If you’re eager to immerse yourself in Brazilian culture and indulge in a genuine experience, whether it’s mingling with locals and climbers in charming countryside towns or exploring off-the-beaten-path crags to avoid large crowds, you’ve come to the right place.

Marisa climbing a sport route on one of our many crags around town.

Brazil is renowned worldwide for its breathtaking beaches and sunny coasts. While the iconic “Pão de Açúcar” (Sugarloaf) in Rio de Janeiro often springs to mind when thinking of climbing in Brazil, there’s so much more to discover. Take, for instance, our sport climbing paradise, Serra do Cipó, with over 700 routes to explore (and yes, you can get the guidebook here!).

While some may be drawn to the well-known climbing destinations, we firmly believe that true cultural immersion happens when you venture beyond the tourist hotspots and embrace the local way of life. That’s precisely why we’re here to offer climbers like you an opportunity to experience Brazilian climbing from a fresh perspective: the local way.

The people we are

I’m Rodrigo “Genja” Chinaglia, the author of this article. Coming from an Italian background, I obtained my first degree in Environmental Engineering from the esteemed University of São Paulo (USP). After two years working as an engineer, I made the bold decision to pursue my passion for climbing, founding “Quero Escalar” in 2012, but only after having spent 6 months “living the dream” on spanish lands just climbing. Over the past decade, it has evolved into an e-commerce platform and climbing school. In 2022, I fulfilled a lifelong dream by opening a climbing gym in São Carlos. I can speak english, spanish and some Italian as well.

Sport climbing holds a special place in my heart, but I also find immense joy in bouldering and multi-pitch climbing. Above all, I have an insatiable appetite for bolting new routes in the crags around our town and discovering and developing new climbing areas whenever possible.

Our local Bouldering Gym on a regular day…

Despite juggling a busy life as a gym owner, route-setter, climbing guide, instructor, store manager, and even pursuing an undergraduate degree in physical education, I never lose sight of the joy of training, climbing, and introducing newcomers to this incredible sport.

Our climbing community has evolved in recent years, reflecting the changes in our country’s landscape due to political shifts. Previously, our community predominantly consisted of university students pursuing undergraduate, master’s, and PhD degrees in São Carlos. These passionate individuals formed a non-profit association called CUME. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and financial limitations, the association’s activities gradually declined. However, with the establishment of our gym, we are witnessing a promising resurgence of the climbing scene in our town.

We pride ourselves on maintaining high safety standards derived from our academic background. Within our group, safety concerns are paramount. We conduct Partner Checks before every climb, extend quickdraws to prevent rope drag and rock abrasion, and ensure proper usage of the grigri by educating and assisting fellow climbers. Additionally, we insist on the use of rope tarps, standardized verbal communication, and some of us even sport climb while wearing helmets. We’re so passionate about climbing that we can’t help but share it with our families during gatherings like Christmas dinner or Mother’s Day lunch.

Many people involved in the maintenance of the trails of the crags around!

The places we care (and climb!)

Within an hour’s drive from São Carlos, you can explore seven primary crags. Two are just a 20-minute drive away, three are a 40-minute ride, and the remaining two are within an hour’s reach. Additionally, there are two larger crags and a quarry accessible with a two-hour drive.

São Carlos, our beloved home, is a charming town with a population of around 250,000 residents. Located 230 km from São Paulo, it offers excellent bus connectivity, with buses running to and from São Paulo nearly every hour, day and night. While there’s a small airport in town, it’s not widely used by locals, so its reliability remains uncertain.

Our close proximity to São Paulo positions us perfectly for climbing expeditions. With a dependable bus station and a vibrant university environment, the town provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Our community thrives in this unique setting, where academia and climbing passion seamlessly blend. Many community members have graduated and entered the private sector, but their connection to the educational institutions they once attended remains strong, both in practical and emotional terms.

The rock we have around is sandstone from a formation called Botucatu. Despite the fame of being soft, sandstone offers great climbs on very solid quartzite-like (most of the time) rock. We can even find icnofossils (dinossaur and bugs “footprints” from the Early Cretaceous period in the geological time scale) on our crags. Sometimes on the wall, sometimes on loose rocks at the crag base. Our rocks are very important because they are part of one of the the biggest aquiffer in the world called “Aquífero Guarani”, due to the Botucatu Sandstone being a highly permeable rock. This means that it is able to hold and transmit water, making it an important source of groundwater for the local communities.

Overall, Botucatu Sandstone is an important geological formation that provides valuable information about the geology, ecology, and hydrology of the region where it is found. Its significance as an aquifer and its rich icnofossil record make it an area of interest for researchers and scientists studying the history and evolution of the Earth.

Oh, and it is what our crags are made of!


Cuscuzeiro is the main crag around São Carlos

The main crag around here is Cuscuzeiro, located in a nearby city called Analândia, within a 40mins drive. This is where the first routes were bolted in the late 1980´s and early 90´s. However, there is a story of a First ascent dating back to the 1880s. At that time, the local farmers ordered an enslaved person to climb it (free solo) to hoist the flag of the Brazilian Empire atop it, in honor of Emperor Dom Pedro II’s visit to the region approximately 1886. The local legend says that the bamboo grove that now adorns the summit of the mountain would be the mast of the flag that the enslaved hoisted in the place.

With almost 80 routes, the crag is divided into 4 main sectors: North, West, South and East Face. On it´s north face is located one of the most famous routes from the country side of São Paulo State called Visual, a 40m 5.10 US (6a+ Fr) with 3 pitches, big holds, a small overhang and an astonishing view. This climb is the thirteenth one featured in the nationally renowned book “50 Classic Routes in Brazil.”

It is one of the only places we can do Multipitches around, but with no more than 50m of height we insist on doing the routes on a single pitch style. However, most of the routes are sport-climbs ranging from 20 to 35m aproximately. There are some old routes from the 90´s with some spicy runouts but the newer ones have a more “modern” style of protection. Like most crags around, the logistics “turn around the sun”. That means we always begin climbing the routes on the south or west face and only after 13pm we go to climb on the North and East faces (South hemisphere, remember 😉 ) when it gets in the shade. The aproach trail is a relatively easy 20min uphill and we never go down the trail during the day. If you Climb 5.9 (6a Fr) and 5.10 (6b Fr) you will probably have lots of fun here. And if you want to try some 5.11 (6c Fr) and .12 (7a+) there are some classics I´m pretty sure you´re gonna love! Since there are basically only two trad climbs, I´ll describe them: one is around 5.10d (6b+ Fr) called “Irish jararaca”, a perfect “splitter crack” that is not a splitter but a dihedral with very hard rock and bomber nut placements (mostly finger-sized crack) but cams as well. The other one is “Beto´s Dihedral”: a 5.11 (6c Fr) on the oposite side of the same crack. It has some tricky placements with aliens and small nuts on the beggining and then some enjoyable but not necessarily easier climbing until the 40m chains (there is a intermediate rapel station at 25m so that you can climb it with a regular 50m rope and still get back to the ground). If you like and have tricams bring them, as they will shine a lot around here!

Itaqueri da Serra

Pancha cruising on the “4th Element” 5.10d (6b+ Fr), one of Itaqueri classics

Located in the neighboring town of Itirapina, within a 40minute drive from São Carlos, this cliff has 5 sectors with routes ranging from 10m to 20m high, totaling around 80 routes. Most of the routes have a “bouldery” characteristic, with predominance of vertical walls with small crimps and overhangs with better holds. There are several boulder blocks spread around the place (especially the 3rd sector), but perhaps underdeveloped yet to justify going there just for that. The cliff is a 20-minute walk along a bucolic trail and has good, flat bases under the routes for leaving backpacks and sitting and resting between climbs.

The location is close to a quiet village with a bucolic atmosphere, and to access the cliff, you park your car in front of a church that is over 300 years old and hike an easy 20-minute trail. One of the sectors has a waterfall right next to it, which makes climbing quite pleasant (if you enjoy routes in the 5.11 range), especially on hot days.

Descalvado Crag

Descalvado crag, in the shade all afternoon.

Within a 40minutes drive from São Carlos, this is a brand new crag we, along with the locals from the neighbour city Descalvado, started bolting in 2019 and established almost 80 routes in 2 years (Now it has already 100 routes). With around 50m high, this crag is one of the best around: long routes, in the shade all day (most of it in the shade after 10AM), with a standard 20mins aproach trail and good “crag-base” to sit, leave backpacks and eat between climbs. It offers amazing vertical-to-overhang walls with pretty good holds, making the hardest routes not going over the 5.12d (7c Fr). Although there are some unclimbed projects and definitely a lot of potential for harder routes (We estimate 200 routes could be bolted there, not including the extensions to the already established ones). Despite sugar cane crops all around, the crag itself is very untouched and awesome to look for rare birds like giant owls (Suindara), Eagles and king-vulture (urubu-rei – Sarcoranphus papa), besides the popular Maritacas and the regular vulture. Sometimes curious monkeys downclimb the top of the cliffs through the trees to watch us climbing in their natural environment. This place is very confortable if you like projecting routes and leaving your quickdraws on it. Among the 100 routes, there are some wasy climbs around 5.9 (5aFr) and 5.10 (6aFr) and lots of routes in the range from 5.11-5.12 (6c-7a+Fr). Some of the best routes are overhanging with big jugs all along it. And particularly there are some long chimneys that were bolted and are considered sport climbs such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Santa Claus Jammed” 5.11a (6cFr) or easier ones like “127 hours” 5.10b/c (6a/6bFr.) Many routes still wait for second pitches or extensions, and progressively we are working towards that.

Colorido Crag

Colorido Crag, 1h from São Carlos in the neighbor city of São Pedro

A crag with a very peculiar style of climbing within a 1hour drive from São Carlos. With 3 sectors (and a 4th just started to be developed) this crag is one of the most natural (untouched vegetation), with a dense jungle around, good for bird-watching and a great view of the valley. All accessible via a 20-30minutes uphill trail. The first sector is called “Cinema” and all the routes are named after some famous movie, like “Clockwork Orange”, “Planet of the apes” or “Gone with the Wind” (in portuguese of course). It has some very technical climbing on “volume-like” holds, laybacks, dihedrals, crimps and dynos. Just like the “Cinema sector”, the second sector, called “Artificial Paradises”, is climbable on rainny days because of a big roof on the top of the crag that avoids the routes to get wet. It also has all of its routes named after some drug like Peyote, Sativa, Indica (hence the name). It has a more overhanging climbing style on big holds than the previous one. The third sector is called “Anarquista”, it is the most democratic with many routes within the 6b-6c+ (5.10b-11b) range. With a very beautiful and solid rock, it has a mixture of great holds and compression moves on a red and yellow sandstone you´ll want to climb and pick the routes because of the aesthetics instead of the grade. This sector has the larger number of routes (around 30), although it is not climbable when it rains.

Caverninha (Little Cave)

The only boulder spot on the list – But a great place to climb! Small but with lots of jugs on the roof!

The only boulder place (so far) on this list. This cave is within a 15 minutes drive from São Carlos, plus 20mins easy hike. It has a lot of holds of all sizes on a 15m x 10m roof, 2m high in average. There ate lots of boulders ranging from V0 to V11. Long roof traverses on big jugs are the main characteristics here (Like João Batista V6, Fuck V2, Vênadavê V0, Joaninha V1), although you can find hard pinches or small crimps as well (Like the Pinça V5, Jerusalém V4, Palestina V5, êxodus V3, êxodo rural V4, Cruxfixus V7, Long bordi V8, Loskot V11). All boulders but one finish by matching both hands on specific holds, however, they all can have a “from hell” Extension (in portuguese: “do inferno”), that adds a V5 of around 20 moves and you end up manteling doing an astonishing topout. For example, you can make the Famous “João Batista” V6 and instead of matching on the last hold, keep climbing through the “Palestina” V5 until you do the topout, hence doing the “João Batista do Inferno” V8.

This is a great place for trainning or climbing mid-week during only one period of the day (after lunch for example). For now, the owner has forbiden the access after 18:00, so we have to end up the climbing around 17:30 so that we can reach the car by that time.

Fazenda Invernada

The closest crag from Sâo Carlos, only a 20min drive with a 5minutes trail, this is genuinely our local crag. Despite having only 15 routes, we care so much about that place because it is a great option for half period of climbing. It is also the main destination on rainny days because none of the routes get wet due to the inclination of the wall (perhaps the very last few meters of one or two routes get wet during heavy rains). With only around 5 routes easier that 5.11 (6c Fr), it is a great place to project the routes. You can pick long 511b/c (6c+/7c Fr) like Sexo no Barranco, foguete Cubano, or some of the great 5.12a, b or c like Colômbia, TPM or Narcotráfico. There are only two trad or mixed routes, but great to climb. The routes are just aside of a very beautiful waterfall, and on the shade all day long (or most of it). There could be twice as much routes as there are now, but 3 huge bee-hives have kept some parts of the wall unclimbable so far.

The food we eat!

Before the pandemic, we used to have a wonderful tradition called “Post-Climb.” We would head straight from the crag to the bar, enjoying cold beers, delicious snacks, french fries, sandwiches, or even pizza. It was the perfect way to unwind after a great climbing session, don’t you think? ;P

Unfortunately, some of our favorite hangout spots have closed down, and we’ve been on a quest to discover new places that can become our new “go-to” spot (and we already found some quite good candidates). Initially, after the pandemic hit, we started gathering people at home and ordering food. Now, we’re also venturing out to explore different options.

We have a wide range of choices available, such as the Brazilian Pizza (which an Italian might consider more like a pie, or even a sin, due to the excess of cheese, pepperoni, or other toppings). There are also Arabian Esfihas, which are like mini pizzas, and Pastel, a delicious fried cuisine that has its roots in Chinese cuisine. Let’s not forget about the São Carlos Sandwich, which is so gigantic that you can order one, enjoy half of it, and save the other half for lunch during your climbing adventure the next day. Our food options are extensive, but none of them can truly compare to the comfort and love of a home-cooked meal.

If you choose to climb with us, I can make arrangements for you to experience my mother’s exceptional cooking. She’s an incredible chef! Additionally, we can’t forget about my father’s authentic Brazilian barbecue. These two culinary experiences, my friend, might just be the main reason why people come to climb with us or why their trip becomes truly unforgettable.

Where should you stay & how would you get around

When it comes to accommodation, you have numerous options available. From comfortable hotels and budget-friendly motels to cozy apartments or houses on Airbnb, as well as the classic camping experience. It’s worth noting that camping and climbing can sometimes be perceived as exclusive activities, and you may find that the cost of camping exceeds that of certain Airbnb options. Rest assured, we can assist you in finding accommodations that fit your budget while ensuring cleanliness and, most importantly, safety.

You’ll be glad to know that the countryside offers a higher level of security compared to the bustling city capitals. While we have a decent public transportation system, it may not provide convenient access to climbing locations. Renting a car or joining someone who has one would be the ideal solution. Depending on your schedule and ours, we can arrange to pick you up from your location and travel together to the climbing spots. With that in mind:

The offer I make

Let´s Climb!

Discover Unique Cultural Experiences: Explore Brazil with a Local Climbing Guide

Are you ready to embark on a thrilling adventure while immersing yourself in a different culture? Look no further! I offer unparalleled experiences as a climbing guide, providing you with an insider’s perspective of Brazil. Let me take you on a journey that showcases the rich tapestry of our country’s traditions, flavors, and diversity, with a focus on the enchanting countryside of São Paulo.

As your guide, I will introduce you to the vibrant Brazilian cuisine, tantalizing your taste buds with the authentic flavors that our people hold dear. From exploring local markets to savoring regional delicacies, you’ll experience the true essence of Brazilian gastronomy. Additionally, besides arranging hotel or Airbnb accommodations, ensuring a comfortable stay throughout your trip, now I have a spare room with two single beds (and space for a matress on the ground if you come in 3) to acommodate my guests in my house. Whether you’re staying near a bustling city or nestled in the countryside, I’ll be there to pick you up from the bus station or your place of lodging, eliminating the need for car rentals if you prefer.

To truly immerse ourselves in the Brazilian way of life, we can organize a visit to my parents’ home, where you’ll have the opportunity to indulge in a genuine Brazilian meal prepared by a local. Experience the warmth of Brazilian hospitality as we share stories, laughter, and the mouthwatering traditional barbecue that my father specializes in. It’s a chance to create lasting memories and forge connections with the locals.

Of course, the heart of our adventure lies in exploring the breathtaking climbing spots that dot the region. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or a beginner looking for a new challenge, we can tailor our itinerary to include the climbing peaks that capture your interest. Scale the cliffs, conquer the summits, and revel in the thrill of climbing amidst Brazil’s awe-inspiring landscapes. Rest assured, I’ll be there every step of the way, ensuring your safety and guiding you through unforgettable experiences.

So, are you ready to embark on an extraordinary journey, combining the joy of climbing with an immersive cultural exploration? Let’s plan your trip to Brazil, where together we’ll discover the beauty of our land, the flavors of our cuisine, and the warmth of our people. Contact me today, and let’s make your Brazilian adventure come to life!

In terms of pricing, I understand that you might be in Brazil for just a weekend or holiday, or perhaps planning a 15-day vacation here. Feel free to get in touch so we can work out a rate that fits your budget and allows me to take you climbing, ensuring you experience all the adventures I’ve mentioned earlier. Usually Keep in mind that we’re not limited to just this region—I’m open to crafting an itinerary that includes exploring other places in Brazil based on your interests. Keep in mind, however, that a daily climbing rate is around U$120/100 Euros per person, and for itineraries lasting more than a week (or for more people), it can be approximately U$90/80 Euros per person (or even less). Accommodation at my home is usually included in the mentioned daily rates. Feel free to reach out so we can tailor a package that not only aligns with your budget but also ensures an enriching climbing experience throughout your stay!

In 2013 I wrote an article on my former blog sharing some advice for non-Brazilian Climbers. I´ve just read it again and I disagree on some aspects I have raised there, and especially how I approached those aspects (a little too passive-agressive for my taste nowadays). Some tips, however, are still valuable, and if you are curious, you can read it here: Tips-for-non-brazilian-climbers-in-brazil

*Même si vous ne parlez ni anglais ni portugais, ne laissez pas les préjugés vous priver de l’opportunité de rencontrer des personnes, de découvrir des ascensions et des cultures incroyables ! Rejoignez-nous pour escalader, même si c’est dans le langage universel de l’escalade !

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