Chapada dos Guimarães: Hiking the highlands of Mato Grosso

Chapada dos Guimarães

Chapada dos Guimarães

Chapada dos Guimarães is located roughly 100 km northeast of Cuiabá, the state capital of Mato Grosso. These highlands of Brazil invite you to hike in the endless landscapes and bath under refreshing waterfalls. Once you reach Cuiabá the easiest way to reach Chapada dos Guimarães is by renting a car or contracting a private transfer. The road is in pretty good conditions and a second lane is currently under construction, making it pretty easy to reach the city of Chapada dos Guimarães. The city itself is pretty small, though the area of the National Park is raither extend and has several attractions, including waterfalls, caves, canyons, rivers and lagoons.

When planning a trip try to avoid  the first few months of the year, when the rainstorms tend to be heavier. Due to the location up in the highlands the winters (June-August) tend to be colder and the night time temperature may dropp close to zero degrees, something that may prevent you from enjoying a bath under the waterfalls. Therefore some of the very best moments to visit Chapada dos Guimarães are the months of May, September, October and November.

Veú de Noiva Waterfall

Veú de Noiva Waterfall

Get accommodated in the heart of the village and fill your days with excursions. One of the principal tours takes you to the numerous waterfalls of the national park, allowing you to have a refreshing bath under them. This full day excursion will also introduce you to the endless landscapes and rich vegetation of Chapada dos Guimarães National Park.  The tour includes also a visit to Veú de Noiva, the highest waterfall of the region with a breathtaking viewpoint next to it. Another interesting day trip takes you to the valley of Rio Claro surrounded by huge canyon walls. You will have a chance to admire the green landscapes of the valley, bath in the Rio Claro river and observe the sign language of indigenous tribes in the rocks.

Rio Claro Valley

Rio Claro Valley

Beside of these two principal tours organized in the national park, you will find a number of other attractions such as the waterfall of Martinha, located about 40km outside of the city. This waterfall is a popular bathing place among the locals, especially during the weekends. On your way back to town stop at the viewpoint and admire a spectacular sunset from the top of it. Chapada dos Guimarães is also a popular destination for adventure tourism. If you are into trekking, challenge yourself with the trail of São Jerónimo. Wonderful views from the top of it (836m) make it worth hiking. In Chapada dos Guimarães you will also have a chance to practise rappeling under a waterfall or light hiking for example in so called dinosaurus valley known for its’ strange rock formations.

Andorinha waterfall

Andorinha waterfall

At the moment there are few attractions that are closed due to either political reasons or lack of security. Among them are some of the principal sights of Chapada dos Guimarães like Cidade de Pedra (city of the rocks), the canyon of Paredão do Eco, cave of Aroe Jari and the Blue Lagoon (Lagoa Azul). When you travel to Chapada dos Guimarães check out the latest updates conserning these sights and set up of visit if possible, as the views from both Paredão do Eco and Cidade de Pedra are one in kind, while the cave and the lagoon are also certainly worth visiting.

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Villa Guimarães – An outstanding tourist class pousada in the heart of the city. Spacious rooms, excellent buffet breakfast and hospitable owners. Great value for money!
  • Pousada Solar do Ingles – A lovely pousada surrounded by tropical gardens and decorated with the traditional English style. A great choice for a traveller looking for cozy, but stylish accommodation with number of details.
  • Restaurant Peixaria do Nelsinho – A fish restaurant with long traditions, remember to taste the smoked fish, the speciality of the house.
  • Restaurant Som da Oca – A simple restaurant in the city center with tasty food  and great value for money.
  • Restaurant Bistrô da Mata – A sophisticated restaurant in the middle of the nature with great views. An excellent place to enjoy both the atmospheare and the dinner.
Paredão do Eco

Paredão do Eco

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Hiking in Chapada Diamantina, Bahia

Colors of Sertão

Colors of Sertão

The national park of Chapada Diamantina is located in the state of Bahia, about 400 kilometers from the state capital Salvador and is charactirized of cliffs, table mountains, canyons, caves and waterfalls. In the past decades Chapada Diamantina was famous for diamonds found from the rivers of this National Park, which nowadays is one of the most popular eco-tourism destinations in Bahia.

Due to the breathtaking landscapes and easy access, Chapada Diamantina has became a popular destination among tourists seeking an active holiday and willing to get to know this different, often less known part of brazilian countryside. Chapada Diamantina can be reached either car or by regular bus from Salvador. The bus journey to the principal village, Lencois, takes about 6-7 hours, but luckily in general brazilian busses are quite comfortable with plenty of leg space and inclining seats. A private transfer will naturally be more expensive, but also quicker way to reach the destination. An another option is to arrive to Lencois by air. A weekly flight from Salvador operated by Trip Linhas Aéreas takes about 55 minutes and is currently operated on Saturdays only. Lencois is a small and picturesque village with number of charming pousadas, colonial style buildings and tiny roads.

Hiking Sossego

Hiking Sossego

When visiting Chapada Diamantina, the focus is naturally on activities available in the area. It’s good to take into consideration, that some of the hikes do need a certain physical condition. Closest to the village you will find the Primavera waterfall and the Serrano River with beautiful views over the village. Thanks to the easy access they can be visited, for example on the day of arrival. Brazil’s highest waterfall, Cachoeira da Fumaca is one of the principal attractions of the national park. The most popular way to reach the waterfall is from above, which requieres 6 km walking from the ecological basement of Vale do Capão. For real adventures, with good physics, can reach Cachoeira da Fumaca from below. This route requiering a three days hike. An another popular hike leading you to a waterfall, is the trail of Sossego. The lenght of this trail is about 8 km per way and there is no real path. You will go up and down the river side, jumping from a stone till another until you reach the waterfall of Sossego at the end of the canyon. We do not recommend the trail of Sossego for persons, who have problems with knees or do not have physical preparation. It’s also recommendable to have a local guide with you on all hikes as there are no signs nor clear paths.

One of the several waterfalls

One of the several waterfalls

In addition to hikes there are also other interesting activities and excursions to be enjoyed in the area of Chapada Diamantina, being one of the most popular called “Roteiro 1” (route 1). This excurcion takes you to several attractions, including the caves of Gruta da Lapa Doce, Gruta Azul and Gruta da Pratinha. A walk through the Gruta da Lapa Doce takes about one hours and allows you to admire the sand formations inside of the cave. Both Gruta Azul and Gruta Pratinha are filled with crystal clear water and in Pratinha it’s possible to swim inside of the cave, observe the bats with a flashlight and see a number of fish when snorkeling towards the sunlight. The tour of “Roteiro 1” ends with a hike on the top of the table mountain Paí Inacio. After having reached the top you will enjoy endless landscapes and the breathtaking beauty of the sunset.

Check out our suggestions for itineraries including Chapada Diamantina.

View from the top of Paí Inacio

View from the top of Paí Inacio

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Vila Serrano – a lovely small pousada with personalized touch. All the rooms have a veranda or balcony and are individually decorated respecting the colonial style. Ideally located in a peaceful corner, close to the bus station and the heart of the city.
  • Restaurant Cozinha Aberta – Delicious food in a tiny restaurant and romantic dining in the terrace. Be prepared to wait, the slogan of the restaurant is “slow food” and it will take time for a meal to be served. However worth waiting for!
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