If you ever get a chance to visit Teresópolis, here is my one piece of advice: stay as long as you can.
You will never run out of things to do and it is the kind of place you can putter around for days with no agenda at all. The streets are safe. The people are friendly and inviting. The surrounding national, state and municipal parks contain endless hiking trails, waterfalls, and breathtaking scenery.
Teresópolis is a small, laid back city about two hours to the northeast of Rio de Janeiro. It’s named after Teresa Cristina, wife of the last emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II. (Petrópolis, to the east is named after Pedro himself). Today it is know for being the home of the Brazilian national soccer team. It’s also a place where city folk from Rio come to escape the rat race.
I’m putting together this post the day before we move on in our journey and I’m surprised at how much I’m going to miss it after only spending a month here.
The Photo Tour
Enjoy some of our favorite photos from our time in this lovely part of the world.
We rented a house on AirBnB where we cooked meals, hung out, and lived almost normal lives.
Our balcony view included the houses below in our gated condominium and the not too distant mountains. It was a joy waking up to this view whether it was clear, misty, or blanketed with fluffy clouds.
Our boys made quick friends with the neighborhood kids. At first our boys were shy, not knowing any Portuguese. But they made it work. Every day the neighbor kids came knocking on our door with an invitation to join the fun.
The streets are fairly safe in this part of Brazil. We often took walks after dark when most Brazilians were just sitting down to dinner.
It might not look like much, but they gave us FREE yellow fever vaccines. We took a gamble and waited to get the vaccines until we arrived in Brazil because we had heard rumors that they were free. In the U.S. they were $250 per person. Turns out the rumors were true!
Every two to three days we went out and explored. We brought a lunch that usually looked something like this and ate it wherever we pleased.
We drove this route by accident. We thought we would end up at a hiking trail. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a splendid adventure. We drove for hours on a very rural dirt road with stunning views of farmland and mountains.
In the middle of our drive through Montanhas de Teresopolis we stopped to eat lunch at a little bus stop.
Serra dos Órgãos is an enormous national park with several entrances. It could take hours to drive from one entrance to another. It is well organized with good signage, information centers and brochures making it easy to select a trail and explore.
A short hike gets you to the top of a giant boulder shaped like a turtle. It was a fairly easy hike for kids. Just don’t let them get to close to the edge!
Miles in the distance, the clouds looked like an enormous ocean wave about to cover the earth.
Cachoeira dos Frades was one of our favorite spots that we visited many times. You don’t have to hike very far, which is perfect for little kids. If you walk up past the waterfall there are various pools you can swim and play in.
If you continue walking or driving up the road through the valley, the views are heavenly. Alledgedly there are trails through the Tres Picos if you take the road to the end but we never found it.
Near the waterfall was a hostel and spiritual healing center called Museo do Futuro. We took a tour where our host led us into a hemispheric structure that altered the sound of our voices, supposedly letting us hear them as they are heard by others. It was a lot of new age pseudo-science, but our guide exuded gentleness and peace.
The weekly fair in Teresópolis is a riot. There are tons of street food stalls, clothes, a magic train tour, people dancing in super hero costumes and loud music. It’s a must see event.
We preferred the more low key Organic Farmer’s Market, also on Saturdays. It had a more laid back vibe and featured a stage with live music. It was a good place to meet people and practice our Portuguese.
We met a local English teacher and tour guide at the farmer’s market who gave us several good tips on places to hike with little kids.
Just up the road from us was a Hindu ashram. We were curious so we asked if we could look around. The woman tending the grounds invited us to a festival that Saturday.
On our final day in Teresopolis, we attended the Hindu festival. No one seemed fazed by the fact that we were neither Brazilian or Hindu. In other words, everyone was very welcoming. It was quite the cultural experience. At the same time it was uncannily familiar, reminding us of church outings at the park.
Here we are on top of the world! (Actually, it was just the top of the mountain our gated condominium was built on.)