Brazil Travel and Tourism News
MONTE VERDE, Brazil — A small district of six thousand inhabitants in Minas Gerais state attracts tourists from all over Brazil. The hamlet shares with Campos do Jordão (São Paulo) the title of “Brazilian Switzerland” due to climate and architecture. Monte Verde offers options for all budgets and is a major destination for couples seeking a romantic getaway and for families seeking tranquility, adventure or both.
Monte Verde: Brazilian Switzerland
“Monte Verde is known as ‘Brazilian Switzerland’ because its climate is very close to that of European countries. It is a great alternative to buying a ticket and flying out to Switzerland or Sweden, however if you choose that route, check companies like Expedia before booking a flight. This year we got a record low, -5º C (23º F) temperature reading, according to the weather service,” Marcos Paulo de Souza, manager of the Association of Hotels and Inns in Monte Verde, told G1. “Those who visit Monte Verde enjoy a European climate and Mineiro hospitality,” he added.
Monte Verde is a district of Camanducaia, a municipality located 451 km (280 miles) from the state capital, Belo Horizonte, and 136 km (84.5 miles) from São Paulo. The area is part of the Fernão Dias Environmental Protection Area. Most of the tourists who visit come from São Paulo due to its proximity.
To get to Monte Verde, you must pass through the center of Camanducaia to reach a road leading to the Serra da Mantiqueira which has an altitude of 1,600 meters (5,249 feet).
Newlyweds Rafael Reis, 32, and Liliam Delpra, 29, are from Jundaí, São Paulo, and have been to Monte Verde four times over the years. The couple have been together for nine years. “We are a very calm couple. We like the romantic mood that the district offers and the tranquility above all,” Reis said.
monte verde accommodations
Monte Verde has 200 places of accommodation, including hotels, affordable for all budgets. The rooms start at around R$150 ($75 U.S.) and go all the way up to over R$1,000 ($500) per night.
For those who like peace and want to leave the hustle and bustle of the big city, many hotels offer spa service, with massages and relaxing baths.
“Monte Verde is able to attend to different types of customers, like families looking to spend time together, couples looking for tranquility and romance, and even young people and nature lovers. You can get everything here,” said Souza.
The Latvian influence on Monte Verde
Visitors to Monte Verde find an architecture typical of some European countries, such as the wooden houses resembling cottages. People from Latvia, a small country between Germany and Russia, who took refuge in Brazil during the first World War, influenced the architecture of the region.
Descendants of Latvians, retirees Arnist Renats Lucas, 77, and Mathilde de Donatila Abolin Lucas, 76, were among the first to move into the district when they acquired land in 1950. Dubbed by locals as “Uncle Nato” and “Aunt Nat,” the couple makes a delicious fruit jelly.
The elderly couple’s home is always open to visitors. Just ring the bell and the friendly pair will welcome you. They invite tourists to come to know Latvian hospitality. “We always get along very well with the public, we like to take good care of them. There are weekends when we sell up to 500 jars of jelly,” Uncle Nato said.
The couple has kept photos of when they arrived at Monte Verde. One shows the main avenue of the district, now taken by hotels and bars. “It has grown a lot, we prefered it the way it was before. We like the rustic ambiance and we are lovers of nature, “said Uncle Nato.
A year and a half ago, the couple’s routine changed after Aunt Nat develop Alzheimer’s disease. Since then, only Uncle Nato prepares the jellies. The couple, married for 50 years, is a shining example of love. “She is now my child and I take care of her,” says Uncle Nato.
Craft Beer and European Food
Monte Verde has had a craft beer brewery since 2009. Four employees produce about 40,000 liters (pints) of beer per month, along with European food. The brewery offers tours for visitors where they can view the manufacturing process. Tours are held on various days of the week.
In addition to good beer, typical German dishes also please the tourists. “Schlachtplatte,” served in the brewery is one of the most appreciated by tourists. This is a pork knuckle along with five types of German sausages, potatoes and sauerkraut soutê. The dish, served with three types of mustard — made in-house — serves four people. While savoring culinary delights, diners can also watch beer being made in the factory.
For dessert, tourists can enjoy handmade chocolates from the Chocolate Factory Monte Verde, which offers chocolate in over 100 forms, such as bars, truffles, confections and lucious hot chocolate to warm up in the best European style.
Ecotourism and Adventure in Monte Verde’s cold
Monte Verde also offers options for tourists seeking adventure. Ecotourism provides adrenaline and fun on the land, in the water and high up amid the cold climate of the Serra da Mantiqueira. Options include trails for hiking, ATV riding, mega-ziplines and paintball, among other activities.
The trails have several levels of difficulty. At 1,600 meters of altitude, the air is thinner and you must take care not to get tired early on. There are easy trails suitable for the family and more radical paths for people seeking a more challenging experience.
Those who like speed on land can enjoy riding ATVs. The vehicles, developed for military use in the 1950s, easily handle any terrain. Available are models with 200 and 400 cc engines which carry two. You must have a Driver’s License to rent the vehicles. A professional guide leads tourists on the most extreme trails. Those who like speed on two wheels can rent motorcycles to ride the trails.
For those who prefer adventure on the water, riding tubes down the rapids of the Jaguari River is fun. The tour lasts about an hour with special floats and safety equipment. The activity, available from December to March, has a minimum age of 12.
Monte Verde’s Mega-Zipline
One of the most exciting activities in Monte Verde is the mega-zipline. The circuit has two parts – trips back and forth. One way, the tourist traverses a 450 meter (1,476 feet) stretch, 65 meters (213 feet) high. Upon reaching the other side, the adventurer hikes up to another zipline that is even longer and higher than the first – 475 meters (1,500 feet) long and 75 meters (246 feet) high. The view of the Mantiqueira range, combined with the speed, gives the adventurer the sensation of free flight.
“The only restriction is for pregnant women. Other than that we have had folks older than 87 go down the megatirolesa. Some tourists are afraid at first, but then they want to do it again,” said the entrepreneur responsible for the ride, Robert Hamacher.
Educator Nerivalda Santos, 28, from Mairiqui, in São Paulo, has been to Monte Verde five times. This was her and her family’s first experience with the thrill of mega-zipline.
“The feel and view are amazing. The excitement was big time and definitely worth it,” says the educator.
More information on Monte Verde
For more information on Monte Verde, you can contact the Association of Hotels and Inns Monte Verde by phone [011 55] (35) 3438-1839 or via their website www.monteverde.org.br (Portuguese only).