Santuário do Caraça

That's Gustavo showing how many bags we're taking.
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The neo-gothic church's back in the Sanctuary complex.
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In the trail to the Lourdes Grotto, we cross a few streams. Luckily this one has something to help us do that.
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The Lourdes Grotto. This thumbnail shows the saint statue in detail, while the larger picture shows the grotto itself.
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As I got pretty disappointed with the previews grotto, I was very enthusiastic about exploring any inviting hole near the trail. We found this one and there I went. It leads to a small cave with a much larger opening in the other side, hidden within the woods.
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Here's how the hole is found from the trail.
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From the trail to the Lourdes Grotto (which first leads to the ruins of a chapel) this is how the Sanctuary complex looks like.
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At night, after the Mass, the old priest feeds some brazilian wolves (lobos guarás) with raw meat. They call it the Wolf Show. We all gather in front of the neo-gothic church and that's where they go to look for this free meal. That's the female one.
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Another picture of the female wolf.
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The day after we had some heavy hikings, starting with the one to Cascatona (Big Fall).
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The following people were going on this hiking (from left to right): Gustavo, me, Silvina, Beto and Daniel. Guto (Manoel) is taking the picture. Fabio and Pedro choosed to take a rest from the day before, though. Notice how Gustavo is wearing and using some professional equipment which were the target of many jokes and, naturally, "healthy" envyness.
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Guto and Gustavo like to pull on some heavy rhythm which I follow just because I'm stubborn, but I'd rather do the hiking in a more pleasant way. The other three probably think the same, as they were always left behind. Beto was the first to be seen after one of the many stops we made to wait for them.
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Another (not the last) stop to wait for the last three of us, this time contemplating some nice wild flowers.
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We are now very near the difficult climb down the hill to the bottom of the Cascatona, but first we're going to the belvedere. Nonetheless, we stopped near the climb to look around.
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This is the Cascatona seen from above.
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A small part of the fall, seen from a place still near the climb.
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Ah, a beautiful sight from the belvedere. As it can be easily seen, the weather was very cloudy and even rainy sometimes. This was probably the first time we had signs of sunny weather since we got there.
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I took this picture with (negative) light compensation so the water would be better seen. We're getting ready to do the downhill climb to swim in the rapids below and in this pic you can see more than half of the Cascatona.
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That's the same part of the fall seen from a place in the middle of the downhill climb. Beto and Daniel didn't want to try it and went back to arrive in time for the lunch.
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And this is the end of the fall where we had some swimming time. Once again, Gustavo shows how well equipped he is, even though the water wasn't too cold in there.
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After a while we took the climb back up, and this is a sight from it seen from the top.
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Now we're getting back to the complex whose the church tower can be seen from between the vegetation.
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After lunch time (which me, Gustavo, Guto and Silvina gave up due to the long lines -- the park was full with one-day visitors), we took the trail to the Bocaina. A good deal of it goes near the margin of the Caraça Stream (Ribeirão do Caraça), which seems to have the edge of the woods in the other side. Notice how the weed covers the woods there.
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The trail to Bocaina is very smooth, even though it's long (about 6 kilometers), and although it goes through an open field it has a good view of the mountains, woods and falls nearby.
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That's the Cascatinha (Little Fall), another nice place to go and have some swimming time, seen from the Bocaina trail. This is a good time to offer the 360° Panorama I made. It requires a Java Enabled browser though.
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The trail crosses about two small streams and the Caraça one. The small streams have this kind of bridge and the Caraça has to be crossed through the water (they say there's a stone bridge, but maybe the latest days rain got it underwater).
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The end of the trail to Bocaina is a bit more difficult, but nothing too impossible. Anyway, we finally got to Bocaina and that's me trying to stay near the falls for the picture. The thumbnail shows a closer look of me, but the larger pic has me only as a small detail.
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In the way back to the Sanctuary complex we meet again with the Caraça Stream and the edge of the woods. The afternoon light turns the dark waters into a perfect mirror.
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The next day, while Gustavo, Guto, Beto and Daniel went to try some harder trails and Silvina was "grounded" by her wet shoes, I joined Fabio and Pedro in some light hiking to the Cross (Cruzeiro). This is probably the best place to look at the Sanctuary complex.
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After lunch time, we tried the Pool (Piscina). Unfortunally, it seemed to be a great waste of time and effort and we were very disappointed, so we ran back to try the Cascatinha (Little Fall). This is another angle of the Sanctuary complex seen from the road, which is part of the way to the Pool.
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Luckily we had plenty of time to get to Cascatinha and still enjoy a good swim in its very cold waters. While me, Gustavo, Fabio, Pedro and Silvina were going there, Beto, Guto and Daniel stood with the two ladies they met that day in the Pool.
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When we got back to the Sanctuary complex, we met Beto, Guto, Daniel and the two ladies in Beto's jeep. The passengers went to the bar while Beto offered us a ride up to our cabin. Here's me and Fabio cheering after this interesting "rally".
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Once again we gathered for the Wolf Show. As the park was much emptier, the female wolf didn't even bother to leave the courtyard.
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After feeling full, the female wolf decided to give up on growling at the male (which is usually cautious enough without her threatenings, to avoid coming to the courtyard) and I finally got a good shot of both together.
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In the last day, I took this picture of the burnt part of the complex, now turned into a museum.
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Before me, Fabio and Pedro took our trip back home, we all gathered for a last toast with two of the kind and humble old brothers.
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