Itatiaia National Park, located in southeastern Brazil within the Serra da Mantiqueira range, protects important remnants of the endangered Atlantic Forest in its lower elevations and the unique flora of the high mountain plains in its upper elevations.
Itatiaia National Park
Itatiaia National Park is located in southeastern Brazil, on the border between the Brazilian states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais.
Located in the Itatiaia massif within the Serra da Mantiqueira range, the park protects important remnants of the endangered Atlantic Forest biome in its lower elevations and the unique flora of the high mountain plains in its upper elevations.
Established in 1937, Itatiaia became Brazil's first National Park. Today, it occupies approximately 30,000 ha (74,000 acres) and is surrounded by the Serra da Mantiqueira Environmental Protection Area which provides an ecological buffer zone. The park is also part of the extensive Mata Atlântica Biosphere Reserve.
The terrain within Itatiaia National Park is mountainous and rocky, with altitudes ranging from approximately 500 m (1,640 ft) to its highest point at Black Needles peak (Pico das Agulhas Negras) at 2,791 m (9,157 ft).
The upper region of the park hosts springs from 12 important regional hydrographic basins that drain into two main river basins that supply the Rio Grande (a tributary of the Paraná River) and the Paraíba do Sul river.
The lower region of the park, an important pocket of protected Mata Atlântica, features lush vegetation, natural pools and waterfalls.
In the early 19th century the park region was part of the route used to transport gold mined in Minas Gerais state. Once these gold reserves were depleted, the area began to attract the attention of mountain climbers and nature lovers.
The park is divided into three sectors: Lower, Upper and Visconde de Mauá. Each sector presents different characteristics and attractions. These include natural attractions such as waterfalls, rivers and rock formations as well as other tourist attractions such as the Visitor Center and the museum. The park receives thousands of visitors a year and it is one of the ten most visited national parks in Brazil.
Itatiaia National Park provides habitat for many of Brazil's endemic species, including Saffron Toucanets, Red-breasted Toucan, Green-crowned Plovercrest, Surucua Trogon, Blond-crested Woodpecker, Itatiaia Spinetail, Slaty Bristlefront, Shrike-like and Black-and-Gold Cotinga and many more.