São Paulo’s Rainforest

Pico do Jaraguá
São Paulo from the Pico do Jaraguá

With a population of around 12 million, São Paulo is the biggest city in Brazil and South America as well as the entire southern hemisphere. It’s also the sixth most populous city in the world. It has an absurdly large amount of shopping centres and has the largest fleet of helicopters on the planet. But there’s another superlative that’s not so well-known: on the northen edge of the metropolitan area lies what is allegedly the largest urban forest in the world, the Parque da Cantareira.

Cantareira Reservoir
Cantareira Reservoir

While São Paulo itself is a concrete jungle of five and a half thousand skyscrapers, the Cantareira spreads for 80 million square metres of Atlantic rainforest. There are several areas (or núcleos) which have been developed for tourism. Last weekend I visited the Núcleo do Engordador which has a relatively easy trail past some waterfalls. The Cantareira reservoir provides water to the city, but has been severely depleted this year. It was developed in the 19th century as the city began to grow and this núcleo has a fascinating little museum, the Casa da Bomba, which houses disused pumps, including a steam driven one dating from 1898 and shipped all the way from Lincoln, England.

Cachoeira do Véu
Cachoeira do Véu

There are little bits of the UK all over Brazil. The Estaçao da Luz train station in São Paulo was designed by a British architect and all materials for construction were brought over from England. In the Amazon the Manaus opera house was constructed with steel from Glasgow.

Pump House
Pump House

In another part of the forest, the Núcleo da Pedra Grande has a trail which eventually opens out to give you an incredible view of São Paulo. Near here the Horto Florestal is a small little park which is home to caipibaras, the biggest rodents in the world. Further to the west is the Pico do Jaraguá which at 1,135 metres is the highest point of the city and has similar outstanding viewpoints.


The beaches to the south of São Paulo are an easy weekend getaway, but to escape the crowds a visit to the Parque da Cantareira is highly recommended. Breathing in the oxygen here just feels healthier and as you walk along the trails, observing ancient trees and listening to the birdsong, it’s hard to believe the city is less than a 2-hour bus ride away.

São Paulo seen from the Núcleo da Pedra Grande
São Paulo seen from the Núcleo da Pedra Grande

Published by


I'm British, lived in London most of my life, but am currently travelling the world.

4 thoughts on “São Paulo’s Rainforest”

  1. Hi Ian,

    Thanks For the travel blog. Very interesting. Keep sending them please.

    See you next week in Leicester.

    Richard and Ros,

    PS: I am still getting mail, purportedly from you, with a Portuguese narrative in the title. I simply delete them without opening.



  2. Ian, thanks for the blogging. Love it and love the pictures too. Am sending on to D. Look forward to seeing you v soon.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s