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near Diamantina, Minas Gerais (Brazil)
Between Diamantina and São Gonçalo do Rio das Pedras, the main attraction is the road itself as it winds through the highlands of the Serra de Espinhaço (the Backbone Range). The striking, even mystical beauty of the landscape, with the iconic majesty of the peak of Itambé often visible in the distance, invites the traveler to stop frequently to take photos.
The road then descends to the tiny, peaceful village of Vau, after passing a rural inn which offers the only available guest accommodations en route to São Gonçalo.
Just outside of Vau, there are two traditional stops: a section of the original stone paving of the Estrada Real used by the tropeiros and an 18th century bridge that crosses the Jequitinhona River, the natural boundary between the municipalities of Diamantina and Serro. The road is in good repair, but the traveler should be careful during rainy periods.
From the bridge, the road climbs to the bucolic village of São Gonçalo do Rio das Pedras, settled during the gold rush in the middle of the 18th century. Highlights include the Chapel of Nossa Senhora do Rosário, the Matriz of São Gonçalo, and several beautiful waterfalls, one of them in the center of town with a 60 meter cascade. São Gonçalo is well-equipped to receive tourists.
More Information: http://www.estradareal.org.br/