The cerrado is made by little details
Text and Photos: Rapha Aretakis
Last spring I had the pleasure to visit the only region of Brazil I’ve never set foot before: the Central-west. I packed my bags and flew to check out the charms of the Chapada dos Guimarães region. Once there, everything was new to me: the state of MatoGrosso, the joy of Ecotourism and the overwhelming heat. It was a sequence of discoveries. Already on the road, starting from the airport in Cuiaba – the state’s capital -, the quick sights of the great plateau was exciting, a little teaser of an incredible weekend.
The adventure started on Saturday morning and went very intense until the last minute. The full time tour guide, Miss Manu Laurindo, in her communicative and very outgoing style, was essential to make the trip unforgetable. Full of energy, she introduced us to the Chapada, the Cerrado and its peculiarities. The itinerary was well set up, starting in the belvedere Mirante of Geodesic Center, which marks the equidistant point between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans – the point stands 1.600km away from both oceans. From the top the landscape is gorgeous: the plain meets the plateau. For the braves, a picture can be taken on the tip of a rock facing an abysm.
The belvedere Mirante of Morro dos Ventos was the second stop planned. With a more engineered structure, with two platforms projected to the cliff, we could spot the small waterfall Cachoeira of Love and we had one more panoramic view of the plateau region. On that time of the year due to the extreme temperatures, spontaneous fires affect visibility, but nothing that affected the experience. In the Ponta do Campestre, the third attractive, you get by car to the right spot for the descent trail to the belvedere. From there, on a clear day, it’s possible to spot the capital Cuiabá.
I believe that Saturday morning tried to prepare me for what was coming on afternoon. Tried, but failed. After 28km of asphalt, sand and mud, we arrived at the entrance of Cidade de Pedra (Stone Town) – attraction inside the National Park of Chapada dos Guimarães – to me, the most amazing sight of this trip.
Before I even entering the trail, I came face to face with fresh jaguar’s footprints, very common in the region. A short walk after, from the first viewpoint, we can see various rock formations carved out by the wind and rain. Following the tour, between trails, belvederes and rock walls, from the height of nearly 400 meters, we almost feel the nature swallow us, such its greatness. By standing silent you can hear a river flowing far away, by opening your eyes (counting on a little stroke of luck) we can face the beauty of Araras (Macaws) – flying in pairs – and find their nests in the walls of the plateau.
It became clear to me that the Cerrado biome is a land of contrasts and details. In opposition to the red and strong clay on ground, was the light blue sky, gentle. In almost carbonized trees after fires, we can see emerging emerald green seeds. In the fragility of flowers and fruits that come without asking for permission. It was hard not to be touched by seeing the sunset starting. Sounds cliché, but no fatigue resists to the power of nature. And in my memory, just beauty remains.
Crowning the trip, which passed in a heartbeat, Sunday was divided between a famous attraction an effort well rewarded. First, I visited the belvedere Cachoeira do Véu de Noiva (Bridal Veil Waterfall) – the postcard of the Chapada dos Guimarães – which is also part of the set of attractions of the National Park. The trail there is easy, but the heat is a major obstacle to be defeated. Here a curiosity: of all the waterfalls «Bridal Veil» that I know, this is the only one that resembles a real veil. It has 89 meters of a beautiful fall of water.
Finishing the itinerary of touristic attractions of Chapada dos Guimarães, the visitor cannot go home without showering in a waterfall, right? And so, I faced the heaviest trail of the trip and let me re-energize in the cold waters of the Cachoeira da Geladeira (Fridge’s Waterfall).
When I even didn’t know what cerrado meant, I remember that my grandmother used clay to fertilize her plants, so she always asked us to bring some from our trips, in case we found it. Many years later, I can understand the wisdom of my grandmother, the strength of earth and, I find myself delighted with the cerrado’s power of regeneration but, at the same time, its delicacy. I was very happy to know more from this biome and to be reminded of how diverse Brazilian nature is.
Rapha Aretakis is a travel writer and creator of the travel website Raphanomundo. Born in Recife – northeast of Brazil, believes that the world is too big to stand at one place only. She lives now in Curitiba after spending some springs in Stuttgart, Berlin and Sao Paulo.