Parque Nacional de Ubajara


It's the smallest national park in the country, but Parque Nacional de Ubajara crams plenty of attractions into its boundaries. Atop a thickly forested escarpment 850m above sea level, Ubajara offers some spectacular vistas over the sertão (interior or backlands of the Northeast) below. The main attractions are giant caves (11 in total but only one is open to the public), a pair of impressive waterfalls and walks in the surrounding forest.

Once a major drawcard for the park, the cable car from the main entrance to the cave entrance has been out of service for some time; while it's due to be reopened shortly, don't bet on it.

With the cable car out of service, to see the main cave you'll need to take a 14km, six-hour round-trip guided hike (R$30 per visitor) down to the entrance. Hikes leave at 8am, 9am and 10am from the visitors center. Wear sturdy footwear and take enough to drink. Last entry to the cave is at 2pm.

If you have your own vehicle you can also drive 64km along a large loop to the lower entrance of the park from where it's a just a two-hour hike to the cave entrance.

Inside the cave there are nine chambers with strange limestone formations extending more than 500m into the side of a mountain. The main formations seen inside the caves are Pedra do Sino (Bell Stone), Salas da Rosa (Rose Rooms), Sala do Cavalo (Horse Room) and Sala dos Retratos (Portrait Room).

Less strenuous hikes include a 2.5km walk to an elevated walkway and a lookout point (R$8); the 6km circuit to the Cachoeira do Cafundó waterfall (R$15); and the 8km trek to the park's most dramatic waterfall, Cachoeira do Gavilão (R$20).

All activities in the park apart from the lookout at the main entrance require a guide.

The main entrance to the park is 3km east of Ubajara. It's possible to walk from town; there's no footpath on the last part but there's very little traffic. Otherwise a taxi to the visitors center costs R$20.