We headed 3 hours west of Rio and reached the Serra de Mantiqueira, known as the Brazilian Himalayas. This area is known for its walking and bird life as well as stunning waterfalls and natural pools within the Itatiaia National Park. Breathe in the clean air while the melodious flow of water soothes as it intertwines through rocks and giant boulders. In the village, giggling children followed us to our friend’s family home. The house rested on stilts and as we climbed the ladder the house opened up into a huge platform. Bedrooms were sectioned off by pretty materials and it was so hot inside that the family set up the air conditioning – long wooden poles lifted up the whole side of the house to allow the breeze to flow. I tried not to worry about the children falling out of the house but they didn’t!
Early the next morning we set off trekking through the hills followed by friendly dogs. The scenery is stunning with lush green forest, far reaching views and abundant wildlife. We dropped into a valley and swam in the cool natural pools, bathed in the cascades and dipped under the waterfalls that travel down long smooth rocks. In the evening we ate tasty home cooked Feijoada – the national staple food of black beans cooked with rice and meat. Kids played capoeira – an incredible mix of dance and martial art accompanied by a berimbau – a musical bow. This ‘dance’ was performed by African slaves back in the 16th Century. A fascinating place to experience traditional Brazilian family life.