Brazil is well known for its sun-kissed beaches, exotic islands and charming colonial towns. What you may not know is that Brazil is also a paradise for those chasing waterfalls.
When you consider that Brazil is the fifth largest country, and hosts the biggest and most biodiverse rainforest in the world, it’s not surprising that it is also home to some of the world’s most spectacular cascades of water. The sheer number of falls, as well as the diverse ecosystems and terrain, make rating the best waterfalls in Brazil a near-impossible task. But, we’ve come up with our favorites to help you plan your perfect Brazil waterfall adventure.
You can explore these waterfalls while sailing aboard a catamaran or monohull from our bases in Brazil. Our base in Angra Dos Reis offers bareboat and skippered yacht charters. We are excited to announce our new base in Paraty will open in early 2020, offering bareboat yacht charters along with luxury all-inclusive crewed yacht charters aboard a Lagoon 620. Paraty is full of history and one of Brazil’s best-preserved coastal regions, perfect for sailing. During your charter be sure to take time to experience this historic city’s artisans, restaurants, music, culture and natural beauty, including some magnificent wildlife, like jaguars and primates.
1. Iguazu Falls – world-famous Brazil waterfall
Iguazu Falls is one of the undisputed grandmasters, and without a doubt the most famous waterfall in Brazil. The extensive falls consist of nearly 300 individual drops and follow the Iguazu River, bordering both Argentina and the Brazilian state of Paraná. Iguazu Falls is said to have the most voluminous water flow of any falls in the world and is designated as a UNESCO site, in recognition of both their magnificence and ecological importance. The sprawling semicircular falls located on the Brazil side can be admired from a 350-degree observation deck in the Iguazu National Park.
2. Caracol Falls – captivating cliff cascade
With several beautiful cascades and excellent vantage points, Caracol Falls is perhaps the second most famous waterfall in Brazil, following Iguazu Falls. The 400-ft high waterfall is found just outside the resort town of Canela, in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul. The tallest portion of the falls pours over a cliff edge for an incredibly dramatic display, especially when viewed at sunset from the 100-ft observation tower nearby. The tower is conveniently equipped with an elevator and even a cable car for a stunning aerial view. If you’re seeking a more adventurous route, try descending the 927-step trail leading to the base of the falls!
3. Salto do Rio Preto Falls – secluded trek to the wild side
Brazil waterfall adventurers will appreciate the nearly 4-mile trek through the beautiful Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park to reach Salto do Rio Preto Falls. Towering at 400ft among pristine forests, the sight of this dizzying drop is well worth the hike. Stock up on supplies before venturing into the wild, and enjoy the many scenic and secluded spots along the river for lunch and a swim.
4. Couros Waterfall – a hidden natural playground
Yet another Brazil waterfall located in Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park – and one of the most beautiful in the region – is Couros Falls. The trails to find this hidden gem are not well marked, so a local guide and 4×4 vehicle are recommended. Bring a packed lunch to travel 18 miles of rough dirt roads followed by a short 1.5-mile hike to reach the falls. Multiple layers of drops, pools and sandy beaches make for an exciting day of scenic exploration.
5. Buracão Falls – full-immersion Brazil waterfall experience
Considered by many to be the highlight of Chapada Diamantina National Park, Buracão Falls is a must for the adventurer who’s ready to go for broke with at least 1 full day (if not 2!) of driving, hiking and swimming that culminates in a thrilling Brazil waterfall experience. Navigate dirt roads, trek for an hour, and finally swim between steep canyon walls to reach the breathtaking 320-ft falls.
6. Serra do Cipo’s Falls – national park collection of Brazil waterfalls
Serra do Cipo National Park is home to dozens of spectacular waterfalls. Some are easily accessible, including Veu di Noiva, a 224-ft waterfall located along one of the park’s most gentle hiking trails. When venturing out to some of the more remote waterfalls, hire a local guide that’s familiar with the terrain and trails that may not be clearly marked. Bring water and snacks, and don your swim attire for a dip in one of the many sparkling waterfall basins.
7. Smoke Falls – magical mists on high
The rocky cliff edge of “Cachoeira da Fumaca,” or Smoke Falls, is the highest on our list with waters plummeting to the basin below from more than 1000ft in the air. While it is one of the best waterfalls in Brazil, the water flow can sometimes be light causing the spray to dissipate in the wind and create the mystical “smoky” effect of its namesake.
8. Almécegas Waterfalls – a trio of captivating cascades
Just to the south of Chapada dos Medeiros National Park near the city of Alto Paraíso de Goiás is a waterfall haven with easy access to three separate captivating cascades. One entrance fee gets you access to over 20 miles of nature trails and exploration of all three waterfalls. Almécegas is generally considered the highlight with plumes tumbling over a massive stepped quartzite wall covered in natural vegetation.
9. Santa Barbara Waterfall – shimmering jungle paradise
Some 15 miles outside the small town of Cavalcante is the beloved Santa Barbara Waterfall. Once a place where prospectors settled in search of gold, Cavalcante is now known for its beautiful natural rivers and waterfalls. The 100-ft Santa Barbara Waterfall is certainly not the tallest Brazil waterfall, but it never disappoints with its lush green vegetation and sparkling emerald pool that come together for a vision of paradise.
10. Pedra Branca Waterfall – local best-kept secret
Just a 20-minute drive from the popular colonial town of Paraty, the falls at Pedra Branca are a favorite Brazil waterfall where nearby townspeople gather to enjoy hot summer days. Giant boulders and a sparkling natural pool are perfect for an entertaining swim, and the friendly locals are happy to help visitors navigate the terrain or even go for a slide down the gentle falls.
Find out more
Plan your eco-adventure to discover the best waterfalls in Brazil, beginning from our yacht charter base in the lovely town of Paraty, Brazil. With a yacht of your choice as a home base, beaches, islands and jungles are all within reach. Choose a bareboat charter to try your hand at the helm, or relax on a skippered charter vacation and let a knowledgeable local show you the area’s best-kept secrets.