The Lost Cachoeira: Final Part

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So our first attempt to locate the Cachoeira do Cleandro was an epic fail. But just a week later, we were ready to try again.


Having done our research, and most importantly, having assured ourselves that the waterfall is undoubtedly located next to the white boat, we embark on another voyage, loaded with paddles, drinking water, rations and a Swiss army knife (just in case).

Once again, the wind and current are behind us, and we bob confidently down to the now familiar white boat, arriving in a record time of just 45 minutes – Oxbridge Boat Race here we come!

We hastily pull up alongside the famous white boat, but to our surprise, there is a range of different jetties to choose from. But with no shining light to guide our way to the holy waterfall, whichever could it be?

After much deliberation, we conclude that it would be none of them! There must be a sign to show the way, so we can’t have paddled far enough. And so we risk it. Taking care not to venture TOO far like last time… we paddle on.

Rounding the corner, a lone pontoon comes into view. Hurrah! We think, this must be it!

But taking things one step at a time, the first obstacle was: the crab infestation! It is safe to say, Clare was absolutely THRILLED…!

So Stephanie, with balls of steel, braves the crabs, and clambers up the teetering wooden structure. However, what she finds on land, is a deserted lunar-like landscape, inhabited by nothing but Clare’s beloved crabs…

Clare patiently waits in the inflatable kayak, fending off invading crustaceans with her paddle, as Stephanie disappears into no-man’s land. After 5 minutes of nervous anticipation (it felt like a lifetime), Stephanie returns! Unfortunately, with bad news. There is no path to be seen.

Clare is now keen to leave the crab-infested zone, and the two voyagers make swift work of reversing out of the little cove, and battle their way against the wind, returning upstream to the plethora of jetties we had previously come across.

As we draw closer to the river bank, we notice a makeshift bamboo raft has been constructed and left abandoned in the shallows. We cannot help but sense that this is somewhere that someone once tried to escape from…

Nevertheless, we draw the canoe up between two palm trees, assuming that they will be less crab-covered than the jetty. Yet unfortunately, we are wrong. The palm trees are also home to a crab or two. And so once again, it is Stephanie who bravely disembarks onto land, to scout a path to the Cachoeira.

Fortunately, there is a path, albeit rather rooky. It consists of a stretch of sketchily attached wooden planks, which traverses a swampy mangrove, and disappears into dense rainforest.

So we give it a go. We awkwardly yank the boat from the water, and deposit it safely inland, far from prying eyes, as we wouldn’t want someone nicking our bright yellow dingy and leaving us to navigate home on the rack of bamboo…

Anyway, we set off to traverse the rickety bridge, immersing ourselves in the jungle, feeling like Cabral and his crew when they first discovered Brazil.

As we make our way along the path, we anxiously notice that the holes in which the intimidating crabs live are increasing in size… and the stress begins to set in…

What could be living in such giant holes? Surely crabs can’t grow THAT big…

A snake perhaps?

I hope not…

10 minutes later, the trees become sparser, and a strange noise seems to reverberate around us… It sounds curiously like a helicopter…

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This is the moment we see a boatload of tourists whizzing down a waterway. The good news? We must be close! The bad news? The supposedly hard-to-access cascade, is in fact very easily accessed by boat. But of course, we learn these things the hard way.

Finally, we lay eyes on a signpost for the legendary Cachoeira! We made it! The problem though, is that we are on one side of the waterway, and the fall is on the other…

But just as the panic begins to rise, thinking that we had failed once again, one of the boatmen assures us of a nearby bridge, by which we could indeed reach the waterfall. And what paradise it is! While enduring the tough journey there, we had been careful not to get our hopes up in case the waterfall turned out to be a mere trickle down some rocks. But thankfully, it is so much more.

Want to know what it’s like? Make the adventure yourself, you won’t regret it. We are happy to announce that it is totally worth kayaking a total of 7 hours to reach.


Photos and words by: Clare Holding & Stéphanie Schmid