Cachoeira do Lajeado – Santana do Riacho, Brazil - Atlas Obscura

Cachoeira do Lajeado

Santana do Riacho, Brazil

This unique 230-foot waterfall is a natural beauty hidden within the vast wild landscape. 


Mostly unknown even among the locals living in the nearby urban areas, the Cachoeira do Lajeado (Lajeado Waterfall) is a 230-foot rock wall that, due to its natural characteristics, does not have a focused stream of water, but rather several mini-waterfalls spread all over the rock formation.

The natural pool formed at the base of the waterfall has a reddish tint to it, due to the highly ferrous water in that region of Minas Gerais. Visitors are informed by residents of the nearby Lapinha da Serra village that the pool is fine for swimming, but to rush back if rain starts. The rising water level will render one of the rivers on the way too deep to cross, which can leave visitors marooned until the levels drop again.

From the village, it’s about a 4.35-mile hike to get to the waterfall, which can be covered in around 1.5 to 3 hours depending on your pace. The watery wonder used to be accessible by canoe, but a nearby dam made the water level on the main river too low to navigate by boat. Hiking is the way to reach the falls, but mountain biking could cut the traveling time shorter. 

Know Before You Go

You can get directions from the villagers in Lapinha da Serra, but the route is pretty straightforward. Once you get to the starting point in the village, you just need to follow the paths and trails most visible on the ground. You will have to cross through several private properties, which is fine. This is not trespassing (since these are private natural reserve patrimony), as long as you stay on the path. On the way you will find and cross unlocked gates. These are the limits on each of the properties. Count seven of these gates and keep going. Follow the path and the sound of water falling, and after a couple of hills, you will reach Cachoeira do Lajeado. Bring some food and lots of water.

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January 14, 2019

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