Research & Art History
15 July 2003
da Capivara National Park:
Information for Visitors
journal of my last visit to Serra da Capivara National
Park is in the Brazil Journal section of Rock Art of the Americas. I mention a few of the
quirks visitors might experience. If you have traveled in
Brazil, you probably know that the roads can be a bit
unpredictable and English is not a widely spoken language
in the interior. The prices here are estimates, and are
obviously at the mercy of economic fluctuations.
From major cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Recife, and Belo Horizonte, you can get a Varig or Nordeste airlines flight to Petrolina, Pernambuco (airport code: PNZ). In the Petrolina Airport, FUMDHAM (Fundação Museu do Homem Americano) has a little information booth / gift shop. If you have made arrangements with FUMDHAM (see below) you might find someone waiting for you at the airport. They will help you arrange transportation to the park, and would probably call the hotel and re-confirm your arrangements.
From the airport, take a taxi to the rodoviária (bus station). From Petrolina, take a bus (ônibus) to São Raimundo Nonato, in the state of Piauí (US$15 or less). It is only 300 kilometers. A taxi will take you from the bus to the hotel of your choice. I try to take the bus as much as possible. From Salvador, Bahia, it is an all-day ride to Petrolina and from there (usually the next day) only a six hour ride to São Raimundo Nonato in Piauí.
I highly recommend the Hotel Serra da Capivara (info below). There is another hotel which is very inexpensive. Again, I say a few things about the Hotel Serra da Capivara in the Brazil Journal. Every arrangement you will need to make for visiting the park can be taken care of at the hotel. The rooms are great. The food is EXCELLENT! The rooms run about US$40 /day for a single. A large tasty breakfast is included. The dinners are multi-course delights and run around US$15. It is only a 1.5 km walk back into town where there are a few launchonettes, restaurantes and bars. If you do not eat meat, please excuse (or skip) the next suggestion: ask around for the man who cooks the best "bode" (goat) in town. He serves an all-you-can-eat meal most nights that is super!
There are three primary requirements for touring the park and the rock art:
1) IBAMA Authorization (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis). A simple form to fill out, and a very inexpensive charge (R$3 for the entire duration of your stay). Researchers are required to get prior approval to conduct work in the park, but the archaeological sites (hence the rock art) are under the direct authority of FUMDHAM. Visitors don't need to do anything else but register with IBAMA at the Hotel Serra da Capivara. Your "papers" will be held by your daily guide and presented at the park entrances. These folks are very serious about protecting their resources!
2) GUIDE: Guides are mandatory and charge R$25 a day. If you arrive in town at the same time as other tourists you may all be grouped together. Some bi-lingual guides are available ask well in advance. Guides for research visits to remote regions of the park require special arrangements through FUMDHAM and IBAMA.
3) VEHICLE: If you do not have your own car, you will need to hire a driver. I paid between R$30 and R$100 a day for drivers (based on kilometers traveled). The park roads along the primary tourist circuits are in fairly good condition. A passenger car with moderate tires and clearance will suffice. The roads on the northern circuit (through the abandoned hamlet of Zabelé) can get rather thick with sand or loose gravel, and some require a pick-up truck with good traction. All travel through the remote Serra Branca and Serra do Gongo regions requires a good truck (4-wd strongly recommended) and special written permission from FUMDHAM and IBAMA.
Everybody is treated basically as an eco-tourist upon arrival as far as park tours are concerned. There is a four day "package" of tours that will basically give you a thorough introduction to the rock art, archaeology and natural resources (emphasis on rock art, several sites a day). A couple of hikes do not include rock art, and it is your decision if a vigorous climb is worth nothing more than a beautiful vista (for me it was).
Some climbs are rugged, and there are signs warning those with heart problems or vertigo to reconsider the trail. There are a lot of Africanized ("killer") bees in the park (make sure you try the honey) and you will meet them (especially in the dry season, May-September). The locals know how to deal with them, but if you have a serious allergy make sure you come prepared! The trick is to ignore them and never swat or act aggressive if they land on you. They are only looking for water (perspiration) and they soon "think you are a dog," as the guides say, and leave you alone.
Pedra Furada is the highlight of the four day package. If you ask for other open sites, arrangements can be made. You could probably organize your own itinerary if you were the only one(s) in the group. The Museu do Homem Americano is included in the standard tour.
If you would like to know a little more about Pedra Furada, see the online bibliography I provide.
information below was taken from the web and from the
arrangements I have made in the past. I'm not 100%
positive that all the numbers are still the same.
Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos
Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional
IPHAN: Serra da
CNPq - Conselho
Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico:
Serra da Capivara
ICOMOS Brasil -
Conselho Internacional de Monumentos e Sítios
Heritage List: Serra da Capivara
Cientistas Brasileiras: Niède Guidon (Português)
Brazilian Scientists: Niède Guidon (English)
This site is developed and maintained by Reinaldo Morales Jr., Ph.D.
Last updated on 15 July 2003. All material © Reinaldo Morales, Jr.
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