Route in the Ibiapaba Mountains (Serra de Ibiapaba) mountain range in Ceará unites nature, flavours and extreme sports and the Ubajara National Park has trails, caves and cable car rides.
Mountainous region of Ibiapaba on the border of Ceará with the Piauí is home to nine cities, including Ipu, land of the Indian Iracema from José de Alencar’s novel, Viçosa, Tianguá and Ubajara, which has an ecological park full of caves and waterfalls.
The Serra de Ibiapaba is home to nine towns, including Ipu, Viçosa, Tianguá and Ubajara, which has an ecological park full of caves and waterfalls.
The Serra de Ibiapaba is also called Chapada de Ibiapaba and Serra Grande.
In addition to the enviable coastline and the cultural richness of the Sertão, Ceará has mountain towns.
The Ibiapaba Plateau, in the north-west of the state, is a delight for its pleasant climate, history and natural landscapes.
The city of Viçosa do Ceará, 348 km from Fortaleza, can be the gateway to a surprising itinerary in the region, which includes the trails and caves of the Ubajara National Park.
Viçosa do Ceará was the first municipality created in Serra da Ibiapaba, in 1882, and one of the oldest in Ceará. With an average temperature of 22°, the town is simple and cosy.
The architecture and culture of Viçosa combine elements of French and Portuguese colonisation and a strong indigenous presence. In the 17th century, the place received an indigenous settlement of Jesuit priests and was the home of Father Antônio Vieira for six years.
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Tourist Spots of Ibiapaba Mountains (Serra de Ibiapaba) CE
Historical heritage of Viçosa
To get to know and fall in love with the city of Viçosa in the Serra de Ibiapaba, the tour can start at the Nossa Senhora da Assunção Church.
The church is the first in the state of Ceará, was founded in 1700 and built by Indians and Jesuits.
In 2002, the church was listed by the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (IPHAN) and displays its original features.
Inside the Baroque-style church, there are details from ceiling to floor, such as the panels painted in the colonial period on the wooden ceiling in the chancel and the wooden steps and floor with old tiles.
It is worth walking through the streets, talking to the locals, sitting on benches in the squares and stopping to admire the history of a small place that has part of the history of Brazil.
In the city’s Historic Centre are the mansions listed by the Institute of Artistic and National Heritage (Iphan), such as Sobrado da Marcela, built in 1890 with funds sent by Dom Pedro II, and Casarão dos Pinhos, with 186 doors and windows, from the time when the city was still the Royal Village of America.
One of the squares is named after an illustrious son of the place, Clóvis Beviláqua. The house where the jurist lived is now a memorial.
The houses of Viçosa do Ceará, one of the oldest towns in Ceará, and the Church of Heaven, at the end of 334 steps.
There’s no one who can resist going and not taking home a household item or a piece of decoration from Sítio Tope, 3 kilometres from Viçosa do Ceará.
The art of moulding clay and passing it on to other generations has earned Dona Francisca, an artisan for more than 50 years, the title of master of popular culture, granted by the state government.
At the end of a 334-step staircase, visitors will find the Igreja do Céu, the highest point in the city at 990 metres. On the way, the Way of the Cross sculpted by Ceará artist João Frutuoso makes for great photographic records.
Fruits in the Ubajara National Park
Ubajara, 212 km from Fortaleza, is a must-see place for ecotourism.
The Parque Nacional de Ubajara na Serra de Ibiapaba, 3 km from the centre of the city of Ubajara, with 563 hectares, houses caves, trails, waterfalls and the famous cable car that transports visitors to underground beauties.
Eleven caves are catalogued.
The Ubajara Cave is the only one open to the public and reveals galleries and rooms with stalactite and stalagmite formations, such as the Pedra do Sino, the Sala das Rosas and the Sala das Sete Maravilhas.
“Most of the names of the stones and rooms are related to the design of the rock formations,” explains the guide.
Currently, the Ubajara National Park has 15 accredited guides who accompany the tours. “We have itineraries for all visitor profiles,” says the guide.
To get to the cave, the route can be done by trails, cable car and even by bicycle, if the tourist has experience.
The guide indicates the 7 km walking route through the trails to the cave. “It is for those who like adventure tourism. It requires physical preparation because the whole trail is made of stone”, he says.
With a duration of three and a half hours, the visitor passes by the Gameleira viewpoint, where there is one of the most beautiful panoramic views of Ubajara, and goes for a relaxing bath in the Cafundó waterfall with waterfalls over 70 m high. The return can be done by cable car.
The Ubajara National Park is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 8 am to 5 pm. The cable car starts operating from 9am.
To get there from Fortaleza, visitors must take the BR-222 motorway to the town of Tianguá and then travel 17 km along the CE-075. From Ubajara to the Park, you can walk for 30 minutes.
City of Ipu in Ceará, setting of José de Alencar
At the foot of the Serra da Ibiapaba, the city of Ipu is 294 kilometres from Fortaleza and also has river springs, waterfalls, trails, mineral springs, handicrafts and other historical and cultural attractions.
Among the points that visitors cannot miss are the Bico do Engenho dos Belém, the Casa de Pedra, the Recanto das Cachoeiras, the Frei Aquino Museum and the Ipu Handicraft Centre.
Located 2.5 kilometres from the centre of Ipu, the Bica do Ipu (or Véu de Noiva Waterfall) measures 130 metres and is part of the scenery that José de Alencar used for the baths of the “virgin of the honey lips”, Iracema.
It is responsible for the name of the municipality which, in Tupi, means “waterfall”.
Called Véu de Noiva (Bride’s Veil), Bica do Ipu is a 130-metre-high waterfall of the Ipuçaba Creek, which falls from the Ibiapaba Mountains, in the Ceará municipality of Ipu.
The 130-metre-high waterfall is one of the most privileged places for abseiling.
In Tupi, Ipu means water that falls from above. Anyone arriving in Ipu should visit the Nossa Senhora do Desterro Church.
The Igrejinha do Quadro, as it is known, was built in 1765. Another preserved monument is the Railway Station from 1894, which was part of the architectural complex of the Railway of the municipality of Sobral.
The site has been restored and is currently the headquarters of the Ipu Department of Culture, open to visitors.
Access: via BR 222, BR 020, CE 257 and CE 187.
City of Tianguá in Ceará has good structure
Tianguá is a quiet town in Ceará’s Serra da Ibiapaba, which borders the state of Piauí.
In the middle of the Serra da Ibiapaba, in Tianguá, temperatures are mild and range between 16 and 25 degrees with the 700 metres of altitude.
On the border with the state of Piauí, the city of Tianguá has good infrastructure to receive visitors.
Therefore, the city of Tianguá, 335 km from Fortaleza, is the best accommodation option in the region and is a short distance from Viçosa do Ceará and Ubajara.
In addition to welcoming those who pass through, Tianguá also has attractions for those who want to stay.
The municipality is rich in waterfalls, trails and viewpoints.
In the Parque Ecológico da Floresta, good options are Bica do Pinga, 5 km from the municipality’s headquarters, and Cachoeira de Sete Quedas, 3 km from the headquarters, a meeting of waterfalls due to the formation in steps.
Private ecological parks, such as the Sítio do Bosco, are attractive for those who like to camp or stay in chalets in the middle of nature, but never leave preservation aside. There are zip lines, abseiling, paragliding and other extreme sports in the middle of nature;
At Sítio do Bosco there is also a free flight runway with a height of 600 metres, 8 km from the city centre.
The site is open all day, has a natural pool and restaurant, as well as a camping area and chalets;
Being a hub city, Tianguá also gathers handmade products from all over the region.
Among the most sought-after delicacies are rapadura, shakes and fruit sweets. Lace and straw handicrafts are also often sold as souvenirs from Serra da Ibiapaba and Ceará.
The Handicraft Centre at the Governador Virgílio Távora Bus Terminal is located at km 310 of the BR-222 highway, and at Sítio Córrego, at km 309 of the BR-222 highway, near the Ibiapaba gas station.
Brazil’s largest rose plantation
The region’s cool, humid climate makes one area of the Northeast more colourful. Much of the flowers found in many places in Brazil come from Ceará.
Mist rolls across the Serra de Ibiapaba mountain range in Ceará as night falls. The residents of Viçosa do Ceará are used to it: during the winter, almost every day the city dawns covered in mist. It’s the result of the humidity in the Ceará mountains. It doesn’t seem like you’re in the north-east.
Throughout the day, the sun reveals new surprises: clean, transparent water and plenty of it.
A paradise hidden among the quarries of the Northeast. The water that flows from the earth is the wealth that attracts the new conquerors of the region. They are small flower growers who have left the big cities to start life anew.
Serra Grande is home to the largest rose farm in the country. Another advantage of the cool, damp climate is that it’s good for the eyes. Because of it, that part of the Northeast is more colourful.
It’s hard to imagine, but a good part of the flowers found in many places in Brazil come from Ceará. A market in full expansion.
“We have 372 employees. Every month we hire people,” says manager Gracinha Brito.
Six thousand Indians once lived in the Ibiapaba Mountains
The Ibiapaba Mountains have already been home to 6,000 Indians from different tribes. When the first colonisers arrived, the Ceará of today was being born.
“Ibiapaba is a placenta from which our civilisation was formed, generated. From the clash of primitive peoples with European settlers, this typical man of the region was born”, explains history teacher Raimundo Alves de Araújo.
There were many conquerors: the Dutch, the French and finally the Portuguese. The reason for the Portuguese victory? The cross of the Jesuits.
The Jesuits arrived in the Ceará mountains in the 17th century and were welcomed by the Tabajaras tribe. For many years, indigenous and white people alternated between war and peace. Because of these battles, it took the Portuguese crown almost a century to found the village of Ibiapaba, the first of them, which today is called Viçosa do Ceará.
Travel Tourism Guide of Serra de Ibiapaba, Ipu, Viçosa, Tianguá and Ubajara in Ceará