Introducing Parque Nacional da Serra dos Órgãos
Created in 1939, this national park covers 118 sq km of mountainous terrain between Teresópolis and Petrópolis. The park’s most distinctive features are the strangely shaped peaks of Pedra do Sino (2263m), Pedra do Açu (2230m), Agulha do Diabo (2020m), Nariz do Frade (1919m), Dedo de Deus (1651m), Pedra da Ermitage (1485m) and Dedo de Nossa Senhora (1320m). With so many peaks, it’s no wonder that this is the mountain climbing, rock climbing and trekking center of Brazil. The region has extensive trails, the most famous of which is the 42km, three-day traverse over the mountains from Petrópolis to Teresópolis. Unfortunately, most of the trails are unmarked and off the available maps. Hiring a guide, however, is easy. Inquire at the national park entrance or with Trekking Petrópolis. The best time for walks is from May to October (the drier months).
The main entrance to the national park is at the south edge of the town of Teresópolis, off Hwy BR-116 from Rio, about 4km from the center. Walking trails, waterfalls, natural swimming pools and tended lawns and gardens make this a pretty place for a picnic.
From the main entrance, the road extends into the park as far as Barragem Beija Flor. There are several good walks from near here. The highlight is the Trilha Pedra do Sino – a strenuous round-trip of about eight hours from the end of the park road (R$33 trail fee). The trail passes Cachoeira Veu da Noiva, the vegetation changes from rainforest to grassland, and the reward is a panoramic view stretching all the way to Rio de Janeiro and the Baía de Guanabara. For a shorter walk, head up to the Mirante Alexandre Oliveira (1100m), from where there is a good view of Teresópolis – it’s about a one-hour round-trip from the park road.
There is another, secondary entrance down in the southeast corner of the national park, off the road from Rio. It also has an information center, walking trails and waterfalls.