A simple but charming place, with very rich biodiversity. The paths beneath your feet seem to have been built by landscape gardeners, and it is all done by the wind, water and fire. Millions of years ago it used to be an ocean, but today is the headwaters of many Brazilian rivers, especially in Amazonia.
The soil is filled with quartz. A few years ago only gold diggers would reach this place - they were all poor and it was quite hard to get there. As the gold-digging started to decline and the construction of the park, the workers saw the touristic potential in the area and bet everything they had on it. Today they lead a better life and help preserving the region. I did not see any trash along the trails and found the guides pretty aware of the environment. There is also many mystical stories about ETs, energy and curious things.
The rainy and the dry seasons are well defined, in May the rain becomes less frequent and in August the flowers blossom. The guide told us that the fires happen very often in the dry season, and that are necessary for the Chapada, for they bring flowers and bigger diversity. He explained that, one day after the fire, the seed coats open up and the flowers take over the place. In the rainy season it can be rather dangerous due to Aguaceiro (the rivers level goes up fast). Many people have been taken by the waters and did not survive, even the most experienced guides. Seeing all that amount of water, I imagined it as a dam breaking and carrying everything away.
We stayed in São Jorge, a friendly village in the city of Alto Paraíso de Goiás, 168 km from Brasília. We only had a 3-day holiday, but there are so many cool trails that it is better to stay at least 5 days. I strongly recommend that you be fit for the long walks.
Day 1 – THE SALTOS TRAIL
It rained a lot, we thought it would not be possible to enter the park, but everything turned out for the best and we had an awesome tour. I took pictures of a lot of details and saw it all with a different look. With a raincoat and light sneakers you are just fine.
We went along a river with several leaps and strong flow, went down a waterfall and I was pretty scared, I thought the aguaceiro would come any time – especially after hearing from the guide that we could get near the waterfall but not into the water, because if it started to rain we should get out of there in a rush, and whoever was in the water would not have time to run!!! I imagined how hard it would be to run on those uneven stones. I did not want to spend much time there, on the way back I had the impression that the level of the river had risen and that the path was getting more and more narrow.
Going back to the park entrance, we crossed rivers with water waist deep, when at first they did not even got our sneakers wet.
Day 2 – JANELA TRAIL AND VALE DA LUA
Today it was a hot sunny day! This trail reaches the top of Chapada, has great views and it is possible to see almost all the way we did the day before. It was nice to be able to see what yesterday was covered in fog. The best moment was to arrive in a perfect 1300 m high waterfall with an incredible view to Chapada. I felt like spending the whole day in the water doing nothing, just enjoying the view.
We left the park and went to Vale da Lua, across the village. It is a short trail and the path made by the water is different from everything else I have seen. It looks like the moon surface; the water is green with white foam that slowly builds labyrinths underneath the rocks. I just loved the contrast between the green of the woods with the pale rocks and the blue sky. Beautiful place. It ends with a natural pool and a small waterfall.
Day 3 – CANYONS TRAIL AND CARIOCAS
We went to the other part of the park, impossible to visit if there is a slight possibility of rain, the aguaceiro is much more dangerous there. We had to walk fast to have time see it all and return to Brasília. Today my body was a little sore and the the ups and downs in the mountains were harder. This is a small canyon, but we got so close to it that it seemed as cool as the big ones I have already visited. We went straight to Cariocas Waterfall, beautiful and with lots of water. The last part of the trail was not easy, we needed to climb and walk on slippery stones.
Guides - required in all tours, every B&B has someone to indicate. The service costs R$ 10,00 per person or R$ 60,00 per group (less than 6 people).