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Situated in the heart of Brazil, Chapada dos Guimares offers the visitor a variety of wildlife, including maned wolf, pampas deer, anteater and crowned caiman.

The red sandstone cliffs at the edge of the plateau give the landscape its characteristic appearance with canyons, caves and waterfalls. The topography indicates that at some time in the past the entire area was ocean floor. The typical vegetation of the savannah (known in Brazil as cerrado) comprises colourful flowers, low and twisted trees, and gallery forest which contains many diverse plant species. Among the mammals found here are maned wolf, pampas deer, anteater, and gato-palheiro (a type of wild cat); bird species include the gavião-uiraçu, eagle, several species of hummingbird, and socó-boi. Reptiles include jacaré-coroa (crowned caiman).

In addition to wildlife, the park has more than 40 archaeological sites, with cave paintings and fossils, and it is thought that dinosaurs once roamed the region. Some people consider the park to be a magical place, and claim to have seen UFOs, gnomes and fairies. However, there is no guarantee of such sightings! The dry season lasts from May until September, during which time tracks into the chapada are open. Between December and April rainfall is high and the tracks become inaccessible or even dangerous.

The mountain range after which Cuiaba was named, consists of various table mountains, the highest of which is São Jerônimo, rising 836 metres. The chapada divides the state of Mato Grosso into a southern area of flat wetland – the Pantanal – and the central upland region of high plateau. Further north lays the southernmost extent of Amazon rainforest.

The region’s first inhabitants were various indigenous groups such as the Caiapós, Guaicurus, Bororós and Paiaguás. In the 18th century explorers (known as bandeirantes) arrived in search of natural riches such as gold and diamonds. With the arrival of Jesuit missionaries in 1751 the town of Chapada dos Guimarães was founded and the church of Nossa Senhora de Santana built. With the war against Paraguay (1864-1870), the region fell into decline, but the fortunes of the town improved with the advent of mechanised farming and the expansion of cattle ranching in the 20th century. Nowadays the town has a population of around 12,000 inhabitants.

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Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: jaguar, maned wolf, puma, scissor-tailed nightjar, tropical screech-owl
  • Where: Mato Grosso, Brazil

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Brazil’s Natural Highlights

Enjoy a complete Brazilian wildlife experience, visiting three contrasting ecosystems. This trip offers an affordable option to explore the diverse Amazon rainforest, the rarely visited savannah of Chapada dos Guimarães, and the Pantanal wetland, home to some of Brazil’s rarest wildlife, such as jaguar and giant otter.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 11 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £4,275 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Pousada do Parque (Park Eco-Lodge)

This eco-lodge is located in a strategic position on the edge of Chapada dos Guimarães National Park, in an ideal spot for walkers and lovers of nature. Facilities include a swimming pool, verandah with hammocks and an open fire - an ideal place to relax after a day's walking in the park.