Jul 13, 2010

The pink cliffs of the Chapada dos Guimarães

by Antonella Kann

The Chapada dos Guimarães National Park ( “chapada” means, in a funny sort of translation, the flat landscape on top of a chain of mountains and canyons) , located in the state of Mato Grosso, the heart of Brazil, is over 300 millions years old.

That´s when it was still covered by water. Now it´s an astonishing place, where rock formations change colour depending on the sun and the light.

Dozens of waterfalls and lagoons are the attractions of the park, where you can hike and enjoy refreshing dips in cool waters, all year-round. The rich fauna and flora also contribute to the fabulous scenery.

Away only 69 kilometers from capital Cuiabá, the nearest airport, and located 900m above sea level, the Chapada can easily be reached through a good and well signposted road. The journey only takes around one hour.

More than 4 thousand medicinal plants have been recorded in the park, in which the only way to explore is by foot, along narrow trails and sinuous paths.

The Chapada is a sanctuary for the fans of eco-tourism, as it is the habitat of many species of stunning birds such as toucans, parrots and araras – the latter makes its nest all against the cliffs and can be seen flying all the time.

It makes sense to hire a guide before adventuring yourself into the Park, as steep cliffs can be dangerous and while you may feel the impulse to go near the precipice, there are some spots that must reeeeeeeeeally be avoided. There has been some fatal accidents, so I must warn the most intrepid to be extra cautious. Specially if you have children with you.

Don´t miss the Cidade da Pedra ( City of Rock) at sunset. The view is amazing and the salmon- pink colour reflected on the cliffs is an unforgettable sight. Also, the Véu da Noiva waterfall is one of the most impressive natural wonders to be admired.

You should plan an overnight stay, if possible, to have time to visit at leisure every site and enjoy swimming in many natural pools and lagoons. There´s a couple of charming pousadas around town, where you´ll also find artcrafts made by local Indian and some souvenir shops to relax after your hikes.

Check the official site www.ibama.gov.br/parna_guimaraes for more infos about accommodations and guides.

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