Serra da Mantiqueira: Mountain Range (Brazil)

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Serra da Mantiqueira: Mountain Range (Brazil)

Sat, 11/14/2020 - 12:43
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The Serra da Mantiqueira mountain range, part of the Brazilian Cordillera in southeastern Brazil, spans three states: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais. In addition, rivers formed in these mountains supply many cities in the Southeast Region with water.

Serra da Mantiqueira

The Serra da Mantiqueira mountain range in southeastern Brazil is part of the much larger Serra do Mar Mountain Range System or "Brazilian Cordillera."

The Serra da Mantiqueira begins at the banks of the Paraíba do Sul river and extends northeastward for approximately 320 km (200 mi) across three Brazilian states: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Minas Gerais. Here, the range eventually merges with the Sierra do Espinhaço.

Approximately 30% of the range is located in the state of São Paulo, 10% in the state of Rio de Janeiro, and 60% in the state of Minas Gerais. At its closest point, the range is only about 100 km (62 mi) from the city of São Paulo.

Mantiqueira is a term of Tupi origin that means "raindrop" through the combination of the words amana (rain) and tykra (drop). The name denotes the importance of the mountains as a source of drinking water.

Rivers formed in these mountains supply many cities in the Southeast Region of Brazil with water. In addition, many springs of mineral water lie in the regions of Caxambu and São Lourenço in Minas Gerais, as well as Campos do Jordão and Serra Negra in São Paulo.


The Serra da Mantiqueira region has average altitudes of 1,200 - 2,800 m (3,900 - 9,180 ft), and its peaks are popular for mountain climbing.

The very highest of the many Mantiqueira mountain peaks include:

  • Pedra da Mina: 2,798 m (9,180 ft)
  • Pico das Agulhas Negras: 2,792 m (9,160 ft)
  • Black Agulhas Peak: 2,791 m (9,157 ft)
  • Pico dos Três Estados: 2,665 m (8,743 ft)
  • Pico dos Marins: 2,421 m (7,942 ft)


Due to the altitude, the Serra da Mantiqueira in winter can bring low temperatures, with fog and frost in the early morning, giving the landscape the appearance of regions with a much colder climate. Low temperatures near 0 °C (32 °F) are typical and can be even less on the highest peaks. Snow is rare, but it has been recorded.

Flora and fauna

The Serra da Mantiqueira is a part of the Mata Atlântica ecosystem. Despite clearing the land for livestock raising, difficult access to many areas has still allowed sanctuaries of well-preserved forests to exist. Trees found here include:

  • jacarandá
  • Spanish cedar
  • canjerana
  • guatambu
  • ipê
  • canela
  • angico
  • jequitibá
  • araucaria (more typical of subtropical South America but found here due to altitude)

The mountain range is also the habitat for varied fauna:

  • pampas deer (locally known as veado campeiro)
  • maned wolves (lobo guará)
  • cougars (onça-parda or suçuarana)
  • bush dogs (cachorro-vinagre)
  • ocelots (jaguatirica)
  • pacas
  • howler monkeys (bugio)
  • Atlantic titis (sauá)
  • squirrels
  • hedgehogs

Some of the birds found here include:

  • azure jay
  • toucan
  • scaly-headed parrot
  • tinamou
  • jacana
  • seriema
  • carcará