A Travellerspoint blog

Canyons of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Cambará do Sul

sunny 30 °C
View Brazil 2009 - 2012 on erodrigo's travel map.

I have never gone to the Grand Canyon in the United States, as I always felt there are so many, almost, undiscovered places in the world who are not yet over run by tourists. One day I will go to the Grand Canyon, but not right now.
One of these places I visited last weekend: Cambará do Sul, in the state Rio Grande do Sul, on the border of the state Santa Catarina in Brazil.

Why go here you might ask? Because they have impressive canyons too, with just a few tourists to visit them.
Itaimbezinho Canyon maybe the most impressive of the canyons close to this small city, but I liked Fortaleza Canyon much more.

Cascata or Cachoeiras dos Venancios

We started our stay to the city of Cambará do Sul with a visit to the Cachoeiras dos Venancios or Cascatas dos Venancios. Anyway both mean waterfalls.

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They are no Foz do Iguaçu, but still worth a visit. And of course here again, like for the canyons, you have to take a dirt road from the city.
This is a dirt road of the medium type not really good but not too bad too.
In total there are four waterfalls of which you can get the more close to numer 1. But just for the view walk the other way to, to get a nice view to waterfalls number 2, 3 and 4

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The waterfalls have an entrance fee of 5 reais per person.

Fortaleza Canyon

The road to Fortaleza canyon is almost impossible to drive with a normal car. Of course we did and how our cars suffered, more than once we heard the clunk of really big rocks hitting the bottom of our cars. I would recommend a four wheel drive, because it is all dirt road and not of the welcoming kind.
But then again you do not have to pay an entrance fee to go visit this canyon.

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The other plus point of this Canyon, that is a plus for me that is, is that it has no men made structures whatsoever, just a dirt road. So there is no protection to stop you from falling in the Canyon.
So if you think to go there with small children, think twice, because it is absolutely unsafe for this kind of tourism.

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Itaimbezinho Canyon

Itaimbezinho on the other hand is suitable for a visit with small children, because it has a lot of protective measures, stopping you from falling in.

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The road to this canyon is also a dirt road but of the friendly kind. You can drive to this canyon in your normal car.
On the other hand in this canyon you have to pay a entrance fee. 7 Reais per person and 5 reais per car.

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Posted by erodrigo 18:40 Archived in Brazil Tagged landscapes waterfalls mountains canyons tourist_sites Comments (0)

Culture in Porto Alegre

Mixing up cultures

sunny 20 °C
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Yesterday we went to see the show of Eva Yerbabuena. She is one of the world’s most renowned Flamenco dancers. It was a really great show. I am mixing up cultures; after all I am a Dutch guy in Brazil going to see a Spanish dancer who uses Arabian dance in her Flamenco. How political correct can one get?
Today Chuck Berry will perform here in Porto Alegre and next month the Bee Gees and Aerosmith. The nice thing, for an European al least, is that the price are affordable. For Brazilian people it is expensive, as it would be for me if I would go see these shows in Holland.
The theatre “Teatro do Bourbon” in Porto Alegre is a really nice circular like theatre with good acoustics. I can recommend it to everyone

Posted by erodrigo 09:19 Archived in Brazil Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (0)

Gramado and Canela

Enjoying the Fall in the south of Brazil

rain 10 °C
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This weekend we visited the towns of Gramado and Canela.
It is hard to believe when being in Brazil, but when you are driving to, and arrive in Gramado, it is almost as if you arrive in a small city in the Black Forest or Bavaria in the south of Germany.
Leaving the plains near the coast of Rio Grande do Sul you start climbing the medium high mountains, like you would in the Black Forest. The temperature starts dropping and the clouds get bigger in number and size. Once arrived in Gramado you start wondering if you took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up being in the Twilight Zone.
Everywhere you look you see the typical building style of the German houses in the Black Forest and there are even a lot of old style Beetles driving around.

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It is only when you talk to people you realize that you are in a Portuguese speaking country and when you pay for your Apfelstrudel in Reais you realize you are in Brazil.
Gramado is a small town in size but it is big in Tourism. This is also reflected in the number of different restaurants you have here. We visited two of them. C´est Mieux de la Fondue and Toca da Bruxa. The last is a Pizzeria but is especially funny because of the entourage. You have a place to park your broom and a garden with toxic plants and of course inside you will find all the books and potions a good witch needs.

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Lots of people from Brazil and in fact from all over the world come to Gramado to see this German town in Brazil. The origins for this town of course lay in the immigration of lots of German people in the 19th and 20th century. They arrived from Europe and brought along with them the art of making chocolate, beer and of course Apfelstrudel.

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A woman from Rio de Janeiro was excited about the place. She said isn´t this wonderful? I can not believe that I feel cold rain in cold weather I love it here. Well for her it may be wonderful, but for me, coming from the Netherlands it is not so unusual to feel cold rain on a cold day. So I guess it is all about perspective, what you enjoy and when you think something is amazing.
When visiting Gramado you have to visit the neighboring town Canela. Here you have the wonderful park; Parque do Caracol which contains the Cascata do Caracol. Okay it is not the biggest fall in the world but still very impressive.

Next week I will tell you more about really impressive falls, when we go to visit Foz do Iguaçu. But for now these falls did perfectly in expectation of the impressions when we go visit the really impressive falls on the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. On the way in to Canela we encountered a really funny sight: Mundo a Vapor, this is a museum about the world of steam, we did not visit this museum but we stopped to watch the entrance of the museum. When you look at the picture you understand why we stopped to see this entrance.

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Posted by erodrigo 12:43 Archived in Brazil Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Strange Electrics

Porto Alegre and Veranópolis

overcast 30 °C
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The strange thing about Brazil is they have bipolar electricity. In the big cities, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Porto Alegre, you will find the voltage is 110. However when you move to the countryside and smaller cities like Veranópolis the voltage changes to 220.
So if you come to Brazil and your charger, for example of your mobile phone, is not bipolar better bring a converter with you if you are planning on staying in a big city.

Porto Alegre
Porto Alegre is a harbor town of about 3 million inhabitants situated on the Baia de Guiaba and home of the famous football club Gremio
It is not a very touristic town, although it has some nice places to visit. Like the museums in the centre or the Jardim Botãnico, which shows you all the nature in and around Rio Grande do Sul.
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Veranópolis
Veranópolis is a smaller city in the mountainous area of Rio Grande do Sul. One of the best known places in this town is the Restaurante Giratório. This restaurant has a revolving diner room, where you enjoy the landscape in 360 degrees view while you are eating your Italian style meal. Veranópolis has a lot of descendants from Italian origin, where as the nearby city Novo Hamburgo has a lot of descendants; well you guessed it, of German origin.
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It has two churches, the main church in the city centre and nearby the more intimate church: Gruta N.S. Des Lourdes. Inside the church the altar is made from natural stone to create the illusion of the famous cave in Lourdes, France
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The town is a very tranquil and lovely place, where cars still stop for crossing pedestrians, a phenomena not always known in the bigger cities like Porto Alegre. The surrounding area is as the town itself beautiful.

The mountainous area is very green and has a lot of cascades you can visit. But be aware; as soon as you leave the main road you might find there are only dirt roads to be found. When visiting in the summer this will not be a problem for your normal town car, although it might get a bit dirty, but in the winter when there is rain, I am not so sure if your town car won’t get stuck.

Posted by erodrigo 15:00 Archived in Brazil Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (1)

Colonia Del Sacramento

UNESCO world heritage site

sunny 30 °C
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After a boat ride of one hour on the fast ferry from Buenos Aires you arrive in Colonia Del Sacramento, Uruguay. It was originally founded in 1680 by the Portuguese but kept changing hands between the Portuguese and the Spanish until 1822 after the Brazilian declaration of independence. For 6 years it stayed in Brazilian hands until in 1828 the independent state of Uruguay came to be.
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When you cross over by boat during the summer there is one important thing to remember: Uruguay has daylight saving time and Argentina has not. Why is this so important? Because the boat schedules of the ferries are all in local time, but they do not mention any of this on the ferry or when you buy your ticket, so keep an eye on your watch, because we missed our ferry because we didn´t know. In hindsight this turned out to be a good thing because now we had to wait for the last ferry of 23.30 hours, and we got to enjoy the evening, a very good meal and sunset in Colonia. Which is, believe me, not a punishment at all. Because in the evening on the central square you have three café\restaurants and they serve excellent food, good beverages and every restaurant has a live artist(s) performing. And if that is not enough you get to enjoy a beautiful sunset in historic surroundings. What more can a person ask for?
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After we came of the ferry in Colonia Del Sacramento we took a taxi to show us the neighborhood. You do not need to take a taxi, if you are just interested in the historic part. Just turn left when you leave the terminal and after five blocks you arrive in the old UNESCO world heritage site.
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But the cab drive was no punishment either, we got to see how the new Colonia had developed and saw the people enjoying there Saturday off by lunching on the beach and in the parks and got to see the, now abandoned, Bull ring. It is slowly decaying, after the government of Uruguay adopted a law making Bull fights illegal.
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But it has to be said the old historic part is the most beautiful and well worth a visit. It is only a very small part of the whole of Colonia Del Sacramento, but amazingly beautiful. Everything is kept in the way it was founded and the houses are still inhabited or used for business, such as hotels, café or ice-cream parlors. By the way you have to taste the Uruguayan ice-cream it is just delicious.
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So if you are ever in Buenos Aires or Montevideo go take a boat or bus trip and visit Colonia Del Sacramento, you will not regret it. But remember the daylight saving time if you are visiting from Buenos Aires ;-)

Posted by erodrigo 15:59 Archived in Uruguay Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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