The Itatiaia National Park, established in 1937, is located in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais. The Park covers an area of 11,943 hectares in the municipalities of Itatiaia (RJ), Resende (RJ), Bocaina de Minas (MG), and Itamonte (MG), being the first Brazilian National Park. The Itatiaia name is of Tupi origin and means many-pointed rock.
The Park features a relief characterized by mountains and rocky elevations, with altitude ranging from 600m to 2791m at its highest point, the Black Needles Peak (Pico das Agulhas Negras).
The protected area is divided into two parts: the Upper Part (or Itatiaia Plateau region), starting point for trails and home of high fields and hanging valleys where there are several river sources, and the "Lower Part", with waterfalls and natural pools covered by an exuberant Atlantic Forest vegetation
ITATIAIA NATIONAL PARK
WHEN TO GO
The park is open to visitors all year round. From October to February, warm weather favors bathing in Lower Part's waterfalls. Some attractions, however, can close due to the rain, with the risk of flash floods and sudden surges of water from storms upriver. In the upper part, the sky is cleaner and there is almost no rain between May and August, at which time the temperature drops considerably, the paths are safer to walk and the view of the valley is privileged.
The Itatiaia National Park is located between the states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, near the state of São Paulo, in the Mantiqueira Mountains.
Lower Part: Starting from Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, the visitor should follow the Presidente Dutra Highway (BR 116) to the town of Itatiaia, at km 318. The trip takes about 2h30min from Rio de Janeiro and 3 hours from Sao Paulo. A paved road with a length of 5km connects Itatiaia's downtown to the Lower Part's entrance.
Upper Part: Departing from Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo, the visitor should follow the Presidente Dutra Highway (BR 116) to Engenheiro Passos at Km 330. From this point follow the BR 354 Highway, which connects Via Dutra to Itamonte (MG), in the direction of Caxambú for 26.5 km, to a place known as Garganta do Registro at an altitude of 1.669 meters. From there, 14 km of dirt road leads to the Marcão Station (Posto do Marcão), and another 3 km will take the visitor to the Rebouças Shelter (Abrigo Rebouças), home to the parking and the beginning of the tracks..
The lower part is mainly characterized by its lush vegetation and generous waterways, with many areas suitable for bathing. It has easy access from the Via Dutra and receives the largest flow of Park's visitors, concentrating most of the visitation structure, highlighting the Visitor's Center, revitalized in the 70th birthday of the park..
The Blue Lake
The Blue Lake is the natural attraction nearest to the Visitors Center, about 500 meters from it. The trail is very accessible for the whole family, except its stair with approximately 120 steps, which requires care on the part of older people or those with limited mobility. There is a second option to this trail, longer and without steps, allowing a lighter and safer walk. The trails lead to a natural pool on the Campo Belo River, a site recommended for swimming. Near the pool there are kiosks that can be used for an extra charge, paid at the entrance of the park.
It is the Park's informational epicenter. The main hall presents the Itatiaia National Park in the national, regional and local context through panels with maps, The exhibition Discovering the Park presents panels with geological, historical, botanical and zoological information about the Park and its surroundings. The Travelling Exhibitions Room presents artistic, cultural and environmental projects. The Interactive Room is an area for educational activities. The Mountaineering Exhibition retraces the history of mountain climbing in the Park even before its founding. The Tom Jobim auditorium is the meeting point for cultural and institutional events, and a video library is available to visitors.
The Maromba site is located 4 km from the Visitor's Center, comprisin a natural swimming pool, the Itaporani Waterfall and the Wedding Veil Waterfall, attractions that can be accessed by parking after the bridge. The Maromba Pool is located at an altitude of 1100 meters and has a beautiful view of the forest. It is where the Campo Belo river calms down to form a large natural pool, which can be accessed by a stair. Due to its large size, the pool is often used by experienced swimmers.
The Itaporani Waterfall has a deep natural pool of green water, with weak stream and formed by three small falls. It is located 620m from the Maromba Bridge, at the end of a trail that enters into the forest. On the way to the Itaporani Waterfall, another trail about 260 meters long branches off, leading to the Wedding Veil Waterfall. a part of the Maromba River that suddenly drops from a height of 40 meters, forming a beautiful waterfall which has a serene and beautiful veil of mist in the summer.
WHERE TO STAY
The choices for lodging in the city of Itatiaia are reasonable and there are few restaurants in the area.
The Rebouças Shelter has 16 vacancies for hosting (beds with mattresses), at a cost of BRL 10.00 per person/day, in addition to entry rates. The Shelter has a kitchen with gas stove, tables for dining and bathrooms with cold showers.
The Three Peaks offers a good view of the Paraiba river valley, the park, and the foothills of the Serra da Mantiqueira and Serra do Mar. The 6-kilometer-trail inside the Atlantic Rainforest takes takes about 4 hours (one way) and requires fitness. For secure access it is recommended that visitors be accompanied by a local guide, in addition to being required to fill in a disclaimer.
Last Goodbye Viewpoint
The Last Goodbye Viewpoint has a privileged panoramic view of the park, the Campo Belo River's Valley and the Serra do Mar. Its name refers to the legend of a baroness who went to the place to say goodbye to her husband before his travels.
The Foundation Stone represents the creation of the first Brazilian National Park, marking the following: "Marker of the first National Park of Brazil. The president of the republic Getúlio Vargas, and the Minister of Agriculture Dr. Odilon Braga established the Itatiaia National Park by Decree-Law 1713 on June 14, 1937".
UPPER PART (ITATIAIA PLATEAU)
In Itatiaia Plateau region, there are high fields and hanging valleys where several rivers are born. The Park covers 12 major springs of regional watersheds that drain into two main basins: the Rio Grande, tributary of Paraná River, and the Paraiba do Sul river, the most important of Rio de Janeiro state. This part of the park is also characterized by its relief, and the main attraction in the region is the mountaineering. To visit the plateau, visitors must sign the Terms of Responsibility, that can be found in this link.
Black Needles Peak (Pico das Agulhas Negras)
The Black Needles Peak is the main elevation on the plateau, being fifth highest point in the country (2,791.55m - IBGE, 2011). The visitor has the option to just walk to the base or to climb it to the top, but it is necessary that these choices be defined at the entrance (Marcão Gate) where there is a visitor’s checkpoint.
The massif has several climbing routes with varying levels of difficulty, some of which are only accessible to climbers with experience and adequate equipment, while the access to the base is easy. The main route of 2.5 km, requires a three-hour walk.The top of Agulhas Negras offers a beautiful panoramic view (above the clouds) of the region.
Shelves Massif (Maciço das Prateleiras)
It is formed by huge blocks of rock (2,540 m above sea level), lying in a region of altitude grasslands with one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the Paraiba River valley.
The trail to the shelves starts next to the Rebouças Shelter's entrance. From there to the base of the shelves, the path is about 3 km long, and takes on average an hour and a half. Safety equipment is needed to ascend to the peak of the shelves, which should be checked at the gate of the park. It takes approximately 1 hour longer to climb it.