Thursday, February 6, 2014

Ibitipoca

Conceição de Ibitipocais is one of the oldest towns of Minas Gerais, the state where my son lives, and like so many other places, was discovered and claimed by the “bandeirantes” (first explorers of Brazil) in search for gold around 1692. If you visit Conceição de Ibitipoca today, it is hard to believe that this tiny village was once one of the most important places in the captaincy of Minas Gerais. When the gold ran out, a lot of people moved away, but in the 1970′s the area was rediscovered by biologists and other scientists for its unique geography and natural treasures. 

Ibitipoca State Park, around 1,500 hectares in size, is one of the smallest national parks in Brazil, but it is said to be the one with the best infrastructure in the state.  The greater region where the park is located is famous for its quartzite caves, which are said to be very rare, but also for its natural pools, waterfalls, special rock formations, great views and typical fauna and flora.  


The rivers of the park are caramel coloured because of high levels of organic material.  I thought the water was clear and it was the rocks that were coloured.  The soil in the park is very porous. When it rains, organic material starts to decompose and seeps into the groundwater, which feeds the park’s rivers. That’s where the colour comes from. But the water’s clean – there’s zero pollution. 

This visit was Bernie's introduction to the perks of travelling with a senior citizen.  We discovered that, because he had me on board, he could drive right up to the start of the walking tracks while others had to walk for miles to get there.  I was impressed by the concessions made for the mature aged everywhere we travelled.  After a while Bernie started to see it as a challenge to see how quickly he could get me through a queue (and of course he had to keep me company), how cheaply I could gain access to tourist attractions.  Even if the ticket person twigged that I was foreign and not entitled to concessions, I was still permitted to skip the queue out of respect for the aged.

The air was crisp and clear, too.  Hot but not terribly so.  Every day was hot, it was just a matter of how hot. 32C was not too bad, but I found over 35C pretty had to take.  The exception were the few days the following week when we were in Belo Horizonte and storms rolled in every afternoon for three days in a row, the storm thundered and flashed for an hour or so, then down came the rain, real tropical downpours.  And after the storm, very pleasant coolness.

Because we'd made an early start and been able to drive to the start of the trails, we didn't have to share the park with many others.  Only 300 visitors are allowed in on week days and 800 on weekends.  We were there on a Saturday but there were nowhere near that many people there.  I guess most sensible trampers would decree January an unsuitable time for hiking.




I'm pretty sure Bernie will go back there sometime to do other trails.  If I were younger I'd have liked to do more but I was knocked up after one.  

We enjoyed a late lunch of a hot pork dish of the region, at a table by the window where there was a slight, slight, ever so welcome breeze.  


Both nights we ate with the locals at a roadside bar with a dirt floor and noticed a different couple of dogs dropped in to visit each night. None of them seemed to be accompanied but all quite obsiously were known to the staff.  I had a chuckle when one was moved on by the waiter quite promptly.  A local troublemaker no doubt. 

The village church

I found this on a website when I was trying to find out more about the place:
"People who come to Conceição da Ibitipoca are overcome by its tranquility.
As for those looking for action?
Go somewhere else."

6 comments:

  1. These landscapes are fantastic. Gorgeous weather too, with some dramatic cloud formations in the sky. Lovely shot!

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  2. These are great. I love the first landscape.

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  3. Respect for the aged: reminds me of Hong Kong where I offered proof of my age for my Octopus pass only to be told that that wouldn't be necessary. On jokingly saying that I didn't think I looked that old the young lady said that I didn't look old I looked like someone to be respected for their seniority. I just love the people of Hong Kong!

    As for the final quote, Pauline, I think it's one of the best adverts for anywhere I would love to be.

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  4. Nice that you shared this visit and now I have another entry on my bucket list.

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  5. What a beautiful place. I didn't realise your son lives there. It is great how they look after their aged,

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  6. I find it amusing that your sonn viewed your age as a challenge to get special treatment. He reaped all the benefits of having his mom along. The place looks beautiful.

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