Serra da Mantiqueira
São Paulo is a small state with excellent roads and transportation systems. Whether you head for the mountains or take to the coast, most attractions are only 2–3 hours from the capital, making them ideal weekend or overnight excursions. An excellent way to explore the coast or the mountains is to make them part of a Sao Paulo–Rio itinerary, in which you leisurely stop at the destinations that appeal to you between Brazil’s two mega cities.
Only a couple of hours northeast of the city, in the Serra da Mantiqueira mountain range, is the tony resort town of Campos do Jordão, with its Swiss-style chalets and matching alpine scenery. If the fashion mavens who frequent “Campos” are a bit too much, seek refuge at nearby Santo Antônio do Pinhal, a smaller, more down-to-earth version. Both towns have numerous hiking trails through the mountains and are refreshingly cool in the summer.
With its chilly temperatures and the sort of green mountain scenery that evokes Julie Andrews singing “Doe, a deer . . .” the Serra da Mantiqueira is the favorite winter playground of upscale Paulistanos and Brazilian celebs. Although snow is unheard of, in July temperatures can go as low as 0°C (32°F). In warmer months, they hover around 15 °C (60°F).
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition