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LAGOINHA DO LESTE


A lake, waterfall, beach, native bush land and cliffs. These ingredients are combined at Lagoinha do Leste, hidden in the southern hills of Santa Catarina Island. Being one of the last spots of Atlantic forest still preserved in Florianópolis, Parque Municipal da Lagoinha do Leste was created by law in 1992 encompassing 453 hectares of exuberant beauty.

Lagoinha do Leste is only accessible by foot or by sea, but landing is difficult because of the waves. A more unusual alternative is to go by helicopter! Because of the difficulty in accessing the region, the environment has been protected. The hike is enough to work up a sweat, but it is not challenging and can be done painlessly by people who have an appreciation for nature.

There are two alternative treks, each with their own advantages. The quickest route is a one-hour hike departing from the village of Pântano do Sul , through bush land and over the hills. This is the most popular route used by visitors. The ground is rocky and irregular but walking is easy if you mind your steps. Once the ascent is over, you are rewarded by the fabulous view of Lagoinha. It is then a simply hike down until you can sink your feet in the sand.

Postcard

The longer alternative starts at Armação Beach. First, cross the stream to reach Matadeiro Beach and from there take the southbound seaside path along the top of the hill. This route takes approximately two and half to three hours, in a hike with views that come straight from a postcard.

The scenery is astoundingly beautiful, consisting of waves breaking on the rocks below, freshwater springs bubble up from under the ground and the discrete company of the local inhabitants: seagulls, birds, hawks, small rodents, lizards and very rarely, snakes (they won't disturb you if you don't disturb them). Even though the trek is relatively safe it is always good to be careful.. The low-lying bush is spiky and can result in some scratches to the more careless individuals.

The beach at Lagoinha do Leste is just over one kilometer long and faces the open sea. It is enclosed between rock cliffs and hills covered in native forest behind it. The lagoon from which the place derives its name catches its water from a hydrographical basin composed of small streams originating in the forest. The whole of this natural setting shelters a rich biodiversity.

Whoever has had the privilege to witness the amazing phosphorescent seaweeds in the lagoon, which occur under special circumstances, will have the scene forever etched in their minds. As in a fantastic dream, the water sparkles to the lightest touch and the wet sand glows as it is stepped on at night.

The whole park was classified by law (3701/92) as a permanent preservation area. The law prohibits land subdivision, construction or extension of roads or any type of building, utilisation of motor vehicles, hunting or plant gathering. At the beginning of the trek in Pântano do Sul there is a city administration sign asking visitors to bring back their trash and to avoid lighting fires due to the threat of bushfires. Unfortunately this request has been ignored by numerous visitors who leave behind cans, bottles, plastic bags, shoes, and all sort of trash.

Vigilant Elfs

"The last untamed space on the island has become a municipal park but its upkeep is being taken care of only by its elfs, namely the surfers and the permanent residents Mr Valdir and Mr Tibúrcio", according to the social scientist Luiz Pereira, a native to the island and a long-time visitor to the beach. Supervision by Park rangers and the city administration staff is scarce and has been inneffective in preventing the damage to the environment.

On the 5th of June of 1995, Mr. Pereira coordinated a cleaning effort at the beach supported by the NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) "Loucos Varridos" from Rio de Janeiro, which counts the actress Sônia Braga among its members. In a single day 50 garbage bags were collected.

In spite of the educational effect of that work, an effective cleanup of the place would need to be done on a major scale. In Mr. Pereira's opinion there is no point in hiding Lagoinha do Leste from people or restricting access to it. He believes it should be protected by means of installation of a sentry box at the entrance and a stronger presence of park rangers. "Ecotourism is a viable alternative these days but it needs to be done in an organised way".

Tips

Here are some basic tips prior to starting the journey. First, bring along some food. Lagoinha do Leste has no infrastructure at all and the hike will make you ravenous. A basic rule - sadly not followed by all - is to bring back all the garbage you produce. You should bring a sturdy garbage bag for this purpose. Please be aware that even a cigarette butt is trash.

Be prepared and wear a good pair of sports or hiking shoes, light clothes, hat and sunscreen. Water will be plentiful along the way if it rained some days before. However, it is a good idea to take your own water supply to be safe.

Wake up early to make the most of your day and to avoid the risk of walking back in the dark. Going with a group is more fun and safer. Access to the place is difficult and a simple ankle sprain may ruin the adventure!

Location

How to get there: Either of two walking paths, one starting at Matadeiro Beach and the other starting at Pântano do Sul Beach village.

Distance to the city center: 34 km.

 
 

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