By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Chapada dos Veadeiros is a national park located in the state of Goias, in central Brazil, famous for its stunning waterfalls, crystals and unique flora and fauna. Created in 1961 by President Kubitscheck, it has since been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Sight in 2001. Here are five places that can’t be missed when visiting the area.
Vale da Lua
The ‘Vale da Lua’ (Valley of the Moon) earns its name due to the striking set of rock formations that give the area a particularly extra-terrestrial feel. Like something from a set of a fifties sci-fi movie, the angular formations carved into the gray rock offer some stunning views and walking trails.
At the bottom of the valley a river flows between these rocks, creating pools of emerald water. It is possible to swim in these pools, which vary in depth and size; and at popular times, there is usually a lifeguard on patrol.
Saltos do Rio Preto
The ‘Saltos do Rio Preto’ (Waterfalls of the Black River) can be reached by walking a four-mile (six kilometers) trail. The trail is rugged and there isn’t much cover, so it is important to come prepared with appropriate footwear, headwear, water, and sun protection.
The trail ends with two stunning waterfalls. The first waterfall crashes down from 120 meters high and visitors can take wonderful photos of this sight. The second waterfall is eighty meters high and also has pools that visitors can swim in. The water is clear, cold and refreshing and there are spots for picnics and sun-bathing.
Alto Paraíso de Goiás is a city located in Chapada dos Veadeiros, famous for being a center of ecotourism and spirituality. It has gained this reputation as an alternative community due to the large amount of crystals in the surrounding soil, which people believe are capable of channeling energy.
The city is also famous for being a center for diverse spiritual groups that have set up home here. Not only does Alto Paraíso have many denominations of churches, but it also is home to Buddhist centers, meditation centers, the Hare Krishna movement, and plenty of other diverse faith groups.
Eduardo Lemgruber, psychologist, comments on his recent visit, “In addition to the mystical aspect surrounding the region that is said to be located on a gigantic crystal, and to receive regular visits of extraterrestrials as well as surviving the end of the world (due to the elevation of the land), the Chapada dos Veadeiros is a great place for those who want to enjoy days of peace immersed in a beautiful landscape where you can encounter lush waterfalls.”
Cachoeira dos Cristais
Near to the town of Alto Paraíso, Cachoeira dos Cristais is perhaps the most family-friendly of all the waterfalls in Chapada dos Veadeiros as it also comes complete with a restaurant offering excellent pastels and other Brazilian food, as well as various leisure facilities such as a pool table and a volleyball court.
The actual waterfalls themselves are much smaller than the ‘Saltos do Rio Preto’ and offer visitors chances to actually bathe in and under the waterfalls, as well as pools where people can swim and areas for sunbathing and relaxation.
São Jorge is a smaller village located around 23 miles from Alto Paraíso, known for being a center for alternative cultures and ecotourism. The village is made up of a few dirt roads that connect campsites, restaurants, bars and shops.
It is most famous for holding the annual ‘Encontro de Culturas Tradicionais da Chapada dos Veadeiros’ (Meeting of Traditional Cultures of Chapada dos Veadeiros) every July, where indigenous communities of Brazil gather to discuss how to protect and promote their way of life. There are also presentations of dances, music, rituals and body painting as well as a market.