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Gold Trail Towns of Minas Gerais

9 Days / 8 Nights or Less

This tour of the state of Minas Gerais takes you into the interior of Brazil, to the mountain towns that grew on the back of Brazil's 18th Century gold-rush. Ouro Preto and Tiradentes and Diamantina are the best-preserved of these towns, but there are many more interesting places to visit.

This tour of the state of Minas Gerais takes you into the interior of Brazil, to the mountain towns that grew on the back of Brazil's 18th Century gold-rush. Ouro Preto and Tiradentes and Diamantina are the best-preserved of these towns, but there are many more interesting places to visit.

  • Destinations: Ouro Preto - Tiradentes - Belo Horizonte & Minas Gerais
  • Duration: 9 Days / 8 Nights or Less
  • Trip Style: Traditional
  • Activities: Ecotourism

Brazil Adventure Tours provide you with ideas for tours of Brazil and South America, with all being completely flexible with regards to dates, duration or the tours, activities and classes that we can include. Our website tours are our recommendations based on our experience of how to make the very best of your time in South America. We can adjust these details in any way that you wish, with a little advice from us of course. We can combine any of our destinations that you wish to visit into one tour, and for however long you wish to visit them. Any of our Traditional and Adventure tours can also be combined in whichever way you prefer. We are here to organise a tour that suits you after all, not the other way around!

Day 1 : Arrive in Minas Gerais
Belo Horizonte
On arrival in Belo Horizonte, the purpose-built capital city of the interior state of Minas Gerais, you will be welcomed at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time, a tour of the city may be possible in the afternoon, taking you through the vibrant Mercado Central with an incredible array of Brazilian produce being sold by friendly vendors. The administrative buildings of the downtown areas are being converted into museums as the state and city government move to a purpose-built area out of town, and a look at these is possible before heading out to Pampulhas, the district designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer.
Day 2 : Caves & Diamonds
Belo Horizonte to Diamantina
An early start has you heading north of Belo Horizonte through the mountains to Diamantina. After 90mins, the first stop is at Gruta de Maquine, a network of seven chambers, spectacularly lit from the inside. From here you continue 3hrs to Diamantina, the most isolated of the colonial towns of Minas Gerais. The tortuous Caminho dos Escravos (Way of the Slaves) connected Diamantina via the mountains to the coast of southern Bahia, built because the original Caminho do Ouro (Gold Trail) that connected Minas with the ports in Rio de Janeiro and Paraty was too long a journey at 35 days. Both were built by slaves and took decades to finish.
Day 3 : Diamantina Treasures
A look around the around the tiny town of Diamantina sounds easy but takes some effort! Diamantina remains perfectly preserved because of its location, clinging to the steep slopes of Minas Gerais mountains. This prevented expansion and development, leaving mansions, cobbled streets, grand buildings and opulent baroque churches largely intact from colonial days. Treasures of the era are found in the Diamond Museum, Casa da Chica da Silva mansion and the Nossa Senhora do Carmo Church. The Municipal Market and more churches decorate Diamantina, while the Caminho dos Escravos is preserved in a section outside town.
Day 4 : The Old Gold Trail to Ouro Preto
Diamantina to Ouro Preto
Today brings a long journey south, along a similar route to the Old Gold Trail that linked Diamantina with the ports of Paraty and Rio de Janeiro, a 750km walk in the 18th Century. Around half of that by car takes you most of the day through the mountains to Ouro Preto, the largest and perhaps most spectacular of the gold-rush towns of Minas Gerais. The town clings to the hillsides, with views of surrounding mountains over red-tiled roofs and baroque church towers. Colourful houses climb up the cobbled streets to Praça Tiradentes with its grand government buildings at the top of town. Ouro Preto is a tiring pleasure to wander day and night.
Day 5 : Gold-Rush Fever
Ouro Preto
The day can be spent exploring Ouro Preto, walking up and down the cobbled streets is as breathtaking as the town itself, and visits to colonial churches such as Sao Francisco de Assis, NS do Carmo, NS do Pilar and many others are essential for an idea of the opulence of the era, and to see the work of sculptor Aleijadinho. The Museu da Inconfidencia tells the story of Brazil\\\'s first independent movement which began in the town. The minerals display in the museum housed in the old Palace of the Governor is fabulous, as are the views across the rooftops of the town spreading through the valley. There are also mines to visit in and around town.
Day 6 : Ouro Preto & Around
Ouro Preto
The gold-rush history of the Minas Gerais hills is not confined to Ouro Preto, although this is the most spectacular of them, surrounding towns have points of interest and sacred art. Closest to town are the Minas da Passagem, an old gold mine with the same rickety cable car that takes tourists below ground for a feel of harsh mining conditions. Mariana has its colonial square and churches, Lavras Novas is a pretty smaller town, Congonhas contains The Prophets sculptures by Aleijadinho, the most famous sacred art in Brazil. Pico do Itacolomi looms over Ouro Preto and the park has trails leading up to the scenic peak.
Day 7 : On to Tirandentes
Ouro Preto to Tiradentes
If Ouro Preto is the most spectacular of the mountain towns of Minas Gerais, Tiradentes is possibly the most beautiful. The journey between them takes two hours by road across Minas, with the more modern town of Sao Joao del Rei a possible stop en route. This is the start of the wonderful little train line which runs up the valley to Tiradentes. The Maria Fumaça steam train (Smoking Mary) winds her way through the valley of the Serra de Sao Jose, passing by old gold-mine works in one of the oldest mining areas of Minas. The train only runs on weekends and holidays, so any other time the journey to Tiradentes is completed by road.
Day 8 : Tiradentes Tales
The original name of Tiradentes was Arraial da Ponta do Morro (Hamlet at the Point of the Hill) and was changed in homage to the ring-leader of the first Brazilian attempt to break free from its colonial shackles. You can explore the town during the morning, perhaps by horse and carriage, with two churches and a couple of museums house in colonial mansions to explore. In the afternoon you can strike out for the hills! The Serra do Sao Jose overlooking the town is a fine example of Cerrado, the ecosystem of the Brazilian interior. Hikes to the top take you along part of the Old Gold Trail that linked Ouro Preto with Rio de Janeiro, built by slaves.
Day 9 : Heading Away from Minas Gerais
Tiradentes to Belo Horizonte & Away
Depending on the time of your flight away from Minas Gerais, you may have time in the morning to browse the town, take some photos with the horses, buy some souvenirs and perhaps enjoy a huge lunch. The state of Minas Gerais is famous for its unique cuisine, with the history of its creation linked with the \\\'tropeiro\\\' mule-trains that are still used today to take produce over the hills and far away. Your transfer takes you back to Belo Horizonte, where you catch your flight. You can either travel onwards to another of our destinations in Brazil, or connect with international flights in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro or Brasilia.
PRICES Simple 3 Star 4 Star Luxury
Per Adult * On Request On Request On Request On Request
Domestic Flights ** N/A

Suggested Hotels Simple 3 Star 4 Star Luxury
Ouro Preto
Belo Horizonte & Minas Gerais


* Prices vary depending on travel dates and flight availability. Peak periods in Brazil including Carnaval, public holidays and Christmas/New Year usually require a minimum number of nights, so in these cases itineraries may need to be changes. ** Domestic flight prices are estimated on typical values when reserved 6 months before travel. Prices can never be guaranteed until reservations are made though, and do usually become more expensive closer to the travel period.

Do I require a Tourist Visa to enter Brazil and other countries visited during this tour?

Citizens of many countries require a Tourist Visa to enter Brazil, organised in advance at your nearest Brazil Consulate.
Please check details for visa requirements for your country on our Brazil Tourist Visa page.
Also, for details of your nearest Brazil Consulate in case you do require a Tourist Visa, please visit our Brazil Consulates page.

Do I need any special vaccinations for the areas visited during this tour?

Visitors to Brazil and South America are advised to always check the latest health information from your local doctors or travel clinic.
You may be advised to take a course of Malaria tablets. Yellow Fever Vaccine is highly recommended/essential for the Pantanal & Amazon region, plus the certificate to prove it, and possibly Hepatitis A and B Vaccines.
Please check our Brazil Vaccinations for further information.

What is the best time of year for this tour?