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  • Writer's pictureKate Winstanley

The enchanted waterfall

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

Feiticeira is Portuguese for sorceress and is also the name of a cove and waterfall around 6km north of Abraão, on the opposite side of the island over a steepish mountain ridge.

I was immediately attracted by the name and also thought it would be a good destination for my first hike. By Ilha Grande standards, the trail was relatively easy but it felt anything but. Even though it was autumn, most days felt swelteringly hot (upper 20s) because of the high humidity. That and the effort required to walk up the steep trail carrying my heavy camera equipment meant I was soon bathed in sweat. I was overtaken by a group of local workers dressed in rubber boots and thick overalls carrying huge loads of building material and electricity poles without breaking a sweat. I was most impressed! 

There were not many birds visible on that first hike to Feiticeira but I could hear them high up in the canopy of the rainforest. Every now and then I would come across thick clumps of tall bamboo whose stems creaked and cracked in a rather alarming way - almost like gunshot. Brightly coloured butterflies fluttered along the path including a huge blue butterfly which seemed always to be in a great hurry to get somewhere. The males are said to impregnate an average 300 females during their lifetime so I guess they had quite a lot of work to do.

Every now and again there would be a break in the forest revealing dramatic views of the coastline and Vila do Abraão, lying far below like a miniature town. I can’t describe the relief when I finally reached the summit of the trail and began the downward descent to Feiticeira. The trek down was much more enjoyable than the upward slog. It did not take too long before I started to hear the sound of the sea again and had my first glimpses of Feiticeira, a beautiful bay of green water with huge boulders at either end of its fine white sandy beach. A couple of boats lay at anchor in the bay but other than that it was completely deserted.

I would make the trip to Feiticeira twice more and each time the upward trek seemed much easier than before. On the second trip I even had the strength to follow one of the trails leading to the famed Cachoeira de Feiticeira (Sorceress’s waterfall) and was very glad I did so. After a steep 10-15 minute climb, I heard the sound of rushing water. Tumbling down a 10 metre drop into a shady rock pool (poçao) was the famed Cachoeira. I half expected to see wood nymphs and dryads dancing among the shafts of sunlight that penetrated the leaves of the trees whose immense roots clambered over lichen covered boulders.  Swimming in that cold poçao after a hard hike was absolutely wonderful and the weight of the waterfall’s thundering water cascading over my shoulders was one of the best massages I have ever had. On one occasion I explored the river above the waterfall – it was a breathtakingly beautiful spot with butterflies and dragonflies flying in and out of shafts of sunlight that glanced on the sparkling water.

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