When traveling back to my home state in Brazil, I decided to do some exploring locally after being abroad for so long, and there was one place in particular that I really wanted to know: the canyons of Fortaleza and Itaimbezinho, in the small town of Cambará do Sul.
Cambará do Sul is located 170 Km from Porto Alegre, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The canyons Fortaleza and Itaimbezinho are part of an huge area that include other canyons in the Serra Geral National Park and Aparados da Serra National Park, respectively.
The Fortaleza Canyon is about 1,240 meters above sea level and there are two main trails in the area.
The main trail is called Trilha do Mirante and is about 4km back and forth and takes you up to the top of the canyon. In the way you will have views, but be aware the weather can be really unpredictable up there. There are days the fog takes over and you can't see a thing in front of you, making it quite dangerous too. But if the sky is clear, you will even be able to spot the coastline on the horizon.
The Itaimbezinho canyon is the most famous and one of the largest in Brazil, with a maximum depth of 700 meters and almost 6km in length. In the area, there are three trails. The “Trilha do Vértice” (Vertex’s Trail), and “Cotovelo” (Elbow) crosses the upper part of the canyon and are very easy to complete. The “Rio do Boi” (Ox River) Trail is is accessed from the interior of the Canyon and can only be entered with a professional guide, taking up to eight hours to be completed.
The access from downtown to both parks might be rough, but not impossible. The road is way better nowadays and it's even possible to get there in a normal car. If you prefer going on group tours (or private ones), there are many available in downtown.
Prefer to visit the canyons in the morning time, since there's a tendency of fog in the afternoon.
There are almost no facilities inside the parks. Make sure to pack plenty of water, snacks, a set of clothes and of course, comfortable shoes. Last but not least, bring a bag for your trash.
If you are in this part of Brazil, visiting the canyons is a must. You will be surrounded by the Atlantic and Araucaria Forests, green fields and cliffs. In other words, the perfect scenario for an unforgettable experience!
Want to see more photos? Click here and check the complete photo serie of the canyons in South Brazil.