Santo Antônio do Pinhal
A mere stone’s throw (or scenic mountain train ride) from “Campos” is the much quieter and less trendy Santo Antônio do Pinhal, where the emphasis is more on nature and sports than creature comforts. In fact, if you’re after R&R without the ballyhoo, you can bypass Campos altogether.
The area surrounding Santo Antônio is an important orchid-producing region. Just outside of town, the Jardim dos Pinhais (Rodovia SP-046 1645, tel. 12/3666-2021, 9:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m. daily, R$13) is a botanical garden with a dazzling array of orchids and other exotic plants.
Accessible by car, the Cachoeira do Lageado is a 15-meter-high (50-foot-high) waterfall 8 kilometers (5 miles) from town. Pico Agudo (1,700 meters/5,577 feet), whose summit offers impressive views of the Pedra do Baú and Paraíba valley, is 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) out of town. Pico Agudo is a popular launching pad for hang gliders and paragliders.
To try these adventurous activities, contact Xénios Ecoturismo (Rodovia SP-46 2600, tel. 12/3666-1815, www.xeniosecotur.com.br), which also operates tree-trekking, rappelling, and cascading excursions.
Getting to Santo Antônio do Pinhal
If you don’t want to go to Campos first, Expresso Mantiqueira (tel. 0800/999-701) operates two direct buses daily from Tietê terminal. By car, take the BR-116, followed by the SP-123 and SP-046. The travel time from São Paulo is roughly two hours.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition