return to the wild

My unique trekking styleI have a feeling my knees may never talk to me again. When I decided to go trekking for three days I think they should have warned me that rock climbing and gorge walking would have been a more accurate description. The day before I had a wonderfully relaxing day with Cris, Cristiano and Birger visiting a nearby natural pool with a huge rocky slope leading into it, covered with water. You climb up the side, edge across on your bottom and then slide at great speed all the way into the pool below, I have never screamed so much in my life. Very entertaining though and we thought we were pretty cool until we saw the local guys doing it standing up!

Chapada trekking, day one

So, the trek began on Tuesday morning and I was very proud of my minimialist, light weight rucksack until I was given my tent, sleeping bag, roll matt, and share of food at which point it became rather more weighty. The first day we walked from Lencois, crossing the river at about calf depth and grade 3 rapid speed before heading out across and up to the first of many peaks. Our guide Flor powered ahead in his battered old flip flops explaining (in Portuguese) that Havainanas were the best shoes in the world so why would he need hiking boots. Then Robert, a guy from Holland who’d spent four months doing physical labour on a Brazilian farm followed and a lovely middle aged couple from Sao Paulo that are trekking guides in their own region. And then there’s me, who hasn’t trekked with a big rucksack at length for about five years…splendid! Actually I managed fine and I loved it. We had the most spectacular views across the park, saw poisonous brightly coloured caterpillars, hummingbirds, palm trees, banana trees, mico monkeys, ate raw sweet potatoes found by Flor, swam in waterfall pools, camped under rocky overhangs, had porridge for breakfast, scaled unbelievably steep paths (I use path is the loosest sense of the word), climbed up rock faces, down rock faces, waded through rivers, slipped and fell heavily on our bottoms (well just me actually), slipped and stepped in the water soaking our shoes (again, just me) and sipped emergency cachaca by the campfire (okay that was just me too but I really needed it!).

Suffering from Vertigo at Cachoeira Fumaça

The second day we hiked for two hours along the river, doing the kind of bouldering I have only previously attempted with a rope and harness, to reach the base of the Cachoeira Fumaca, Brazil’s highest waterfall at 400m. It’s so tall that even the ample flow of water had transformed into a series of drifting sprays by the time it finally hit the pool at the base looking like smoke (hence the name Fumaca, answers on a postcard as to how long it took me to figure that out) Even on a cloudy day it was fairly awe inspiring.

The Flying Dutchman

Then today we trekked around and up to the very top of the same falls. Given the great height, and the tendency for the path to favour the direct route up the mountain, I was exhausted when four hours later we reached our goal. This time it was brilliantly sunny and looking down the dizzy drop to the smoke-like spray, intermittant rainbow and green valley stretching out below even I conceded it was well worth the effort.
View from Cachoeira Fumaça

Then it was a mere two hour walk down, what I guess could creatively be described as steps, to the village of Capon where we got our car back to Lencois. So although I now hurt everywhere imaginable I am clean and feel pretty damn hard, and pleased with myself…in the words of our guide, Flor, let’s boogie!

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