Parque Nacional Serra dos Órgaos – Vale do Bonfim Entrance

Top choice in Rio de Janeiro State

Up a dirt road in the foothills 20km northeast of Petrópolis, this remote entrance to Parque Nacional Serra dos Órgaos grants immediate access to a variety of trails for all fitness levels. The easiest is the short, relatively flat path along the Rio do Bonfim, passing through a bamboo grove to a series of natural swimming holes – Poço Paraiso, Poço das Bromélias and Poço dos Primatas – all accessible within a 10- to 25-minute walk from the entrance.

Visitors seeking a longer day hike in the park's lower section can continue climbing along the trail about an hour and a half to a pair of waterfalls, Cachoeira Véu de Noiva and Poco das Andorinhas.

For a glimpse of the park's spectacular high country (extra fee and physical stamina required), nothing beats the classic hike to the top of Morro do Açu (2216m), a bald rocky outcrop that commands breathtaking panoramic views. Allow five to seven hours for the round trip from the park entrance.

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