The word ´´chapada´´ in Brazilian Portuguese means: a region of steep cliffs at the edge of a plateau.
Chapada dos Guimarães National Park is certainly that. The plateaus are a strange mix of desert plants and lush tangles of brush that lead to waterfalls, which plummet down to serene swimming holes.
Oh, and the GEOGRAPHICAL CENTER OF SOUTH AMERICA lies within the park!
(In case you didn´t know, I go crazy for geographical focal points: Equator, Tropic of Cancer, Four Corners National Park…I know. I am a dork.)
Our two days in the park were relaxing, breathtaking and loads of fun.
The first day we joined a guided tour for a 7km (3.5 mile) hike through the canyon to several waterfalls and swimming holes. Each was different from the last; a unique, mysterious oasis and welcome respite from the scorching heat. We then got to scramble around in a cave that is being cracked apart by slowly spreading tree roots, some of which are from plants located miles away.
Our guide, Rosan, was suggested to us by Luis from our Poconé pousada. Rosan is a former high school biology teacher who started his own tour company, Chapada Off Road. His enthusiasm for the wildlife and landscape is contagious, inspiring and proof that anyone can follow their dream and live the life they really want!
Chapada dos Guimarães wasn´t the animal wonderland that Poconé was … although we did see a tatu (armadillo):
Oh, and this frog that used my head as a jumping off point on his way to the floor:
Come along and take a look at our hike:
Day 2 we took the bus to Bridal Veil Waterfall and then hired a taxi to take us to two lookout points:
HOW WE DID IT:
Pousada Boa Esperança, R$455 for 3 nights:
NOTE: This hotel is located about 15km outside of town. We were the only people staying here at the time, and the manager, Paulo, treated us like kings and cooked all of our meals. He was friendly, helpful, had a huge smile and came to meet us at the top of the hill with a flashlight when the bus dropped us off after dark. We would definitely stay here again. You can read more about our experience in choosing accommodations and transportation HERE.