A Trip to Sana, Brasil

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The beaches of Brazil are beautiful but every trip I’ve made here I’ve wound up on a beach.  Don’t get me wrong.  I appreciate a nice beach scene but they do get a little old after awhile.  To help break up the monotony and to provide some fresh scenery for my camera, my Brazilian buddies took us on a trip to the mountains and hills to the west of Macae.  They had heard of this place called Sana but had never been.  Sana is like a forest getaway for Rastafarians and those who are of similar opinion on the use of certain natural substances.

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With a little help of a GPS and lots of pulling over to ask for directions, we finally made it to Sana.

Only a few minutes into our hike, we came across a couple of guys who were sitting on some big rocks, overlooking the river below.  Needless to say, they were stoned.  REALLY stoned.  Like human wasteland high, but at least they were friendly.  As Sana is not a tourist attraction, they probably weren’t used to seeing many outsiders in this little retreat.  In fact, my pasty-whiteness probably had them thinking they were seeing a ghostly apparition with a camera.  I asked them if it would be ok to make a few photos of them.  They were happy to oblige!  Random hand gestures were offered up to help out my composition.  I think one was trying to utter something about Buffalo Soldiers.  More likely, he just needed some Buffalo Wings for combating those munchies.

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These friendly guys set the tone for the whole hike.  From there, we had a relaxing, enjoyable hike.  No, we didn’t smoke anything to achieve this state of relaxation.  Just being out in nature, away from the city noises, and starting off a hike with two great portraits will put any photographer in a good mood.

With me on the hike were two of my buddies from Brazil, Sergio and Edson, and also my fellow American, Brandon.

Here is Brandon and Sergio settling their differences in the way that men do.

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The trail led us through some dense bamboo thickets.

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Toward the highest point of the trail, we came across this little guy sitting on a stump outside of a lovely home nestled back in the trees and bushes.

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I have no idea how anyone would have ever gotten all the supplies up that trail to build a house.  We were all panting and soaked in sweat from the very steep and narrow path that brought us up to that point.   From what I gather, this place sells medicines and herbs.  Probably amounts to aspirin and Mary Jane.

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After a short visit with the occupants of the house we headed off on a fork in the trail that would lead us down to the river.

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A very welcomed downhill hike brought us to the river.  We discovered that the only way to the other side was to wade across.  I had gotten almost to the other shore when I handed off my camera to Brandon who then turned my own camera against me, taking this photo of me.  Lucky it didn’t crack the lens.

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All of us were drenched in sweat from the hard hike and hot, still air of the forest.  Crossing that river felt wonderful and reenergizing.

Here’s Brandon taking a breather after crossing the river.

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I won’t waste too many words here making excuses for my river photos but I was really limited not having a tripod with me or a wide angle lens.  I couldn’t find many things to rest my camera on for slow-shutter shots of the running water, and the forest was so thick and steep around the river that I couldn’t get back far enough with my 50mm lens to get the shots I really wanted.  Ok I’m finished making excuses.

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After a little time at the river, we hiked our way back to the car.  What an awesome day!  I’ll take the forest and hills over the beach any day.

As we were driving back to Macae, a storm rolled in.  I love the lighting in this photo.  The foreground still had some sunlight shining on it, while the dark clouds muted the colors of the hills in the background.  What a dramatic scene!  About 20 minutes later it dumped rain and pretty much kept raining for the next two days.

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Now that I’m home, I’m working on getting a wide angle prime lens that will pack light in my backpack.  I think with a 20mm and 50mm lens I should be pretty well set for covering most things I want to shoot while travelling, without breaking my back.  As it is, my backpack weighs about 25lbs when fully loaded with my laptop, tablet, camera with one lens, chargers, headphones, various cables, mouse, batteries, etc.  Carrying all that stuff, my shoulders get to hurting after a day or two of walking through cities and airports to get wherever I’m going.  Anything I can do to keep size and weight down is always good.

Well I hope you enjoyed the photos.  I’ll be posting again very soon.  Before flying home, I had a chance to walk around Rio de Janeiro!  I think I’ve got a couple of good photos that are worth sharing.

Technical Details:

Nikon D600 w/ Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF-S

10 thoughts on “A Trip to Sana, Brasil

  1. What a gorgeous place! Your beach shots were beautiful, but I agree that mountains and woods are just breathtaking. I love all these photos! I’m so glad you were able to have such a great photo-opportunity! Amazing! You are so skilled at finding beauty anywhere you go! Love it!


  2. Brandon told me about these, so I have been anxiously waiting for and the wait was more than worth it!!! I am so happy you are getting Brandon out there trying new things. We just think the world of you! He also told me how you helped a local restaurant with a menu! That is wonderful! Thank you again for sharing! Dana


  3. Thanks for the kind words and for following my posts. I keep it up because of people like yourself who appreciate being able to see some neat places our planet has to offer. Hanging with Brandon for a month on shore in Macae was a lot of fun and we managed to keep each other out of trouble and jail. Making the restaurant menu was a nice diversion in the evening. Not to mention the fact the owner and his brother are Irish and have no concept of an empty beer glass. We had a great time with them. ‘Yippee Ki Yay’ is the name of their restaurant! Great food there!
    Hopefully today I’ll be able to finish the Rio photos and get them posted.



  4. As always, Tom- amazing pictures!! You are living one heck of a life!! Hey- have you considered a lightweight monopod for your camera? 1/3 the weight of a tripod (Hahaha!!) and yet gives you some additional support and stability.
    Hope you’re home for Christmas with your family!!
    Best Wishes- Tom AND Jen!!


  5. I keep coming back to this page to see this pictures again! They bring back good times! It was nice to be there with you all! I am Sergio, by the way, the man that is killing Brandon! See you all aorund Texas!


  6. Hi Tom, I just arrived in Macae from Vitoria travelling with a friend of mine who is Portuguese and working in Brazil. I already like the place a lot as it has that kind of funky rundown air of a town that might have seen better days. (Sounds a bit like myself actually!). I was interested to read of your friend’s restaurant here. Could you let me know how we can find this place so we can check it out over a cold beer? Many thanks! And I LOVED your photos, really beautiful. Thanks for posting.


  7. Hi Wendy,

    Thanks for stopping in to check out the photos! Unfortunately the BBQ restaurant has already gone out of business. The locals were not the least bit interested in American-style BBQ. I can recommend to you a place just one block down from there that makes excellent traditional local BBQ. The name of that restaurant is Durval. It’s located right along the beach on the main strip. Any of local taxis will know where it is, as it is quite popular. I must have eaten there 20+ times and have never had a bad meal. I do hope you enjoy your stay in Macae.




  8. Thanks Tom! I do know where that place is that you talked about, thank you. But in the end, and with only a flying trip to Macae this time, we ended up at either Brasa e Vino and Devassa plus a great seafront shop that had acai which we ended up getting rather addicted to! I will be sure to try out Durval next time though, as it does sound like a great place to go eat. Will you be heading back to Macae any time soon?


  9. Hi again Tom, I have just been looking through your Blog again and re-read the comment I left about Macae. I have no idea what went wrong with my typing there – other than to blame my Samsung phone’s predictive text for the ‘veterinary’ word instead of seafront shop (?????) but I am sure that you probably knew what I meant anyway! I am back in UK now but I had a great time in Macae and also Vitoria – two amazingly different places with positive points about both.
    Wanting to wish you a very happy Christmas and New Year and continued happy travels! Take care out there,
    Hugs from one addicted traveller to another! Wendy


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