By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Surrounded by over a thousand meter-high mountains in the North of Rio’s State, the little village of Sana is the address where humans and nature are deeply connected to each other. Relatively unknown to foreign tourism, Sana is a must-go destination for those looking for a rustic getaway among trails, rivers and waterfalls.
According to the historical records, Sana was founded in 1820 by a community of Swiss settlers. At least nine families moved to the region, donated to them by Dom Pedro I, Brazil’s emperor by that time.
As more people started to settle in Sana, the coffee trade became the main economic activity in the area. One of Sana’s wealthiest traders was Jean Augustin Stöcklin, a Swiss farmer from the nineteenth century.
Some locals claim that the region was named ‘Sana’ because the first settlers would be used to refer to the main river as the Brazilian “Seine”. Other believe the designation is related to Sena, the region’s most common specie of bamboo. A third version says that Sana alludes to Sanel, a family of Swiss settlers.
The tiny one-single-street village is, today, part of an Environmental Protection Area. Most of Sana’s income comes from the ecotourism. The biodiversity preservation, thus, is a big concern for Sana locals and residents, which makes the place a true natural temple for those wanting to renew the energies.
If enjoying Sana’s exuberant waterfalls is what you have in mind for this trip, summer and springtime are the best seasons. Being in a mountain range, Sana’s natural waters can get really freezing during winter and autumn. Amongst Sana’s countless streams, the “Peito do Pombo” is a great option for offering at least five different falls.
Easy to get, the “Cachoeira Mãe” (Mother Waterfall) is the most popular one, where visitors can either rest on its ground or jump out of a 12-metter-rock. Also accessible is the “Cachoeira do Escorrega”, a children’s favorite for its natural water slide.
In spite of requiring a longer and harder trail, the “Roncadeira” (Snoarer) waterfall, situated in the “São Bento” stream is certainly worth the challenge, being considered the most beautiful one in Sana. At “Fervedeira”, the only fall of the Sana river, one can sit and relax at its natural whirlpools. For a less populous and accessible option, go to the “Boa Sorte” (Good Luck) waterfall, with belongs to the namesake stream. For the harder trails, do not hesitate to hire a local guide to accompany your tour.
At José de Jesus Júnior street, Sana’s main and only street, one can find good eating, drinking and shopping options. At Alquimia restaurant, one will find a diverse menu with meat and pasta.
For a cozy, rustic environment with music, Telektonon is a good take, offering artisanal crepes, fondues and stews. For seafood and homemade dishes, try Cêh Achegue restaurant. Plenty atelies and stores are located along the street, with local artists selling handicrafts like artisanal soaps, shampoo made of natural white clay, clothes and adornment objects.
Music lovers cannot miss Sana night, known for its great live reggae and forró music. As the sun goes down, local bands start to appear on the street’s bars and sidewalk.
On September 9th, Sana will host the traditional “Festival de Inverno da Serra” (the Mountain’s Winter Festival), also known as Sana’s Reggae Festival, which usually attracts tourists from both Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo.
What’s more, fans of radical sports can have a blast at the hippie spot, which offers activities like rafting, trekking and downhill biking. With class two to five rip tides, great water volume and nice temperature, the Macaé river is a perfect rafting venue for both experienced and beginners. For the trekking practice, Pedra Peito de Pombo (approximately 1300 meters high) and Pico do Frade (1800 meters high) are the most recommended tours.
To get to Sana from Rio de Janeiro by car, one must take the BR-101 highway until the city of Casimiro de Abreu. There, one must follow the RJ-142 road, where indications to Sana can be seen. By bus, the company 1001 operates from Rio to Casimiro de Abreu everyday, offering diverse time options. Minivans depart every hour from Casimiro de Abreu to Sana, operating from 9AM to 10PM.