Brazil – Fazenda Shangri-La in Aldeia Velha

Aldeia Velha (old village) is a tiny little town near Casimiro de Abreu in the state of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Nearly two hours of highway and six kilometers of dirt road off the main highway will bring you through farm land full of cows, horses, burros, chickens and the occasional turkey to this beautiful little village in the middle of nowhere. If it’s raining, bring your 4wd and expect a lot of mud.

Even though the town is tiny, tiny, tiny, we could have stayed a week without running out of things to do. High on the list was a hike through the mountains and up a seven-tiered waterfall.

We stayed in a local Pousada called Tomodati, where our host arranged our adventures. Horseback riding? Hiking? Camping? Restaurants? Luis is your man, and he’ll take good care of you.

On Sunday he drove us up to Fazenda Shangri-la, which is just five minutes away from the pousada. See? We don’t mind the rain at all.

Ready for our adventure

Or, what’s the saying? Not enough sense to come in out of the rain.

The dirt road leading to the trail head looked pretty rustic and muddy. I figured we were in for a messy hike, but once we arrived it was all green and tranquil. The rain kept itself to a calm mist which in turn kept us cool, and the heavy vegetation kept the mud to a minimum.

This pair of young horses watched us calmly as we waited to be let in the gate by our guide. They moseyed off once we were inside.

Don't mind us, we're just taking a break

While our guide got himself organized we poked around the grounds a bit. There was an old water wheel crumbling next to the bathrooms. I wonder what it was hooked up to? A mill maybe? Brian thinks it was for electricity, which is entirely possible. There were amazing purple flowers, bugs everywhere, horses eying us with suspicion and a crystal clear stream between us and the trail head.

Soon our guide was ready and we hit the trail. The very first thing we did was cross the little river. See how careful we all are about getting our feet wet? One nice guy took his shoes off to help us all across.

Trying to keep our shoes dry

I guarantee you we didn’t care about wet shoes for very long. We crossed that river about five times on the way up the trail, and again on the way back down and every time we did somebody else decided it just wasn’t worth the time to take their shoes off again.

Once across the river and the shortest bit of flat ground, we headed straight up.

And up, and up, and up.

Coming up!

I kept my eyes open as much as possible for golden lion tamarin monkeys. They still live in these forests although it’s really rare to spot them. Hard as I tried, we never found any.

Do you know how hard it is to keep your eyes up in the treetops when you’re hiking straight up the side of a wet, rocky hillside in the rainforest?

I’m just glad I didn’t fall down. It’s a long tumble to the bottom.

We hiked for a few hours, round trip. Along the way we stopped at six waterfalls on this same river. Hiking to hidden waterfalls in a beautiful rainforest in South America? My life does not suck.

Just one of the seven steps

Up, up, up we climbed, every few hundred yards we found another step of the waterfall.

Care for a swim?

We climbed rocks, we held on to vines, we trekked along steep switchbacks in the trail, and we crossed precarious log bridges. Watch out for the big stone at the end of this one, it’s loose and almost dumped Brian on his butt.

Not slipping and falling

We climbed to six of seven waterfalls. The rain made the final ascent to the top tier too slippery to attempt. Our guide explained that the last leg is a steep bit over big boulders. We would have been disappointed to miss it if we hadn’t been so sweaty and tired from climbing as high as we had just climbed. By the time the decision was made to turn back, we were all happy with what we had already seen, and ready to go back downhill.

As we made our way back down, crossing the river again and again, we stopped for a rest at the deepest pool for a short and very cold swim.

After reaching the bottom and leaving the park, we squished our way down the muddy road in our now very wet boots and met our ride half way back to town. We were once again hot, wet, sweaty, hungry, thirsty and smiling.

Waterfall hiking has become a bit of a hobby for us. We’ve now done it three times in Brazil and have added it to our list of things to do every chance we get. What is the best waterfall you have hiked to? Have any good recommendations for us?

On the map: Click here to see this location on our Google Map.

Take a look at more photos in the gallery below:

This was not a sponsored post. We paid for our own accommodations and adventures. In the spirit of full disclosure we’re happy to tell you that Luis, the owner of Pousada Tomodati, is a co-worker of Brian’s, an excellent host and a fantastic person. If you ever have a chance to stay at his pousada let him know we said hello.

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About akil3655

A Scotsman and his American photographer wife traveling the world and writing about it. Tales, reviews, photos, interviews and crazy goings on. Because you never know what's going to happen.

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One Response to Brazil – Fazenda Shangri-La in Aldeia Velha

  1. 50+ and on the Run
    Twitter: 50Run
    December 14, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    This looks wonderful–thanks for the post! Hope I do get there one day!
    50+ and on the Run recently posted..Step Away From The LedgeMy Profile