Monday, July 26, 2010

Jalapão the world gorgeous desert

By Anna Avalanche, Gisa Miles and Luiz Speedwell
Pictures by: Assessora de Comunicação da Agência de Desenvolvimento Turístico

As everyone knows Brazil has the biggest river, and the biggest forest, but did you know that Brazil has also the gorgeous desert in the world? Can you imagine! Can it be possible? Desert is usually a hot, dry and boring place. Well, not in Brazil, Tocantins state, at “Jalapão” desert. As Brazil has approximately 12% of all fresh world water, “Jalapão” is a different kind of desert because it has many rivers and it is not dry. How is that possible?

Jalapão’s region is a transitional forest dominated by scrubland vegetation similar to the savannahs, where waterfalls, rivers with crystal clear waters, rapids and large plateaus make the exuberant and exotic landscape. The most appropriate time for visit is between April and September when it is possible to appreciate a fantastic experience with pure beaches, waterfalls, mountains, lakes and dunes. This is a place that you must come to see once in your life time.

This beautiful place is more like a paradise then a desert hell. It is in this golden sand dunes scenario where the place was named. It would be a desert, if “Jalapão” were not also a paradise of waters and a place where the presence of flowers and exotic animals jumps to the eye. “Jalapão” is one of the main routes for people who practice eco and adventure tourism. It is impossible to find equal scenario anywhere in the world.

Below we summarize some highlights attractions that will take your breath. Set aside at least three days for the journey. You deserve this emotion. Pack your bags, pick the route and have a big adventure!

“Cachoeira da Velha” waterfall and Prainha (small beach)
One of the main Jalapão attractions is the waterfall “Cachoeira da velha” located at river “Novo”. This waterfall is an imposing spectacle in which nature shows its exuberance and all its strength. Right next to the waterfall there is a small beach, of calm freshwater and surrounded by forest. The trail to reach the small beach is an attraction in itself, easy to walk through, with stops on the way for sightseeing and resting.

After enjoying the exuberance of the “Cachoeira da Velha” falls, it is time to take the trail of approximately one hour that leads to the small beach, a very pleasant place, with shade, calm freshwater, and lush gallery forest. “prainha” is an ideal place for camping in Jalapão.

“Cachoeira do Formiga” Waterfall
The “Cachoeira do Formiga” is one of the small water fall surrounded by lush vegetation. But the true spectacle is the pool it forms, where enchanting emerald-green waters invite for a dive.

“Serra do Espírito Santo” Mountain and Dunes
“Espírito Santo” Mountain is the postcard of the region surround by dunes and rivers. After an hour of walking toward the top, you can get a privileged view of the entire region. The top of the mountain is a large flat area, which resembles an immense elevated table. It's the perfect place to enjoy the landscapes and horizons of Jalapão. The Jalapão dunes were caused by erosion of the sandy “Espírito Santo” Mountain formation. Watching all this spectacular nature at sunset is marvelous. All this dunes sliced by translucent rivers that reflex the sun.

Below the mountain you can enjoy a scenario both unexpected as unforgettable, formed by huge dunes of golden sand. Imagine the feeling of walking on the sand contemplating the sunset in the center of a landscape like this!

The “Fervedouro” is a place of rare beauty where transparent blue water bubbles in a large pool. The name come from the water burbles as it looks like the water is boiling what in reality is the spring of an underground river. The water springs from clear sand and creates the phenomenon of upwelling, which makes it impossible for the most persistent swimmer to submerge. The constant upward movements of the water throw you out. In “Fervedouro” attraction you'll have fun and get to know the real feeling of lightness.

Mumbuca Village
In your tour through the Jalapão valley it is worth reserving time to visit a traditional village, Mumbuca, 35 km away from the city of Mateiros. It was in this place, formed in majority by slave descendants, that the much popular handcraft in golden grass emerged. Read more about golden grass handcraft in the next article.

Rafting at “Rio Novo”
One of the last drinking water rivers in the world, “Rio Novo” has crystalline appearance, making vivid the wilderness that surrounds it. There are two options for rafting in the river. The first is the long distances that take up to four days, where you get to experience high level difficulty waterfalls and make stops in small beaches of white sand. The second option, which is much faster, is the rafting in the lasts six kilometers. Rafting is common in the waters of “Rio Novo” River. But there is also place for other sports such as canoeing, rappelling and cross-buoy.

If you love nature and adventure you must visit “Jalapão” and this is how to get there. The starting point is “Palmas’ the “Tocantins” state capital and the last entirely planned Brazilian city. From Palmas, drive 64 kilometers on highway TO-050 to “Porto Nacional”, and then 116 kilometers on TO-255 to “Ponte Alta do Tocantins’, considered the entry of ‘Jalapão”. From this point on you can follow to the main attraction on dirt roads. The road requires at least one pickup truck (in the dry season) or a four-wheel drive. There is no infrastructure from “Ponte Alta”, so best bring food, camping equipment and spare fuel. Otherwise, people can buy from some tourist agencies a complete tourism package to “Jalapão” and they will take care of everything for you.

Know “Jalapão” is like to know the improbable and the impossible together. Impossible because, when you travel to dusty roads you don’t imagine that you will find as much water as clean as you find. It also seems unlikely to find rock formations as there is. Neither true dunes, with delicate and golden sand that looks like... gold dust.

Come to visit “Jalapão” if you want to have a lifetime adventure and don’t forget to buy a souvenir made from golden grass handcraft.

There is much more to see and visit. What are you waiting? Come to visit “Jalapão”.

This article has been sponsored by > AA Trade Company
and inside SL AA Trade Company, Cleary (128,128,0)

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