Serra do Cipó National Park is located in the south of the Espinhaço mountain range in Minas Gerais. The Serra do Cipó encompasses the municipalities of Jaboticatubas and Santana do Riacho, both of which have a good infrastructure of inns and restaurants.
Serra do Cipó National Park, with altitudes ranging from 700 to 1,670, is a hidden treasure renowned for its exuberant waterfalls and natural beauty.
In this paradise, nature offers a variety of attractions, including waterfalls, crystal-clear rivers, rocky fields and imposing mountains. This makes it an unmissable destination for lovers of ecotourism and adventure.
Stretching over 30,000 hectares, the site covers areas in several municipalities, including Jaboticatubas, Santana do Riacho, Morro do Pilar and Itambé do Mato Dentro. Its diverse topography, dotted with springs, creates a landscape of rivers, canyons, waterfalls and caves that captivate the hearts of ecotourism lovers.
The Serra do Cipó National Park, the region’s main attraction, allows tourists to enjoy breathtaking landscapes, visit waterfalls and go hiking.
A huge variety of endemic bird species are concentrated in areas of native vegetation, cerrados, rupestrian fields and riparian forests.
The trails in the lower part of the park are good observation points, although not always with well-signposted access.
Another attraction is the large number of flowers all year round, one of the largest per square meter in Brazil.
As well as encompassing the Serra do Cipó, the park includes the municipalities of Morro do Pilar and Itambé do Mato Dentro, covering an area of 33,800 hectares.
Only the lower part of the park, in the valley of the Ribeirão dos Mascates, can be visited without guides.
In the upper part, you can only enter with guides authorized by Ibama and camping is not allowed anywhere.
At the gatehouse (in the Serra do Cipó district), which has toilets, showers, a simple visitors’ center and an auditorium, Ibama officials provide contacts for guides and bicycle and horse rental companies.
The best times to visit are winter and spring: there’s no risk of rain or puddles.
However, this is the period when ticks tend to bother visitors the most, who should wear long pants, high boots and warm clothes.
Access from Belo Horizonte is via the MG-424 highway, towards Vespasiano, or via the municipality of Lagoa Santa, following the MG-010 until km 94, where the entrance to the park is located.
In Belo Horizonte, the road is well signposted, but you have to be careful at the entrance to Vespasiano, where the signs indicating the Serra do Cipó disappear. Rod. MG-010, km 94, Serra do Cipó district.
Tourist attractions in Serra do Cipó MG
1. Lake Circuit
The Lagoons Circuit is a short, light hike of approximately 2km, which you can do on foot or by bicycle. You can therefore expect to walk 30 minutes to the lagoons circuit and 30 minutes back to the Serra do Cipó National Park gate.
The level of walking is easy and during the walk you can enjoy watching the birds and the beautiful landscape of the Serra, take beautiful photos, explore the terrain, have a picnic with the Serra do Cipó family, or take a nice swim in the delicious, cold waters of the region.
2. Braunas Waterfall
The Braunas Waterfall is one of the largest natural pools located in the Serra do Cipó region (which also boasts other beauties).
We found Cachoeira das Braunas near Canion das Bandeirinhas, with a waterfall of about 65 meters, as well as a giant well.
In this sense, it is the largest well in the Serra do Cipó National Park.
The Braunas waterfall is suitable for swimming, and its crystal-clear water makes the visit even more spectacular.
3. Morena Waterfall
The Serra Morena Waterfall mainly has two huge waterfalls, called Serra Morena I and Serra Morena II.
This makes it one of the most special places in the region.
The Serra Morena Waterfall has one of the largest waterfalls in the region and a huge free fall, on average 100 meters long.
This drop forms a beautiful natural pool, measuring 300 square meters, which is another outstanding feature of the waterfall.
The Serra Morena Waterfall is completely surrounded by riparian forest, and even cerrado and rupestrian fields. In addition, we see that bathing in this waterfall offers visitors an exuberant setting for hiking and observing the local fauna and flora.
4. Baixo Waterfall
Cachoeira de Baixo in Serra do Cipó is known for offering tourists local history and lots of fun in the middle of nature.
Some travel agencies offer a tour to this destination, combining the Cachoeira de Baixo with the Canyon do Pedrão.
The time of day for these tours is usually from 10am, with a return at around 2pm, depending on the agency you hire.
You’ll stretch out and the guide will give you a brief introduction to the history of the region.
After that, the path is very short (about 500 meters one way) until you reach the Canyon do Pedrão and the Cachoeira de Baixo.
Once there, you can take lots of photos and admire the scenery.
In addition, both the Pedrão Canyon and the Cachoeira de Baixo are perfect for bathing and jumping.
5. Congonhas Waterfall
The Congonhas Waterfall is one of the most popular options in the Serra do Cipó, so if you’re in the area, it’s worth a visit.
The height of the Congonhas Waterfall is 30 meters, and it has a greenish, transparent pool that is very suitable for bathing tourists and visitors.
To get to Congonhas Waterfall you have to walk a distance of around 7 kilometers, and you will also pass several rocky outcrops, with some streams crossing.
If you go down an average of 500 meters, you’ll notice a waterfall called Congonhas de Baixo, which has a well for visitors to bathe in.
In other words, as well as bathing in the waterfall, visitors can take advantage of the Congonhas Waterfall to go hiking.
6. Cipó River
The Cipó River is located on the borders of Santana do Riacho and Jaboticatubas.
The Cipó River has its origin in the Serra do Cipó National Park itself, which is why we always cite the Park as a reference for information.
It is also formed from the meeting of the Mascates River with the Bocaina or Palmital River.
The Cipó River as an attraction is characterized by waterfalls and rapids, which is perfect for stand up paddleboarding, canoeing or kayaking.
Therefore, due to the rugged topography of this region, the temperature varies between 17 and 20 degrees. You’ll find a perfect climate for enjoying the Serra do Cipó and canoeing.
The river is also home to fish such as goldfish, catfish, pacu, traíra and other species.
The Cipó River stands out for being the only tributary located on the Rio das Velhas that has not yet been invaded by pollution.
7. Bené Waterfall
Bené Waterfall is one of the waterfalls in the Serra do Cipó that is considered difficult to access.
As such, it is more suitable for people who are already used to practicing physical activity and the like. In this waterfall, we find water with low temperatures and a beautiful well suitable for bathing tourists and visitors.
8. Pedra do Elefante
Pedra do Elefante is located in the Serra do Pau D’alho, 1490 meters above sea level.
There’s no doubt about the wonderful view you’ll have when you reach the top of the stone.
The Pedra do Elefante also stands out for being surrounded by galleries and river valleys, with diverse species.
In this sense, the local fauna is extremely rich, with wild birds and animals.
The road cuts through the section of the route of the Faith, and goes up to Km 13, towards the famous Serra dos Lima, which is not such an easy climb.
It’s about 3 km uphill, but the effort is worth it. And it doesn’t end there, the route continues.
At Km 17 you’ll find the Bar do Tira-Fogo, a great stop to replenish your energy. The climb is another 700 meters.
On the Pedra do Elefante trail, the main attractions are cave paintings and a hidden waterfall.
9. Bandeirinhas Canyon
The Bandeirinhas Canyon is 6 km long and has several waterfalls.
It was formed by the tapering of the Bandeirinhas stream, as well as waterfalls and natural pools.
Inside the blocks of rock you can see some unusual species.
This is the case with orchids, and often you can also find birds’ nests.
Access to the Bandeirinhas Canyon is via a trail. Considered difficult (for those who are already used to this type of activity), it is 12 km long and can be covered on foot or by bicycle.
10. Gavião Waterfall
The Gavião Waterfall is a complex of rapids and waterfalls that are perfect for practicing sports such as rafting.
You have to travel 8 km along the Carinhanha River, where you will find five waterfalls that are larger than others in the area.
The adventure comes to an end at Cachoeira do Gavião, where the waters of the Carinhanha River form a lake.
The environment also has some trails where visitors can enjoy the wilderness, creating a closer contact with the environment.
Cachoeira do Gavião is a country setting, located in the community of Gibão, in the rural area.
The seat of the municipality is 120 km by dirt road from the Gavião waterfall, making it a point of reference;
11. Tombador Waterfall
The Tombador Waterfall is located in the Serra do Cipó National Park, 11 km from the Retiro Gate. This natural beauty is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the entire Conservation Unit.
The Tombador Waterfall is made up of two wells, as well as a 12-meter drop, and is accessed via the trail that also gives access to the Gavião and Andorinhas waterfalls.
12. Statue of Juquinha
The Juquinha Statue is a tribute to the wanderer who lived and lived there, and is now an important part of Serra do Cipó’s tourism.
Therefore, the wanderer, whose name was Juquinha, was a real character and lived walking through the fields, consequently picking the flowers and seedlings that were there.
With these flowers and seedlings, the wanderer Juquinha offered them to visiting tourists or even exchanged them for things he would like to have, barter really.
The Juquinha Statue, which still stands in the same place today, is made entirely of cement and is around 3 meters high.
It was built on a plateau, which offers visitors an incredible view of the entire mountain range.
13. Travessão Valley
The Travessão Valley is located in the upper part of the Serra do Cipó, bordering the Rio Doce and the Rio São Francisco.
The valley is an extremely pleasant hike, 18 km long, and you will also visit three water points on the trail, the Fern Forest, the Mirrored Waterfall and the Rock Paintings.
The trail starts from Pousada Duas Pontes, at KM 144 on the MG 010. The first 350 meters will be flat, after which you’ll go over small, quiet hills.
People in the region prefer to start the hike first thing in the morning, at 8am at the latest, passing the mirrored waterfall first, as this way you can follow a nice path, but don’t leave yet on the way, leave it for when you’re on your way back.
After that, go past the cave paintings, staying in the Vale do Travessão for about an hour, to give you time to enjoy the place in peace. After this fun, return to the mirrored waterfall and enjoy the space for 2 hours.
Your last 3 kilometers, following the path we’ve outlined above, will be accompanied by a wonderful sunset.
14. Capivara Waterfall
The Capivara Waterfall is a tourist spot for travelers who are looking for true natural beauty.
It has one of the highest waterfalls in the Serra do Cipó, as well as one of the largest wells, which is why the place is so popular with tourists.
The Capivara Waterfall is located at the Usina do Pacífico Mascarenhas / Companhia Cedro Cachoeira.
In order to access the Capivara Waterfall you need to leave from the Serra do Cipó district, so this is your starting point.
Just follow the MG 10 highway in the direction of Conceição do Mato Dentro, then you will pass both Chapéu do Sol and Fazenda Palácio.
Remember that throughout your trip, these will be your reference points for getting to the Capivara Waterfall.
Once you’ve found the Juquinha statue, you should turn left, and from this point you’ll be able to see both the sign and the gate.
When you enter the Serra do Cipó district and are located in the center, you will have to drive 21 km along a dirt road.
You will also have to walk 1.5 km to access the second well, which is a more strenuous walk as the trail is steep.
15. Trail of the Slaves
The Escravos trail is a beautiful route that leads to the top of the Véu da Noiva waterfall in the Serra do Cipó. The trail is just over 2km long and is full of beautiful scenery and contact with nature.
16. Veu da Noiva Waterfall
Located in an easily accessible area, the Veu da Noiva waterfall is one of the most popular in the Serra do Cipó due to its ease of access and camping facilities;
The trail to get to the waterfall is very easy. The path is well beaten and open, there are handrails and the walk only takes about 10 minutes. The waterfall is beautiful and the water crystal clear. There are few places to stand on the banks. There are lifeguards on duty at the waterfall to ensure the safety of you and your family.
The waterfall also has some wells for swimming. The climb to these pools is steeper, but it’s an excellent alternative when the waterfall is full and you’re looking for peace and quiet.
You can climb to the top of the waterfall via the slave trail, which is outside the Veu da Noiva property.
The entrance is about 500m from the entrance to Véu da Noiva, on the edge of the asphalt, but we suggest that you find a local guide so that you can go safely. Here at Portal Serra do CIpó you have access to the best guides in the region.
There is also a very large natural pool, with water dammed from the waterfall, right next to the Veu da Noiva camping area;
17. Farofa Waterfall
The Farofa Waterfall is located in the Bandeirinha mountain range and is one of the most popular attractions for visitors to the National Park.
It has a succession of waterfalls with 07 cascades, until it reaches a well in the middle of a quartzite rock wall, surrounded by grasses and orchids that decorate the local landscape.
Access from the lower part of the mountain is via a flat trail of approximately 7 km, where you can see the Córrego das Pedras, the Lagoa Comprida and the Ribeirão Mascates.
The route to Cachoeira da Farofa is well signposted, but we at Portal Serra do Cipó Turismo suggest that you take the tour with a local guide.
The starting point for Cachoeira da Farofa is Portaria Areias, which is accessed by a short dirt road that begins before the Rio Cipó bridge (for those arriving in the mountains) right next to Pousada Cipó Veraneio. There are signs indicating this entrance;
18. Cachoeira Grande
Cachoeira Grande is one of the main postcards of Serra do Cipó. It is a beautiful waterfall formed by the Cipó River, 60 meters long and 10 meters high.
The waterfall is perfect for those who want to relax in contact with nature. With several falls, the complex also has the rapids of Xica, Tomé, Lageado and several wells along its course.
Due to its ease of access, it is also great for taking children and people who have no experience of physical activity.
Kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are also common on the Cipó River, which forms the Grande waterfall.
19. Andorinhas Waterfall
The Cachoeira das Andorinhas is characterized by a waterfall that precipitates from a geographical accident approximately 30 meters high, dividing into two falls of 10 and 15 meters, respectively, having at its base a well with an average depth of 4 meters and clear waters, ideal for a good bath;
The waterfall is bathed by the Bocaina River, surrounded by transitional forest with endemic species and rocky outcrops.
20. Caverna Waterfall
Located just 15km from the center of Serra do Cipó, Caverna Waterfall is an excellent option for a short hike. With beautiful green waters, the waterfall is located in the upper part of the Serra do Cipó, just ahead of the famous Serra Morena waterfall.
Access to Cachoeira da Caverna in the Serra do Cipó is easy and can be reached via a dirt road approximately 9.5 km from the Rio Cipó bridge, in the direction of Conceição do Mato Dentro.
Although the waterfall is small and has very cold water, the effect of the light on the vegetation creating a greenish hue in the water is worth the walk. After visiting the waterfall, go a few meters further along the trail and reach the Parauninha River for one of the best swimming spots in the region;
21. Tomé Waterfall
The Tomé waterfall is a small waterfall and a large well ideal for a good, refreshing swim.
Just a hundred kilometers from Belo Horizonte (just past Lagoa Santa) is one of the most beautiful spots in Minas Gerais, Serra do Cipó. As well as waterfalls, caves and trails, the Serra do Cipó region has several charming little inns that are perfect for adventure sports enthusiasts such as abseiling, cycling, trekking and rafting.
The region also has a number of beautiful waterfalls, such as Cachoeira do Tomé.
The Tomé waterfall is perfect for those who want to relax in contact with nature. It’s easy to get to and from the waterfall. It’s just a 2.5 km drive from the town hall, plus a 15-minute easy walk;
22. Itinerary in and around Serra do Cipó in Quarto Dias
1. First day inside the park
On the first day, explore the attractions inside the national park, walking among the vast flowery fields of the cerrado.
You’ll need to leave fairly early to get back before nightfall.
Leave your car at the gate and set off on foot, horseback or bicycle, preferably accompanied by a guide, along a 4-kilometer trail until you reach the Farofa waterfall.
The Farofa waterfall is 240 meters high and has seven falls. It is considered one of the most beautiful in the region.
Although long, the two-hour walk can be done even by children, who are rewarded on arrival with a pleasant swim in the natural pool.
If you’re up for it, head to the park’s postcard, the Bandeirinhas canyon, an immense rocky wall along the Bandeirinhas stream, with small falls and natural pools of crystal-clear water where you can bathe.
The landscape is worth the moderate 10-kilometer hike, which takes about three hours from the Farofa waterfall to the canyon and can be exhausting for children.
If you prefer – and there’s time – the walk can be done more leisurely over two days.
2. Second day – Outside the Park
Set aside the second day to explore the attractions of Santana do Riacho, preferably in the company of a guide.
Take the MG-010, a 20-kilometer drive (in the rainy season, you can only get there in a 4 x 4 vehicle) on a road with no signs.
Park at a private property and continue walking for 500 meters (approximately 20 minutes) to Lapa da Sucupira, a wall about 80 meters high that contains the largest number of rock inscriptions in the region, some of which are over 6,000 years old.
The tour can end at Cachoeira da Noiva, 70 meters high with natural pools.
To get there, get back in the car and drive for 16 km on a dirt road to the start of a light 600-meter trail.
On the property where the waterfall is located, there is a restaurant, snack bar, camping area and chalets.
3. Third day – Outside the Park
Close to the park’s main gate, in the Serra do Cipó district, is the Cipó farm, an 18th century property still preserved, which once served as a ranch for muleteers on their way to Diamantina (access via MG-010, km 93).
The farm houses a chapel and the Nhá Rita Museum, which, housed in a wood-framed slave quarters, houses 19th century manuscripts, documents on slavery in that century and the previous one, as well as rare books, household utensils, furniture and old coins.
Three kilometers away is the century-old Campinho farm, with a still in full swing, still with the original water wheel (access via MG-010, km 94).
The owner is happy to show the artisanal process of producing the famous “cachaça do João”, which can be tasted and bought.
The farm is also home to a craft shop and the Café da Serra restaurant.
Drive another 25 kilometers along the MG-010 towards Conceição do Mato Dentro and you’ll see Alto do Palácio, an important gathering of pointed rocks, all pointing west, high up in the mountains, in a cold and humid region.
It is believed to have been a seabed during the Precambrian period.
4. Fourth day – Lapinha de Santana
The village of Lapinha de Santana, one of the most beautiful places in the region, but little visited due to the difficult access and lack of tourist infrastructure, is 40 kilometers from the Serra do Cipó district, on a dirt road with no signs, an hour and 20 minutes away, preferably with a 4 x 4 car and outside the rainy season – opt, if possible, for the period from March to May, when the rains decrease and the lagoon is still full.
The tour, which requires a guide, starts early, around eight o’clock.
From the center of Lapinha de Santana, you walk for about 15 minutes to Cachoeira do Boqueirão, with two small waterfalls, one of which has a deep natural pool, ideal for swimming.
Higher up, a plateau offers a panoramic view of the village and the lagoon, and is perfect for enjoying the sunrise or sunset.
In the area, there are many mines with drinking water. On the way back, Tia Claudia’s restaurant can be an alternative for lunch.
The afternoon is reserved for a canoe trip across the Lapinha lagoon, an artificial lake 12 kilometers long.
Seu Luís rents the bamboo-powered canoe (it’s next to Tia Claudia’s restaurant). The one-and-a-half hour round trip passes by several lapas and includes a visit to cave paintings.
Tourist attractions and routes in the Serra do Cipó National Park MG