Chapada dos Veadeiros

3 March 2020

Ancient plateau in the Brazilian interior

Australians are proud of their ancient continent, with its red centre, weathered hills and escarpments. And rightly so – Uluru is 600 million years old and the Grampians are about 420 million years old, whereas the Grand Canyon is 70 million years old, and the Andes are a sprightly 50 million years old.

But deep inside the Brazilian interior is an ancient plateau that is much, much older than Uluru or the Grampians – it is Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, which is about 1.8 billion years old and over 600 square kilometres.

Chapada dos Veadeiros is in a tropical savannah, with a rich assortment of orchids, mimosa and dry tropical flora tangled across hill tops and gullies. Following the Rio Preto on a wet day walk, we encountered five of the many hundreds of waterfalls that can be found in the park, and we enjoyed the extraordinary variety of trees, plants, water tableaus and rock formations.

What is perhaps most striking about the national park is that its ancient quartz rock formations and softened horizons are very remindful of Australia’s own gullies and escarpments – with the greens and fawns of the foliage under-strewn with rocky outcrops and clay-red earth.

Rich flora in a tropical savannah

Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. It is most visited for its abundant waterfalls, which are up to 120 metres high, but it was the local flora of the cerrado that was so unique and strangely desert-like which will hold most in out memories. These included orchids, myrtles, acacias and mimosas, exisiting in several types of ecosystems. In total, there are over 10,000 plant species in the park.

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