By Brazzil Magazine

    The capital of the state of Goiás, Goiânia is 200 km southwest of Brasília and 900
    km from both Cuiabá and São Paulo. Planned by urbanist Armando de Godói and founded in
    1933, it’s a fairly pleasant place, with lots of open spaces laid out around circular
    streets in the center. There are three main zones—housing is in the south,
    administration is in the center, and industry and commerce are in the north. Goiânia’s
    economy is based on the commercialization of the region’s cattle.

    Tourist Office

    Goiastur, the state tourist body, is located on the 3rd floor of
    the Serra Dourada stadium, in the suburb of Jardim Goiás. The effort to get there is not
    worth it. Everything you ever wanted to know about Goiânia, and lots of things you
    didn’t, can be found in the Novo Guia Turístico de Goiânia, a book available for
    $5 at most newsstands. It includes a map of the city and details of local bus routes.

    Turisplan Turismo (224-1941) is at No 388 Rua 8. This central travel agency sells
    airplane and bus tickets.


    You’ll find the Banco do Brasil at Avenida Goiás 980. The Banco do Estado de Goiás
    (BEG!) is at Praça do Bandeirante 546, on the corner of Avenida Goiás and Avenida

    If you’re going to Goiás Velho or Pirenópolis, change money here.

    Post & Telephone

    The post office is right in the center of town, at Praça Cívica 11. Long-distance
    telephone calls can be made from the Setor Norte Rodoviária, from the airport and from
    the corner of Rua 3 and Rua 7.

    Things to See & Do

    There’s not much for the visitor in Goiânia.

    Our advice is to get out to one of the nearby colonial towns as quickly as you can. But
    if you have some time to kill, try the Parque Educativo, on Avenida Anhangüera in
    Setor Oeste. It has a zoo, a zoological museum and an anthropology museum. It’s open from
    8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Excursions within a 200-km radius of Goiânia include the Caldas Novas hot
    springs, Lake Pirapitinga, Pousada do Rio Quente and the interesting rock
    formations of Parauna.

    Places to Stay

    There are a couple of cheap places near the rodoviária. The Star Hotel, at
    No 537 Rua 68, is run by a friendly family. Some strange characters live there but it’s OK
    for a night. Very basic quartos go for $5 per person. The center of town is so
    close, however, that it’s worth staying there instead.

    The Hotel Del Rey (225-6306) is centrally located, in the Rua 8 pedestrian mall,
    at No 321. Apartamentos cost $12/18 a single/double. Another cheapie is the Hotel
    Paissandu (224-4925), at Avenida Goiás 1290, with quartos for $10/18 a single/double
    and apartamentos for $13/25. All of the rooms have fans. The Goiânia Palace (225-0671
    ) charges the same prices as the Paissandu, but doesn’t have fans. The Principe Hotel (224-0085),
    at Avenida Anhangüera 2936, costs a couple of dollars more but is better value.

    In the mid-range, the Vila Rica Hotel (223-2733), at Avenida Anhangüera 3456,
    and the Cabiúna Palace (224-4355), at Avenida Paranaíba 698, each charge $35 a
    double. Both are two-star Embratur hotels.

    There are plenty of top-end alternatives. A couple of centrally located ones are the Hotel
    Karajás (224-9666), at No 860 Rua 3, which charges $40/50 a single/double, and the Hotel
    Bandeirantes (224-0066), near the corner of Avenida Anhangüera and Avenida Goiás,
    which charges $55/65.

    Places to Eat

    Since they are surrounded by cattle, the locals eat lots of meat. They also like to
    munch on pamonha, a very tasty green-corn concoction sold at pamonharia
    stands all over town. Try it.

    If you want to taste some typical Goianian dishes, such as arroz com pequi, arroz
    com guariroba or peixe na telha, then head for the Centro de Tradições
    Goianas, at No 515 on Rua 4, above the Parthenon Center, or Dona Beija, on
    Avenida Tocantins between Rua 4 and Avenida Anhangüera. Our favorite dish is the empadão
    de Goiás, a tasty meat pie.

    Praça Tamandaré, a short bus ride or a long walk from the center, has quite a several
    restaurants and bars surrounding it; try Churrascaria e Chouperia do Gaúcho for
    meat, beer and live music or Modiglianni for a good pizza. Wander around and see
    what takes your fancy.

    The Restaurante Macrobiótico Arroz Integral, at No 326 Rua 93, in Setor Sul, is
    Goiânia’s antichurrascaria. It’s open from 11 am to 2 pm and 6 to 9 pm. Other
    natural food is available in the center at Reserva Natural, No 475 Rua 7, close to
    the Parthenon Center. It’s open for lunch Monday to Friday from 11 am to 2.30 pm.

    Getting There & Away

    In addition to the regular domestic carriers, there are several air-taxi companies,
    which go anywhere and everywhere in the Mato Grosso and Amazon, but they are expensive.
    One company quoted me $1500 for a return trip to Parque Nacional das Emas, in a plane that
    would hold four people.

    Major airlines include Varig/Cruzeiro (224-5049) and VASP (223-4266).

    If you’re interested in hiring an air-taxi, call Sete Taxi Aéreo (207-1519) or União


    The huge, relatively new rodoviária (224-8466), No 399 Rua 44, still holds the
    award for the most TV sets on poles (14—down from 22 on the last research trip) in a rodoviária.
    There are buses to Brasília ($6, three hours), Cuiabá ($26, 16 hours) and Caldas Novas
    ($7, three hours). Buses to Goiás Velho ($6, 2½ hours) leave every hour from 5 am to 8
    pm. For Pirenópolis ($6, two hours), there’s a 5 pm bus.

    Distances from Goiânia to major cities are immense—it’s 2000 km to Belém, 900 km
    to Belo Horizonte, 2620 km to Fortaleza, 3289 km to Manaus, 2414 km to Recife, 1340 km to
    Rio, 1730 km to Salvador and 900 km to São Paulo.

    Getting Around

    Aeroporto Santo Genoveva (207-1288) is six km from the city center—$10 by taxi.

    You can walk from the rodoviária into town—it’s 15 minutes to the corner
    of Avenida Anhangüera and Avenida Goiás. Alternatively, catch a local bus at the bus
    stop 50 meters from the main terminal as you walk towards town. A couple to look for are
    the No 163 `Vila União-Centro’ and the No 404 `Rodoviária-Centro’. Both go down Avenida
    Goiás. To get to Praça Tamandaré, catch the `Vila União’ bus.


    The historic colonial city of Goiás Velho was formerly known as Vila Boa. Once the
    state capital, it is 144 km from Goiânia and is linked to Cuiabá by dirt road. The city
    and its baroque churches shine during Semana Santa (Holy Week).


    On the heels of the gold discoveries in Minas Gerais, bandeirantes pushed
    further into the interior in search of more precious stones and, as always, Indian slaves.
    In 1682, a bandeira headed by the old Paulista Bartolomeu Bueno da Silva
    visited the area. The Goyaz Indians gave him the nickname anhangüera (old devil)
    when, after burning some cachaça (which the Indians believed to be water) on a
    plate, he threatened to set fire to all the rivers if they didn’t show him where their
    gold mines were. Three years later, having been given up for dead, the old devil and a few
    survivors returned to São Paulo with gold and Indian slaves from Goiás.

    In 1722, his son, who had been on the first trip, organized another bandeira.
    The gold rush was on. It followed a pattern similar to that in Minas Gerais. First came
    the Paulistas, then the Portuguese Emboabas and soon the black slaves. With
    everything imported from so far away, prices were even higher than in Minas Gerais, and
    many suffered and died, particularly the slaves. The boom ended quickly.


    Serra Dourada Turismo (371-1528), next to the river, at Avenida Sebastião Fleury
    Curado 2, is a new outfit that organizes treks, mountain-bike rides, horse rides and
    ox-cart rides into the surrounding hills. Prices are reasonable: $5 for a six-hour tour.
    They’re also happy to give out information (in Portuguese) about the area. The office is
    open from 8 am to 6 pm daily.

    Things to See

    Walking through Goiás Velho, the former state capital, you quickly notice the main
    legacies of the gold rush: 18th-century colonial architecture, and a large mulatto and mestiço
    population. The streets are narrow, with low houses, and there are seven churches. The
    most impressive is the oldest, the Igreja de Paula (1761), at Praça Zaqueu Alves
    de Castro.

    The Museu das Bandeiras is well worth a visit. It’s in the old town council
    building (1766), at Praça Brasil Caiado. Other interesting museums are the Museu de
    Arte Sacra—
    in the old Igreja da Boa Morte (1779) on Praça Castelo Branco)—,
    with lots of 19th-century works by local Goianian Viega Vale, and the Palácio
    Conde dos Arcos
    (the old governor’s residence). All museums are open from 8 am to 5 pm
    Tuesday to Saturday and from 8 am to noon on Sunday.


    The big occasion in Goiás Velho is Semana Santa (Holy Week). The main streets of town
    are lit by hundreds of torches, carried by the townsfolk and dozens of hooded figures in a
    procession, which re-enacts the removal of Christ from the cross and his burial.

    Places to Stay

    You can camp in town at the Chafariz da Carioca, just behind the Pousada do

    The best low-budget place is the Pousada do Ipê (371-2065), a colonial house on
    Praça da Boa Vista. It offers a good breakfast and nice views, and the owners organize
    treks and horse rides. Quartos are $12/17 a single/double and apartamentos are
    $15/20. Cheaper, but not nearly as pleasant, is the Hotel Araguaia (371-1462), at
    Avenida Dr Deusdete Ferreira de Moura. It’s a bit of a hike from the bus
    station—about 15 minutes—but has very comfortable apartamentos ($7/14 a
    single/double). It also has quartos for $6/10.

    The Hotel Vila Boa (371-1000) is up on a hill, with a view and a swimming pool.
    Singles/doubles go for $60/90.

    Places to Eat

    The Caseiro, at Rua D Cândido 31, is the place to go for regional food. It’s
    open from 11 am to 3 pm and 6.30 to 10.30 pm. Near the Praça do Coreto, Pódium is
    a good place for a beer and a snack. The run-down place upstairs at the corner of the
    praça and Rua Moretti Foggia serves great empadões for $3.

    Getting There & Away

    There are frequent buses from Goiás Velho to Goiânia, 144 km away.


    Another historic colonial gold city, Pirenópolis is 70 km from Anápolis, 128 km from
    Goiânia and 165 km from Brasília, on the Rio das Almas. It’s become a popular weekend
    retreat for the well-off from the capital.

    Founded in 1727 by a bandeira of Paulistas in search of gold,
    Pirenópolis was originally called Minas de Nossa Senhora do Rosário da Meia Ponte. In
    1989 it was placed on the Patrimônio Nacional (National Heritage) register. The city’s
    colonial buildings sit on striking red earth under big skies.


    Cerrado Ecoturismo (331-1374), at Rua Santana 13, organizes treks, mountain-bike rides
    and tours at reasonable prices. Their historic tour leaves from the Igreja Nossa Senhora
    do Rosário Matriz every day at 9.30 am and 2.30 pm. They also do daily treks up the Morro
    do Frota, starting at 7.30 am from the Pousada das Siriemas.


    The Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosário Matriz (1732) is the oldest sacred monument
    in the state. The Igreja Nosso Senhor do Bonfim (1750), with its beautiful altars,
    contains an image of the Senhor do Bonfim brought here from Portugal in 1755. The Igreja
    Nossa Senhora do Carmo
    (1750) was built by the Portuguese and is used today as the
    Museu das Artes Sacras.

    Santuário de Vida Silvestre—Fazenda Vagafogo

    Six km from town, the Vagafogo Farm Wild life Sanctuary is well worth a visit.
    Landowners Evandro Engel Ayer and Catarina Schiffer, both of whom speak English, have set
    aside 23 hectares of cerrado and gallery forests on the margins of the Vagafogo
    river as a nature reserve. The rich fauna includes brown capuchin and black howler
    monkeys, armadillos, pampas deer, agouti and many bird species. The forest is impressive,
    with a canopy top averaging 25 meters. Entry to the sanctuary is $4. For sale at the
    visitors’ center is a good range of fruit preserves produced on the farm.

    Parque Estadual da Serra dos Pirineus

    The park contains the 1385-meter Pico dos Pirineus, 18 km from town on a well-used dirt
    road. Along the way there are waterfalls and interesting rock formations.

    Places to Stay

    Pirenópolis is crowded on weekends, during the Cavalhadas and at Carnaval time, and
    prices then are almost double those quoted here. All pousadas fill up during the
    Cavalhadas festival, so most visitors camp out near the Rio das Almas or rent a room from
    a local.

    There are lots of pousadas in town. The simple Pousada Dona Geny, on Rua
    dos Pirineus, charges $8 a head. The Hotel Rex (331-1121), at Praça da Matriz 15,
    is pretty basic, with quartos going for $10 per person. The Pousada das Cavalhadas (331-1261),
    Praça da Matriz 1, has double apartamentos for $30.

    In the mid-range, the pink-and-white Pousada Matutina Meiapontense (331-1101) is
    a friendly, comfortable place with a swimming pool. Apartamentos go for $40/48 a

    A couple of expensive, top-end places have sprung up in the last few years: the Hotel
    Fazenda Quinta da Santa Bárbara (331-1304), at Rua do Bonfim 1, and the Pousada
    dos Pirineus (331-1028), at Alto de Carmo, just past the bridge.

    Places to Eat

    The Restaurante As Flor, on Avenida São Jayme, serves good regional cuisine.
    Don’t fill up on your main course—there is an assortment of 18 different desserts,
    each sweeter than the last. The Restaurante Aravinda, in Rua do Rosário, is also
    recommended. Nena, at Rua Aurora 4, has an excellent buffet lunch of regional
    dishes for $5.

    Things to Buy

    At Piretur, Avenida Comandante Joaquim Alves, you’ll find a good selection of local
    crafts in ceramic, leather, wood, straw and soapstone. Pirenópolis is also considered to
    be the national silver capital, with more than 80 studios scattered around town.

    Festa do Divino Espírito Santo

    Pirenópolis is famous for the acting out, 45 days after Easter, of the story Festa do
    Divino Espírito Santo, a tradition begun in 1819. If you’re in the neighborhood, make a
    point of seeing this stunning and curious spectacle, one of the most fascinating in

    For three days, the town looks like a scene from the Middle Ages. Cavalhadas,
    congadas, mascardos, tapirios and pastorinhos perform a series of medieval
    tournaments, dances and festivities, including a mock battle between Moors and Christians
    in distant Iberia. Riding richly decorated horses, the combatants wear bright costumes and
    bull-headed masks. In the end, proving that heresy doesn’t pay, the Moors are defeated on
    the battlefield and convert to Christianity. The festival is a happy one, and more
    folkloric than religious. The towns population swell several-fold during the festival.

    Getting There & Away

    There are bus services from Anápolis and Goiânia, as well as from Brasília.


    Caldas Novas, 167 km from Goiânia and 393 km from Brasília, has more than 30 hot
    springs, with average temperatures of 42°C (107°F). Now a very popular resort, the
    region has dozens of hotels at all levels of price and luxury. Studies have shown that the
    healing waters are particularly beneficial for people suffering from high blood-pressure,
    poor digestion, weak endocrine glands or impotency.

    Tourist Office

    There’s a tourist information booth in Praça Mestre Orlando, open from 8 am to noon
    and 1 to 6 pm. It has lots of information about the various springs you can dip into, most
    of which are out of town.

    Places to Stay

    One km from the city is Real Camping, at Rua do Balneário, which has a canteen
    and two thermal swimming pools. The cost is $6 a head.

    A couple of relatively cheap places in the center are Serra Dourada (453-1300)
    at Rua Orozimbo Correia Neto 200, with simple apartamentos costing $15 a double,
    and Santa Clara (453-1764) at Rua América 109, which charges $25 a double.

    The best place to stay is the Pousada do Rio Quente (421 -2255), 28 km from
    town, on the banks of the Rio Quente. They charge $90 a double, including lunch.

    Places to Eat

    The Comida Caseira e Natural, at Rua José Borges 550, is a self-serve
    health-food place, open from noon to 3 pm and 6 to 9 pm. It’s closed on Wednesday.
    Meat-eaters will prefer the rodizio at Choupana, on the corner of Rua Rui
    Barbosa and Avenida Orcalino Santos. It’s open from 11.30 am to 4 pm and 7 to 10.30 pm.

    Getting There & Away

    The rodoviária is at the end of Rua Antônio Coelho de Godoy. Frequent buses go
    to Brasília ($15, six hours) and Goiânia ($7, three hours), as well as to Rio de Janeiro
    and São Paulo.


    Just over 200 km north of Brasília, this scenic park is located in the highest area of
    the Central West. With high waterfalls, natural swimming pools and oasis-like stands of
    wine palms, it has become a popular destination for ecotourists.

    Animal life includes the maned wolf, banded anteater, giant armadillo, capybara and
    tapir. Birds include rheas, toucans and vultures. The best time to visit the park is
    between May and October. Admission is $1.

    Places to Stay

    Camping is the best option here—it costs about $1 a night. Basic accommodation can
    be found in the small nearby town of São Jorge.

    Getting There & Away

    From Brasília, take a bus to Alto Paraíso de Goiás, from where you can either catch
    a local bus to São Jorge, or walk to the park, a couple of hours away.

    If you have a car, take the road to Alto Paraíso and turn left 50 meters before
    entering the town. Take the dirt road to Colinas for 30 km, then follow the sign to the
    park entrance, five km away. São Jorge is a bit further on.


    Emas is a relatively small (1300 sq km) park in the corner of the state of Goiás,
    where it meets the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. The park lies along the
    Brazilian great divide, between the Amazon and Paraná river basins, at the headwaters of
    the Araguaia, Formoso and Taquari rivers.

    The three rivers take divergent paths to the Atlantic. The Araguaia courses north to
    the equator via the Tocantins and the mighty Amazon. The Rio Taquari travels westward to
    flood the Pantanal, then flows south via the Paraguai. The Rio Formoso changes name
    midstream to Corrientes, and flows into the Parnaíba and then the Paraná. The Paraguai
    and the Paraná flow on either side of Paraguay, meet at Argentina, and enter the Atlantic
    a few hundred km east of Buenos Aires and some 35° latitude south of the mouth of the

    Surrounded by rapidly encroaching farmlands, the Parque Nacional das Emas is on a high
    plateau covered by grassy plains and open woodlands. There is little foliage to obstruct
    the sighting of wildlife, which includes anteaters, deer, capybara, foxes, tapir,
    peccaries, armadillos, and blue and yellow macaws. It is the home of endangered wolves,
    and is the exclusive sanctuary of the jacamari and other rare species. Another
    interesting spectacle in the park is the large number of termite mounds, which at certain
    times of the year `glow’ in the dark (the result of fluorescence produced by the termite

    During the dry season (July to October), the area is dry enough for spontaneous fires.
    In 1988, a fire raged for five days, burning 65% of the park area. Be careful with sparks!

    Places to Stay

    Basic accommodation inside the park costs about $5 per person per night. You’ll need to
    take your own food, but there is a kitchen and a cook available. It’s also possible to
    camp in the park, and this costs around $2 per person per night.

    Getting There & Away

    Access to the park is tough: even though it’s surrounded by farmland, there are no
    paved roads or regular bus routes. Visitors must arrange with private companies for 4WD or
    air-taxis from as far away as Cuiabá, Goiânia and Campo Grande.

    Adventurous types may consider taking BR-364 to Alto do Araguaia/Santa Rita do Araguaia
    (531 km from Goiânia, 423 km from Cuiabá), then hitching 63 km to Plaça dos Mineiros,
    and 40 to 60 km further along dirt roads to the park.

    Excerpts from Brazil – A Travel Survival Kit, 3rd edition, by
    Andrew Draffen, Chris McAsey, Leonardo Pinheiro,  and Robyn Jones. For more
    information call Lonely Planet: (800) 275-8555. Copyright 1996 Lonely Planet Publications.
    Used by permission.

    Buy it at

    Lonely Planet
    Brazil – A Travel Survival Kit

    by Andrew Draffen, Chris McAsey,
    Leonardo Pinheiro, Robyn Jones,
    704 pp

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