It is not often that an agrarian reform project becomes a tourist attraction. But, thanks to some adventurous peasants and their agricultural cooperative Coopeagro, Maragogi, Alagoas assisted by an order of Italian Nuns, has created just such a combination. It is called the Visgueiro Tree - Ecological Trail in the “Assentamento Agua Fria” about 15 kilometers to the north of the center of Maragogi. In all, this would be less than 150 kilometers from Maceio and Recife in Brazil's Northeast Region.
The trail winds through five kilometers of a preserved part of the woodlands that once characterized the whole coast of Brazil – the “Mata Atlantica”. Its main attraction is a huge Visgueiro or Faveiro Tree that locals estimate has been growing there for at least three hundred years. I felt dwarfed by the tree and its huge roots. The locals calculate that it takes nine adults with arms extended to circle the tree and I agree.
I walked the trail for about three hours with the head of the local guides, Geraldo who works one of the many small farms that make up the Agua Fria settlement. Since it is off peak season (May), there was plenty of opportunity to use his machete to chop fallen branches and clear some snarled brush. The climb up to the forested hills was not steep and once under the canopy of trees it was cool and damp.
We actually saw several visgueiro trees, some interesting birds and crossed streams and brooks. We also saw some of the farm land on the way back around the circular path that ends near a refreshing running brook with a small man-made water fall or “bica” in Portuguese. It is a fun place to cool off at the end of the hike.
The ecology trail is more of a nature trail in my mind. But, the ecology part is the fact that much of this historic natural forest is threatened with destruction from illegal logging. It brings home to this visitor the painful tragedy of Geraldo’s own neighbors that don’t respect their natural heritage.
My guide only spoke Portuguese, but there is a local, Katja Becker .who can be reached at email@example.com who brings groups there in both English and German. She also runs fun bicycle tours of the beaches and local trails.
This is a great change of pace from the beach and reef that makes Maragogi the second most visited tourist destination in Alagoas. You’ll need to bring water and snacks as well as insect repellent. I used long pants to protect against the insects and brush. Sneakers or hiking shoes help. Check with your hotel or inn, or call Coopeagro Project directly at 5582 3296 2010. Their site is www.coopeagro.com.br.
I am really excited about my morning in the forest. I felt renewed and stimulated from the experience.
If you own or manage Trilha do Visgueiro, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.