Parque Nacional da Serra do Cipó, 100km northeast of Belo Horizonte, is one of the most beautiful parks in Minas. Most of the park’s vegetation is cerrado and grassy highlands, straddling the Serra do Espinhaço that divides the water basins of the São Francisco and Doce rivers. At lower elevations there are waterfalls and lush, ferny river valleys containing a number of unique orchids. Fauna here includes maned wolves, tamarin monkeys, banded anteaters, jaguars, bats and the small, brightly colored sapo de pijama (pyjama frog).
The park is vast, with a variety of trails for all fitness levels, ranging from day hikes to waterfalls, viewpoints and swimming holes, to multiday traverses of the serra (mountain range). Information and trail maps are available at Portaria Areias – the main park entrance south of the Rio Cipó – and Portaria do Retiro, a separate entrance just east of the town of Santana do Riacho.