Less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) northwest of Curitiba , in the midst of a rolling green plateau region known as Campos Gerais, the Parque Estadual de Vila Velha (8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Wed.–Mon., tel. 42/3228-1539, R$12) is an easy day trip from Curitiba (or an interesting stop off on your way to Foz do Iguaçu ).
Aside from small lakes (including a crater lake where you can go swimming), the park’s stellar attractions are the two dozen fantastically shaped rock formations hewed out of reddish sandstone. Dating back 300 million years, they are the result of glacial activity combined with subsequent erosion. Their lifelike aspect has earned many of these sculptures nicknames, such as “the Boot,” “the Sphinx,” and “the Camel’s Head.”
You can visit the area on foot, following a clearly marked 2.5-kilometer (1.5-mile) trail or by taking a tractor-pulled wagon. The park itself is very well organized with a visitor center, a restaurant, and food and drink kiosks.
From Curitiba , Vila Velha is a 90-minute bus ride with departures every hour—take a semi-direito bus from the Rodoferroviário to the town of Ponta Grossa and ask the driver to let you off at the entrance to the park. Make sure you check the schedule for return buses so you can flag down a bus back to Curitiba in the late afternoon. By car, follow the BR-376.