With cozy chalets, deep forests, wildflower-fringed country lanes and the constant sound of rushing water, Visconde de Mauá is an idyllic river valley that feels like a world unto itself. Its isolation is largely thanks to the town’s limited access routes; visitors must either switchback over precipitous mountaintops on the paved 27km route from Penedo, or take a series of rutted (but gorgeous!) dirt roads from Liberdade, Minas Gerais.
The valley consists of three small villages a few kilometers apart along the Rio Preto, which forms the boundary between Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais states. The road passes first through Mauá, the largest village, then heads uphill to Maringá, 6km to the west, and Maromba, 2km further on, before petering out at the edge of the national park. Beyond Alto Maringá (upper Maringá village) the road remains unpaved; expect a bumpy ride!