Serra do Cipo is apparently a world-class limestone venue, and is split across 4 sectors, two of which are traditional and two (sectors 1 and 3) of which are sport. The area is a tourist hot spot, with numerous campsites and hotels, known locally as 'pousadas'. When we arrived, in the run up to Easter, the campsite, overlooked by a waterfall and frequented by a family of big-yellow-beaked toucans, was clean, deserted and idyllic. By the time we left at the start of the Easter holidays it was thronged, noisy and resembled nothing so much as one of the famous favelas of Rio De Janeiro. This change was not due to our visit, let me assure you.
Sector 3 is spread out across a number of buttresses each with its own characteristics. Technical walls and
juggy overhangs predominate, with many routes being one-move wonders. Sector 1 is very different, having been quarried in the past; here there are impossibly smooth slabs, technical 'crimpy' routes that demand much from the fingers, and tall pillers offering fine exposed climbing looking far across the campsite and beyond.
It was a frustrating place for me to climb, finding as I did many of the routes to have a single move that I
was unable to do at first sight. Most of these I managed after a few attempts but nevertheless I left Cipo with
a vague feeling of dissatisfaction with my performance. It is a small comfort to know that these failures
were on routes at about 6c/6c+, which is generally my limit and therefore hard to climb on-sight.
The Pousada Curumbe just along the road from the campsite offered a welcome distraction from the truck and campsite. Cold - yes, cold! - beer, elegant surroundings, manicured gardens, helpful and friendly staff; the only wonder is that they let us scumbags in to use the place!