São Paulo, October 2013 – Água Branca is the name given to the main waterfall of the Maranduba river which with 120 meters is the largest one in São Paulo State. It is located at about 700 height meters in the Caraguatatuba section of Serra do Mar State Park and the trailhead can be accessed from a village called Sertão da Quina. What is special about this fall is that you can only see it when you get there.
When Dieter and me reached the campsite, which was indicated to park the car, the owner thougt we were crazy to go their by ourselves, without a guide. He immediately told us about the many people who got lost in the rainforest and the many snake accidents which I personally didn´t believe was true. When he figured out that this was not our first trail in the Mata Atlântica and that we were equipped with GPS and snake protection he became a little calmer. Apparently he knew this region very well because he told us that he was consulted to lead a rescue operation to a Serra do Mar plane crash, some years ago.
It took us about four hours to get to the Água Branca fall because the area seemed to be an intensive hunting spot with many alternative trails. Even with modern GPS that uses American und Russian satellites, the data is not very exact. Apparently the steep Serra do Mar escarpments disturb the signal. Sometimes the trails run pretty parallel to each other for some time and it is difficult to evaluate if you are on the right track or not. Particularly about one km before reaching Água Branca there is a tempting larger trail entrance to the left which leads to the Serra do Mar plateau, where the plane had crashed.
Despite not having so much water when we were there the fall is really impressive and divided into a lower and upper fall which are totally different from each other. I was grateful that the campsite owner gave me some indications how to reach a small platform to photograph the upper fall.