Parque Nacional de Aparados da Serra

Top choice in Rio Grande do Sul

Located 18km southeast of Cambará do Sul, this magnificent park occupies 102.5 sq km on the border between Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. It's here that vast, uninspired pasturelands give way to a series of stunning canyons, where the earth opens up and drops to depths of 720m.

The park preserves one of the country’s last araucária (Paraná pine) forests, earning it its protected status. But the main attraction is the Cânion do Itaimbezinho, a narrow, 5800m-long canyon with sheer parallel escarpments, ranging from 600m to 720m. Two waterfalls drop into this incision in the earth, which was formed by the Rio Perdiz’s rush to the sea.

Three trails wind through the park. Trilha do Vértice runs for 2km to an observation point for the canyon and the Cascata do Andorinhas. Trilha Cotovelo is a 3km trail (2½ hours round-trip) passing by the Véu de Noiva waterfall, with wonderful vistas of the canyon.

For a completely different perspective, Trilha do Rio do Boi follows the base of the canyon for 7km, from the Posto Rio do Boi entrance. This last route is most easily accessed from the town of Praia Grande in Santa Catarina. A professional guide is required for the challenging, loose, rocky trail. During rainy season it is closed because of the danger of flooding.

There is a visitors' center at Itaimbezinho with information on flora, fauna and topography in Portuguese only.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Rio Grande do Sul attractions

1. Parque Nacional da Serra Geral

8.37 MILES

Parque Nacional da Serra Geral, 23km east of Cambará do Sul, contains canyons that rival Itaimbezinho. The Cânion da Fortaleza is an 8km stretch of…

2. Parque Estadual da Guarita

24.11 MILES

The gardens of the 350-hectare Parque Guarita, 2km south of Av Beira Mar, make for a gorgeous natural setting, while the nearby beach of the same name is…