On Monday, we took a trip with our good friend Corinne to Serra do Cipó, about an hour and a half drive outside of Belo Horizonte. It's close to (or on?) the Estrada Real, a road built during the hay-days of gold and diamonds in Minas Gerais. We first stopped at an area that had a restaurant, pousada (inn), store selling handicrafts, and horses! We were hoping to be able to walk to a cachoeira (waterfall) but you had to be guests of the pousada. But we did get to pet the horses.
We went into town to look for a pizzeria, which unfortunately was closed, but we did find a nice self-service place (food by the kilo) called Panela da Pedra. We had to wait a while for it to open, so the kids wandered around the gift shops and the pousada behind the restaurant.
The food was very good, and I was able to finally know that I was eating some tropeiro (I'd tried it before, but didn't know what I was enjoying) and had some "Romeo and Juliet" which is Minas cheese with guava (it's on the upper left of the plate). Yum!
Then we went to Véu da Noiva, which is within a YMCA campground. It was R$7 for one hour, free for kids under age 10, and R$20 for the entire day. I loved seeing Brazilian camping! When I think of camping in the states, I think of getting away to a quiet, peaceful place, and always looking for a nice, secluded spot, away from other campers. Not here in Brazil! There were TONS of people, and all their tents were all together. The swimming hole was crowded, and there was live music, and at one point, lots of people started singing along.
In order to get to the waterfall, you have to hike up a fairly short trail (10 minutes or so). But it's pretty rocky, and crowded. I would not recommend flip flops, but Bea insisted on them, and she insisted on walking by herself. Now, why can't she do this on the way to school everyday?
Véu da Noiva was nice, but a bit crowded and a tad bit dirty. But we also visited on the day before a national holiday, so it was busier than usual. The actual waterfall isn't the best place for little kids to play, but I think ages 5 and up (and good swimmers) could do okay there. The main pool does have a wading area, and a larger "pool" for swimming. Some other friends of ours stayed in the Chalets that are there, and that might make a fun weekend away. Though I imagine it gets pretty hot later in the year. Then we went into town for ice cream.
We decided to try to get to Cachoeira Grande ("Big Waterfall"), but the main entrance was closed. So we kept driving down this narrow dirt road, and ended up at the Parque Nacional. It was near closing time, but we thought we'd just go in and poke around a bit before making the trip home. The kids were thoroughly entertained by this parrot sitting at the entrance.
But then we found out that the other entrance to Cachoeira Grande was still open, so we decided to head back to try to catch it. I think it's normally R$20 an adult (kids are free), but because the sun was starting to set, they only charged us R$10. I LOVED the hike from the gate to the falls--it was well maintained, wide, and there were lots of pretty things to look at.
It was about a ten minute hike/walk to the falls, and it was quite manageable for kids. Plus we could hear the falls, so that was added incentive. These falls are quite as kid friendly (i.e. large drop offs), but much more beautiful. Plus the sun was setting, so that always makes everything look even more beautiful.
On the walk back to the car, Bea decided to make "hand prints" in the dust on the trail, and then fell flat on her face in the dirt. She was filthy.
We did end up driving back in the dark, but everyone did remarkably well (no barfing! no major melt downs, well at least until the end). Very fun day!
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