Penedo was settled by Finnish immigrants in 1929. The founder of the settlement, Toivo Uuskallio, came to the place with a small group of like-minded Finnish with the idea of building a community that would live in peace with nature and have a strict vegan diet. Uuskallio arrived in the city of Rio de Janeiro with his wife Liisa. He took some Portuguese lessons and went by train to nearby Barra Mansa. From there, he started exploring the region, visiting farms and properties in Rio de Janeiro and neighboring states.
Eventually, he visited Fazenda Penedo, then owned by the Saint Benedict's Monastery. With 3,500 hectares, Fazenda Penedo was crisscrossed by fresh water springs and rivers that were distributed along several altitudes. He could use the large Casa Grande, the main house in the farm, to accommodate his group. Envisioning that the area would allow them to grow both European and tropical plants, Uuskallio was not aware that the former use of the farm as a coffee plantation had basically drained all the nutrients from the soil, and after the abolition of slavery the treeless land was used as pasture for cattle. Also voracious saúva ants were ready to eat anything in sight.
In 1929, he purchased the property, and a second group of settlers arrived. After working on the land, they were finally able to plant corn, yams, bananas, flowers, and loofahs. By 1935, most settlers had their own individual houses. Women took care of the laundry, cooking and vegetable gardens, while men tended the earth, planted and negotiated the crops.
If you are coming Rio de Janeiro, then take Avenida Brasil and then BR 116 Via Dutra (Intersatate) going towards São Paulo. You will drive for about 165km (you will have to pay a toll of about R$10.10 during the journey) and then take the road to Penedo.
The interstate is well-maintained and the average speed is about 100km/h. Beware of radar ticketing for speeding. The speed varies in different sections of the Interstate (100km/h to 110km/h) and you are allowed to exceed the limit by 10% without being fined or stopped by troopers.
If you need to overtake, you should do so on the left. Never do it on the right or use the hard-shoulders for overtaking.
If you car breaks down on the interstate, there are emergency lines every 1km, so the walk for help won’t be arduous. All you need to do is to call for help from one of the available booths. Your car will be towed free of charge and if it is fixable, they will fix it for you too.
The interstate has plenty of signs and moves on a straight line until you need to get off to Penedo. Keep an eye on the exit 311 for Penedo after you have driven from at least 150km, as you will be approaching it on your right (you may want to reduce speed and keep on the right lane to be sure you won’t miss the exit).
Once you take the road to Penedo, beware of animals crossing the road. You will drive for about 10km before reaching Penedo’s town center.
from Rio de Janeiro viação Cidade do Aço, phone (55 21) 22538471, to Resende or Penedo bus terminal
from S. Paulo viação Resendense or Sampaio to Resende bus terminal
taxi can be used for transportation from or to Resende, Rio and S. Paulo city or airport
You can get around town:
Penedinho PeakRio de Janeiro. If you are from Europe, you may have that familiar feeling. The first-time visitor should visit Pico do Penedinho (Little Penedo Peak) from where she or he can have a wonderful view of Penedo, the Penedo Valley and part of the Itatiaia Park.
Since the Peak is on private property, you will need permission to visit. Simply go to Casa do Chocolate (Chocolate House) and get a permission ticket. From the Chocolate House, you will drive about 1km before reaching the entrance where you will be granted access to the trail leading to the peak.
You will walk about 600 meters uphill to reach the peak. It can be tiring, but it is worth your while.
Beware of Leafcutting ants along the way. Leafcutting ants have powerful bites, which can be pretty awful since the area is scattered with nests. If you spot a nest or a bunch of them going about their business, run past them hitting your feet on the ground so they do not climb your legs. If you're wearing trousers, close the legs at the ankles tightly so you are not surprised by ants inside your pants.
As you reach the peak, the trail is very narrow. Give way to people coming down, and avoid rushing uphill.
As with any waterfall, you must be extremely careful. The rocks are very slippery. If you slip and hit your head on the rocks, it can be fatal even though the water does not run fast enough at these falls.
As you can see from the picture, the water is very clean and good for swimming. Staying under the falls is very relaxing. As the water is falling on you, it will gently massage your body and wash away all the stress.
To get into the water, you can jump from the rock which forms a natural platform into a 2-meter deep section of the falls. Once you're in the water, the depth will vary from 2.5 meters to as few as 5 centimeters. The dark patches you see in the picture (right hand corner) are its deepest parts.
You can easily climb the side walls and go to the top where a natural rocky pool is formed with a nice mini-fall above it. Here, you jump into the pool and enjoy a massage from the falling waters. Make sure, though, you have someone with you so the person can help lift you up from the hole, which is about 2 meters high. The pool itself is only about 30 centimeters high. I took the picture in this article from the top of the falls. My cousin was climbing up when I (Robert Martim) called his attention and snapped the shot.
The last waterfall along the same road is Cachoeira das Três Bacias (Three Basins Falls). This waterfall is particularly good for sliding down the rocks. You sit at top of the first basin and push your body forward, and you will gently slide down its slippery rocky surface. You continue to do this until you reach the last one.
It may sound scary, but if you are careful, it is pretty safe. The dangerous thing about waterfalls--any of the types shown here--is always the slippery rocks. You should always keep this in mind and be extremely careful.
Another place to visit is Fumaça. It is a small village about 40km from Penedo. It has a beautiful waterfall that will be worth the arduous road you will have to drive on.
If you want a quiet stay you should go during the week.
If you are a chocoholic, then Penedo is for you! You will find many chocolate houses and they all produce wonderful chocolate. At Chocolate House, you will be able to see how the chocolate is produced as well, whilst you enjoy a wonderful cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
Below is a list of some good restaurants where to eat:
You also have "fish-and-eat" restaurants, where you can catch your own trout and they will cook for you. You should not worry about not catching a fish, as it is a fish farm and you will certainly have loads of trouts disputing your bait.
Getting out is simple. Simply drive back to Via Dutra and head back to Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo. This interstate connects these two major cities and you can reach any other city from these two centers.