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Minas Gerais Circuit

5-11 Nights

This circuit of Minas Gerais takes you to the interesting parts of the state that are all within a couple of hours drive from Belo Horizonte. National parks, gold-rush towns and mountain hideaways all make part of a fascinating 12 days.

This circuit of Minas Gerais takes you to the interesting parts of the state that are all within a couple of hours drive from Belo Horizonte. National parks, gold-rush towns and mountain hideaways all make part of a fascinating 12 days.

The Serra do Cipo National Park is the first stop, a tablelands full of hills, waterfalls and trails through the Atlantic Rainforest. Sabara is the first of the Minas mountain towns, dating from the colonial era. Santuario do Caraça is a religious sanctuary hidden amongst the hills, with hiking trails to the top of the peaks or to waterfalls. Wildlife observation also includes the local maned wolf, who comes to feed on the church steps at night.

Ouro Preto and Tiradentes are the finest of Brazil's interior towns, well-preserved cobbled streets lined with baroque churches, colonial mansions and museums that showcase the opulence and hardships of the gold-rush era. Towns such as Congonhas and Sao Joao del Rei are also full of sacred art, as well as the history of the early Brazilian independence movements. The precious metals and minerals that originally attracted people to the area are still in abundance.

Combines With: Iguazu Falls; Buenos Aires; Buzios; Paraty & Ilha Grande; Sao Paulo; Amazon; Pantanal & Bonito; Salvador, Lençois & Praia do Forte; just about anywhere in South America.

Best Time to Visit: This circuit of Minas Gerais can be done at any time of year, and shortened to appropriate lengths. The months from April to August may be the best though, with endless clear blue Minas skies backing the colourful trees of the cerrado which bloom in winter. 

  • Destinations: Ouro Preto - Tiradentes - Belo Horizonte & Minas Gerais
  • Duration: 5-11 Nights
  • Trip Style: Traditional
  • Activities: Hiking & Trekking - Wildlife Observation - 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 : The Serra do Cipo National Park
Belo Horizonte to Serra do Cipo
An early start has you heading north of Belo Horizonte to the Serra do Cipo National Park, part of the Espinhaço Range which cuts right across Minas Gerais. This park was first explored by miners seeking gold, jewels and precious stones in the 17 & 18 Centuries. Traces of their work and even their tools can still be found. The park lies in the Brazilian Cerrado bushlands, 100km from the city, with tablelands full of waterfalls and trails taking visitors to them. The park is home to endemic species of birds and plants, with varied wildlife too. After spending your day on the trails of the park, you stop for the night in the town of Cardeal Mota.
Day 3 : Serra do Cipo Activities
Serra do Cipo National Park
A day in the Serra do Cipo National Park has many options depending on your preference for time in the Brazilian Cerrado. There are many trails to hike through the hills and to see the waterfalls of the area such as Farofa and Taioba, with natural pools for a very fresh swim! Mountain biking is also a possibility, with many single track options around the park, using the trails made by prospecting miners. Wildlife observation for cerrado species can also be the focus of your day, with many avians, mammals and reptiles making their home in the park. Consultation with your guide will give you the best options for your time in Serra do Cipo.
Day 4 : Into the Mountains
Serra do Cipo to Santuario do Caraça
After time to enjoy breakfast and the morning cerrado birdsong, you leave Serra do Cipo for Sabara, only 25km from Belo Horizonte. The first of the historical towns of Minas Gerais that you will visit has well preserved baroque churches such as NS (Nossa Senhora) do Rosario dos Pretos; do Carmo; and do Ó! There is also a Gold Museum in the town. After learning more about the historical side of Minas, you can enjoy its fine cuisine before journeying on to the hidden Santuario do Caraça. Here you stop for the night and can enjoy a warm meal in the cool hills. The stars on clear nights in the mountains are a spectacular sight.
Day 5 : Cerrado Trails & Wildlife
Santuario do Caraça
Your day at Santuario do Caraça is free to explore the area. We can also include a local guide to take you up the more difficult trails to be rewarded with stunning panoramic views from the surrounding peaks. Otherwise, trails lead in either direction away from the Sanctuary that take you through a mix of vegetation - Atlantic Rainforest close to the rivers, and Cerrado bush vegetation - to waterfalls such as the large Cascatona and the smaller Cascatinha. A morning and an afternoon trail are recommended with lunch included back at base. After dinner and mass, every night the priest calls the local maned wolf to come and eat on the church steps...
Day 6 : The Old Gold Trail to Ouro Preto
Santuario do Caraça to Ouro Preto
After breakfast you leave the sanctuary of the hills for Ouro Preto, the most spectacular of the gold-rush towns of Minas Gerais. The journey passes some of the huge mines that gave the state its name and fame, and the works can even be heard echoing around the hills. The enormous pipeline works that take iron ore to the coast can also be seen. Ouro Preto 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 7 : Gold-Rush Fever
Ouro Preto
The day can be spent exploring Ouro Preto, walking up and down cobbled streets as breathtaking as the town itself. 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 the first Brazil Independence 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 8 : 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. Pico do Itacolomi looms over Ouro Preto and the park has trails leading up to the scenic peak. A quick taxi ride will take you to the trailhead with the hike to the top taking a couple of easy hours.
Day 9 : Statues & Sculptures
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. The journey is made a little longer with a stop in Congonhas to see the Prophets sculptures by Aleijadinho, the most famous sacred art in Brazil. The soapstone sculptures adorn the walls outside the Santuario de Bom Jesus Matinhos Church. The sculptor was renowned for his wonderful work despite the fact that he lost both arms to disease. On arrival in Tiradentes, you have the late afternoon and evening free to explore the streets of the small town.
Day 10 : 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 Brazil\\\'s first attempt at breaking 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 Gold Trail that linked Ouro Preto with Rio de Janeiro during the slavery era.
Day 11 : Leaving 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 visit the largest contemporary art and sculpture park in South America! Inhotim is a modern art installations and sculptures, all set in lush botanical gardens filled with Atlantic Rainforest and Cerrado species, and with butterflies and birds as colourful as the artwork. Your transfer to the airport in Belo Horizonte will be timed to match your flight details. This circuit of Minas Gerais can be shortened as necessary, and can also be combined with visits to any of our other destinations in Brazil such as Rio de Janeiro and Paraty, the original gold-rush ports.
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?

April - May - June - July - August