Parque Natural do Caraça
Parque Natural do Caraça Review
Waterfalls, natural pools, and caves—among them Gruta do Centenário, one of the world's largest quartzite caves—fill this rugged park whose name means "big face," in homage to its main mountain. The park's most famous inhabitant is the lobo guará, a beautiful orange wolf threatened by extinction. Historic buildings here include an 18th-century convent and the Igreja de Nossa Senhora Mãe dos Homens (Church of Our Lady, Mother of Men), built at the end of the 19th century. The church's French stained-glass windows, rare organ, baroque altars, and painting of the Last Supper by Ataíde make it well worth a stop. There was once a seminary here as well, but it caught fire in 1968. After the accident, the building was transformed into an inn and small museum.
Guided tours—walking, spelunking, and other activities—can be arranged at the administration office, run by Catholic priests, once you arrive. You can hike in the lower elevations on your own, but to visit the tallest peaks, some of which rise to about 6,000 feet, you're required to go with a guide. The park's website has information about guides.