OverviewParque Natural do Caraça (Natural Park of Caraça) is a great range that divides Atlantic Forest and Cerrado, two of the most importants ecosystems in Brazil. The range is classified by two sides: Catas Altas and Santa Barbara’s side. The Sanctuary of Caraça is an important place to visit, because the legends and the rich facts of the history is in the books and in documents. There are a lot of things to do inside the Park, how: Visiting the countless waterfalls in different places ; Searching facts in the particular library inside the Sanctuary; Hiking in the trails; Climbing mountains above 2000m and, the most famous fact – watch the priests feeding the Lobo Guará ( Guará Wolf ) with meal at night. The mountains are faraway from the logistical center of Caraça, having to walk a lot of kilometers to reach the base of any mountain and, hard trails to the summits. They are the great mountains of Caraça:
Pico do Sol (2072m) , Pico do Inficcionado (2069m) , Pico do Caraça (2060m), Pico da Canjerana (1864m) , Pico da Carapuça (1912m) , Pico de Catas Altas (1880m), Pico da Verruguinha (1665m) , Pico da Trindade (1824m) and Pico do Baiano (1860m).
Getting ThereThe Caraça’s Range is located near of Belo Horizonte (120km), capital of Minas Gerais State, southeast region. There are two options to reach the mountains: From Catas Altas or inside Natural Park, from Sanctuary of Caraça ( From here, there are more security to hike in good trails, demarcated and the administration gives to the tourists good maps )
From Belo Horizonte, take the road BR-262 to East, in Vitoria direction. Arriving in Itabira Fork, take the road to Santa Barbara and then, you can choose to go to Catas Altas or Caraça’s Sanctuary.
Belo Horizonte – Itabira Fork (65km)
Itabira Fork – Santa Bárbara (20km)
Santa Bárbara – Catas Altas (20km) or,
Santa Bárbara – Sanctuary (22 km)
All this roads are asphalted.
Red TapeThe camping inside Caraça Natural Park is forbidden without an official guide. Coming from the Catas Altas side, the Natural Park doesn’t have control about who are inside the perimeter, because haven’t any entrance by this side, the trailhead is after the railway.
The daily to visit the park is US$5 each car (Full or with just 1 passenger – the same price) without permanence in the official installation. The room costs US$35 – 50 per day/ couple. Reserves are welcome with anticipation.
GeologySerra do Caraça is the second group of mountains inside the Serra do Espinhaço (Espinhaço Mountain Range), forming the Brazilian Shield. Caraça is a huge Iron Ore mountain, very solid. The quartzite prevails in the valleys and rivers.
CampingInside the Caraça Natural Park, there are good installations to become a guest, in the Sanctuary of Caraça. There are good rooms, with Shower, beds and TV’s. Camping areas in the mountains just with guides, because the trails are with very bad conditions. Some people get into the park and stay overnight on Pico do Sol , Pico do Inficcionado and Pico da Carapuça, but remember: There are an advise to do not go anywhere if you do not know about the trail conditions.
Mountain Conditions and WeatherThe Trails aren’t well marked and pay attention at the bifurcations; The mountains provides excellent views from their summits; The weather changes dramatically fast over there, be careful; There are a lot of wild animals in the mountains perimeter how Wolves, Jaguars, Snakes, Lizards, Monkeys and Hawks. Al the official trails begin in Sanctuary of Caraça, take your map free.
Bring coats. Even in the summer it is cold. From May to August there are frosts and thick fog.
Catas Altas Weather
Santa Barbara Weather
Resume of Activities in CaraçaCachoeira Cascatona (Cascatona Waterfall) - It has, approximately, 80 meters of height, in unevenness. It is located in Ribeirão Caraça (Caraça Stream), six kilometers from the School. The difficulty level of the walk varies from medium the heavy. It is allowed to swim at the place.
Cachoeira Cascatinha (Cascade Waterfall) - It is 4km from Cachoeira do Santuário do Caraça (Caraça Shrine Waterfall) and can be reached by bicycle. It's a 10 minute walking. In the bifurcation of the trail, the right takes you to Taboões de cima (High Taboões) and the left takes you to Taboões de baixo (Low Taboões), where the river Caraça meets the stream Taboões.
Prainha - It is only 500m, approximately, from the Sanctuary and stream Caraça passes there.
Tanque Grande (Big Sink) - It has 400 meters in length and approximately for 100 meters of width. It is 15 minutes of walk, starting from the School, by a wide, flat and shaded trail. It is an artificial lake built for electric power generation.
Banho do Belchior (Bath of Belchior) Passage of the Stream Canjerana. In its course it goes by a place denominated pine trees, the best point to visualize the profile of the Caraça (lying giant) formed by the mountains.
Piscina Natural (Natural Swimming Pool) - It has 20 meters in length for 10 of width and 1,40 meter of depth, it is two kilometers far from the School and the access is by signaled trail. In the place, there are two kiosks and three barbecue grills.
Cruzeiro - 1km from the Sanctuary, what corresponds to 20 minutes of walk by an easy access for signaled trail. Excellent point to photograph the place.
Cachoeira do Campo Grande (Waterfall Campo Grande) - It is 8 km from the Sanctuary. The access to the place is difficult, being necessary a local guide.
Cachoeira da Bocaina (Bocaina Waterfall) - It is 5km from the Sanctuary, located between Pico do Sol and Pico do Inficcionado (Sun and Inficcionado peaks). The trail crosses areas of forests and fields.
Campo de Fora (Outer Field) - It is about 9km from the Sanctuary, with a course without great difficulties. It crosses great forest extensions and fields. There are waterfalls. About two hours of walk to arrive to the place.
Pico do Inficcionado (High Inficcionado Peak) - It has 2.069 m of altitude, it is the second highest peak. There you find Gruta do Centenário (Centennial Cave). The trail is considered tough: it's eight kilometers starting from the School, which corresponds to six hours of difficult walk. In 1922, the priests of the Caraça School discovered on the Peak, close to the summit, the Centennial Cave. With almost 3,8 thousand meters of extension and 450 meters of depth, it is one of the deepest caves in quartzito of the world.
Pico do Sol (Peak of the Sun) - Summit of the preservation area and of the Espinhaço Mountains: it's 2.072 meters of altitude. It is about 15km far from the Sanctuary and the access presents high degree of difficulty. There is a natural swimming pool there, where it is allowed to swim.
Gigante do Caraça (Caraça's Giant) - With approximately 2030m of height, it is 12km from the Sanctuary. It is the place where is drawn in the mountain a form, similar to a big face (Caraça), origin of the name of the park. The access is difficult and steep.
Pico da Carapuça (Pick of the Hood) - Also in the high of Caraça Mountains, from where one can have a beautiful view of the park. It's 1912m of altitude, 5km or three hours of walk from the Sanctuary. On the road to the peak, one can visit Lourdes and Chapel caves.
Pico da Canjerana (Canjerana Peak) - It is 10km from the Sanctuary or five hours of walk. To go to the place it is necessary guide's attendance, because the trails are not signaled. Its higher point has 1890m.
Pico da Verruguinha (Peak of the Wart) - It has 1665m of altitude and it is seven kilometers from the School. The walk is quite difficult, being necessary guide attendance.
ContactsSantuário do Caraça Po. Box 12
Santa Bárbara – Minas Gerais
Telephone: 55 21 31 38372698 ( English spoken )
Thanks to Cleusa, helping us to construct this page!