Perequê / Padre José Trail

IMG_6808 The Perequê River flows through the southwestern portion of the Itutinga – Piloes section of Serra do Mar State Park (São Paulo). It divides the Cubatão and Poço mountain ranges and is Cubatão´s main eco – attraction.

The actual kind of trail that partly joins the stream is of historical importance because it corresponds widely to the former Padre José Trail which is directly related to the foundation of São Paulo. It is named after Padre José Anchieta, who in January 1554, together with two other Jesuit priests climbed this trail in order to reach the Piratininga plateau (nowadays Planalto Paulista) and the Anhangabaú River (actual centre of São Paulo). The Holy Mass they celebrated there on January 25 (feast day of the Conversion of St Paul) is officially considered the birthday / foundation of São Paulo.

tupiniquins trailHowever, some historians argue that the origin of São Paulo goes back to October 10, 1532 when the Portuguese explorer Martim Afonso de Sousa, guided by João Ramalho and Indian tribal chief Tibiriçá climbed the plateau via the Tupiniquins Trail and eventually established a settlement or at least a military outpost there. Due to constant attacks of Tamoios Indians, the Tupiniquins Trail (sometimes also referred to as Guaianás Trail), which follows the Mogi River to actual Paranapiacaba was closed in 1560 by Mem de Sá, Brazil`s third general governor and substituted by the shorter but significantly steeper Padre José Trail. For whom understands Portuguese, here is a nice short novel about one of these Indian attacks.

IMG_6752Back to reality! The Padre José Trail can be reached from three different trail heads. The shortest and directest way which according to the park´s management plan is called „Travessia“, is from the old Anchieta road, some meters before the entrance of the Caminho do Mar parking place. A little path leads through some pretty dense woods to a larger trail through open grassland. Following this trail for about 10 minutes, a bifurcation appears where you turn right heading to the edge of the plateau. From there on, the trail follows the crest with splendid views on the mangrove forests of the Santos Lowlands (Baixada Santista).

IMG_6817aAfter an hour or so it reaches a large energy tower from where a smaller trail descends to the Pereque river and the municipal park of Cubatao. Somewhen the trail vanishes, so you have to follow your instincts, heading in direction to the noise of a large waterfall. Having reached it just follow the trail which parallels the river on the right side. There are some further beautiful cascades and pools on your way until reaching the entrance of Cubatão municipal park. Allow 8 to 10 hours net walking time When you decide to do the „Travessia“ as a roundtrip, take sufficient water, the hike is extremely exhausting.

IMG_6280aYou can also access this trail further east, eather via a normal trail starting from a sand road or via a trail the commences at the old Anchieta road. The second option leads to a small bridge where you step into the Pereque river, which at that point is a mostly shallow stream. At some locations this stream gets deeper and muddier with the water up to your neck. At these points you might consider leaving the water and continue along its margin (put snake protection and pay attention where you put your hands, a knife is highly recommended). After an hour or so, you reach a smaller waterfall where it joins the trail of the first option.

IMG_6339aFrom there you continue on the left stony shore of the Pereque river downstream. At a certain point cross the river and you will find a trail in the woods. This trail leads you to a magnificent viewpoint of the Serra do Mar escarpments where the Perequê river plunges 200 meters or so into the deep (don´t continue here!). From there you continue a trail in western direction until reaching the bifurcation described above.

Unfortunately, these trailheads are located close to the Greater Sao Paulo area outskirts where constantly assalts are reported, particularly on weekends. So be careful!

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About Frank Segieth

Since 2007, independent author, photographer and tour guide in Brazil`s Atlantic Rainforest / (Mata Atlântica).
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