Location: Serra do Mar State Park, Ubatuba, São Paulo State, Brazil
Grade: 5, difficult, with steep inclines/declines
Duration: 9-12 hours, depending on fitness
Distance: 24 kilometres, round trip
Maximum elevation: 1,180 metres at the summit
Pico do Corcovado (Portuguese), also known as Corcovado Peak (English), is an iconic peak noted for its prominent right-angle cliff face. Even as you stand on the famous Ubatuba beaches and gaze inland, you simply cannot miss this striking peak. Note, however, Pico do Corcovado should not to be confused with Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro that is home to the Christ the Redeemer statue.
The Santa Virgínia Núcleos is a conservation area located inside the Serra do Mar State Park in the Ubatuba region of São Paulo state in Brazil. It has administration centres in Picinguaba and Cunha and extends to municipalities including São Luís do Paraitinga, Cunha, Ubatuba, and Natividade da Serra.
The Santa Virgínia Núcleos was established in 1989 and spans an area of approximately 17,000 hectares. Within this area, 146 species of birds have been inventoried, 68 subspecies of which are endemic to the Atlantic Forest. A further 67 non-flying mammal species, of which ten are endangered species, have also been inventoried. Clearly this area is important for biodiversity and truly a gorgeous area to explore.
Inside the altitude or foggy forest in excellent condition, the visitor arrives at Pico do Corcovado, on the border of the Santa Virgínia and Picinguaba Nuclei of the Serra do Mar State Park. From its summit, at 1,168 meters, it is possible see a good part of the cities of the Paraíba Valley and the north coast of São Paulo, such as Ubatuba, Ilhabela, Caraguatatuba and São Sebastião, as well as other remote peaks of the Serra da Mantiqueira, such as Pico das Agulhas.
This trip can be done either as a through walk starting near Vargem Grande and finishing south of Ubatuba proper near Lázaro, or you can go up and back the same way. You may be able to take an Uber to the start of the trailhead at Vargem Grande, which makes this leg of the route quite easy, as it's mostly downhill. However, these days a guide must be taken (even for locals), with a cost of approximately US$400 (as of May 2019).
If you don't speak Portuguese, you are required to have two guides; one that speaks English and the other one that navigates. This will cost for 750 brazilian reals per person. The usual price is USD 500 for 7 Portuguese-speaking people and USD 250 for a bilingual. These prices do not include gear (e.g., a tent or a sleeping bag).
How to get there
Pico do Corcovado can be accessed by the coast, at Núcleo Picinguaba or across the plateau, at the Santa Virgínia Nucleus, requiring prior-appointment with environmental monitors. It's best done as a through hike starting on the plateau at Núcleo Santa Virgínia and then traversing across the landscape to Corcovado before descending steeply down to Núcleo Picinguaba (Corcovado locale). Both the Trilha do Corcovado and the Trilha do Garcêz start at Núcleo Santa Virgínia, near Vargem Grande.
If you are planning to do this as a through hike or by using the trail starting at the plateau (Núcleo Santa Virgínia), prior-permission is mandatory with Núcleo Santa Virgínia. Email: [email protected] or [email protected]. Phone: (12) 3671- 9159 or (12) 3671-9266.
If you are planning to do this as a through hike or by using the trail starting on the coast side (Núcleo Picinguaba), prior-permission is mandatory with the Coaquira Association who are responsible for environmental monitoring at the entrance to the Ningu Picinguaba, due to the signing of the Authorization Term of Use with the Forestry Foundation in October 2018. Email: [email protected]. Phone: (12) 99754-7150.
While in the area, check out Cachoeira do Escorrega (Escorrega Waterfall).
What to bring
A backpack with:
- food and snacks
- insect repellent
- appropriate footwear (i.e., hiking shoes)
- long pants and clothing recommended
- Yellow Fever high zone. Be sure to have your vaccinations.
- water refills, along the way. Creeks, known as Rio, in Portuguese...
- Scary dogs
- flat area on top enough for a few tents.
- Beautiful to wake up to the sunrise and inversion.
- There are bolts of the rock ledge and rumor has it that there's a multi-rappel down the face.
- During the rainy season (November to March of each year) it is not allowed to stay overnight at Pico do Corcovado.