Parque Nacional da Chapada dos Veadeiros
Situated in the northern part of Goiás, the Parque Nacional da Chapada dos Veadeiros (tel. 62/3455-1116, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sun., R$5) and its environs constitute one of the most beautiful and unusual natural eco-systems in South America, replete with exotic flora and fauna, weird rock formations, and plenty of caves, grottoes, and waterfalls.
The Parque Nacional da Chapada dos Veadeiros itself is situated on what is geographically considered to be one of the oldest parts of the American continent. According to NASA, when observed from outer space, the Chapada’s high plateaus are the most luminous point visible on Earth. Although the region’s esoteric pilgrims chalk it up to a variety of supernatural forces, the scientific explanation is the vast quantity of quartz crystals embedded in the soil and fantastic outcrops of rock that make hiking through the park such a breathtaking experience.
Add to the mixture plunging canyons, crystal-clear streams and cascades, Cerrado vegetation, and wildlife such as giant armadillos, anteaters, deer, extremely rare maned wolves, ostrich-like rheas, and green beaked toucans, and you’re in for an eco-treat.
The park’s two 10-kilometer (6-mile) long trails can only be explored in the company of a guide. You can hire one easily in Alto Paraíso de Goiás or São Jorge or at the park’s entrance. In Alto Paraíso, there are also many eco-tourism outfits that run full-day excursions into the park and offer adventure sports outings. Make sure your guide has been officially registered with IBAMA, the federal environmental protection agency. Also make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen, water, and food.
Parque Nacional da Chapada dos Veadeiros can be visited year-round, although the period from May to October coincides with the dry season (heavy rains can make hiking slippery and even dangerous) and also with the blooming of the delicate Cerrado flowers.
Getting to Parque Nacional da Chapada dos Veadeiros
Access to Parque Nacional da Chapada dos Veadeiros is via two towns. Alto Paraíso de Goiás, a magnet for mystics and alternative communities, is 38 kilometers (24 miles) from the park, while right next to the park’s entrance, the small village of São Jorge is renowned for its fantastic scenery and hiking trails.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition