Cerrado Protected Areas
The Cerrado Protected Areas: Chapada dos Veadeiros and Emas National Parks represent the Cerrado ecoregion, one of Earth's oldest tropical ecosystems.
Chapada dos Veadeiros lies at a higher altitude, while Emas is characterized by treeless savannahs on acid and nutrient-deprived soil. The region is known for its specialized flora and fauna, the latter including the giant anteater, the maned wolf, and the giant armadillo. The parks lie 400km apart in the Brazilian Highland Central Plateau.
Community Perspective: “Cerrado is the Brazilian savannah, although much greener than other savannah areas of the world.” All reviewers so far have chosen Chapada dos Veadeiros; it has been visited by João, Thomas (warns about the access road), Stanislaw (with public transport info), Wojciech (warns about the opening hours), and Shandos (recommends Jardim de Maytrea). Emas NP is still awaiting a first review.
Map of Cerrado Protected AreasLoad map
Our visit to the Cerrado Protected Areas was nearly a near miss for us. Arriving at the Movida rental car counter at Brasilia Airport at lunchtime, it ended up taking over 3 hours to pick up our car, mainly because their system didn't like our credit card so couldn't take a deposit (although expect pick-up to be slow regardless). Finally, after trying every alternative and calling our bank, they accepted our debit card instead. (Make sure you have a second credit card if hiring a car in Brazil, just in case!) So, it was a rather late arrival at our pousada in Alto Paraiso de Goias, not helped by a truck crash on the outskirts of Brasilia and endless speed bumps on the rural highway.
Next morning we head to Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, hiking the Canyon Trail. The Canyon and the nearby waterfall also visited by the trail are both beautiful, plus great swimming spots - what all the domestic tourists are here for! The trails aren't that demanding but the relentless sun (with only thin tree cover) was draining. We started our hike just before 10am and returned about 3:30pm, enjoying the icy cold filtered water dispenser at the visitors centre.
Afterwards, it was too late to visit Vale da Lua, but instead that meant I was taking in the scenery on our return drive to Alto Paraiso, and spotted the sign for the Jardim de Maytrea (also pinned on Google Maps). This lookout spot with room for a couple of cars to park overlooks a beautiful section of the savannah of the national park, complete with some fantastic rocky outcrops. Make sure you walk down to the fence along the national park, with signs imploring visitors not to climb the fence due to the fragile ecosystem, but to contemplate and photograph it from afar.
Like all the other reviewers, I only toured one component of this post, Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park. It is definitely more accessible than the Emas National Park and, judging by the photos, also much more interesting. Chapada dos Veadeiros is situated about 3 hours of a decent road from Brasilia.
The entrance to the park is located in Sao Jorge, halfway from Alto Paraiso de Goias to Colinas do Sul, where we spent the night. By the way, in Sao Jorge itself I saw a lot of pousadas, although none of them were available on booking.com on the day of our arrival. Although the park is open from 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., you can only enter it from 8.00 a.m. to 12.00 It is guarded very strictly, we saw a frustrated traveler who was withdrawn from the park's gate at 12:15. All this so that travelers choosing specific routes have time to cover them and return to the entrance before the park is closed. The entrance to the park requires a fee - 36 reais, if I remember correctly. At the Visitors Center you can get everything you need for the hike – water, snacks, clothes, sunscreen etc. Sun protection is very important as the cerrado is covered with a thin forest and sometimes gives little shade. Each traveler must watch the instructional video and listen to the guide's instructions. Hiring a guide is not necessary and it does not make much sense now - the routes are well marked, and there is even LTE Internet everywhere! As Stanisław mentioned, the two most popular routes are the waterfalls trail and the canyons trail. Both, however, are very demanding and I was afraid that my 5-year-old daughter might not be able to stand them. Fortunately, you can also make a shorter route to the rapids (Corredeiros) and back. The route is approx. 7 km long and can be walked slowly in 3 hours. It is not very demanding, although the 33-degree heat was a pain for us. The route is interesting, here we also passed all types of cerrado, collected quartz crystals and watched parrots passing by from time to time. The rapids themselves are very picturesque and you can swim there - which is what most local tourists do.
It is worth adding that the vicinity of the park is packed with great attractions - hot springs, huge waterfalls or caves (see, for example, Lapa Terra Ronca, 5 hours from the park), etc. You can easily spend even a week there without getting bored. We only visited Vale da Lua recommended by Stanisław, located near the entrance to the park - a fantastic place and an absolute must see.
Visited February 2019.
I have visited only one component of this inscription – Chapada dos Veaderiros National Park which is situated few hours by bus Brasilia. The visitors’ centre is located in the village called Sao Jorge where you can find an accommodation but in my opinion better place to stay is Alto Paraiso de Goias – to get there take a bus from Interstate Bus Station in Brasilia, there are 3 buses a day and the journey takes 3 hours and a half (depending on traffic while leaving the capital). At the moment I was in Alto Paraiso there was no public transportation to Sao Jorge, but 30 km distance to the entrance of the park can be covered by taxi (tourist information centre in Alto Paraiso can help to arrange) or you can hitch-hike (yes, it worked!). There’s no entry fee to the park itself and no guides are compulsory anymore unless you choose two day trail with sleeping in the park – this option must be arrange at least a day before you want to start. Other trails (waterfalls trail and canyons trail) can be done in one day if you start at 8 in the morning, when they open the park. You should remember that after 1 pm the tourists are not let in. The waterfall trail will lead you to two waterfalls – this trail is more popular but in my opinion the second one, canyons trail, is more interesting because you have a chance to cross all 4 kinds of cerrado, including the most interesting savannah-like landscape. Following this trail will also lead you to some small waterfalls and the canyons look really amazing. Before starting any trail, you have to watch a short movie about the park and the security and how to behave in the park. Also you must sign a piece of paper stating that you are responsible for yourself and your safety while in the park.
Few kilometres south from Sao Jorge and the park there is Vale da Lua; I am not sure if this beautiful place is part of the inscription (owner of the place say it is) but surely it is worth any visit. Especially at the end of the day, when after 10 hours of walking in the sun (there are no many places where you can hide from the sun in the park, so do not forget plenty of water, cap and suncream with filters!) you can go down into the water flowing through the lunar landscape. Here you have to pay the entrance fee, ‘cos Vale da Lua is situated on the private propriety.
Just a short drive north of Brasilia, you will find this incredibly beautiful National Park that is a part of the Unesco family, it's called Chapada dos Veadeiros; entrance is from the village of San Jorge where you can choose from different paths to trek, depending on the seaon, we have chosen a track about 10km return to some very nice waterfall (Salto II of the Black river) and natural pools for swimming. Guides are now no more compulsary, you can go by your own, and the different trecks are very well marked in different colours.
I recommend to stay in Alto Paraiso, there are many pousadas there waiting for tourists! Just make sure that you take the direct road from Brasilia, and dont ever attempt to pass Flores de Goias, eventhough the roads are on the map! It was a nightmare of a road, often looking rather like a riverbed, with no signboards, and even the navigation system did not work any longer, taking us about 5 hours longer than planned, but a real adventure.
I have just visited one of the two parks that make up the "Cerrado Protected Areas", that is Chapada dos Veadeiros. Cerrado is the Brazilian savannah, although much greener than other savannah areas of the world. In comparison to Amazon Forest it looks poor in terms of biodiversity, but 1/3 of all Brazilian species (flora and fauna) can be found in cerrado areas.
To enter the National Park of Chapadas dos Veadeiros one must hire a guide that leads you to the two possible treks, both with awesome waterfalls and natural pools to beat the heat. It usually takes a whole day to visit each one of the treks. The highest fall is 120 meters. With luck, some of the species of the cerrado can be sighted, in my case I could see the "gralha-do-campo", a black and blue bird.
The NP is only 230 km from Brasília with plenty of hotels around the city of Alto Paraíso de Goiás.
Includes former TWHS Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park (1999)
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