Brazil might be better known as a place of huge, vibrant cities; of cocktails and golden-sanded beaches; and samba at the world’s largest carnival parades. But leaving the humidity of the city and heading out into Brazil’s national parks opens up a whole new side to this country. So to get you inspired, we’ve compiled this list of the most spellbinding places to go trekking in Brazil.
Chapada Diamantina National Park, Bahia, eastern Brazil
Dramatic table-top mountains rise out of the ground in Chapada Diamantina National Park, a popular place to go trekking in Brazil.
This huge, 375,600-acre (152,000-hectare) protected area is named after the treasure hunters who scoured the region in the 19th-century – hence the name “Diamantina” or diamond – but now offers a varied selection of hiking trails, waterfalls splashing into azure lagoons and abandoned diamond-era villages.
Morro do Pai Inácio, a 3,675-ft. (1,120m) table-top mountain is the top attraction in the national park. After a short, 20-minute hike, panoramic views of the surrounding Vale do Capão and Morro do Camelo (another iconic table-top mountain) await.
Nearby Cachoeira da Fumaça is also unmissable, with its impressive 1,115-ft. (340m) high falls. Meaning “Smoke Waterfall” in Portuguese, Cachoeira da Fumaça takes this name because of the way the wind whips away the spray of the waterfall before it touches the ground. Visit with a 3.7-mile (6km) trek from Vale do Capao or three-day hike from Lençois.
Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, Goiás, central Brazil
Home to dramatic canyons, plummeting waterfalls and an abundance of quartz crystal that glimmers from the rock, Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park is a truly unique place for trekking in Brazil.
A major draw of this national park are the many natural swimming pools that are the reward for hiking in the Brazilian heat. From the main visitor’s center, there is a well-marked path that you can trek independently, leading to a series of icy canyons perfect for a refreshing dip.
But it’s the strange geological landscape of the zone that make this national park distinctive. Visit Vale da Lua (Valley of the Moon), which, although it is located slightly outside of the park, is still easy enough to reach.
Composed of the eroded remains of volcanic lava flows, Vale da Lua is a set of seriously strange sculptures through which emerald waters continue stream.
Lençois Maranhenses National Park, Maranhão, northeast Brazil
This national park is best-known as the location of the Lençois Maranhenses, a set of white sand dunes, reaching as high as 165-ft. (50m) from sea level. During the summer, these undulating sand dunes transform into a glittering, watery landscape with the appearance of rainwater lagoons.
To explore the park, organize a trekking tour with a guide. Seeing the sun falling over Lagoa Azul or Lagoa Bonita, Lençois Maranhenses National Parks’ two largest lagoons is a magical sight. Watching as the lighting – and colors – of the shimmering sand and sparkling water change will be a truly memorable feature of any trip to Brazil.