By Laís Oliveira | Translation: Julia Melim
Hidden by the dust, the northeast vegetation and the dry climate that is typical to the Northeast Region of Brazil, there is an oasis where freshwater spouts from the ground – and where the Indigenous Peoples, westerner bandits known as “cangaceiros,” and even the dinosaurs have walked through.
This scenery that is just as touristic as it is multicultural, is known as “Chapada do Araripe,” found south of Ceará, at the state line that goes through Pernambuco, Piauí e Paraíba.
However, its beauty cannot be overlooked, and not only because of the natural riches and the luscious vegetation, but for the historical events that happened in the region, including the public manifestations and protests that became so popular and brought so much attention to the region, that they even received a song by renowned Brazilian artist Gilberto Gil, in which he entitles the region as a “cultural pond.”
A big part of the vast and incredibly rich land comes from how this backcountry came about, before it turned into this dry and semi-arid region – it once was an ocean. Mixed in with the vegetation from their natural habitat, pterosaurs and dinosaurs, now fossils, , shared life in the water with insects, and a plethora of different species of fish, that are still one of the most diverse and well preserved ecosystems in the world.
In light of the geological history of the site, that originated the Araripe Geopark, which is the only territory in Latin America to have such a geological and cultural significance according to UNESCO. At the nine geological sites, this area is aligning the history of Planet Earth, with the environmental importance of the region, and its socio-cultural impact throughout the years.
At the nine geological sites, they hold paleontological history of millions of years, and they are distributed in six counties south of Ceará: Batateiras (Crato), Pedra Cariri, and Ponte de Pedra (Nova Olinda), Parque dos Pterossauros and Pontal de Santa Cruz (Santana do Cariri), Cachoeira de Missão Velha and Floresta Petrificada (Missão Velha), Riacho do Meio (Barbalha), and Colina do Horto (Juazeiro do Norte).
It is worth pointing out that, contrary to most National Parks, Geoparks are territories that can be inhabited, and preserved through the development of local communities, in addition to the value of the geological heritage, also fostering global sustainability.
Araripe Geopark holds such a historical importance that it has been included in the UNESCO’s Global Geoparks list at the International Geoscience and Geoparks Program (IGGP). This location preserves some of the vestiges of human life from 30,000 years ago.
Cultural Riches in Araripe
Beyond its natural beauty, and the Historic significance, from various species throughout time, Chapada do Araripe encompasses one of the most unique regions of Brazil, because of its folklore, religion, gastronomy, and the arts.
All these were influenced directly by “cangaço,” which is a phenomenon that occurred in this area characterized by “wild west” type of outlaws who committed violent crimes all over the backcountry of the Northeast of Brazil from XVIII through the XX centuries. Those were incredibly romanticized and memorialized as part of popular culture.
Waterfalls and Adventure Trails
For those who love adventure and ecotourism, these new geo-sites include eco-trails for those who are professional and advanced hikers, and waterfalls that will make this an unforgettable destination.
The most popular local waterfall entitled “Missão Velha” with 12-meter falls, which is about 40 feet, found around three kilometers from the city that has the same name, and was once a settlement for Indigenous Tribes during prehistoric times. These are some of the reasons that bring so many tourists to the region, where natural beauty meets geological significance.
Arriving at Chapada do Araripe
The best way to plan your trip to Chapada do Araripe is by plane, and the closest airport is Aeroporto Regional do Cariri (Orlando Bezerra de Menezes), which is located in Juazeiro do Norte, a city about 500 kilometers (310 miles) to the capital, which is Fortaleza. You can find non-stop flights from one of the main airports in Brasília, Recife, Fortaleza and São Paulo.
Getting around through the geopark is easiest by car. From there, you can follow the natural route in the shape of a triangle. One of the edges would be Juazeiro do Norte (in addition to the other cities, such as Caririaçu), and the other edge would be starting out in Barbalha or Missão Velha, and the last one would be the following cities: Crato, Exu, Nova Olinda, Santana do Cariri, Assaré or Potengi. For those who want to learn more about the local tips and guides for the area, visit: geoparkararipe.urca.br or the Facebook page for the Geopark HERE.
* If you would like to get more information about flights from the United States to Brazil or Latin America, travel packages, hotels, or local stays, along with cruise ship travel within the United States, contact our exclusive SoulBrasil’s travel agent and excursions manager: Magali da Silva – WhatsApp: 1 (323) 428-1963 – e-mail: magali_at_soulbrasil.com