Brazil’s best kept secret: The Santa Catarina Gorges

The Serra Catarinense, or Santa Catarina Mountains, in the deep south of Brazil, is a vast region of plateaus covered with craggy peaks and tumbling waterfalls. The roughly 6,000-square-mile area runs through Santa Catarina, the second-southernmost state in Brazil. The rugged landscape echoes the local gaucho culture, which celebrates South American cowboy style. I’ve been to Brazil about a dozen times and lived there for five years. I had never heard of the Serra Catarinense mountain range until a few years ago when I noticed a series of majestic gorges appearing on screen while watching my favorite telenovela Além do Tempo, a story about undying love that is told in just 161 episodes. To my disbelief, my wife Juliana, who hails from the north coast of Brazil, told me that the gorges are part of the Serra Catarinense, a few hours’ drive from Florianópolis Island, perhaps my favorite vacation spot. I hoped to see them for myself one day.

Earlier this year I traveled to Brazil with my mutt Gypsy. After spending a few months in Florianópolis and fading summer giving way to autumn, the canyons came to mind again. By a happy accident I met Pedro McCardell, a Brazilian poet turned habitual explorer, who told me that not only does he know the Serra Catarinense well, but that he will be heading there in the following days. With plans to lead a group of dirt bike surfers on a short expedition to the Serra Catarinense, Pedro suggested I come along. Brazil’s best kept secret: The Santa Catarina Gorges

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