How to survive trekking in Serra dos Órgãos National Park
The Serra dos Órgãos National Park is a mountain range in the state of Rio de Janeiro. It’s a 110 km2 area covered with the Atlantic Forest. The park has a rugged topography with ten peaks higher than 2,000 m. The most famous formation in the park is the Dedo de Deus (God’s Finger) with 1,692 m. The highest peak is the Pedra do Sino (Bell Rock) with 2,263 m.
The park offers many hiking trails, waterfalls, and picnic areas. During the dry season, from May to September, it’s a popular place for mountain sports. Adventurers from everywhere come here seeking contact with nature. There are mountain huts and camping sites to spend the night. The most famous hike is the Petropolis x Teresopolis crossing. It’s considered by many as the most beautiful walk in Brazil. The trekking is considered mid-level with some difficult passages.
The trek usually takes three days. It can be done in two days if you are in good shape. My husband and I wanted to do it in a weekend. We had trained for three months before we were sure we could do it in two days. We hired a local guide to help us. The walk is tiring. We crossed 26 km of valleys with almost no flat terrain.
On the first day, the guide picked us up at 4:30 AM. We drove for 2 h until we reached the park entrance located in the city of Petropolis. There we started our ascend. Our goal was to reach the Açu Shelter which is located at 2,150 meters above sea level. It was a straight ascend with no obstacles. We covered 8 km with 1,250 m of elevation in 7 h.
We arrived at the shelter in time to watch the sunset. The shelter is very modest but comfortable. It has a stove, cookware and kitchen utensils to prepare a decent meal. It has one bathroom with hot water for a comfortable bath. It has the capacity for 30 guests. There are two big bedrooms upstairs, one with 12 bunk beds and another with 18 places for sleeping bags. Outside there’s a camping area with capacity for 70 people. Even if you choose to sleep in the bunk bed, you have to bring your sleeping bag. The only difference is that you don’t need a sleeping mat.
At dinner, each group cooked at a time. We all sat together at the big dining table and shared our food. The guide made us soup and pasta for dinner. We ate until we could no longer look at the food. While he was washing the dishes, we went out to watch the stars. These are some of the perks of hiring a guide.
On the second day, we woke up at 4:30 AM. The guide made us coffee and sandwiches for breakfast. We left the shelter at 5:30 AM. The goal was to watch the sunrise on higher ground. We started to walk while it was still dark with the help of our headlamps. It’s was an exhausting day. It would take 10 h to arrive at our final destination, the park entrance located at the city of Teresopolis. We walked 18 km through series of valleys with some dangerous obstacles. I honestly could not have complete it without the help of our guide.
I don’t recommend to rush as I did. On the second day, you have to cover all the distance you would cover on the days 2 and 3. It’s just too much. I think it’s best to spend more time and do the trek in 3 days instead of 2. I also do not advise to do this trail if you are afraid of heights.
If you want to go on your own, you can buy tickets to the park in advance in the site www.parnaso.tur.br. You can also make the reservation for the trails, camping sites and shelters. I should be done at least 15 days in advance. For more information about the park go to http://www.icmbio.gov.br/parnaserradosorgaos/
When to go
From May to September
What to bring
The ideal weight of the backpack should not exceed 15% of your own weight
Toiletries & Bath
– insect repellent
– camping towel
– bathing wipes
– toilet paper
– flip flops (to use in the shower)
Bags & Equipment
– trekking backpack (40 to 60l)
– sleeping bag
– sleeping mat
– headlamp and extra batteries
– hiking poles (optional, but good for downhill sections)
– 2 water bottles of 1 liter
– 3 sports t-shirts (wear one, bring 2)
– 3 pairs of underwear (wear one, bring 2)
– 3 hiking socks (wear one, bring 2)
– hiking pants or shorts
– waterproof hiking boots
– waterproof rain jacket
– waterproof rain pants
– fleece jacket
– one set of sleeping clothes
– 3 sandwiches
– 10 cereal bars
– 2 chocolate bars