of days despite not really getting any benefit from it. Each to their own I guess.
We finished our walk and headed back to Sao jorge for an ice lolly before driving back to camp. It was my turn to cook that night so we fajita'd it up, before drinking a load of rudi's wine and hitting the sack. It was quite incredible how a days exercise wiped us out. So unfit after so long sitting on a truck doing very little!
The next day we were to do it all again. Our morning destination was Valle de Luna or moon valley. A series of rock formations that look like the surface of the moon. A shorter walk today but this time climbing over rocks. Marcelo warned us to steer clear of any wet rocks as they'd be really slippery. After about 2 minutes on the rocks I came across a slippery patch, thought to myself that it'd be slippery and then went for it anyway. I slipped and fell down like a sack of spuds, taking the skin off of one of my arms and covering myself in mud. Mmmm a lovely bloody muddy arm. Marcelo ran over to tell me not to go that way, which I'd kind of worked out before dragging me off quickly to see some rose quartz in the rock formations to take my mind off of my now stinging arm. The rise quartz was petty cool and there was lots of it.
We walked on the rocks for some time, balancing precariously at times on the edges of rocks with sheer drops underneath us where we could see a waterfall. I didnt really feel all that safe so I got myself across those rocks as quickly as possible.
At the end of the rocks was another waterfall. This time a pool of water at the bottom that you could swim in and then if you wanted to you could swim up under the rocks into a little natural jacuzzi. I'd managed to freak myself out a bit so stayed in the safe part, enjoying cooling off. The water was freezing! We stayed and sunned ourselves on the rocks for some time before walking to the penultimate waterfall of the day.
The walk to this waterfall was a short one, but it was pretty scary. Walking on the edge of a sheer drop and down the dodgiest steps that looked pretty rotten to me. It was definitely worth it though. It was nice waking through the vines and trees with the water dripping on us. We stopped a couple times for some photos of the views before clambering down to the bottom of the waterfall.
This time we were stopped on the flat between two waterfalls. Another pool that we could swim about in but the best part was swimming upstream to the waterfall that was above us. It was a battle getting up there as you were swimming against the current, but a lot of fun and we sat at the bottom of that one in the water for some time before being swept quickly back to our base.
We were messing about in the pool there trying to learn Sarah's technique of splashing people when all of a sudden Kate screams out that she's seen a snake. She said it fell from the rocks above her. Of course we all thought it was a stick or something so were ignoring her until Claire backed her up as we all ran off to see if we could see it. It was huge. About 2 metres long. Black and yellow fading to a black tail. It was pretty impressive watching it climb back up the rocks. They are so strong to be able to lift their bodies the way they do. A lovely bit of excitement for the day.
We finished our walk and headed to the truck for a change of destination for the final waterfall of the day. To be honest we were all a little tired and weren't really feeling it but we'd heard this was a good one do we went with it. This waterfall was much bigger than the others and gave the boys te opportunity to do some jumping. Sarah ad Kate went in too, but it totally freaks me out and these jumps were high so I walked to the bottom and paddled about for a bit there whilst the others did their thing.
We returned back to the truck, quick coffee in the coffee shop (brazil has this great system where you have free coffee if you stand at the bar and drink it) a play with the dogs who looked like pigs, a quick massage with the rolly things they had in the coffee shop and then we had to say or goodbyes to marcelo and head back to camp.
Back at camp we were all pretty tired so most took to tents for a snooze whilst we waited for dinner to be cooked. Sarah and I planned to do the same but ended up having a bit of a singalonga in the tent with a load of snacks, testing out my new little travel speaker. Andrew brought round popcorn to each of the tents and we chilled for a few hours before a scummy steak and salad dinner.
We left alto paraiso the following morning having finally got plenty of exercise and more than our full of waterfall action.