Vale da Lua, Chapada dos Veadeiros
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Hiking the slot canyon of Vale da Lua
A short hike through the low vegetation of Brazil's central plateau deposited me on a large, flat rock outcropping overlooking a grassy mesa. Looking down, I see a narrow canyon that has been eerily carved into a series of vertigo-inducing bowls by the São Miguel river, which passes loudly through the rock until it is caught calmly at the bottom in a 30-meter natural swimming pool. The day was warming quickly, and the cool water was startling, but it was impossible to pass up the thrill of jumping from the cliff into the colorless, deep water. Stronger swimmers could make their way into the canyon for a close-up view of the small frogs that hid beneath the rocks. We stayed at Pousada Casa das Flores in the small town of São Jorge, but there are many pousadas and camping options as well. São Jorge is a three-hour drive from Brasilia, with the final 30 minutes made on dirt roads. 4WD is recommended, especially during the rainy season (October - April). The best months to visit the area are May and June or October.
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