São Paulo´s immensity never ceases to amaze me and the thing I like best about the city is how much greener it is than most people imagine. One of the largest green spaces in São Paulo is Pico do Jaraguá (Jaraguá Peak or “The Lord of the Valley” in Tupi). It is the largest mountain in the metropolitan São Paulo area, standing 1135 meters (3723.75 feet) above sea level. It and its towering television antennas are clearly visible from many parts of the city when looking out west.
When I first arrived in São Paulo I was drawn to this huge mountain in the distance and promised myself I would get there someday, so that is exactly what I did. I have climbed to the top, where one can take in a panoramic view of the sprawling Brazilian capital, at least three times, and each time I find something new to marvel at.
Access to the Pico, which is located in the Parque Estadual do Jaraguá (Jaraguá State Park) on Rua Antônio Cardoso Nogueira 539 – Vila Chica Luiza, is rather uncomplicated. There are plenty of bus lines that drop one off right in front of the entrance to the park. Some of the buses leave from the neighborhood of Lapa and some from downtown São Paulo. There is a bus that leaves from the Vila Clarice station on the 7 Rubi line – I have actually gone on foot to the Pico from there once, although I would not recommend it to just anyone. If one chooses to go by car or other personal transport, there is access through Km 18 of Via Anhanguera.
As I stated, the Pico is actually part of the Jaraguá State Park. Once inside the park one is met with sprawling green landscapes, bike trails, small ponds and leisure areas for barbecues and picnics. It´s pretty common to see people gathered enjoying the park without taking the trail that will lead up to the top of the mountain.
For those that do venture up, the most popular route is the “Trilha do Pai Zé” (The Father Zé Trail). This 3,600 meter (about 2.2 milles) trail winds its way up the mountain through thick Atlantic Forest. The walking path is very wide and only very steep at some junctures. It should not be too difficult to climb for even the least experienced hiker and depending on your pace you can finish the trip in about an hour. But moving at a fast clip will make you miss out on the surprises on the way.
Pico do Jaraguá is the habitat for many fauna and wildlife. I got lucky my last time up and ran into some extroverted monkeys and a few South American coati (from the raccoon family) who were extremely curious and friendly.
At the end of the wooded trail, the ground gets a bit harder and there are fewer trees. This is nearing the end of the first part of the journey and if one looks to their right they can already see the city from up above. This is the view facing the interior of São Paulo, so there are only a few houses sprinkled across the vista with more and more rolling mountains as a backdrop.
This part of the trail is thankfully short and ends at a wooden staircase which lends access to the second part of the park – the top of the Pico do Jaraguá!
At the top of Pico of Jaraguá, one can stop for some refreshments or simply rest one´s legs. I have even seen event tents set up there for the kids in the summer.
You’ll also discover a dirty little secret at this juncture. There is a paved roadway which goes from the bottom of the mountain all the way to the top which is usually lined with the cars of those who chose to skip the trail. I don´t recommend taking this route unless you physically must. Word is that there is a lot of traffic on the way up and nearly nowhere to park your vehicle. This means you will probably be walking up hot concrete to reach the peak. Your feet will thank you out later.
The top of the Pico do Jaraguá is where you can begin seeing the metropolis side of the city. The endless sea of buildings is astonishing as it gives visual testimony to the manic urban sprawl which is the city of São Paulo. The trip is not over yet, though.
Atop the mountain, there are huge television antennas. One must brave the long staircase to reach the platform where they stand, but once there, the 360º-view is even more spectacular. São Paulo from afar is a sea of green mountains on one side and white and grey buildings on the other.
Standing above the city of São Paulo is not like the feeling when atop the Christ Statue or Sugarloaf Mountain, where the beauty of Rio de Janeiro sits like a perfect postcard below. Standing above São Paulo is more like allowing the feeling of one’s smallness to overtake them. Down below, millions of lives partake in their separate dramas. The buildings and avenues seem mammoth and overwhelming, and the noise of the city drowns out our thoughts and plans. But above, on the Pico, those same lives, buildings, and noises are all just tiny specks on an expansive canvas. We can attribute as much meaning to them as we can to a star in the sky.
Going to the Pico do Jaraguá is a worthwhile venture for the person who wants to escape the city and be in nature but doesn´t have the time or stamina to take on larger green adventures.
My tips for visiting the area is to pack light but bring a lunch. There is food up top but it can get pricey. Also, bring a lot of water and try to arrive around 9 or 10 am so that you are not getting the brunt of the sun on your way up to the top. The area outside the Jaraguá Park can be a bit sketchy, so I don´t recommend taking any excursions around the surrounding neighbourhoods. The park itself has plenty of security guards, is clean, and feels very safe with plenty of carefree children, couples, and families enjoying themselves.
If the concrete jungle starts to get you down, take some time off and visit the Pico do Jaraguá, one of my favourite spots in the city of São Paulo.
Follow me on Facebook by clicking here.
Follow me on Twitter by clicking here.
Follow me on Instagram by clicking here.
Read about my long hike through the São Paulo mountainside by clicking here.
Read about my walkthrough SESC Pompeia by clicking here.
Read about my favourite park in São Paulo, Agua Branca by clicking here.
Read my review of Justice League by clicking here.