The Serra da Capivara National Park is home to the largest concentration of cave paintings in the world. The region also has unique landscapes, with canyons, plateaus and curious rock formations.

The Serra da Capivara National Park, in the hinterland of Piauí, breaks some records that are little talked about in Brazil: the area is certainly home to the largest concentration of prehistoric sites in the Americas and the largest concentration of cave paintings in the world: there are more than 1200 archaeological sites and more than 30 thousand paintings found in the region.

The traces found in Serra da Capivara National Park helped to rewrite the history of man on the American continent. The historical importance of the site has received the title of Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. Despite its great importance in world history, the destination remains unknown to most Brazilians.

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Located in the southeast of Piauí, The Serra da Capivara National Park covers 13 municipalities and some towns in the state. Saint Raimundo Nonato, João Costa, Brejo do Piauí, Colonel Jose Dias it's the Sítio do Mocó, are the main bases for tourists who seek to know the mysteries and attractions of the region.

THE Serra da Capivara National Park consists of 4 mountains (Serra da Capivara, Serra Branca, Serra Talhada and Serra Vermelha). With distinct environments and landscapes, which shelter archaeological sites, curious rock formations, natural viewpoints, trails and species of fauna and flora typical of the caatinga. All of them offer tourist circuits open to visitors.

Rock paintings

The location also concentrates the largest set of rock paintings in the world, that is, more than 30,000 illustrations found in rocks, caves and rocky walls between the park's mountains. In this way, the cave paintings found in the Serra da Capybara depict details of the ancient societies that occupied the region, showing animals, hunting scenes, fighting, dancing and the daily life of our ancestors.

In addition, bones such as the skull of Zuzu, a human over 8,000 years old, fossils of megafauna and objects used by our ancestors were also found.

Along with the cave paintings, the geological landscape of the park is another attraction in itself. After all, mountains, valleys, canyons and plateaus provide impressive views of the region. The area is covered by Caatinga with predominant vegetation composed of cacti, bromeliads and thorny species, but it is possible to observe typical Atlantic Forest trees such as Gameleira and Embaúba. This diversity of biomes is the legacy left by the nature of the region, which already had a tropical biome thousands of years ago.

In the month of July, the Serra da Capivara Opera House, a multicultural event with dance performances, music shows, light plays and explanatory videos that tell stories about the region.

History of Serra da Capivara

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Photo: Gustavo Albano

The cave paintings were presented to the world after the arrival of Dr. Niède Guidon, a Brazilian archaeologist, who arrived in Saint Raimundo Nonato in 1973, attracted by some photographs presented by the mayor of the municipality at the time. With the help of residents, Niède expanded the discoveries, until in 1975 she assembled a team of scientists and assistants to return to the region and carry out more extensive excavations.

Above all, after 10 years of work, the team found bones, ceramic pieces, chipped stones and remains of fires, which were studied and revealed that man lived in the region about 50,000 years ago, contradicting the thesis that the first men they would have reached America through the Bering Strait, around 35,000 years ago, when a natural “ice bridge” made it possible for men to cross from Asia to the American continent.

The findings found in Saint Raimundo Nonato were reported in the main newspapers of the world, creating a second hypothesis of the arrival of man in the American continent. The first is that man crossed the Bering Strait much earlier than estimated, or that other tribes crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the northeast of Brazil.

These traces can be found in the American Man Museum, in São Raimundo Nonato, and in the newest space dedicated to the history of the region: the Nature Museum, located right in front of the entrance to the National Park, in Sítio do Mocó, a small village belonging to the municipality of Coronel José Dias.

What to do in Serra da Capivara

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Photo: Gustavo Albano

Bastion of the Pierced Stone

It is the most visited circuit in the National Park, due to the excavations and studies carried out in the region that showed that the shelter was used by prehistoric man about 50,000 years ago. The circuit is also home to not just one, but two iconic attractions of the destination: the Holed stone and the Toca do Boqueirão da Pedra Furada.

Burrow of Boqueirão da Pedra Furada

Considered the Sistine Chapel of Serra da Capivara, the Burrow of Boqueirão da Pedra Furada It is the largest archaeological site in the park, containing around 1,000 cave paintings, dating between 3,000 and 12,000 years old.

The archaeological discoveries of the region primarily motivated Dr. Niède in the creation of the Serra da Capivara National Park and the Museum of American Man Foundation.

American Man Museum

THE American Man Museum brings together about 90 pieces found in archaeological sites in the region. The space is located in the city of São Raimundo Nonato and has valuable examples such as bones, pebbles burned in a bonfire, objects used by prehistoric civilizations and ceramic fragments over 8,000 years old. A great opportunity to see a little more of the mysteries, treasures and cave paintings that Serra da Capivara has.

Serra da Capivara canyon

The circuit passes through a huge canyon between Serra da Capivara, as there are several stops to explore more than 10 archaeological sites. The path houses some of the most important sites in the protected area, for example, and also the first burrow visited by Dr. Niéde Guidon in the 70s.

In addition to prehistoric sites, the Capybara Canyon It also offers trails to surprising natural attractions such as Mirante Baixão da Vaca and Toca do Inferno, a cave hidden between the rocky walls, with impressive geological formations.

Middle Site

The Circuit Middle Site It houses beautiful paintings scattered around the cuesta of the rocky walls surrounded by vegetation, which can be combined with a walk to the Ponta da Pedra viewpoint, with a panoramic view of Pedra Furada and the region.

Low of the Women

THE Low of the Women It has access through the village of Sítio do Mocó and allows for crossings between the canyons of Serra Talhada. The site also houses some archaeological sites with cave paintings, with emphasis on the sites Baixão das Mulheres I and II, Roça do Clóvis and Toca dos Coqueiros. At the Toca dos Coqueiros site, a human skeleton over 9,000 years old was discovered, which is on display at the Museum of American Man.

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The circuit of Sierra Blanca it has trails with a low degree of difficulty and houses important paintings that represent hunting and war scenes. Among the most visited sites are Toca do Vento, Toca do Veado, Toca do Pica-Pau and Toca do Conflito.

Serra Vermelha

THE Serra Vermelha shelters the biggest biodiversity of the northeast interior. Thus, the area has about 120,000 hectares where three Biomes are found: the Atlantic Forest, the Cerrado and the Caatinga. The circuit is much sought after by more adventurous profiles, who seek to discover viewpoints and wilder trails.

Serra das Confusions

Serra das Confusãos is one of the attractions outside the Serra da Capivara National Park that can be accessed from São Raimundo Nonato. Serra das Confusãos is part of the protected area of a National Park that bears the same name, located in the municipality of Caracol, 90 km from Serra da Capivara.

The park offers beautiful natural attractions such as grottos, caves and ancient rock formations.

Bastion of the Swallows

The Baixão das Andorinhas is one of the attractions of Serra Vermelha and marks the exact spot from where the swallows fly at dusk: an unexpected spectacle in the middle of the caatinga. The phenomenon can be checked every day at 6 pm.

Hombu trail

The Hombu trail allows an unmissable walk through terrains with different biomes and microclimates. The circuit has trails of different degrees of difficulty, which lead to prehistoric sites such as Toca da Invenção, Toca da Pedra Caída and Toda da Ema from Sítio do Brás. In addition, adventurers can still choose to visit an imposing viewpoint, which can only be accessed through a ladder stuck in a crevice.

Baixão das Canoas

The Baixão das Canoas viewpoint is close to the area demarcated as the border of the National Park and has self-guided access. So, to get to the attraction, it is necessary to go through the BR-020 until the entrance to the dirt road (signaled by a sign with the name of the attraction) that leads to the lookout. From there it is possible to contemplate a panoramic view of Serra Vermelha and the rock formations of the region.

Guides and tickets in Serra da Capivara

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Photo: Gustavo Albano

Access to Serra da Capivara National Park can only be done with a guide accredited by FUMDHAM and can be visited from 6 am to 6 pm.

Guides can be hired at tour agencies and at the park's entrance. Each driver can assist a group of up to 8 people and the amounts charged are set by the Foundation itself.

Requests from groups of students in environmental education activities and similar cases must be requested by e-mail: [email protected] or by telephone (89) 3582-2085.

The park offers an accessible circuit for those with walking difficulties, but there are trails that are difficult to access, indicated only for those in good physical condition.

Cities in Serra da Capivara

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Photo: Gustavo Albano

Saint Raimundo Nonato

São Raimundo is the city that offers the greatest structure to visitors who want to know the park with the greatest diversity of hotel and gastronomic options. The municipality is just 25 km away from the reserve and is home to other important attractions of the destinations such as the Museum of the American Man, the Serra da Capivara Ceramics Store and Alto da Cruz, a viewpoint in the center of the city, where it is possible to observe the city from above and the mountains that surround the region.

Colonel Jose Dias

Although Serra da Capivara is associated with the municipality of São Raimundo Nonato, Coronel José Dias encompasses a larger area of the conservation unit and is closer to the guardhouses that protect the area. Although it is not much closer to the main attractions of Serra da Capivara, the city does not offer tourist infrastructure.

Sítio do Mocó

Sítio do Mocó is a small village belonging to the municipality of Coronel José Dias. Despite being small and without large hotels and restaurants, this is a great option for those who want to wake up at the foot of the Serra Talhada mountains and discover some attractions more independently. To stay the option is the Pousada e Camping Pedra Furada, with rustic structure, but very cozy. The campsite is located next to the main church.

How to get to Serra da Capivara

Photo: Gustavo Albano

By airplane

The closest airports to São Raimundo Nonato are in the state capital and in the city of Petrolina, in the neighboring state of Pernambuco. São Raimundo Nonato Airport does not receive domestic flights, only medium and small charter planes.

By car

From Teresina / PI | Leaving the capital of Piauí, access is via the BR-316. Then continue along the BR-343 to the municipality of Floriano, onto the BR-230, then take the PI-140 and continue on the BR-324 until São Raimundo Nonato (520 km route).

From Petrolina / PE | From Petrolina, take BR-235 to Remanso, in Bahia, and continue along BR-324 to São Raimundo Nonato. After the town of Remanso, there are about 40 km of unpaved roads (route with 303 km in total).

By bus

From Teresina / PI | The buses leave daily, three times a day, from the Teresina Bus Terminal.
Governador Lucidio Portella Bus Terminal
Gov. Lucidio Portella, s/nº, Bairro Redenção
Tel: (86) 3229-9047 / 3229-9048

From Petrolina / PE | Buses via Petrolina also leave daily, but only once a day, from the Petrolina Bus Terminal.
Governador Nilo Coelho Bus Terminal
Avenida Nilo Coelho, s/nº, Bairro Gercino Coelho
Tel: (87) 3862-3200

How to get around Serra da Capivara

Photo: Gustavo Albano

The best way to get around Serra da Capivara is using your own transport. Although the park is close to São Raimundo Nonato, all attractions are relatively far away on foot and the region does not offer public transport to the national park.

However, an alternative for those arriving in the region without their own car is to use the services of tourist agencies, look for a guide with their own car or rent a vehicle.

Best time to visit Serra da Capivara

Photo: Gustavo Albano

The preservation area is located in the middle of the Piauí hinterland, so be prepared for hot and dry days. In fact, the seasons in this part of Brazil are well defined and can be divided into only two periods: summer, when temperatures reach their maximum level, and winter, when the region is watered by the rains that pass between the months of December. to May.

Where to stay in Serra da Capivara

Photo: Gustavo Albano

The municipality of São Raimundo Nonato is the most popular base for tourists. The city does not offer many accommodation options, but it is possible to find cozy places. Among the most popular options are the Pousada Zambelê, in the city center, and the Pousada Progresso.

Finally, another option closer to the Park, but with less infrastructure for tourism is the city of Coronel José Dias and the village of the Mocó site. Our indications are the rustic options of Cooperativa Cerâmica Serra da Capivara and Camping Pedra Furada.

» Serra da Capivara National Park wins Nature Museum
» Where to stay in Serra da Capivara: Sítio do Mocó or São Raimundo Nonato
» Sítio do Mocó Village: gateway to Serra da Capivara National Park

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