By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Located about two hours and a half from Rio de Janeiro, Visconde de Maua is a perfect spot for a weekend getaway in the mountains. Its waterfalls and bucolic, artsy city center attracts visitors all year long.
“I’ve been to Visconde de Maua at least five times, at different times of the year, and the town still surprises me,” says São Paulo resident, Eder Costa e Silva.
Getting to Visconde de Maua is no easy feat, since the last 20km or so of the trip are on very steep slopes where cars and buses rarely go more than 30km/hour. But the bumpy ride is soon forgotten once you get to one of the three small villages of Maromba, Visconde de Maua and Maringa.
In the 1970s the region was very popular with hippies and artists trying to get away from large urban areas. Even today, the main streets of these three towns are lined with artisans shops, which sell everything from paintings and unique ceramic decorations to homemade soaps and candles and taro and card-reading services.
The towns are charming but it is the natural beauty that makes this region so attractive to visitors. There are dozens of small waterfalls where one can slide down into natural water pools and many trails leading to breathtaking views.
One of the most popular waterslides is the Cachoeira do Escorrega, an easy 3km hike up from the Maromba villa. The 30-meter waterslide will drop visitors into a transparent, and very cold, natural pool.
Staying in Visconde de Maua is no problem, since the town has dozens of cottage-style hotels and hostels for every budget and taste. Most of the hotels serve continental breakfast with jams and breads made by the artisans themselves.
Most cottages have a fireplace for the cold nights of winter, when the town fills up with visitors come for hikes during the daytime and fondues and wine at night.