Brazil is the most bio-diverse nation on the planet, having an amazing variety of plants and animals. The vast national parks system in Brazil provides the best places to explore this natural beauty. You can find tropical rainforests, mountains canyons and more inside these parks. The following are the most beautiful national parks in Brazil that are definitely worth exploring.
See also: 11 Best Places to Stay in Brazil
Established in 1937, Itatiaia National Park is the oldest national park in Brazil. The park is part of the Mantiqueira mountain range, and home to some of Brazil’s highest mountains including Prateleiras and Agulhas Negras. Prateleiras is an easy climb but Agulhas Negras is a little tougher, and requires some effort, if not actual mountaineering skills. The vegetation gets sparser the higher you go, so don’t forget sunblock and a hat. The views are magnificent, especially in the dry season, between May and August. The park also attracts bird watchers from all over the world with its 350 species of birds.
This national park, in the state of Mato Grosso has natural features such as cliffs, canyons, waterfalls and caves. If you walk through the savannah, you’ll see a variety of colorful flowers and forests with many types of trees. The park is also notable or its archeological sites, including some early cave paintings. Wildlife lovers are likely to spot species such as gato-palheiro wildcats, eagles, anteaters, deer and maned wolves. The best time to visit this park is during the dry season, which lasts from May to September. During the rainy season, between December and April, the park is often closed to visitors.
Located in the southern state of Matto Grosso, this park’s dominant feature is the Cuiaba River and surrounding wetlands. In fact, this park contains the largest wetland area in the world. You are likely to see a great diversity of wildlife if you visit, including many exotic birds such as parrots, macaws and ibis. You may also encounter anteaters, jaguars, black howler monkeys and tapirs, among many other species. Because the journey into and out of this national park can take several days, and you’ll want to stay for at least a couple of days, you should set aside close to a week minimum for this trip.
Jericoacoara National Park, located in the state of Ceara, has a famous beach that’s also called Jericoacoara, and is great for water sports such as sailing, windsurfing and sandboarding. You’ll find several distinct landscapes in this park, including beaches, swamps, sand dunes, caverns and forested areas with coconut trees. Many visitors explore the sandy areas by taking rides in dune buggies or other 4×4 vehicles. In fact, the only way to enter the park is by taking a 4×4 from the nearest town, which is also called Jericoacoara. The park also contains several ponds and lakes where you can relax on a hammock as you appreciate the scenic environment.
Located 240 km (150 miles) from Brasilia in the state of Goias, this park is notable for its dramatic quartz rock formations and a large number of waterfalls. Pedreiras Waterfall, is one of the main attractions and a perfect spot for swimming or enjoying the healing and relaxing properties of water. A popular sport for the adventurous is abseiling, making your way down waterfalls with the use of ropes, an activity only recommended under the guidance of an experienced guide. Among the park’s diverse flora and fauna are several endangered species, such as guara wolves, jaguars, swamp deer and armadillos.
This park is in the northeastern section of Brazil, in the state of Maranhão. Lençóis Maranhenses contains little vegetation and is composed almost entirely of sand dunes. Tours are conducted in 4×4 vehicles, though it can also be fascinating to walk across this desert-like landscape. Although it can be hot in the afternoon, it’s refreshing to cool off in one of the many lakes, rivers or lagoons. You also have the option of exploring the dunes on horseback or from above, in a helicopter or small plane. This is one park that’s preferable to visit during the rainy season, between July and September, as this is when the lagoons are full.
Opened in 1959, Aparados da Serra National Park is one of the country’s oldest national parks. This park is located in the southern part of Brazil in the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. The park is a popular destination for trekking and is known for its spectacular canyons and rainforests. One of the highlights is Itaimbezinho Canyon, which is in a subtropical rainforest and has two waterfalls. Currently only 1,500 visitors per day are allowed in the park. Because of its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, the park is quite humid and often foggy.
Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago consisting of six main islands in the Atlantic Ocean, 350 km (220 miles) from the Brazilian coast. Most visitors explore the main island, which contains a small city, by buggy. There are more than a dozen beaches that are great for swimming, diving, surfing and snorkeling. Visitors must purchase a pass which provides you with access to all the beaches. You can see a great variety of marine wildlife here, such as sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, stingrays and all kinds of fish. This national park has several hotels where you can stay.
This national park is located in Bahia in northeastern Brazil and offers some of the most unique and stunning landscapes in the country. There are unusual rock formations, caves, lakes and mesas that can provide you with many hours or days of exploration. The most famous waterfall in the park is the Cachoeira da Fumaça, the highest fall in the country, where the water does not have sufficient volume to overcome the drop of 380 meters (1250 feet). Other highlights include the incredible blue waters of the Poço Encantado (Enchanted Pool) and Poço Azul. The nearest town is Lençóis, which was famous in the 19th century for large diamond finds by prospectors. If you want to spend a few days in one of the most beautiful national parks in Brazil, you can find a tour guide to take you on a trek to destinations such as Paty Valley.
Iguaçu National Park is a large park located in the state of Parana, is partly in Brazil and partly in Argentina. On the border of the two countries is Iguaçu Falls, one of the world’s largest and most impressive waterfalls. If you want to enjoy a spectacular view of the falls, you can take a helicopter ride over the park. Right next to the park is a zoo called Parque das Aves, which has a large population of birds and other animals. This national park is also the home of Itaipu Dam, which provides much of the power for both Brazil and Paraguay.