Serra da Capivara - Brasil
Serra da Capivara National Park was granted the title of Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco. It was created to preserve one of the world’s largest archeological treasures: thousands of pre-historic inscriptions from six to 12 thousand years old, engraved on steep rock walls. The pictures portray the everyday aspects, the dances, the region’s ancient inhabitants’ rites and ceremonies, as well as pictures of animals, some of which are extinct. The relief seen today was formed about 240 million years ago.
Researchers found tools, pieces of ceramic utensils and burial sites at the Serra da Capivara excavations. Research on the area’s findings have led archeologists to believe that man inhabited the American continent more than 30 thousand years ago – contradicting the theories most accepted by scientists. The cave pictures and the objects found can be seen at some of the sites open for visitation, among the 744 existing sites in the Park.
Today, Serra da Capivara National park is administered by FUMDHAM – Museum of the American Man Foundation, a private center, in partnership with IBAMA – Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources. It offers an excellent structure for visitation, with delimited trails and specialized guides. The American Man Museum is located in the city of São Raimundo Nonato, a few kilometers from there. It has a collection that consists of pieces found in the archeological digs in the Park.
The most impressive formation is the Toca do Boqueirão da Pedra Furada, a 15m diameter opening in a wall more than 60 m high – the Park’s postcard. The fauna and flora are very rich and typical representations of the region’s stunted vegetation, where the climate is semi-arid. During the rainy months – between December and May – the vegetation, that seems poor during the dry season, flourishes. Spotted leopards, armadillos, guinea pigs, crested seriemas, wildcats, margays, serpents, and bats live harmoniously with cereus, cacti, jujubes, and pepper trees. More than 200 species of birds have already been catalogued.
You can visit the Park throughout the year, from 6 AM to 6 PM. The biggest concentration of visitors is during the dry season months – between June and December – when visiting conditions and local fauna observation are better. It is mandatory to hire a certified guide, and it is advisable to take caps, solar protection and water. It is necessary to obtain authorization from FUNDHAM and be accompanied by guides designated by the Park’s administration to stay overnight.
Serra da Capivara National Park is a 130 thousand hectare area. It is located in the southeast of the State of Piauí, near the cities of Coronel José Dias, São Raimundo Nonato, São João do Piauí, and João Costa.
Climate: The region’s climate is semi-arid. It rains between December and May. The dry season lasts from June to December.
Serra da Capivara National Park<
Area Code: (89)
São Raimundo Nonato: 30 km
Petrolina (PE): 270 km
Teresina: 510 km
Accommodation / Restaurants
There are some inns, student shelters and a camping ground near the Park. São Raimundo Nonato is the nearest city and it offers other simple lodging options.
The restaurants in São Raimundo Nonato are very simple. Goat meat is the local specialty, used in the preparation of some of the typical regional dishes.
How to get there
By Highway: Take BR-343 to the city of Floriano, then PI-140 to São Raimundo Nonato. Another option for those coming from the South of the country is through Petrolina/PE, which is 300 km from São Raimundo Nonato.
By Air. There is a landing strip in São Raimundo Nonato that can only receive small planes. The distance from São Raimundo Nonato to the Park is 20 km. Petrolina’s airport, 270 km from the Park, receives regular flights from many cities in Brazil.
Fumdham (Fundação Museu do Homem Americano): +55 (89) 582-1612
Teresina Airport: +55 (86) 225-2536
Nilo Coelho Airport, Petrolina/PE: +55 (87) 3863-3366
São Raimundo Nonato Bus Station: +55 (89) 582-1266
Cândido Ferraz Hospital: +55 (89) 582-1413
American Man Museum
It shows the history of American man’s evolution, the climate and the continent’s relief. There are tools, pottery, archeological remains – such as human bones and burial urns – and reproductions of inscriptions and cave pictures. There is also a Cultural Center with an archeological laboratory. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 AM to 5 PM. For more information on location, ticket prices and others, call: +55 (89) 582-1612.
Baixão da Pedra Furada
This actually consists of several sites. The main attraction is the Boqueirão da Pedra Furada, with 100 m of walkways, cave pictures and nocturnal lighting – there is an extra charge to see it. The view from the top of Pedra Furada is beautiful. But it is a 30 minute walk up very steep terrain and, at certain points, it is dangerous. It is located within the Park’s boundaries.
This is a ravine with some archeological sites with cave pictures and a 4 km trail of thick vegetation leading to the Boqueirão Paraquaio. There is a steep 2 hour trail to get to the Circuito dos Veadinhos site, where the pictures turned blue with time. The Toca do Paraguaio – the first archeological site found in the Park containing several pictures – is located in the ravine.
Baixão do Sítio do Meio
This is the Park’s second most important site, with cave pictures similar to those at Serra da Capivara – considered to be the oldest in the area. An approximately 9200 year old small hatchet made of polished stone was found here.
Baixão das Andorinhas
This is a 90 m deep canyon. Everyday, around 5:30 PM, flocks of swallows dive speedily towards the splits in the walls. This phenomenon can also be seen at the Variant Baixão, a canyon that can be reached through the same gate.
Baixão das Mulheres
This is a 60m deep canyon with three archeological sites and many cave pictures. It is a one hour hike. It is located 27 km from the township of Coronel José Dias.
Baixão do Perna
This is a 40m high canyon. It has 12 archeological sites, 4 of which are among the most visited.
Caldeirão do Rodrigues and Canoas
The tour starts with a two hour climb up the Serra – recommended only for those who are in good shape. Caldeirão do Rodrigues is a water reservoir – where local animals quench their thirst. It has 2 archeological sites with cave pictures. From there one can reach the Grotão da Esperança (Hope Grotto).
Toca de Cima do Pilão
This is a small grotto illuminated by solar energy. At this site mega fauna fossils were found – giant sloths and armadillos and saber-tooth tigers.
This is a 15 km hike starting at the Mocó Site or the Circuit of the Fallen Stone – and up a steep stairway. It passes through several archeological sites.
This is a 4 hour hike to a canyon with rock formations.
Four wheel drive vehicles or a 6 hour hike starting at Zabelê will get you to Serrinha. The only way to get to Pitombi – cave pictures – is by four wheel drive vehicles. Baixa do Cipó is located in this area.