Before we leave Brasília, I promise to write a post on my favorite things to do in the city, but for the time being, I am going to stick to the theme of my last post: places to go if you want to escape the city! This blog is about travel, after all! There are a lot of hidden gems within a few hours driving distance of Brasília and I’d like to share some of our favorites with you in this post.
This small town is perhaps one of the best known destinations for people living in Brasília looking for a small getaway. While you can do the trip in a day–and, in fact, we did this the first time we went there–I would actually recommend spending at least one night there. Pirenópolis is a charming town with cobblestone streets and colorful colonial-style buildings that line the streets. The town is bursting with shops and stores ranging from artisan and funky to commercial and tacky. It is fun to wander the streets and check out the shops to see what you might find.
In the heart of Pirenòpolis, you will find many restaurants and bars, serving local Brazilian food. However, if you are looking for a real food experience, you should visit Santuario Vagafogo. Located 6 km outside of Pirenòpolis, this restaurant serves an outstanding brunch made with fresh ingredients and produce from their farm. Guests are presented with a huge spread of homemade chutneys, jellies, breads, cheeses, meats, butters, fruit (try the salted hibiscus!), honey, yoghurt, granola, and waffles. Many of their jellies and chutneys are for individual sale, too. Once you have stuffed yourself full (and believe me, you will!), you can take a leisurely stroll through their nature sanctuary. They have created easy trails through the woods with little stops at swimming holes and small water falls. It is a truly enchanting place–every guest we have taken here has loved it!
One tip for accommodations in Pirenópolis: book your pousada way in advance. Unfortunately, pousadas that came highly recommended to us by friends were already booked when we made our travel plans. So, on our two overnight trips, we stayed in Air B&B apartments located directly in the city. While this was convenient due to the proximity of restaurants and shopping areas, it was also rather noisy at night. I have heard wonderful things about Villa do Comendador and Pousada Fênix, though, both of which are located a bit further outside of the town.
Salto Corumbá is a stop that you can make on your way to or from Pirenópolis, or you can choose to just take a day trip from Brasiília. From the winding road, you can already see the massive waterfall around which this small park was built. The main attraction is the waterfall and swimming hole, which you can reach after a short hike on a well-maintained trail. There is a sandy beach at the foot of the waterfall, as well, which was a perfect place for our 15-month old son to play. The park also has several other activities that are not suitable for babies (!), but would be a lot of fun for older children and adults: tubing, water slides, rappelling and zip-lining and horseback-riding. There is a restaurant and snack bar to grab a bite to eat–but unfortunately no food is allowed on the trail. Again, this is a really fun, low-key day trip from Brasília.
Cachoeira Poço Azul
We made the wise decision to visit this beautiful little site on Memorial Day last year–meaning we were the only people there since it was a regular work day for Brazilians! Cachoeira Poço Azul, a gorgeous natural swimming pool and waterfall, is just on the outskirts of the Distrito Federal. On the day we went, we had blue skies and the pool shimmered a deep emerald green. The water was crystal clear and perfect for swimming–absolutely stunning.
You can park your car at the entrance and hike down a rough dirt road; or you can ignore protocol and drive straight down the steep hill to the base of the trail (make sure you have 4x drive though!). I would recommend doing the latter, especially because it is rumored that there are occasional car break-ins if left at the top. But don’t let that deter you from seeking out this amazing spot! Just be wise and take precautions!
Salto do Itiquira
Located approximately 115 km from Brasília, Salto do Itiquira is another easy getaway from the city. Unlike Salto Corumbá or Poço Azul, however, there is no place to swim here. Instead, the impressive 168 m high waterfall is surrounded by a small park with paved walkways that lead to an overlook of the falls and a small playground. There is a hike that leads up to the top of the falls, but when we visited, the trail was closed due to the rainy season–yet because of the season, everything was a very lush green. This is a very, very easy waterfall to visit and is the perfect place to take a not-so-adventurous visitor.
On your way back to the city, make sure you stop by Restaurante Rural Dom Fernando. Delicious traditional mineira and goiana food, rustic setting and often live music! I owe this tip to my friend Alex of the Travelling Chopsticks. Thanks, Alex!
If you are reading this as someone living in Brasília, I hope you are able to take advantage of some of these spots in the area! This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I would love to hear about other short excursions you would recommend, as well.
Até a próxima!