PETAR – Parque Estadual Turístico do Alto Ribeira

If you love adventure, trekking, rivers, caves and exploring new places, you have just found the perfect place for your vacation. PETAR is a State Park situated in the south of São Paulo State in a region that is the largest and best preserved area of the remaining 7% of the original Atlantic Rain Forest. The region is also famous for its caverns. There are almost 300 fantastic caves hidden in the forest, each one different from the other. About 10% of these caves are opened for visitation.

Two things are indispensable to get into a cave: to hire a local guide and light. Imagine yourself in a dark labyrinth full of rocks with irregular walls, ceiling and floor. That would be a cave without a guide and a torch. The local guides know very well all the grottos opened for visit, they were mostly born there, so they know the ways inside the caves like the back of their hands. Without lights, you wont be able to see anything, and it’s cheaper to purchase a torch or a headlamp for yourself, but don’t forget to take extra batteries with you.

The tourist caves are divided in four nucleons: Santana, Ouro Grosso, Caboclo and Casa de Pedra.

The nucleon of Santana is the easiest of them to explore. The main cave, Santana, has good infrastructure to receive the tourists and it’s also very close to the hotels and inns in the region.

Ouro Grosso is a fantastic nucleon. The cave that gives the name to the nucleon has an entrance a little bit tight for the old-aged people but it is really worth to face this adventure because its saloons are really gorgeous. In the end of the tourist portion of the cave, there is a cascade about 5 meters high. It’s an impressive view. Besides this cave, the nucleon also counts with Alambari cave, where you can rappel inside, the Endless Cascade and the Betary River where you can practice bóia-cross (a light individual version of rafting).

If you were made for adventure the Caboclo Nucleon has been made for you. There you won’t find the luxury of electricity. Camping is the only way to stay there. The caves are more difficult to get, this place is indicated only for experienced explorers.

The Casa de Pedra nucleon is a little pushier the Ouro Grosso and Santana. The hiking is longer but is the view compensates all the effort. The first cave is the 140 meters high Laje Branca (White Flagstone). Then, there comes the protagonist of the tour, Casa de Pedra, (Stone House), the highest cave in Brasil, about 210m high. An unbelievable structure made by the God’s hands that attracts speleologists, biologists, climbers and many tourists from the worldwide.

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See details and pictures of each attraction of this destination.

Santana Cave
Água Suja Cavern
Morro Preto Cavern
Couto Cave
Alambari Cave
Ouro Grosso
Sem Fim Cascade
Betary River
Casa de Pedra Cave
Laje Branca


  • Don’t forget to take: Torch with extra batteries, bottle of water, snacks for eating during the trails, and mosquito’s repellents.
  • If you intend to take pictures you must have a good camera with a 400 wings film or more. The caves are extremely dark, so automatic cameras won’t make good pictures.
  • At night don’t forget to meet Takeupa. A local bar and pizzeria where all the tourists and guides meet at night to play cards and listen to many crazy stories!
  • Do never go inside a cave without a local guide. The local guides know the caves very well and also when you can, and when you can not enter. It’s very easy to get lost in a cave if you don’t have a local guide.
  • Always pay attention where you step and put your hand inside the cave. Mother nature takes millions of years to build it and you certainly don’t want to break it in seconds.
  • If you talk to your guide during the trails to the caves, you might listen to amazing adventure stories about the caves, the local population and many other.

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The average temperature is around 20º - 22º C, getting a little colder during the winter and with some showers during summer.
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The population of Iporanga and Apiaí is very humble. They don’t have much money and the tourism is very recent in this region. There is almost no case of robbery registered. Despite of the population being a little bit poor, they are very pleasant and friendly.
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