Through the lens

Published 2023-05-01.

Serra da Canastra, Minas Gerais

A visit to one of the most important national parks in Brazil

🇧🇷 Disponível em Português, 🇯🇵 日本語で閲覧できます

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Created in 1972, the Serra da Canastra National Park has approximately 93 thousand demarcated hectares and is part of the territory of 6 municipalities: São João Batista do Glória, São Roque de Minas, Vargem Bonita, Sacramento, Delfinópolis and Capitão, in the Southwest of Minas Gerais .

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Figure 1: Serra da Canastra National Park is one of the most important Brazilian national parks, with an area of 71,525 ha.

The area basically brings together two massifs: Serra da Canastra and Serra das Sete Voltas, with the Cândidos valley in between. Altitudes vary between 900 and 1,496 (Serra Brava tower) and the predominant vegetation is rocky fields, with patches of cerrado and riparian forests.

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Figure 2: Serra da Canastra is shaped like a trunk, hence the name, as a canastra is a type of ancient trunk.
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The rugged terrain and low vegetation produce a unique landscape, with great panoramic views and many waterfalls over 100 meters high.

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Figure 3: Butterfly (Docoxopa Blaurentia).

Canastra is also home to a large number of bird species, including some species endemic to the park, making it a hot-spot for birdwatchers.

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Figure 4: Pássaro-preto, Graúna, Chopi (Gnorimopsar chopi).
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Figure 5: Lavadeira, Noivinha (Fluvicola nengeta).
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Figure 6: Rabo-de-escrivão, Alma-de-gato, Tinguaçu (Piaya cayana sp).
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Figure 7: Pica-pau-do-campo (Colaptes campestris).
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Figure 8: Tucano-Açú (Ramphastos toco).

The Casca d'Anta waterfall, approximately 186 meters high, is one of the main attractions of the Park, coming out of a natural cut of the Serra of approximately 144 meters, that is, the height of the Serra reaches 330 meters. The São Francisco River rises 14 kilometers before its main fall.

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Figure 9: The Casca d'Anta waterfall in the distance.
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After a short hike, we arrive at the bottom of the Casca d'Anta waterfall.

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Water is the main factor in the park, whose springs, which number in the hundreds, arise due to the humidity that the cold rock absorbs from the air, especially at night.

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Figure 10: The river passes through five states and 521 municipalities, with a measured length of 2814 kilometers.

Inside the park is located the historic source of the São Francisco River, in the municipality of São Roque de Minas. The São Francisco River, popularly known as Velho Chico, is one of the most important watercourses in Brazil and South America.

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Figure 11: We make a stop for a coffee and a bite of the famous Canastra cheese.

In 2008, the Canastra cheese was deemed to be part of the intangible cultural heritage of Brazil. The climate, altitude, pasture and water of this area are specific for its manufacturing and for this reason this delicacy is only made in a handful of towns, under supervised production.

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Figure 12: A smoked version of Canastra's award-winning traditional cheese.
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In the region around the Serra da Canastra, which reaches an extension of 700 kilometers and forms the 'Rota do Queijo da Canastra', about 800 families make their living from cheese production in one of the most remote regions of the State of Minas Gerais.

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Figure 13: The sun sets at Serra da Canastra.
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© Henrique Alves. Contact me at photo@rique.pro