Cariri, in the south of the state of Ceará, is a region marked by a rich cultural heritage, inherited from the traditions of the indigenous peoples who lived there, especially the Kariris Indians.
With the miscegenation of various peoples (indigenous, European and African) and the relative isolation of Cariri in relation to large Brazilian cities, a distinct cultural identity was created, with typical folk dances and songs and peculiar religious and artistic expressions.
The Cariri has become known as a ‘melting pot’ that keeps alive the traditions of its ancestors,” describes the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
In addition, the Cariri region preserves one of the largest deposits of fossils from the Lower Cretaceous (between 90 and 150 million years ago) in Brazil and the world.
For this reason, UNESCO chose Barbalha, Crato, Juazeiro do Norte, Missão Velha, Nova Olinda and Santana do Cariri to house the Araripe Geopark, highlighting the importance of the region for the history of humanity.
Cariri is also home to the municipality of Assaré, where the poet Patativa do Assaré was born and lived.
We have prepared an itinerary that covers six municipalities in the southern region of the state of Ceará.
Cultural, ecological, adventure and religious tourism. There is no shortage of attractions in the Cariri region, in the south of the state of Ceará.
At the foot of the Araripe Plateau, in addition to the natural beauty, the so-called “oasis in the middle of the sertão”, the cities bring the memories of revolutions, marks of coronelism, the traces of popular manifestations and faith.
Therefore, drawing up a route that includes so much wealth is a challenge.
There will always be something left out. Even so, with the help of the tour guide, we have prepared your three-day itinerary.
The Ministry of Tourism has defined a tour that includes six municipalities in the Cariri Metropolitan Region.
Tourist Route in the Cariri Region
Missão Velha – Missão Velha Waterfall – Petrified Forest Geosite
In the morning, tourists can visit Missão Velha, which is half an hour from Juazeiro do Norte.
There, the first village of Cariri appeared, in the early 18th century, when Jesuit missionaries grouped together in Sítio Cachoeira, which would be the mother-cell of the Municipality.
In Missão Velha, the first recommendation is to visit the geosite Petrified Forest, which is located at Sítio Olho D’água Comprido, 6 km from the municipality’s headquarters.
The site has fossil trunks approximately 145 million years old, which has an incalculable value, mainly for the study of paleobotany and geological evolution.
From there, the visitor goes to the other geosite, the “Missão Velha Waterfall”, a postcard of the Municipality, 11 km away from the Petrified Forest.
Formed by the Salgado River, the place is charming and has three waterfalls approximately 12 metres high.
In addition to the beauty, there are important geological aspects such as its sandstone sedimentary rock of the Cariri formation, approximately 420 million years old.
The structure also preserves ichnofossils, which are traces of the vital activity of ancient organisms, in this case, aquatic invertebrates.
In addition, the Missão Velha Waterfall brings several legends and stories.
Some researchers believe that the place served as a ceremony for indigenous peoples.
Tourists also have access to a 1.9 km moderate trail that leads to a stone house at Sítio Emboscada.
It is estimated that this property, built in the 18th century, is one of the first built in Cariri.
Before heading to the next town, visitors can take a walk around the centre and see some well-preserved old houses.
After lunch and rest, the next route is to Barbalha, which is 22 kilometres from Missão Velha.
Known as the land of the Verdes Canaviais, the municipality is notable for the largest festival in honour of Saint Anthony in the world, the Pau da Bandeira.
There, in addition to the ruins of the mills that made the sugar economy important in Cariri, the Historic Centre has the best preserved mansions in the region.
Another important aspect is the natural wealth. The municipality has several trails and spas at the foot of the Chapada do Araripe.
Within the territory of Geopark Araripe, Barbalha also has its geosite, Riacho do Meio, 7.6 kilometres from the city centre.
A Conservation Unit, the place has trails, springs and is one of the refuges of the soldadinho-do-araripe, an endemic bird of the region.
Horto Hill – Batateiras Geosite
Early on, visitors can visit the Horto Hill, in Juazeiro do Norte, where the statue of Father Cícero is located.
In the postcard of the municipality, there is also the Living Museum dedicated to the founder of the city, including personal items that belonged to the parish priest and countless ex-votos, wooden sculptures for those who paid promises.
A few metres away, the wall of the 1914 War still stands, when the pilgrims, in support of the priest, defeated the state forces and deposed Governor Franco Rabelo. Still in the Horto, there is a trail to the legendary Santo Sepulcro, which has a breathtaking view.
In the afternoon, the Crato is the stopping point.
In addition to a countless number of trails, the “Princess of Cariri” has several spas at the foot of the Chapada do Araripe. “If you want, you can spend all day hiking,” the guide jokes.
An ideal place for this is the geosite Batateiras, which is within the Sítio Fundão State Park. With about 93 hectares, the conservation unit has the ruins of an old mill still powered by animal traction. In addition, it has a rare house made entirely of mud. There, it is cut by the Batateiras River.
Another place to visit that attracts bathers is the Lameiro Waterfall, also formed by the Batateiras River. An eight-metre high waterfall, with a depth of 2.5 metres, it is ideal for those who want to relax. Open to the public and close to the city centre, it attracts many people on weekends;
Geosítio Ponte de Pedra – Casa Grande Foundation – Pedra Kariri – Pterosaur Park – Pontal da Santa Cruz
We recommend visiting two municipalities in the so-called “Cariri Oeste”.
The first one is Nova Olinda;
Even before arriving in the city, on CE-292, there is the Geosítio Ponte de Pedra.
With a beautiful view of the valley, it is represented by a natural rock formation that resembles a bridge. The structure is believed to be 96 million years old.
Already in the Centre of Nova Olinda, is the Fundação Casa Grande – Memorial Homem Kariri, which functions as an archaeological centre of the region.
In addition to its fantastic work with children from the municipality, the building has a collection of indigenous artefacts.
Next to it is the Leather Museum of the artisan Espedito Seleiro,next to his studio. His pieces such as bags, slippers, wallets are in demand in Brazil and worldwide.
The last stop is Santana do Cariri, where there are three geosites:Pedra Kariri, Parque dos Pterossauros and Pontal da Santa Cruz.
Within the city, there is also the Museum of Palaeontology Plácido Cidade Nuvens, which has an important collection of fossils and replicas of dinosaurs that lived in Cariri millions of years ago.
In Santana do Cariri, the Pedra Kariri geosite is located.
At Pontal da Santa Cruz, which offers an excellent lunch, tourists have a panoramic view of Cariri and can watch the sunset, which is among the most beautiful in Ceará.
If you still want to venture a little further, there is the trail to Vale dos Buritis or Vale dos Azedos, 5.6 kilometres long.
There, there is a viewpoint to the valley of Santana do Cariri and, going down the slope, you will find an ideal spot for bathing.
The Pterosaur Park, in Santana do Cariri, contains many fossils.
If you want to extend your stay, you can still visit other municipalities such as Altaneira, which offers trails and even abseiling, Assaré, the land of Patativa do Assaré, which breathes culture and maintains a memorial on the poet, Milagres and Mauriti, which have important archaeological sites, Porteiras, ; which breathes culture and maintains a memorial about the poet,Milagres and Mauriti, which have important archaeological sites,Porteiras and Jardim, for its viewpoints and water levadas.
Ceará and Northeast Travel and Tourism Guide