Top 4 national parks in Brazil

Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world, is a melting pot of colourful culture, diverse habitats and unique wildlife. From the vast swamp-like Pantanal, to white sandy beaches and deep, dark rainforest, there are some truly spectacular areas to visit. Luckily, for the rest of the world, Brazil takes great pride in its natural beauty and many of these special environments are protected by National Park status. But which ones should you make it a priority visit? Here’s my list of the top 4 National Parks in Brazil:

1. Lencois Maranhenses National Park

In north-eastern Brazil, the state of Maranhao boasts a bizarre and yet beautiful phenomenon where a large expanse of sand is frequently rained upon (mainly due to its location next to the amazon basin) and then carved into strange shapes by strong winds. You would be forgiven for mistaking the resulting idyllic pools of turquoise blue resting blissfully within white sand dunes as either a painting or a shot from a science fiction film. However, they are very real and the swirling pattern of water across the landscape is quite a sight to see – the name itself translates as ‘The Bedsheets of Maranhao. Such is the unique nature of this spectacle, the region was given National Park status in 1991. Fishermen still use the pools to catch species such as the wolf fish and visitors to the park can enjoy an exhilarating 4×4 ride across the sand before taking a dip in these remarkable ‘ponds’.

lencois-maranhenses-np

2. Chapada Diamantina National Park

Endless sweeping valleys and towering flat topped mountains will take your breath away, but to truly see this National Park at its finest, adventurous visitors must head underground. Below the lush valleys and photogenic waterfalls, a huge network of caves and rivers create magical pools of crystal clear water. These aquamarine marvels will tempt anyone in for a dip, and the glittering walls are a clue to the richness of the land here – diamonds and gold are just a few of the minerals synonymous with the region. Located in the state of Bahia, Chapada Diamantina is most attractive to trekkers, photographers and birdwatchers. With such a varied selection of habitats, it is possible to hike through cactus filled canyons and spot colourful birds in verdant forest before taking a refreshing shower under a beautiful cascade of water – all in one day.

chapada-diamantina-pool

3. Iguassu National Park

One of the most well know National Parks in South America, mainly due to its unmistakable network of huge waterways that combine to create the stunning Iguassu Falls. Selfies aside, this is one extremely photogenic spot, and visitors flock here in their thousands to witness the thunderous roar as the river gushes over the aptly named ‘Devils Throat’. As easy as it is to spend the whole day with your eyes glued to the falls themselves, visitors will benefit from taking a look around other sections of the park too, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986. The tropical rainforest that surrounds the main attraction is filled with colourful birds including toucans, parrots, tanagers and hummingbirds – over 400 species have been recorded within the park. Another prominent species is the extremely cute coati, a racoon like creature which is often seen sniffing around tourists in the hope of leftover food. Don’t be fooled by their butter-wouldn’t-melt appearance though – these critters have extremely sharp teeth (not to mention claws) and will devour a dropped sandwich in seconds. If wildlife isn’t your thing, don’t panic, it’s possible to take a thrilling helicopter ride over the falls to get a true feel for the scale of this impressive natural wonder.

iguacu-falls

4. Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park

Deemed a National Park in 1961, and also declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001, this huge landscape is a far-flung paradise that few people know of. Among the unique cerrado habitat, unusual rock formations can be found, some of which date back an astonishing 1.8 billion years. That is not the only astonishing thing about this remarkable place however – it is recognised by Nasa as being the brightest point on planet earth due to the sheer quantity of quartz in the ground. Tourists who visit Chapada dos Veadeiros may not be able to see this spectacle from space, but can instead enjoy walking in untouched forest which macaws and toucans call home, stopping every hour or so for a peaceful swim in one of the countless waterfalls. An otherworldly experience that will impress even the most well-travelled visitor.

chapada-dos-veadeiros-water

Simon Williams is Director of The Bespoke Travel Group.

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Comments (1)

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  1. James says:

    Thanks a lot for this great article. I had never heard of any of these National Parks. They all sound wonderful, especially those huge expanses of sand.

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