The chapadas of Brazil are among the main natural beauties of the country. Waterfalls, caves, lagoons, trails and historical sites enchant tourists who like to be in contact with nature.
Chapada corresponds to a flat area located on top of mountain ranges. Several chapadas in Brazil have been converted into national parks and, as it could not be otherwise, attract many tourists every year.
In Brazil, the chapadas exist in the Centre-West and Northeast regions, which inevitably “force” tourists from the South and Southeast regions, the most populous in Brazil, to travel there.
Brazil maintains an incalculable wealth when it comes to the region of chapadas. The options in the country are diverse and pass through the Centre-West and Northeast regions of Brazil. The routes can be enjoyed throughout the year.
The geography of the chapadas, formed by a flat area located on top of mountain ranges, attracts tourists in search of ecological trails, waterfall baths, natural pools and cultural tourism.
Videos about the 5 main chapadas of Brazil
We have selected five of Brazil’s top chapadas
1. Chapada dos Veadeiros (GO)
Located in the heart of the Central Plateau, in the far north of the state of Goiás and 234 km from the centre of Brasília (DF), Chapada dos Veadeiros brings waterfalls, canyons, walls and natural pools of crystal clear water.
The main access gates are Alto Paraíso and São Jorge. The first is among the most mystical cities in Brazil.
The latter is the entrance to the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as a World Natural Heritage Site.
Among the mandatory stops is the Valley of the Moon. The place was named after the rock formation that resembles the lunar surface. Also on the tourist list are the Santa Bárbara Waterfall, Crystal Waterfall and Cataratas dos Couros. Another attraction is Kalunga, one ofthemain quilombola communities in Brazil and a cultural heritage site in Goiás.
2. Chapada dos Guimarães is the easiest to get to
Also in the Central-West region, the chapada with sandstone canyons, up to 350 metres high on the edge of the Central Plateau, is home to the Véu da Noiva waterfall, with an 86-metre waterfall amid a profusion of walls covered by the typical green forest of the cerrado.
In the Chapada dos Guimarães, 60 kilometres from Cuiabá (MT), at least 46 archaeological sites have been catalogued and dinosaur bones from the Jurassic period have been found.
Among the suggested itineraries is the Circuito das Cachoeiras, a 7-kilometre route that includes two natural pools. Other attractions are the Casa de Pedra, the Gruta da Lagoa Azul and the Martinha waterfall.
The biggest attraction of Chapada is the Véu da Noiva waterfall, which is inside the national park, but there are other important attractions there. The Circuito das Cachoeiras is a six-hour hike through six waterfalls;
The Morro de São Paulo Circuit is also six hours, but without waterfalls to cool off – just the view from the top of the hill. And there is also a much easier circuit which is the Vale do Rio Claro where you arrive with a 4×4 car and there you will find floats and lagoons for swimming.
When it comes to choosing where to stay, it’s easy – Chapada dos Guimarães is also the name of the base town. It is possible to stay inside the park or in the village.
3. Chapada Diamantina in Bahia is the favourite for those who like hiking.
The Chapada Diamantina is made up of imposing canyons, hidden caves, waterfalls and plant species that exist nowhere else in the world; chapada spreads over 24 municipalities in the centre of Bahia and has as its symbol the morro do Pai Inácio, at an altitude of 1,120 metres.
The Cachoeira da Fumaça, one of the highest waterfalls in the country with more than 340 metres of height, is among the most sought-after attractions. The trail to reach the top of the waterfall is 6 kilometres long.
Another popular spot is the Poço Encantado, which has bluish water, the result of the effect of the sun’s rays entering the cave.
In a week you can see the main part of the region, but not everything – that’s the big frustration for tourists. The real lovers always end up coming back;
The Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina is huge (1,520km²) with little signage and trails without demarcations, so it is essential that you hire a guide.
Among the unmissable trails is the Morro do Pai Inácio (which is easy and everyone does) and the Vale do Pati which is the most complex and famous of Brazilian trekking. It’s a three to five-day trek along wild trails, eating and sleeping in the homes of locals known as “patizeiros”;
4. Chapada do Araripe (CE,PE and PI) is for those who like archaeology
Also in the Northeast is the Chapada do Araripe. Located in the south of Ceará, on the border with Pernambuco and Piauí, the region is an ecological reserve that houses canyons, caves, archaeological sites and a national forest dating back 120 million years.
Dinosaur and fish fossils found there can be seen at the Museum of Palaeontology of Santana do Cariri.
Located in Ceará, in the Cariri region, it is different from other Brazilian plateaus because it belongs to a semi-arid region, but surrounded by water. That is why it is seen as an oasis. But you can’t expect big waterfalls or caves with crystal clear water;
The special touch of this Brazilian plateau is that it includes a palaeontological site full of dinosaur and fish fossils. That is why it was chosen by Unesco to be a Geopark – a place that identifies, signposts and preserves areas essential to the history of planet Earth.
In any case, it is also possible to visit the Araripe National Forest with its diversity of birds, fauna and flora (in addition to the aqueological sites). The main cities in the region that serve as a base for those visiting the Chapada do Araripe are: Crato, Barbalha and Juazeiro do Norte.
5. Chapadas das Mesas (MA)
Still in the Northeast, but already with its feet in northern Brazil, is the Chapada das Mesas which brings rock formations that resemble large mesas of stone.
Among the tourist activities offered are abseiling and ecological trails where visitors can also visit the natural pools of crystalline waters in the region.
One of the most visited waterfallsof is São Romão, with a 26-metre waterfall.
The Chapada das Mesas is somewhat forgotten by Brazilians who think that the state only has the lençóis Maranhenses to offer for tourism.
A common mistake that happens mainly because it is located on the opposite side of the lençóis, in the south of the state, near Tocantins. And it is for this location that the most adventurous make the double between Chapada das Mesas and Jalapão called ‘Jalapada’ (even though the two places are 8 hours away);
To get to the Chapada das Mesas from other states, you must take a flight to Imperatriz and there rent a car (or transfer) 226 km to Carolina – the base city for those visiting the chapada.
It is difficult to get to, but it will be easy to be enchanted. That pool of blue water you imagine when you think of chapada? There it is. Trails that lead to impressive waterfalls? There are also. And another stunning tour tip that many people forget to consider is the sunset boat trip on the Tocantins River. Unforgettable.
Five main chapadas are in the Centre-West and Northeast of Brazil – Tourism and Travel Guide