Discover Jalapão, the Amazon gateway!
Brazil is without a doubt a country that is rich in culture as well as natural beauty.
I’m Brazilian born but have been living in Europe for many years, as a child I used to travel a lot with my parents, exploring the river sides, weekends away at cattle ranches, sea side towns, fishing trips, camping weekends… as such I have that spirit of adventure within myself.
For my latest trip I wanted to relive these memories from my childhood as well as to meet some of the people and communities we have been working with and representing on brazilartsandcrafts.com, so I decided to plan a weeklong trip discovering and exploring the amazing state park of Jalapão in Tocantins, the central zone of Brazil and the Amazon gateway.
First, I needed to do my research, find out the best way to travel, costs, accommodation, food, time, distance, equipment to take… it is no easy task, especially when you are travelling from abroad.
The state park of Jalapão is a hidden treasure of natural beauty and home to a number of small communities living of its land. The park is very vast with unmarked roads, not friendly to normal vehicles and this includes pick-ups, to travel in Jalapão you will need a reinforced 4×4 truck modified specially to endure sandy roads and grilling bumpy tracks full of pot holes and rock surfaces and not to mention a guide that knows the area well. After much research I decided to contact a number of local tour operators that are specialised in off-road adventure, best decision I ever made.
Out of all the tour operators I have contacted I chose the services provided by Norte Tur, a family run tour operator located in Palmas (capital city of Tocantins). The guys at Norte Tur really ticked all the right boxes, they really looked after me and the small group I was travelling with, it felt like we were part of their family.
My travels began in Natal (North East Brazil), my flight was scheduled to leave at 7:30am, with a connection flight in Brasilia (6 hours wait between flights) and the final destination being Palmas. I arrived in Palmas airport at around 8:00pm where I was greeted by Mrs Telma (a lovely lady with a heart of gold) from Norte Tur, from them on I knew I was in safe hands. Mrs Telma dropped me off at the hotel where I was staying for the night and explained everything I needed to know about the expedition for the days to come.
The following morning, Norte Tur picked me up at 7:30am from my hotel where I was introduced to our personal guide, Mr Black (excellent driver and very knowledgeable of the area), who was going to drive us through Jalapão and look after us for the next 4 days. Mr Black started of by driving me to the agency to meet the rest of the group who was travelling with us (a Brazilian girl and a German guy) and also to explain what to expect from our adventure, everything was very well organised and made the whole experience a lot more enjoyable.
Day one: Off we went, driving a modified 4×4 8 seater with air con and plenty of space, cooler box filled with water bottles and snacks for the trip. First stop Ponte Alta do Tocantins, a small little town surrounded by beautiful landscapes with dense woodland and grassland, home to an amazing community of Golden Grass artisans, where we stayed overnight at a lovely country style hotel.
Nearby Ponte Alta do Tocantins we were taken to a couple of sites where words cannot explain how amazing it was, “Cachoeira do Sussuapara” the Sussuapara Waterfalls and the amazing Sussuapara canyon where we stopped for a walk and a swim. At the canyon, look out for the little pebbles alongside the walls, those are wishing pebbles and you too are encouraged to pick one up, make a wish and carefully place it on the wall.
This was only the beginning of our adventure said Mr Black, who then took us to “Pedra Furada” the Perforated Stone rock to watch the Sunset, the extraordinary site was filled with wild life, as the sun was setting we witness a large flock of green parrots settling down on the tress chirping away as we to gathered at the top of the Perforated Stone to watch the Sunset… truly magnificent site, an experience of a life time.
Continue reading my adventure here: Discover Jalapão! Part 2