Originally from Seattle, WA, USA, I moved to Brazil one year and a half ago. I was excited for the move but also anxious about being able to continue rock climbing in Sao Paulo. Before departing Seattle, I tried to look up climbing areas in Brazil (apart from Rio de Janeiro) and was stumped pretty quickly as I did not speak Portuguese (yet) and there seemed to be quite limited online information on crags in Brazil. However, I quickly became integrated in the climbing community in Sao Paulo and most weekends now leave the city to climb in various areas outside of the urban jungle (there are multiple world-class indoor climbing facilities in Sao Paulo as well).
In this blog entry, I want to highlight my favorite climbing place that not only has great multipitch climbs, but also offers superb cultural experiences in the heartland of Brazil: Minas Gerais State. The town of Andradas, in the state of Minas Gerais, and Refugio Andradas in particular, have become a staple climbing and weekend get-away retreat for me. The town of Andradas is easy to get to from Sao Paulo- roughly 3 hours by car or bus through the countryside. Once in the town, there are numerous quaint restaurants, cafes and an amazing microbrewery: General Beer (a must stop for any beer-lovers!).
Once out at Refugio Andradas, the owner, Senhor Paulo and his wife, are always so inviting and instantly show all the visitors why Mineiro (from the state of Minas Gerais) hospitality is so famous around Brazil. Farmers in the area make, grow and sell, honey, cheese and coffee, which guests at the Refugio can buy and even learn how to make and participate in the processes.
The Refugio is equipped with two male and female bunk rooms, two private rooms as well as an area for camping. The kitchen has anything and everything guests might need and all faucets on the property run with fresh drinkable spring water (no need to filter!). There are two bathrooms each with hot running water. The property around the main house is gorgeous! You can see the valley stretching out for miles and many of the best multi-pitch climbing areas can be seen jutting out of the coffee plantations in all directions. A pool (filled with spring water from the property) and an enclosed artificial climbing practice area mark one corner of the property’s edge, while on the other, guests will be able to find an ample BBQ and bonfire area. Hammocks are strung up in the shade around the grounds for guests who wish to take a load off and relax.
The main three climbing areas are: Pedra do Elefante (Elephant Rock), Pantano and Lobos (though there are dozens of other places in the area as well). Pedra do Elefante has the longest multi-pitch sport and mixed routes that range in grade from ~5.6-5.10d. The northface of Pantano has the most difficult routes ~5.10a-5.12d (also sport and mixed multipitch routes). All the rock in this area is granite and holds are primarily crimps. The refugio has several topo books for guests to use as well as multiple topos posted on the outside walls of the main house. Apart from climbing, there are also numerous trekking trails to enjoy and view sites that guests can visit (I highly recommend the church on the hill at sunset!).
I cannot recommend Refugio Andradas enough for the ultimate climbing and cultural experience while in Brazil!
Looking to plan an authentic, off the beaten path, and culturally rich experience in Brazil? Contact us!
Looking to plan a climbing trip to Brazil? Feel free to contact us about Andradas or other areas.
Your friendly Brazil expert,