SERRA DO CIPÓ
The Serra do Cipó National Park, established in 1984, is located in the state of Minas Gerais. The Park covers an area of 33,800 hectares in the municipalities of Jaboticatubas, Santana do Riacho, Morro do Pilar, and Itambé do Mato Dentro, being titled as "Brazil's Garden" by the famous landscaper Burle Marx.
The rugged topography and the large number of springs form rivers, waterfalls, canyons and caves of outstanding natural beauty. The park also contains one of the most diverse floras on the planet with a high degree of endemism, one of the world's largest, with more than 1,700 species recorded.
The region also has archaeological interest, since the human race arrived at the site for nearly 10,000 years, contemporaries of prehistoric Luzia. The Tupi-Guarani were also here, leaving traces of their presence through burials found in archaeological sites. Agriculture and livestock were the main economic activities in the region from in the the eighteenth century, when farms were installed.
WHEN TO GO
The park is open to visitors all year round. The best time to visit is the dry season, from May to September. Besides not raining, a riot of color spreads by the natural gardens. Avoid the period between December and March, when heavy rains fill the volume of the rivers and waterfalls, representing risk of accidents. During this period, circulation by local roads is precarious.
Between May and June takes place the Serra do Cipo's Festival of Arts and Wine, when restaurants, hotels and inns in the region prepare special menus and music programming brings together jazz, bossa nova, choro, and MPB.
The closest airport is Confins, located 60 kilometers from Serra do Cipo. At the airport the visitor can take a taxi or rent a car. The Pampulha airport (Belo Horizonte downtown) is a hundred kilometers from the park.
Coming from Belo Horizonte, MG-010 highway allows access to the park headquarters in the municipality of Jaboticatubas, located about 100 km from the state capital and about 5 km from the center of Serra do Cipo District, in the municipality of Santana Riacho.
The main attractions of the park are trails in rocky fields with springs, streams and waterfalls in the basins of the São Francisco and Rio Doce. Some tours are lighter and can be made without guide accompaniment, and you can also go through the trails with bike, which can be rented at the park's entrance. It opens between 8h00 and 14h00 (time limit to begin the trails) and there is no charge for tickets.
An 8km (2h on foot) flat and sandy trail takes the visitor to the well at the waterfall's bottom. The cold water and its depth make it a perfect place for bathing in the midst of nature. The visitor will be contemplated by the beatiful cliffs, promenades, plants, and birds.
The path can also be done by bicycle and is not necessary to hire guide.
The Serra do Cipó National Park is home to the famous canyon, with a 6 km crevice with several pools and a rich fauna and flora. The access is made by a 12 km long trail (3h30) that requires motivation and physical fitness and has moderate level, because of the soft sand and some passages with crossing streams, rocks, and roots.
WHERE TO STAY
There are several simple and charming inns on the margins of the MG-010 highway, near the district of Serra do Cipo, in the municipality of Santana do Riacho.