Brazilian travel suggestions – Chapada das Mesas, Maranhão

Posted: April 29, 2012 by Ben Weber in English, Hiking
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We have just subscribed to a Brazilian outdoor adventure magazine Aventura & Ação, which provides articles which interviews explorers, adventurers and photographers, and provides information about different adventure or travel destinations which are a little out of the way than normal. One of the places that caught our eye in the magazine was the Chapada das Mesas in the state of Maranhão in the north-east of Brazil.

The national park in the region looks to be pretty spectacular, with scenery that wouldn’t look out of place in the southern states of the United States and large rock tables sticking out of the arid flat terrain, though at the same, more lush areas with waterfalls and clear pools to swim in. Though it is not the easiest of places to get to – from São Paulo you will need to get a flight to Imperatriz and then rent a car to a town called Carolina, a couple of hundred kilometres away – it looks like it would be worth the journey.

Plenty of hiking can be done in the region, though you will still need to drive some more to get to the main hikes.

  • The Cume do Morro do Chapeu hike is a brisk two hour walk (in the extreme heat, so remember to bring lots of water and start the walk quite early), though will reward the hiker with a view from one of the highest points in the Park, almost 400 metres high.
  • The São Romão and Prata hikes are walks near the Farinha River, where there are a couple of pretty impressive waterfalls and swimming spots as well as small caves behind the falls. It is about 56 km away from Carolina, so a bit of a drive.
  • At the Pedra Caida, you will find plenty of adventure sports from rappel to tree climbing as well as an ecological sanctuary and further walks to do.

Apparently you could spend a good couple of weeks at the Park and not get bored, which is a pretty reasonable period. If you can’t stay quite so long, try to spend at least five days or so – especially as it is quite tricky to get to.

We will see if it shall be possible to get here for training for the expedition – whilst much of the training will be conducted in relation to altitude, polar weather and climbing/mountaineering, acclimatising to difficult hot weather conditions will also be important.

Oh, and from a personal point of view, I associate these hot arid climates with snakes – there are normally plenty of Coral and Cascoval snakes in these regions (am not sure if I said this before, but am terrified of snakes… and am sure that there are plenty of snakes in hot moist environments as well…!) so I would try not to wander off the trails… but that’s just me!

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