By Karinne Annechino
Traveling around Brazil and getting to know better what we offer has always been the goal when I have a few days off.
Brazil has such different and enchanting sceneries and this time I decided to visit one of the 7 Chapadas do Brasil and one of the main Ecotourism destinations in the world, the Chapada dos Veadeiros.
I had always heard that Chapada was an enchanting place, full of huge waterfalls, mountains and viewpoints, considered a Unesco World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve in the state of Goiás, so the expectation was great!
A short introduction about what the Chapada dos Veadeiros is. It is one of the places with the oldest rock formations on the planet and part of the largest plateau in central Brazil. There we find stunning landscapes, such as canyons, mountains, thermal Waters and large valleys. Its subsoil is covered by plates and veins of crystals, which attract a strong mystical movement to the place, because according to spiritualists it would be a great source of energy, propelling spiritual advances for mankind, being even the most luminous spot on the planet seen from space. Besides the presence of crystals, Veadeiros is located on Parallel 14, the same parallel that cuts through the sacred city of Machu Picchu and other spiritual cities in the world. Chapada dos Veadeiros is also known for UFO sighting stories and we can see funny specimens everywhere in its souvenir shops. And talking to the locals, there is always one story or another to understand why this place is so different!
Talking about my trip, I chose the low budget style, but there are lodging options for all styles from backpackers to charming hotels with spa and holistic experiences.
As I had plenty of time and the Chapada has many attractions, I made a longer itinerary and didn’t see everything! For those who have less time, I believe that 4 days would be enough to visit the must-go places.
To get there I took a 2 hours flight from Rio de Janeiro to Brasília, the closest city to Chapada and from there, I took the road to Chapada by a very good road with beautiful landscapes of the cerrado.
Chapada is divided into 3 main villages where it is possible to be closer to the attractions, Alto Paraiso, Vila de São Jorge and Cavalcante.
Full itinerary 9 days / 8 nights
On this day I decided to go to Cavalcante and I stayed at a campsite in a Calunga community where I had the opportunity to get to know up close how they live. The “kalungas” are descendants of slaves and gold mine workers in Brazil who today live in communities and sustain themselves through and tourism and family agriculture. And it is there where I saw one of the most beautiful and starry skies in Brazil!
The second day started very early and we left to visit the four waterfalls of the community, the Santa Bárbara Waterfall being one of the most desired of all of Chapada because of the color of its water, some days with a shade of like a blue pool and other days in an emerald green tone, as I saw it! The waterfalls are fantastic and as there is a visitor entrance control, we have the sensation of having this paradise all to ourselves! By the way, a guide, besides being obligatory, is fundamental! It is enriching to know more about the way they live and the stories of their ancestors while we’re doing short trails.
We decided to stay overnight in the community again because the next day would have many hikes and waterfalls near the Community!
On this day we took a dirt road with our guide and went to the Complexo do Prata, where we would hike a heavier trail with wonderful rewards at the end of each stop! A total of 7 fantastic waterfalls! On the road we saw buffalos and the different contrasting colors of the region. Then we headed towards Alto Paraiso, one of the villages that is also part of Chapada. There we saw many souvenir shops, open air markets, bars and restaurants where we could enjoy the local vibe.
The next day was lighter, light hiking and we took the opportunity to visit the famous Moon Valley! A rock formation carved by thousands of years that resembles the moon, a unique scenery! Different from the waterfalls, the falls pass through crevices forming incredible small falls! Just 15 minutes on the trail and we are in another unimaginable scenery amid rocks and vegetation!
After lunch we went to Fazenda São Bento with trails and stunning scenery! There they also offer a fantastic zipline of almost 1km, where we have a wonderful view of Chapada, but I already had other plans for the next day…
Our itinerary began at 04:30am going to see Chapada from a different point of view and realize a dream: FLYING IN A BALOON! The silence of the sky of Chapada was only interrupted by the sound of the waterfalls that we flew over! A dream come true!
After the flight, they offered a nice toast with sparkling wine and nuts! Nice way to start to start the day! After breakfast in town, where our guide took us to taste some local juices, we left for another day of waterfalls, this time the Complexo dos Macaquinhos, in this complex we saw about 10 waterfalls and pools of crystal clear water. As we didn’t want to walk too much that day, we visited only a few and these were very worthwhile. At the end of this incredible day we had dinner at a restaurant with one of the best risottos I’ve ever had, Risoto Santo Cerrado, and we ended up going back there the next day to try other dishes as well!
We chose this day to rest our legs and stayed at the Poço Encantado (Enchanted Well) Waterfall, there is a restaurant that serves regional dishes. On this day we still had time to visit an open-air market with vegan and organic products, handicrafts, incense sticks. Besides the little shops to buy beautiful crystals, souvenirs and have a little more fun with the famous UFOs.
It was a day to visit one of the most famous and imposing waterfalls in the region, Cachoeira dos Couros, where I saw a huge number of birds and plant species! As it was the dry season, the Falls had less volume and crystal clear water, during the rainy season, the water volume increases so much that it is forbidden to enter the water!
That day we decided to visit the Vila de São Jorge and I must say that I fell in love with the rusticity of the place, the simple people, with good energy.
Chapada is a destination of daytime attractions and doesn’t have night clubs, but it does have bars with good live music, good restaurants, pizzerias and tasty wines for the colder nights.
Penultimate day in Chapada and there are still so many things to see and do.
We visited the National Park, an area with about 50 species of animals that live in the region and are considered rare, endangered, and there are approximately 1,400 species of plants in the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park.
Walking along quartz trails, finding rare plants, crystals and at the end enjoying a waterfall can be considered a prize!
Before leaving for Brasilia, we went to the Loquinhas Waterfall, a very well signposted wooden hanging trail, with many wells and waterfalls and many monkeys that wanted to get our cookies from our backpacks! We took the opportunity to capture the last photos and capture moments, strengthen friendships built, learning from simple and friendly people that will stay forever in our memories.