One weekend in April I had the pleasure of visiting a nearby area called Serra do Cipó. Serra do Cipó is an area filled with a national park, waterfalls, and hiking trails galore. It is quaint area where there is no public transportation and trails and stores are spread out making it difficult to navigate without a car, but making it all the more charming in a rustic and wild way.
Ida e Volta > How to get there and back
- Uber from Bairro Ouro Preto to Bus Terminal→ R$32
- Saritur Bus from Belo Horizonte to Serra do Cipó → R$28.35
- Santirur Bus from Serra do Cipó → R$28.35
- Uber from UFMG entrance to Home → R$12
Journey – IDA
Starting in Belo Horizonte, we took an early Uber ride (6:50 a.m.) to Tergip Terminal Rodoviário Governador Israel Pinheiro, aka the main bus station. The Uber cost about R$32, but there were three of us so it ended up being about USD$4 a person. We got out of the Uber and walked into the station, approaching the Saritur counter and bought a one-way passage to Serra do Cipó. It cost R$28.35 per person.
After our tickets were bought, we walked down the stairs to the loading area and found our loading dock and got onto our bus. To get on, we showed our ticket and then we had to hold on to them to show them again once the bus had started going. Our bus left punctually at 7:30 a.m. and our trip started.
We told the bus driver where our Posada (hostel), Espaço Mandalla, was and he let us off at a stop nearby so that we didn’t have to walk far or call a taxi (which I don’t think the town has anyway). We walked the rest of the way to our Posada and checked-in.
The bus stops at various bus stops along the way (city bus stops and more informal stops), it isn’t direct, so there are many places to get on and off which are not a part of the whole trip. There is also a short stop at a rest area for people to use the bathroom or buy a snack, although there is a bathroom on the back of the bus and it was clean and well stocked.
Journey – VOLTA
We were able to get on the bus near our hostel, we asked around and got on the first stop. We didn’t pay right away, until after the bus had gone a few stops and someone walked around and collected money. No ID was necessary. We did not get on at a bus terminal, but simply on the side of the road where the bus was parked waiting to start its journey.
We were able to get off the bus at UFMG because the bus passed in front of it. We didn’t stow away any of our luggage so that made the process of getting off at a different stop easier. We Ubered home from there.
I sat next to the sweetest and kindest elderly woman who told me her life story as well as kept me great company with great conversation throughout the bus ride. There was also a slightly drunk man who ended up sitting next to me, making me feel incredibly uncomfortable because he was making obscene gestures to drivers in traffic outside my window and cursing at the bus driver. The sweet old woman kept a close eye on me and looked about ready to smack him, she also made put away the cigarette he was trying to light on the bus.
Atividades > Things to Do
Véu da Noiva
Cost: Entrada → R$11 for one hour, R$30 for the whole day, R$24 with a posada voucher
When we first got in we unpacked our things and then we made our way over to the park entrance to see the waterfall called “Véu da Noiva”. It cost R$11 for one hour or R$30 for the whole day. We found out that with a voucher from our Posada we could get a day pass for $R24, so we went back to our receptionist desk and asked for our coupon.
Here there is a natural pool and a trail up to a waterfall. The waterfall is very tall and the base of the waterfall is fairly calm when it is not the rainy season. There is a deep area that people swim in. The water is cold and fresh and there are cliffs to jump/dive off of. Many people also lay out on the rocks and it was acceptable to bring in your own food and beverage as long as there were no glass items.
We swam at the base of the waterfall and sat out in the sun until we had worked up the courage to jump off the cliffs. I couldn’t tell you how tall they are, but we were told that the water beneath was 6M (about 20 feet) in depth, although when I dove from the smallest cliff, my feet hit a rock on the bottom, so I’m not sure about the consistency of that depth, although from the second cliff I never touched.
The walk from the entrance through the campground to the natural pool is fairly simple and a wide enough path for cars to come through and park. The trail to the waterfall has a railing, but it is more steep and quite a hike made up completely of different sized rocks and a thin trail at that, however well hiked so that any level of hiker can arrive at the waterfall.
Accessibility: Fairly accessible for all physical levels (the main swimming pool/camping area), Not accessible for wheelchairs, but okay for those that aren’t strong hikers to get to base of the waterfall.
Trilha dos Escravos
Following the road a little further (past the entrance to Véu da Noiva), you will walk up a slight hill that leads to a parking lot. Before the parking lot, there is a turnoff to your right, that is a cobblestone path, fairly steep, and can only be walked. About five minutes climbing the path there will be a small path to your right, we took that and it led us to the spout of the waterfall and the beautiful river full of small shallow rock pools to swim in. This area was shaded and full of large rocks for climbing. It was a pleasant place to spend the afternoon and have a picnic. We spent the afternoon walking back on the river, climbing rocks, and swimming.
Accessibility: Not accessible for wheelchairs or those with difficulties walking/hiking.
Not terribly expensive, we got a room for three (a bunked twin with a queen underneath). We had a hammock on the veranda overlooking the waterfall/mountain. The receptionist was wonderful and the other guests (families) were pleasant. The kitchen area had space for our food and had all of the appliances and dishes we needed to cook the food we had brought. We even got a chance to practice slacklining in the front yard. It is tucked away on a dirt road and it is quiet for those that want a nice relaxing break from the city.
In terms of friendly receptionists, we even got invited to the receptionist’s birthday party at her home nearby. We didn’t end up going because we were exhausted from our day, but it was a nice gesture and she was very helpful in arranging information about rock climbing and other activities in the area for us.
There are many other options for housing in the area as well and most are accessible online and you can use a credit card to pay!
We brought non perishables from the city with us for the weekend so that we didn’t have to go to restaurants or grocery stores. There was not a grocery store nearby where we were staying, there was a convenience store about a 30 minute walk away, but off the road and it was not shaded. If you choose not to bring food, there are some family-owned restaurants nearby.
We saw few taxis and no buses to get around town, there were also no Ubers. We were given a ride by someone we met at our Posada and we were given a ride from the convenience store to our Posada for a few Reais a person by someone that worked at the store. Overall, people are nice and willing to help, but being independent is much harder without a vehicle.
For someone without a car, we were not able to easily get to the other parts of the Serra do Cipó National Park, where there are more places to hike and more waterfalls to see. Serra do Cipó has great options for rock climbing and horseback riding, but not for those without a ride (because the distance between things is great) and not for those on a budget (we were at the time).
If you are looking to only see Véu da Noiva, this is a great way to do it, but for the rest of the park, I recommend staying somewhere closer to more waterfalls, Véu da Noiva is towards the outskirts of town.