Category: Nature

Downburst in Porto Alegre

On Jan 29th (2016), Friday, Porto Alegre was hit by a devastating rainstorm that knocked down more than 4,000 trees in parks and streets causing damage to hundreds of street lamp posts and several buildings around the city. Around 100 people had minor injuries and looked for emergencies due to debris falling from buildings and small cuts caused by broken glass. Not only the fallen trees and branches, but also hundreds of damaged traffic lights brought chaos to the city’s traffic on the following days. More than 300,000 people had to face long power outages. Telephone and water distribution services were also affected.

Interestingly, no weather forecast service had predicted such powerful storm and three days later we are still wondering what exactly happened. Today (Feb 2nd), I was watching the news and the first technical explanation describing the phenomenon finally came out. It was a downburst. Not knowing anything about this kind of phenomenon, I decided to find a definition to share with you..

Definition from Wikipedia:

“A downburst is created by a column of sinking air that after hitting ground level, spreads out in all directions and is capable of producing damaging straight-line winds of over 240 km/h (150 mph), often producing damage similar to, but distinguishable from, that caused by tornadoes. This is because the physical properties of a downburst are completely different from those of a tornado. Downburst damage will radiate from a central point as the descending column spreads out when having an impact on the surface, whereas tornado damage tends towards convergent damage consistent with rotating winds.”

Last October, we had another heavy rainstorm that flooded some areas in the metropolitan area. I hope this kind of phenomenon does not become a routine here in the south of Brazil. A question remains, how much of this nature’s fury is due to human activity?

Parque Estadual de Vila Velha

An interesting place to visit near Curitiba (about 90 km) is Parque Estadual de Vila Velha. This is a State Park which offers some infrastructure to the visitor. There are two main guided tours in the park. One to see the rock formations and the other to see two caves more than 50 mts deep (called Furnas) and a beautiful lagoon (Lagoa Dourada). If you are in Curitiba, it’s definitely worth a visit!

The Goblet is the most famous rock formation in the park

The Goblet is the most famous rock formation in the park

Furnas formation

Furnas formation – click on image to enlarge!


Serra do Rio do Rastro

Certainly one of the most incredible roads I’ve driven on. With remarkable landscapes and deep crags, this mountain range is located in the southeast of Santa Catarina (second southern most state in Brazil) between Lauro Müller and Bom Jardim da Serra. Its highest point is at 1460 meters above sea level.


On a clear-sky day it is possible to see the Atlantic ocean, which is about 100 kms away. Though, it doesn’t seem to be visible in the picture.


On our way up to the top!

There are many viewpoints on the way where you can stop to take photos and enjoy the view.


Road view


Serra do Rio do Rastro


Fortaleza Canyon

Fortaleza Canyon is certainly one of the most stunning landscape views you can find in the south of Brazil. The canyon is located in the Parque Nacional da Serra Geral, 23 km from Cambará do Sul. It stands at 1240 mts above sea level and on a clear sky day, it is possible to see the Atlantic ocean. There are a few trails and viewpoints for the visitors. A must-see for those who love nature!DSCN4731

San Pedro de Atacama

This is an incredible place to visit not only because of the chilled out atmosphere, but also because of its location. San Pedro de Atacama is a small town in the north of Chile, right in the heart of the Atacama desert. There are some nice little restaurants and hostels in town. So it’s an excellent place to base yourself if you want to explore the region.


San Pedro de Atacama

Some nearby outlying sites include the Salar de Atacama (a huge salt flat), the Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna), the Death Valley (Valle de la Muerte), the Puritama Hot Springs, Pukará de Quitor (Fort Quitor), the majestic Licancabur, El Tatio (a geysers field) and the Miscanti and Miñique Lagoons – two altiplanic lagoons that are surrounded by volcanoes. I went there back in 2005 and met lots of nice people and saw some stunning landscape views.


Bizarre sand formations in the Moon Valley

I definitely recommend this place as a destination for those who want to see a combination of natural beauty and nice atmosphere.


Sunset in the Moon Valley

The Moon Valley is certainly the main tourist attraction in the region! It is an amazing place with lots of things to see located only 13 km west of San Pedro. Every afternoon lots of people gather there to watch the sunset.


The Amphitheater is one of the most famous rock formations in the Moon Valley


The Moon Valley

The stone and sand formations and the salt covering parts of the valley give it a unique look that resembles the surface of the moon, hence its name.


The majestic Licancabur (5924 mts) seen from the Death Valley

The Death Valley is located right outside San Pedro. From there you can see Licancabur, which stands on the border with Bolivia.


Miscanti Lagoon

The Miscanti lagoon is at 4200 mts above sea level and is surrounded by snowcapped volcanoes. It’s about 120 km from San Pedro.


Puritama Hot Springs

The Puritama Hot Springs are about 30 km northeast from San Pedro at 3500 mts above sea level. This is a cool place to relax and enjoy the 33 C hot waters.