Campos actually consists of three districts: Abernéssia is the oldest, most commercial and least touristy part of town; more central Jaguaribe is where you’ll find the bus station; and Vila Capivari is the bustling epicenter. Outside Capivari, attractions are far-flung and you’ll need a taxi or car to get to them.
Morro do Elefante
In Capivari, the classic tourist thing to do is to brave the lineups and take the miniférico (chair lift) up to the top of Morro do Elefante (Av. Emílio Ribas, Capivari, tel. 12/3663-1530, 1–4:30 p.m. Thurs.–Fri., 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Sat.–Sun., R$8), where you’ll be treated to smashing views of the surrounding countryside.
Palácio Boa Vista
Palácio Boa Vista (Av. Ademar de Barros 3001, Alto da Boa Vista, tel. 12/3663-3762, 10 a.m.–noon and 2–5 p.m. Wed.–Sun., R$5) is the rather grand English-style official winter residence of the state governor, which is open for visitation. Amid the marble fireplaces and shiny mahogany furniture is a collection of paintings by leading Brazilian modernists, such as Tarsila do Amaral, Cândido Portinari, and Di Cavalcanti.
Casa da Xilogravura
Those with a penchant for printmaking will enjoy the woodcuts and engravings exhibited at the Casa da Xilogravura (Av. Eduardo Moreira da Cruz 295, Jaguaribe, tel. 12/3662-1832, 9 a.m.–noon and 2–5 p.m. Thurs.–Mon., R$2).
Horto Florestal (Av. Pedro Paulo, tel. 12/3663-3762, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, R$4) is a state park 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) east from Capivari, with easy hiking trails that wind through one of the state’s few remaining forests of striking araucária pines. Waterfalls, a river brimming with trout, and the presence of squirrels, parrots, butterflies, and chattering macacos-prego (“nail” monkeys) round out the natural attractions.
Pedra do Baú
For a rigorous physical challenge, tackle the rocky peak of Pedra do Baú (Estrada São Bento do Sapucaí, tel. 12/3662-1106, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. Wed.–Sun., R$5). Rising to an altitude of 1,950 meters (6,400 feet), Pedra do Baú is situated within a park 25 kilometers (16 miles) north of Campos that can be explored on horseback or foot. To climb the peaks, it’s recommended that you hire a guide.
Altus Turismo (Av. Brasil 108, Loja 8, Capivari, tel. 12/3663-4122, www.altus.tur.br) offers hiking and mountain biking tours to Pedra do Baú as well as the surrounding Serra da Mantiqueira. Depending on the length of the tour and the destination, expect to pay R$35 to $85 per outing. (The popular hiking tour to Pedra do Baú costs R$65).
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition