Alto Ribeira State Touristic Park

The Alto Ribeira State Touristic Park (Parque Estadual Turístico do Alto Ribeiro - PETAR) is a state park in São Paulo state, Brazil. It is a prime destination for cave exploring, containing the Gruta da Casa da Pedra cave, with the largest cave mouth in the World.

Understand

Rio Corujas

The park has one of the largest concentrations of caverns on the planet more than 300 in a region of untouched Atlantic forest covering mountains and ridges. This natural heritage site is made up of paleontological, archeological, and historical sites, not to mention the extreme biodiversity and speleological richness to be found in the region.

The high precipitation index, coupled with its action on the limestone, is responsible for the formation of the caverns and their endless stalactites (on the ceiling), stalagmites (on the floor), columns (from ceiling to floor), and curtains. The caverns include both horizontal ones (grottoes) and vertical ones (abysses).

Due to its area almost 36,000 hectares visitation is limited to areas concentrated around four different nuclei: Santana, Caboclos, Ouro Grosso and Casa da Pedra.

PETAR, in conjunction with the state parks of Jacutinga, Intervales, and Carlos Botelho, and the Xitué Ecological Station, forms a large, contiguous area of Atlantic Forest with more than 200,000 hectares and an immense variety of species. The whole region has be designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

History

Prior to the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500, the Atlantic Rainforest surrounded most of the Brazilian coast, but it has now been mostly decimated with exception of a few pockets, which now compose the Atlantic Rainforest South-East Reserves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Ribeira Valley, between the states of São Paulo and Paraná, contains most of the remaining primary rainforest. The Alto Ribeira State Touristic Park (PETAR) was created in 1958.

Landscape

The park is spread across the Serra da Boa Vista range, part of the Serra de Paranapiacaba. Besides the exuberant rainforest covering this mountainous terrain, the most distinguishing traits of PETAR are its limestone caves - totaling 300 in number. Of these, only 12 are open to the public. The park also contains 20 waterfalls and the towns of Iporanga and Apiaí.

Flora and fauna

The landscape is covered with virgin Atlantic Forest. Araucária trees, Brazilwood trees, palm trees, orchids, and bromeliads are common. There are also many ficus trees, whose roots can reach many meters into the earth. The larger trees can reach 40 meters in height.

The larger mammals which live in this habitat include the Red Brocket (a type of small deer), the Tayra (a type of weasel), the Jaguar, the Otter, the Southern Muriqui (a type of wooly spider monkey), the Robust Capuchin Monkey, and the Howler Monkey. Birds include the Harpy Eagle, the Vinaceous-breasted Amazon (a type of parrot), the Black-fronted Piping Guan, and the Dusky-legged Guan.

Get in

All visitor centres are only accessible by car. Two visitor centers - Núcleo Santana and Ouro Grosso - are located at SP-165, between Iporanga and Apiaí. Núcleo Caboclos is at SP-250, between Apiaí and Guapiara. For those coming from São Paulo, it is better to first take the BR-116 (Régis Bittencourt), then take the SP-193 at Jacupiranga towards Eldorado, and finally, the SP-165 towards Iporanga and Apiaí. Those coming from Iguape or Ilha Comprida can reach Jacupiranga through the SP-222, passing through Paiquera-Açu.

For those who don't have their own means of transport, an alternative is to hire a tour agency, such as:

Fees/Permits

Most visits to the PETAR require a licensed guide, requiring you to contact the park's main office:

Tours generally cost R$ 9; cars have an admission fee of R$ 6, and motorbikes, of R$ 4.

See

Caves

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, April 15, 2014. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.