Brazil - Brotas - Parque Jacare


Brotas is an adventure travel destination in São Paulo State. Popular activities in the region include white-water rafting, mini rafting (floating), canoeing, zip lining, hiking, fishing, canyoning, and abseiling. I came for the white-water rafting and abseiling.

My adventure started in the morning when our white-water rafting guides picked us up at Camping Jacaré and drove us to the Jacaré-Pepira River. Our guides informed us that the river’s rapids were only Class 3, but promised to make the rafting exciting without Class 4 rapids. All of us had been white-water rafting before, so our guide was brief with the prerequisite instructional session. Soon after arriving we were rafting down the Jacaré-Pepira River.

About midway through the rafting trip, our guide gave us the option to jump out of the raft and brave the rapids with only our life vests to keep us afloat. I swallowed some water and scraped my bum while floating over the rapids, but found the experience exhilarating. As promised, our guide made the rafting trip an adrenaline-inducing adventure. When finished rafting, we celebrated by drinking cachaça, a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice.

After returning from rafting, a couple of us walked to the center of Brotas and found a restaurant for lunch. Shortly after we finished lunch and exited the restaurant, the receptionist at Camping Jacaré pulled her car up next to us on the street and waved for us to get inside. She then sped us to Eco Parque Jacaré for our next adventure: abseiling down waterfalls. I didn’t know what was going on when we got in the car, but eventually understood that the abseiling activity was rescheduled for earlier in the day. Due to the language barrier, I never did find out how long she was driving around Brotas before she found us.

Territorio Selvagem Canoar was the tour operator for both the white-water rafting and abseiling adventures. Our white-water rafting guide had worked in California and was a fluent English speaker, but none of the abseiling guides spoke English. As I prepared to rappel down a 38-meter waterfall, I wished more than ever that I was fluent in Brazilian Portuguese. I intensely watched the guides and others in the group as they demonstrated the abseiling techniques, and then imitated their movements during our practice session. The guides gave me a thumbs up, and soon we started hiking to the first of three waterfalls.

We first abseiled down Cachoeira da Usina, a nonintimidating, 6-meter waterfall where we practiced our technique. After some fun canyoning through the Jacaré-Pepira River, we arrived at Cachoeira Sao Sebastiao, a 25-meter waterfall. I felt a nervous excitement while queuing to rappel down Cachoeira Sao Sebastiao. I feel most nervous while waiting to perform a thrilling activity, so I was glad to be near the front of the queue. As I abseiled down Cachoeira Sao Sebastiao, the water gushed over me with such force that it took all my concentration to maintain my balance and keep my feet planted on the wall. After completing my descent, I relaxed in the waterfall’s pool, surrounded by rainbows.

The grand finale was Cachoeira Jacare, a 38-meter waterfall. I paused for a moment at the top of the waterfall for the photographer to take my photo, and then rappelled to the bottom, ending my descent with a splash in the pool. I couldn’t escape the waterfall’s cold spray at the bottom of the fully shaded canyon, and my teeth started chattering while waiting for the others to descend. The adventure concluded with our hike out of the canyon.

Brotas is off the radar for international travelers. Brotas is absent from my Lonely Planet guide, and the Wikivoyage page is blank. If you’re an outdoor adventure lover who wants to get off the beaten path, then Brotas is the place to visit.