This stop was suggested by my cousin Ricardo who lives in Florianópolis. We never heard about this place before and it was not included in the initial route. But that's something we were expecting: changing our plans and route constantly according to people suggestions and new things we learn on the road.
Itaimbézinho Canyon is 8 km long and 720 m deep. It is fringed with subtropical forest and it is part of Aparados da Serra National Park (situated on the border of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina Brazilian states).
Aparados da Serra National Park entrance is 18 km from Cambará do Sul so we slept there for two nights to have one full-day to explore the walks at the park. Cambará do Sul as nothing to see apart from the national parks (Aparados da Serra and Serra Geral) but it is a small town that resembles the Wild West. There is one main street with a church and most of the touristic/tours information to get into the canyons is based in this street. There are 3 restaurants in the town and we had dinner in 2 of them: A Taberna and Sendero Bistrô.
Another possible place to stay is Praia Grande, around 20 km away from this park but with a worst unpaved road (since they are now building a paved road but it was not ready when we visited the park).
We woke up around 7:30 am and we drove from the town of Cambará do Sul to the Aparados da Serra National Park. It took us around 40 minutes to do a distance of 18 km since the road was unpaved and with some holes (see this video we made with the GoPro while driving). The day before we went the the tourist office at Cambará do Sul and they told us we could do this by ourselves since the road was not too bad for this canyon. And they were right.
After around 18 km we arrived to the park entrance and we had to pay a fee entrance for each of us and for the car (R$6 per person + R$6 per car). There's a visitor center inside the park with explanations, places to rest and bathroom. There are 3 trails to see this canyon: Vertice, Cotovelo and Rio do Boi. We did the first two since the third starts at Praia Grande and it could take around 7 hours...
We started with the Cotovelo trail with 6,3 km and several viewpoints that allowed us to see around 70% of the canyon (as it was explained at the Park visitor center). It was an easy trail well signed and with places to stop and rest while admiring the views. After doing this trail we did the Vertice trail which was just 2 km but more hilly. The canyon views were not so spectacular but it had some waterfalls along the trail which make it worthwhile.
In the end it was a good surprise! We didn't expect to see landscapes like this in Brazil, where (almost!) everyone visit the country for its beaches and coast.
Next stop: Gramado & Canela!