Jalapão. State/Provincial Park in Brazil, South America


State/Provincial Park in Brazil, South America

Parque estadual do Jalapão Photo © Bart van Dorp

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Jalapão. Photo by Unknow
Jalapão is a conservation unit of the state of Tocantins (Wikipedia Article) in Brazil, it covers an area of 21,127 miles, involving eight municipalities: Lagoa do Tocantins, Novo Acordo; Lizarda, Mateiros; Novo Acordo, Ponte Alta do Tocantins; Santa Tereza do Tocantins e São Félix do Tocantins.


Jalapão is one of the major routes for those who practice ecotourism and adventure tourism. Throughout the entire world, one will certainly not find another place like Jalapão.

The region of Jalapão is a mysterious place where the possibilities of discovering something new are endless. The landscape of the area transitions between the typical cerrado and the beautiful caatinga, there are also waterfalls, crystal clear rivers; rapids, large plateaus; and rock formations of various colors and shapes.

Within the area, one can find dunes of golden sands, with up to 98 feet high, which influenced its name of Jalapão desert. It would be a desert if Jalapão was not a paradise of water and a place where the presence of flowers and exotic animals are abundant.

In the midst of 13,127 square miles of arid landscape, the region is crossed by a vast network of rivers, creeks, and streams, all containing transparent and clean water. Jalapão is one of the few national landscapes that remains almost immune to the advancement of civilization, so much that you can run for miles and not find a single person.

The area of Jalapão has once been a sea. With the climate and atmospheric changes of the planet, the sea was drifting away and left a trail of biological richness that forced marine, wind sedimentation (winds), lacustrine (lake), and fluvial (river) to take shape over the millennia. As a result, the stone mountains took the form of old ruins - and gigantic - buildings.

Jalapao_Celular-1435.jpg -
Jalapao_Celular-1435.jpg - Jalapão. Photo by Paola Vasconcelos

Ground of quartzo sands advance the process of desertification.

The region still has many species that are typically found in the cerrado, such as the jaguar, the giant anteater, the pampas deer, and the capybara. Unaccustomed to human presence, they are somewhat aloof and nothing easy to be spotted. The vegetation is predominantly savanna, but you can find various tracks of grasslands and dirty fields. Below the underbrush, the soil is composed of sand, the same sand that formed much of the road of Jalapão.

The name ‘Jalapão’ originated from Jalapa plant species of the genus, Ipomoea purge Hayne, popularly known as ‘purging potato’. But for locals, the Ipomea cuneifolia is the Jalapa.

Velha Cachoeira - Jalapão
Velha Cachoeira - Jalapão. Photo by Marcos Aguiar


There are several options for tourist itineraries in Jalapão, among them are the following:

Velha Waterfall

Powered by the waters of the New River, the Velha Waterfall is the highest waterfall in Jalapão and one of its main attractions. In it, the waters flow in large quantities falling from two falls in horseshoe-shape, each one more than 66 feet wide. An imposing spectacle, in which nature shows its exuberance and all its strength.

Right next to the Velha Waterfall there is a small beach of sweet and calm waters, surrounded by forests. Undoubtedly a beautiful option for camping. The trail to the waterfall and the small beach are an attraction in themselves, an easy walk, with stops for rest and contemplation, a great tour for all ages.

Formiga Waterfall

The Formiga Waterfall is a small watercourse fall, surrounded by lush vegetation, tall trees, ferns and shrubs of native palm trees. But the main attraction is the pool formed at the foot of the waterfall, where the waters of a lovely emerald green invite you to dive in. A jewel where you can swim and observe the nature which surrounds it.

A beautiful tour for lovers of natural beauty.


A scenery that is both unexpected as well as unforgettable, formed by huge, golden sand dunes (quartz sand), up to 98 feet high. Imagine the feeling of walking through these sands and admire the setting of the sun in the center of a landscape like this!

The Jalapão dunes are constantly moving, guided by the winds. Around it is the Serra, Espírito Santo (Wikipedia Article).


The Fervedouro looks like an oasis. Amid the dense vegetation, between swamps and streams, there is a place of rare beauty, surrounded by banana trees. At its center is a large well of transparent blue water - which in fact, is the source of an underground river. The water that flows from the white sands create the resurgence phenomenon, which makes it impossible for even the most persistent bather to sink in. In Fervedouro, you will have fun and get to know the real feeling of lightness.


On your tour of Jalapão, it is worth to leave some time aside to learn about the traditional village of Mumbuca, with a distance of 22 miles from the city of Mateiros. It was in this place, formed by a majority of descendants of slaves, that the popular craft of golden grass was formed.
Follow the skilled hands of Mumbuca women working the golden grass, producing craft items that will be distributed throughout Brazil and many other countries.

The population of Mumbuca is about 200 residents. The men plant for family consumption, while women harvest the production and prepare flour, and also act as artisans.

Cachoeira Velha Beach

After enjoying the exuberance of Velha waterfall, it's time to go a trek for about an hour to reach the small beach, a very nice place, with cool shade and sweet and calm waters, surrounded by a gallery of forests. It is time to relax and reflect.

Some of Jalapão visitors find the small beach the ideal place to camp, enjoying the most enduring moments in touch with nature. Others are content to bathe in its waters, enjoying the beauty of the scenery.

Rio Novo

One of the last crystal clear rivers in existence. The Rio Novo and the wild nature that surrounds it draws the attention of many visitors as well as the beautiful beaches formed along its banks.

The Rio Novo waters is popular for rafting. But there is room for other extreme sports such as canoeing, abseiling, tubing (floating down the river rapids in individual buoy) and aqua riding (where the athlete is face down on the float).


The postcard worthy attraction of the region, the Sierra of the Espírito Santo is an imposing elevation, through the process of erosion (rain and wind), gives rise to the dunes that form at the feet.

There is also a lookout (Mirante) in the mountains, where, after an hour's walk toward the summit, you can get an insider's view of the whole region. The top of the mountain is a large, flat area that resembles a huge, high table. It is the ideal place to enjoy the landscapes and horizons of Jalapão.

How to Get There

From Palmas, drive for 40 miles towards the TO-050 highway to Porto Nacional, and then for another 72 miles by the TO-255, until the Tocantins High Bridge, considered the entry point of Jalapão.

Another option for access to Jalapão is out of Palmas by the TO-020, northbound (67 miles long), with access to the New Accord. You can also travel on the TO-030 (62 miles long), the interconnection with Taquaruçu and Santa Tereza do Tocantins.


  • Arroz com pequi - this dish is composed of traditional rice cooked with saffron and pequi - a very tasty fruit cultivated in Tocantins.
  • Peixe na Telha - this is fish cooked on a clay tile. The flavor that's absorbed in the flesh is simply unmatched.
  • Peixada - the peixada is a typical dish of Tocantins and consists of cooking several pieces of fish with coconut milk, tomatoes, potatoes, and many herbs - a very tasty dish.
  • Peixe no leite de coco de babaçu - this plate is a further variant to the fish. In it the fish is cooked in babassu, along with tomatoes, onions, and other spices.


There is a wide range of accommodation in the city, among them are: Pousada Panela de Ferro, Pousada Águas do Jalapão; Palmas Hotel, Pousada Santa Helena; Pousada Buritis do Jalapão, Hotel Casa Grande; Rancho do Kojak, and Pousada Encontro das Águas.

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Author: Laryssa Balduino. Last updated: Apr 18, 2015

Pictures of Jalapão

Fervedouro - Jalapão
Fervedouro - Jalapão. Photo by Ju

Estrada do Jalapão - Jalapão
Estrada do Jalapão - Photo by Explora 4x4

Jalapão (TO) - Novembro 2009 - Jalapão
Jalapão (TO) - Novembro 2009 - Photo by Mari Lucia


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