Straddling the Rio Nhundiaquara, the pretty little colonial town of Morretes at the foot of the Serra do Mar was founded by Jesuits in 1721. Aside from its cobblestoned streets and colorful old houses, the town is famous for its fine cachaças and artisanally produced balas de banana—the surrounding area boasts several colonial sugar plantations and bananeiras (banana trees) are everywhere.
Most visitors just spend enough time to feast on barreado and stroll around the historic center. However, its languorous small-town atmosphere (except on busy summer weekends) makes it a nice place to stay if you want a base for exploring the Parque Estadual do Marumbi—local buses go to nearby São João de Graciosa, which is 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the entrance to the park—and the nearby town of Antonina, 18 kilometers (11 miles) away.
Accommodations and Food
The nicest hotel within the town itself is the charming Hotel Nhundiaquara (Rua General Carneiro 13, tel. 41/3462-1228, www.nundiaquara.com.br, R$200 d) located in a whitewashed 17th-century mansion perched on a scenic bend in the river. The rooms are fairly simple, but appealing. Reserve in advance so you can get one overlooking the river.
The hotel’s Restaurante Nhundiaquara has been serving up barreado along with seafood dishes for over 60 years. Its tables scattered along a veranda offer picturesque views.
A cheaper alternative is to rent one of the six fully equipped chalets at Pousada Ecocatu (Estrada da Graciosa 1219, tel. 41/3462-1512, www.netpar.com.br/ecocatu, R$90–100) a 1-kilometer (0.6-mile) walk from town. The raw brick chalets aren’t that pretty, but are clean and functional. Aside from a pool, you’ll be surrounded by greenery and scenery.
In Morretes, Armazém Romanus (Rua Visconde do Rio Branco 141, tel. 41/3642-1500, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and 7–10 p.m. Mon.–Sun.) serves up a notoriously good traditional barreado, albeit a health-conscious one (all the meat’s fat is removed prior to cooking), accompanied by grilled local bananas. Other specialties include giant shrimp and fish dishes.
Getting to Morretes
You can get to Morretes from Curitiba, 70 kilometers (43 miles) away, by train (see The Serra Verde Express) or by frequent bus service with Viação Graciosa (tel. 41/3462-1115, www.viacaograciosa.com.br). Two buses a day travel via the Estrada Graciosa. By car, the fastest route is the BR-277 and then the PR-408. A slower but far more scenic route is to take the BR-116, followed by the Estrada Graciosa. Frequent buses also pass through Morretes to and from Antonina and Paranaguá.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition