My trip to Sao Thome das Letras, Minas Gerais, Brazil

It was the end of 2014 year when we decided to visit São Thomé das Letras, we had heard so much about that city that we wanted to see the enchanted kingdom of São Thomé, a city made of stone with narrow streets and scattered gnomes. And that was exactly how I felt walking by the city, which is full of hostels with a medieval architecture that reinforces the magic of the place.

We stayed at Alpha Hostel Centauro which is located in one of the highest parts of the city and is a great place to stay. Our first tour was to the main square, and the way to it is by the Enchanted Kingdom (hotel’s name), the down an oak staircase, past the Centra Grotto and there you will reach your destination. If the path is the reverse you must pass The Alchemist (restaurant) and turn the Lord of the Rings (shop) and then you are in the square. Can you feel a little magic?

The Central Grotto (in the square) is very short but worth checking, the interesting part is on the side of the exit where you find the stairs leading to the top of the cave, from there you can see practically the whole city, when we went  there, the weather wasn’t good and there was rain coming, I can tell you for sure that it was coming because it was possible to see perfectly the clouds moving and the rain falling with them, can you fell the vibe I’m trying to tell you?

Well, about the city, forget about your car and go on foot, it is practically impossible to drive there, like, the streets should all be just one-way, but they are not, and even if they were, it would be tight anyway. And the worst thing is when you are going down a street and suddenly a car comes in the other direction, then you have to get back to let him pass, but there is a car behind, leaving you with just one option: park in a tiny little space between cars parked beside you. Now, my friend, you know… I believe I’m a good driver, but parking? Well, not that much, specially when there is a street full of people to witness my drama. So you can imagine that I did not have much of a choice besides to look at the other driver with a very friendly face, smile and tell him to go back. 

If you are visiting the town you will visit the Cuscuzeiro and the Piramide, those are two obligatory points in the town, and from there you can see the whole city. It’s a delightful to sit on the rocks and drink beers while someone is playing guitar. But just for a few hours, because eventually you will need to go to a bathroom, dammit beer! And the bathroom is kind, super far away.

Wherever, besides those two tourist points, there are waterfalls everywhere, so you can have a pretty busy trip around here. We tried to escape from the most famous ones for not being in super crowded place and even then we had full days.

One of the first ones we went to was the Sobradinho Waterfall (R$ 10.00 fee, super fair considering the expense of cleaning and preservation), to arrive to the waterfall you have to pass through a cave for arrive at this first “lagoon”, and then, after that, there are three waterfalls where you can swim, there was even some dudes doing a barbecue there, for real, meat, beer and waterfall. Dude! What else can you want in life? And if you don’t want to carry all the way there you can buy food and beer in a restaurant near the waterfall.  \ o /     One important tip here: When you arrive at the place you have the option of putting you car inside the farm. I advise you to do that, I left mine one outside and some people tried to open my car and ended up bursting part of the car door. Sad. 

After the Sobradinho we went to the Gruta do Labirinto (Cave of the Labyrinth), it’s a cave with 7 exits, it is nothing like a minotaur maze (tam dum tss) but it’s cool and you can take really good pictures there, and there is also my favorite part, you have to climb one level of the cave and then you will find yourself in a hole with huge tree ceiling with roots everywhere on the walls and the sky is covered by leaves, it’s really beautiful.

After finding your way out of the cave, you should go to the Poço Verde, (Green Well and / or Blue Well) which is a huge lake just besides the cave. Some parts of the lake are not deep so you can be safe, but if you are brave enough, some parts are very deep and you can jump from some hight places into the lake, it’s pretty cool. Ah, if you can, bring one of those inflatables mattress and beers. You will have an amazing afternoon.

The next day we went to the Cachoeira da Lua (Moon waterfall), it’s in the  beginning to the path to the Sobradinho waterfall. The best part in this waterfall, is not the view, which is pretty cool but the many points where you can jump into the waterfall: from the rope, from the tree where the rope is hanging, from the right side of the waterfall and from the left side (this one you have to jump forward or you gonna land in stones. I tried the rope one, but the attempt was extremely comical: you know I’m a short person, so I couldn’t get the rope right and because of that I couldn’t hold the rope tight and fall with my face on the floor before arrive at the river.  Yes, I’m being short is my my excuse and that’s it, Ok? AAAah, I will tell the truth, is not because I’m short, or because of the rope, it’s because I was terrible at holding the rope, and the fall I had was the same as if I had thrown myself face down, I did not see the fall (obvious because I was the one falling) but I bet it looked like a bag of albino dung falling in the middle of the send ! Ploft. Just like that. I kind wish someone had filmed, I would watch, burn and then laugh at the memory, but WHATEVER! I only tried it because the waterfall was full of cute dudes and I wanted to cause a good impression, but you know whatever, there was a guy worst than me. He tried so many times and all the times he fell outside the lake, it was painful to watch. The worst part is that he could hold the rope until the right moment of drop it, but he never did, and when he finally did the rope was already in the way back and he fall outside of the lake. Crazy.

After falling, jumping and swimming we went at the Moon Bar, a restaurant in front of the waterfall, and while we were eating, we start a very nice conversation with the other travelers around and a very, very important topic was raised, like life important: What the hell is angola’s chicken important for? What is their role in the eco-system? Such a mystery right?!

 After a long time reflecting about that important subject we went to the Gruta da Bruxa (Witch’s Grotto), for me that was the best part of the trip, the road to there is really bad, there are a lot of rocks and you have to drive very carefully, let go all worries about alignment and car balancing, because is worth it. You will make a trail inside a cave that takes about 40 minutes, is not for anyone, it requires a little physical effort but it is simply sensational, seriously, it is very worth going. You have to go with a guide, after all, it is not a simple cave, first you will “walk” into the cave until there is no more light, then, you have to make a rappel, rappelling in the dark, only with the head lamp. That’s why you need a guide, he will go down with you and he will literally put your foot in the crevices for you be able to go down. Your senses are all crazy here, the fact that you do not see anything gives you a wonderful adrenaline. And then you “land”in a pond at your knees hight. Aah, do you think is water pond? No baby, it’s bat poo. Such a luxury right ?! Well, it’s their house, so they can poop wherever they want. And I say it’s their house because there are so many bats in the cave, you always have to throw the light  forward to keep them away. You’ll keep going through the path squeezing, crawling, crawling through some tight tunnels, tight like, “snake” level, you will literally gonna have to craw like a snake to pass through some tunnels. And when you get in the middle of the cave, if I’m not mistaken is after the second, third, or fourth tunnel, 😅 you should turn you lights off. It’s awesome, you can literally feel the darkness, it’s almost touchable, if you stand in, quiet and with a slow breathe you can hear the bats flying, like the echo in the tunnel being a alive thing, but take care, we got the light off for about one minute and there was already some bats very close, so damn cool right ?!
In other part of the tunnel, a little bit more ahead, there’s a place where you can sit and look to your left side and if you move very slowly back and forth you can find the famous light at the end of the tunnel: the exit.
The exit for me was the best part, one of the best views I had in my life. While you are walking to the exit, there is a lot of bats going in and out (don’t worry about them bump to you, they have the sonar stuff), and you can see the light growing and you are emerging in the middle of a forest surround by trees and flowers, while the blue sky is half hide by the leaves, and the river floating just at the way out in a rock path. And the cave’s door is covered by stones and roots, like you are surrounded by the mountain. It’s very much like a gateway to a lost world, you know?! That is one of my best memories. 

Unfortunately we couldn’t take any pictures because it is impossible to carry a camera through the path, but I think that is a good thing. For me, because I can surely see with my own eyes instead of a lens. For you, because you can exercise the power of imagination and be able to see with you own eyes when you go. Well, the river outside the grotto it’s a drinkable water, so go ahead and take a refresh water and clean yourself, believe me, you will be dirty, there will be bat poop all over you. A tip for you: after that, leave your clothes in the washing powder for a while, because if you don’t, your clothes will be all stained, stained forever.

Following the exit river you will find a tiny, but very beautiful waterfall, it’s kind between a small corridor, you have to walk on the right side, because the left side is like an eternally deep and at the end there is the waterfall, which is a little high so it’s give you the right pressure to do a body massage. And behind the fall, there is like an empty dome, it’s pretty nice.

The next day we took a guide, his name was Seu Tomé, Seu tomé guided us through São Thomé. 😂😂 He is a really nice guy and he knows everything about the history, the tales, everything about the city. So, we where really happy about our guide. The first place he took us was the Morro do Amendoim (peanut mountain), the nice thing about this place is that you can drop the car in neutral and it comes back alone, in the hill. it’s nice. It’s something about the earth magnetism. You can also try to do it on foot, you go up the hill a bit (arrival side) and run backwards to the plate and there you turn and run back backwards, you’ll feel the world pulling you, it’s crazy. One day, I want to come back there and try to do with roller skates, which should be very crazy.

The second place we went was the Cachoeira de São Thomé (São Thomé Waterfall), there is not so many tourist there but a lot of locals. And everyone is doing barbecue, drinking, kayak, buoy, sofa, mother-in-law, drown her! 😬😊

So, back to the story, that waterfall is an amazing place to wash your whole soul and take a swim. And when you get tired you can have lunch in the nearby restaurant before going to the Devil’s Throat. (Garganta do diabo). A trail through an old quarry who leads you to a river who leads you to a waterfall. During the path you gonna have to, kind “climb” some rocks, walk through narrow corners, a creek with stones as a mattress and through the river. The waterfall itself is very tall and thin, they said the water’s usually transparent and calm, but when we were there, it had rained so the water was muddy and strong. Getting below the waterfall was dangerous due to the risk of the current bringing something who can smash your head, and then you will die. 😶😶

Anyway, the water runs through a crack in the side of a hill and descends as if in a throat forming several “ponds” before continuing to the river. There are several scattered stones and the people can leave their sculpture as a souvenir.

Leaving from there, we go straight to the Vale das Borboletas (Butterflies Valley), a circuit with several waterfalls, lakes and trails, the place is beautiful, just pay close attention in the way you took. Just for the risk of getting lost. It’s not that is a complicated thing, but it is possible to get lost, I speak with propriety, if you understand me.

So I will call that getting lost stuff as a adventure spirit, and in my adventure through unknown woods I found a new way out to the car, which by the way was closer than the original exit, so I can only conclude that I am a genius.

And that is it. Good by. I’m gonna end this text with: I’m a genius. 

Check more info about Sao Thomé das Letras

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