“Ah, my other son. He’s in some tiny town in the far north, in Piaui state. I’ve never heard of it.” Our laid-back guide rolled the window down and shrugged.
There’s many unknown places in Brazil. Take Chapada dos Guimaraes. It may be the official geodesic centre of South America, but until we started researching a trip to Mato Grosso do Sul, I’d never heard of it. The Chapada Diamantina is better known outside Brazil, but not by much.
It was one of those rare places that truly floored me – the photos far from do it justice. And it’s less than an hour from the baking heat of Cuiaba, one of Brazil’s hottest cities (summer average of 46C).
As I may have mentioned before here, I’m a city girl at heart, but these days I appreciate getting out into the wilds more and more. And South America has that on a scale you just don’t get back home.
Tirolesa (giant zip wire) is a popular adventure sport in Brazil
The chance to just sit for an hour and watch the sun slowly sinking over the edge of the red rocks is something special.
Watching the sunset
You need to take a tour to access a lot of the sites in the Chapada national park. Often the guide will collect a key for the access gate to a site some 50km off before heading off down dirt tracks, red dust spraying everywhere. Don’t take your best shoes. Waterfalls dot the landscape, falling gracefully from a precipice (Veu de Noiva/Bridal Veil) or closer to ground level.
There are plenty of pousadas in the town of Chapada itself (it’s a popular weekend break spot for Cuiabanos).
But we chose to stay at the Pousada do Parque. There were hummingbirds on the patio, more than we ever saw in Ecuador!
There are several places where you can swim in the rivers or hire kayaks – maybe avoid this spot though which, although pretty and with very clear water, was home to lots of sandflies. They seem quite resistant to DEET!
I can’t really put into words why I loved my three days in the Chapada so much, but I left feeling more peaceful and relaxed than I had all year. Put it on your wishlist if you plan to visit Brazil. Leave me a message if you’d like tour recommendations or more info. This place is amazing and under appreciated. Let’s put it on the map.