Chapada dos Veadeiros is one of the most beautiful places we have visited in Brazil. A region of cerrado (a special vegetation of Brazilian interior), in the northeast of Goiás state, home to a National Park, declared a World Natural Heritage by UNESCO. With extraordinary landscapes and beauty, the Chapada gathers hundreds of waterfalls and springs; Geological formations older than one billion years; Rare animals, at risk of extinction; Preserves areas of former mines and the history and culture of descendants of Quilombolas. The Chapada is also surrounded by mysticism and stories about flying discs. We were delighted to get to know this incredible piece of the country and in this post I share our 4-day itinerary and tips to organize your trip to Chapada dos Veadeiros.
When to go
The Chapada dos Veadeiros has two seasons: the drought is from April to September and the rainy season is from October to March. In the rainy season, the waterfalls have a very large volume of water and in the dry season there may be fires in some areas, and some waterfalls are practically dry. The ideal is to go at the end of each season, when the weather is milder. We went in early April, in the late rainy season. We had sunny days and the waterfalls were still filled with a good water level.
How to get there
The nearest airport to Chapada dos Veadeiros is Brasilia International Airport. Now a good tip: choose a flight that arrives early in the morning in Brasilia to arrive in the Chapada with spare time to visit some of the attractions near the city where you are staying. Our flight, for example, arrived at 8 am in Brasilia. Around 12 o’clock we were already in Alto Paraíso.
By car, departing from BsB airport to Alto Paraiso, one of the main cities in the surroundings of the Chapada, is 254 km, so about 3 hours away.
We took advantage of an airfare promotion for a period of one week and devided our trip into 4 days at Chapada dos Veadeiros and 3 days in Brasilia. But the Chapada deserves a week of visiting or even longer, as there are numerous attractions.
To get to Chapada dos Veadeiros, the best option is to rent a car. Because to get to know the Chapada, it is extremely helpful and most of the time you need a car anyway.
We rented a car in advance through RentalCars.com and got a great deal. As soon as we arrived at the airport, we took the company’s van which took us to the car. We even received a better vehicle than we had booked at no extra cost.
Those who choose to go by public transportation, the buses leave the Main Bus Terminal Interestadual in Brasília. See the times and rates.
Where to stay
Tourists who visit Chapada dos Veadeiros have three options to choose from: Alto Paraíso de Goiás, São Jorge and Cavalcante.
Alto Paraíso de Goiás is more recommended for tourists seeking more comfort, with several options of Bed&Breakfast, some hotels and hostels. At the main street it also offers many restaurants, bars and small shops.
Alto Paraíso is a cosmopolitan city, with locals and tourists from all over the world attracted by the mystical atmosphere of the city. There is a belief that the city would be “safe from any natural disaster like the end of the world” (Wikipedia) and also that Alto would be one of the cities with good conditions for the observation of unidentified flying objects (UFOs).
For those interested in Alto’s connection to UFOs, Pousada Espaço Naves Lunazen could be an interesting option.
São Jorge, a district of Alto Paraíso, is the most down to earth option and offers several alternatives of camping, hostels and some pousadas. São Jorge is an old village of gold miners and still maintains a village atmosphere as it is much smaller than Alto. However, it also offers dining options and bars, just simpler. It is very common in São Jorge to have parties at the campsites.
São Jorge is the closest option to the entrance of Chapada National Park.
Cavalcante is the county that includes 60 % of the Chapada National Park area and is also part of the Historic Site and Kalunga Cultural Heritage, a community formed from an ancient Quilombo.
The municipality is about the same size as Alto Paraíso, but offers fewer lodging options. It is more recommended for those looking for a slightly less touristy option as it is more peaceful and also those who want to know more about the Kalunga Site. In Cavalcante is the famous Santa Bárbara Waterfall, considered by many the most beautiful one of Chapada dos Veadeiros.
Our choice: We chose to stay in Alto Paraíso de Goiás, as it is the most central city and is more convenient. We stayed at Pousada Casa Rosa,which is about 1 km from the city’s main street.
The hostel has options of chalets and apartments, all with hammocks on the balcony, a private bathroom and a minibar. We stayed in a nice sized apartment and the balcony had a wonderful view. In the morning we could see macaws, toucans, parrots, parakeets and several other birds.
The hostel has a swimming pool, a sauna and a very varied breakfast is included in the daily rate. A negative point was that the wi-fi had a very weak signal. But this was a problem throughout Alto Paraíso.
Because of the distance to the main street, the hostel is more recommended for those who are traveling by car.
The most difficult part of organizing a trip to Chapada dos Veadeiros is to decide on a route. Because there is so much to do, so many beautiful places that it is difficult to choose what you will visit and what you will leave for the next time. A good way to choose from is to find out the difficulty levels of the trails and the distance from the place where you will be staying at.
It is important to know that the Chapada attractions are not just within the National Park area. Moreover, it is also worth remembering that the park is closed on Mondays.
See the main attractions according to the level of access (information taken from the Alto Paraíso and São Jorge Attraction Guide):
Easy access trails (distance of one stretch, from Alto Paraíso)
– Cachoeira dos Cristais (waterfall): Cavalcante Way, 5 km of asphalt and 3 km of sand. 400 m walk.
– Almécegas II: Direction São Jorge, 8 km of asphalt and 5 km of sand. 300 m walk.
– Cachoeira Loquinhas (waterfall): 5 km of sand. 800 m walk.
– Flor d’Ouro: Direction Moinho, 12 km of sand. 400 m walk.
– São Bento Waterfall: Direction São Jorge, with 9 km of asphalt. 300 m walk.
– Vale Dourado: Direction São Jorge, 12 km of asphalt and 8 km of sand. 50 m walk.
– Thermal waters: Direction São Jorge, 50 km of asphalt. 150 m walk.
– Well Encantado: Direction Cavalcante, 52 km of asphalt. 200 m walk.
Middle grade tracks
– Almécegas I: Direction São Jorge, with 8 km of asphalt. 3.36 km of sand. 800 m walk.
– Encontro das Águas (Meeting of the Waters): Direction São Jorge, 50 km of asphalt, 6 km of sand. 2 km of walking.
– Cachoeira Anjos e Arcanjos (Waterfall Angels and Archangels): Direction Moinho, 14 km of sand. 2 km of walking.
– Cataratas dos Couros (Leather Falls): Direction Brasilia, 18 km of asphalt, 35 km of sand. 3 km of walking.
– Vale da Lua (Valley of the Moon): Direction São Jorge, 30 km of asphalt. 600 m walk.
– Waterfall Raizama: Direction São Jorge, 38 km of asphalt, 1 km of sand. 2,2 km walk.
– Morada do Sol: Direction St. George, 39 km of asphalt, 1,5 km of sand. 1,6 km walk.
– Waterfalls Santa Bárbara and Capivara: They are in Cavalcante, 109 km of asphalt, 22 km of sand.
Trail with medium to difficult grade
– National Park Saltos: In São Jorge, 36 km of asphalt, 1 km of sand. 5 km of walking.
– Macaquinho Waterfall: Direction Brasília, 13 km of asphalt, 30 km of sand. 1,8 km of walking.
– National Park Canyons: In São Jorge, 36 km of asphalt, 1 km of sand. 5 km of walking.
– Cachoeira do Macaco (Monkey Waterfall): Direction Brasília, 13 km of asphalt, 40 km of sand in 4×4. 2 km of walking.
– Cachoeira do Segredo (Waterfall of the Secret): Direction São Jorge, 48 km of asphalt, 9 km of sand. 7 km of walking.
– Trail of Mirante da Janela: It is in São Jorge. 4 km of walking.
Our 4-day itinerary
We arrived at the airport around 8 am, we got our rented car and at around 12 pm, we were already in Alto Paraíso. We took advantage of the afternoon to get to know Almécegas I and II Waterfalls and São Bento. The three waterfalls are on the São Bento farm. Admission costs $ 30 per person.
On the second day, we did the Trail to Mirante da Janela. As the level is medium to difficult, we prefered to hire a guide. But it isn’t mandatory.
The trail is an 8-km round trip and starts near São Jorge. Admission is $ 10. The guide’s daily rate is $ 150 for a group of up to 5 people.
After that trail, we visit the Vale da Lua (Valley of the Moon). The entrance to the Valley is R $ 20.
On the way back, we made a photo stop at Maitreya Garden, which is inside the National Park. But we took the photos from the outside of the fence.
On our third day, we took the opportunity to visit Cavalcante, the Kalunga Historical Site and the Santa Barbara and Capivara Waterfalls.
We hired a Kalunga guide at the Tourist Assistance Center in Cavalcante. The guide’s daily rate is $ 80, leaving the center of Cavalcante and $ 70, from the entrance to the Kalunga site. This value is also for up to 5 people.
At this day, whoever wants to combine it, can also visit Poço Encantado.
Avoid visiting Santa Bárbara on weekends, as it is one of the most beautiful waterfalls, therefore it is always packed with people. We went on Monday, but we were told that the ideal is to go on a Tuesday. As the National Park is closed Mondays, a lot of people end up going to Cavalcante.
To enter the Kalunga site, you pay an additional $ 20 per person.
We took advantage of our last day to visit a waterfall in the direction of Brasilia, which would be our next destination. We chose the Cataratas dos Couros (Leather Falls), as an indication of the guide that accompanied us at Mirante da Janela. This waterfall is free and no guide is required. But the access by car is very complicated, as the road signs have been damaged.
During our 4-day itinerary, we didn’t enter the National Park, which we didn’t prioritize as the main tracks have a medium to high level.
We tried to participate in a balloon flight, which leaves Alto Paraíso. But on the days we tried, the company failed to fill up a group for a ride. But anyone who wants information about the balloon ride, you can find them on the company’s Instagram @balonismonachapada.
Written in Portuguese by Karla Larissa
Translation by Juliane Boll