Thigns to do in PETAR – Alto Ribeira Tourist State Park

If you are a nature lover and like trails, caves, caves, waterfalls, forests, you will certainly be fascinated when you visit the Alto Ribeira State Tourist Park (Parque Estadual Turístico do Alto Ribeira), the famous PETAR. From now on, you will see a complete itinerary on things to do in PETAR, with its main attractions and fantastic tips to make the most of your trip!

Get to know PETAR

Parque Estadual Turístico do Alto Ribeira
Alto Ribeira Tourist State Park. Photo: Disclosure.

The Alto Ribeira State Tourist Park or simply PETAR, is located in the southern region of the state of São Paulo, precisely in the Paraíba Valley, between the municipalities of Iporanga and Apiaí, about 320 kilometers (198.83 mile ) from the Capital.

PETAR corresponds to an area of ​​35712 hectares (88246.27 acre), surrounded by the last vestiges of the Atlantic Forest in the State of São Paulo. The Park has many waterfalls, caves, caves and tourist routes, which makes its biodiversity extremely rich.

Faced with so much scenic richness, UNESCO declared the region as a “World Heritage Biosphere Reserve”, which allowed the Government to enact law no. 32283, closing the region exclusively for environmental tourism, the exploration of caves, forests, waterfalls and freeing up the area so that ecological research laboratories and universities can carry out more detailed studies and research on the Atlantic Forest.

What is the PETAR region like?

Caves and Quaresmeiras Route. Access to PETAR through Apiaí. Photo: Disclosure.

Being at an average altitude of 1050 meters (3444ft), PETAR is located in a region with a cold climate, which varies between 17º C ( 62.6 °F) and 22º C (71.6 °F). The park has more than 350 cataloged caves, in addition to dozens of trails, waterfalls, traditional villages, communities Quilombolas, paleontological and archaeological sites, in short, PETAR is a very well-guarded paradise between mountains and valleys of the largest portion of the Atlantic Forest still properly preserved in our country.

Things to do in PETAR: Main Tourist Attractions

Since its creation by the Government of the State of São Paulo in 1958, the Alto Ribeira State Tourist Park has become one of the favorite places to practice various adventure sports such as buoy cross, caving, cascading, rappelling, as well as tours more accessible options such as biking, trails, hiking, photography tours, environmental education and nature observation.

The Trails

Trails in Petar. Photo: Disclosure.

For those who like action and adventure, the Park’s trails are an excellent option. Petar has dozens of challenging trails, including the Pedra do Chapéu trail, Trilha da Figueira, Trilha do Betari, Trilha do Maximiano and other trails that we will see more about below.

The Caves

Cavernas no PETAR.
Cave exploration at PETAR. Photo: Disclosure.

One of the attractions that most attracts visitors to PETAR is, without a doubt, the caves. The Park’s caves offer different levels of challenge, it is possible to find caves with streams, huge rivers, rapids, caves for climbing, for rappelling, among others.

One of the Park’s greatest advantages is its visitor infrastructure. All access points to the caves are properly marked with signs, warnings, tips and useful telephone numbers.

Furthermore, the visiting sites are equipped with access structures such as walkways, stairs and bridges that allow this rich heritage to be easily explored by anyone.

The Waterfalls

Cachoeiras do PETAR
In and around PETAR there are dozens of waterfalls. Photo: Disclosure.

Whether in PETAR or its surroundings, the region has dozens of waterfalls, some of them over 70 meters (229ft) high. These are perfect for rappelling and cascading, as well as a fantastic look for beautiful photographs.

PETAR also has several underground waterfalls, which are hidden inside the caves, an incredible opportunity for a swim in the dark.

Water sports

Bóia Cross no Rio Betari. PETAR.
Cross buoy on the Betari River. Photo: Disclosure.

It’s impossible to talk about water sports and not remember PETAR. The Park offers dozens of options for lovers of Bóia Cross, Acqua ride, Duck, Kayaking, cave diving, among others.

We can say that Bóia Cross emerged at PETAR. This water sport was born in the 80s, when explorers used truck inner tubes to transport their equipment between the waterfalls and rocks inside the caves. One fine day, someone had the idea of ​​climbing into the air chamber and following the waters of the Betari River, crossing the entire Núcleo de Santana.

Adventure Tourism

Turismo de Aventura no PETAR.

In addition to the various options for what to do at PETAR shown so far, the Park is considered by many to be one of the most perfect places for adventure tourism in Brazil.

It is possible to rappel more than 130 meters (426ft) high, whether inside or outside the caves. The immense walls are perfect for climbing, cascading, caving, vertical techniques in caves, zip lining, among others.

The Quilombos

Quilombos no PETAR
Quilombo Ivaporunduva is located in Eldorado, on the border with Iporanga. Photo: Disclosure.

PETAR is not only very rich for its natural beauty, but culturally, it is an excellent opportunity to meet and interact with the Quilombola Communities that live in the region.

When getting to know the Quilombola culture, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Find out more about the history of the formation of Quilombos in the region, their struggles and achievements;
  • How slaves lived in the past;
  • You will learn in practice about its gastronomy;
  • About your craftsmanship;
  • Cultivation of medicinal plants;
  • The practice of subsistence agriculture;
  • You will visit an incredible nursery of native seedlings from the Atlantic Forest;
  • Understand how slaves did mining and gold mining;
  • between others.

The price of a one-day ticket to visit and get to know a Quilombo costs an average of R$ 140 Reais per person, with complete accommodation (including breakfast, lunch, dinner and overnight stay). For larger groups of up to 40 people, it is possible to negotiate the price directly with the Quilombo leadership.

PETAR Visitation

To preserve the Atlantic Forest and its natural resources, PETAR is distributed in four Visitor Centers, they are: Núcleo Santana, Núcleo Ouro Grosso, Núcleo Caboclos and Núcleo Casa de Pedra.

So that you know exactly what to do at PETAR when visiting the Park, let’s now get to know each of its centers and main tourist attractions, check out:

  • Núcleo Santana – Santana Visitation Center (the most visited)
  • Núcleo Ouro Grosso – Ouro Grosso Visitation Center
  • Núcleo Caboclos – Caboclos Visitation Center
  • Núcleo Casa de Pedra – Casa de Pedra Visitation Center (Cave with the largest portico in the world)

How many days to meet PETAR?

You have seen so far that the Park is gigantic and offers countless attractions, therefore, the number of days to see the entire Park will depend on exactly which attractions you want to see when you visit it.

For example, to get to know the entire Santana nucleus and its countless caves, the ideal is 3 to 4 days with overnight stays. To get to know the other centers, including some Quilombola communities, 10 days is the minimum recommended, this way, it is possible to make the most of the tour, without rushing.

When is the best time to visit Petar?

As it is a region with an altitude of over a thousand meters and a cold climate, the best time to visit the Alto Ribeira Tourist State Park is during the summer or early spring, where temperatures are higher and you can enjoy the maximum waterfalls, lakes and natural pools.

It is also possible to wake up early to practice rappelling and other adventure sports.

How to get to PETAR?

Leaving the city of São Paulo, it is possible to easily reach the Park via Rodovia Régis Bittencourt and the other, via Rodovia Castelo Branco or Raposo Tavares until km 90 which follows SP-165, with an average travel time of 3 to 4 hours whether by car or bus.

There are two fixed bus lines that lead to PETAR:

Viação Moreira is a company that travels to the city of Iporanga, the ticket costs on average R$50 Reais. From there, simply charter a taxi to Bairro da Serra, where the Park is located. On average, taxi drivers charge between R$60 and R$80 Reais for the journey.

Viação Transpen is another bus line that runs from Barra Funda Bus Station in São Paulo to the city of Apiaí, the ticket costs on average R$50 Reais.

Just like the other bus line, when arriving in Apiaí, you need to charter a taxi to get to Bairro da Serra, where the Park is located. On average, taxi drivers charge between R$40 and R$60 Reais for the journey.

To check updated prices and schedules, call:

Barra Funda Terminal – SP: (11) 3612-1782 (24 hours) / 3235-0322 (from 6:00 am to 11:30 pm);

Apiaí Bus Station telephone: (15) 3552-1200.

How much does it cost to join PETAR?

Since 2018, the Government of the State of São Paulo, in order to value the local population and avoid accidents, has made it mandatory to visit the Park only with the presence of accredited Monitors, who charge an average of R$16 Reais per person.

From there, you can normally buy your ticket and pay by credit or debit card, bank slip or bank transfer.

PETAR tickets cost:

  • General Admission: R$ 32.00
  • Brazil discount ticket (50%): R$ 16.00
  • Mercosul discount ticket (25%): R$24.00
  • Annual Package – 10 visits (30%): R$ 112.00

Remembering that children under 12 years of age and people over 60 years of age are exempt. Students with a voucher continue to pay “half price (50% of the price)”.

Final considerations

Em síntese, o Parque Estadual Turístico do Alto Ribeira (PETAR) se revela como um destino verdadeiramente fascinante, permeado por uma riqueza natural incomparável. Ao explorar suas inúmeras atrações, desde cavernas magníficas até trilhas deslumbrantes, os visitantes têm a oportunidade de se conectar de forma íntima com a majestade da Mata Atlântica.


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