I will remember Ibitipoca for a number of reasons, one of them being the trip to get there. My first sight of Brasil away from the city. Breathing fresh air again. The slightly less craziness of the drivers. The appaling state of the roads once you leave the main roads. Don't get me going about the roads, just let me say I won't be so quick to complain about the state of our road in future. And I'm glad it hadn't been raining because that would surely make it very difficult for ordinary cars to make it to their destination.
I don't know if we were climbing for all the 260 kms from Rio but Ibitipoca region's average altitude is 1,500 metres above sea level. Our first stop was in the mountains near Rio for a quick look at Petropolis and the Quitandinha palace complex. I could fully appreciate why the Brazillian royal family would want a summer seat of government away from the heat of Rio.
Bernie is quite familiar with the road we were travelling and knew where to find the look outs.
We didn't see many cattle but passed a pretty big dairy factory so there were cows somewhere.
And when we turned off the main road there was another smaller one.
At this point I became aware of the lack of sign posts anywhere. We'd passed some back on the main road but from here on there were none. We were heading towards a national park that is recognised as one of the best in South America but getting to it was a mission. Any sign posts we saw seemed to tell us how to get to the next village or area but nothing more. Bernie had an idea where we were going as he had been close by in the past but often we just had to stop and ask someone or, if we came to a fork in the road way out of town with no-one around, just take a best guess.
Conceicao do Ibitipoca was worth the trip, though. A quaint little town hanging off the sides of the hills, rough cobblestone roads that rumble as vehicles pass over them.
I found two interpretations of the word Ibitipoca. Some scholars say it means 'stone house' referring to the caves in the area that served as residences to indians. Others say it refers to the thunderstorms that are common in the mountains.