The American man’s place of origin, the capital of prehistory, an outdoors rock museum, these are some of the nicknames given to the Serra da Capivara National Park. All of them are appropriate!
Declared as Cultural World Heritage by Unesco, it is regarded as the first place inhabited by humans in the Americas. There, artifacts and paintings dating back to 100000 years ago have been found.
On its 200 km of length, 1,300 archaeological sites have been cataloged, 900 of them with paintings, and more than 30000 figures. It is the largest concentration of rock art in the whole planet, which becomes even more impressive when framed by the nature of the region.
To go to the Park, it is best to catch a flight to Teresina or Petrolina, in Piauí. And then rent a car, which is required to reach the nearest city to the attractions, São Raimundo Nonato. The car is also key for unhurriedly visiting the dozens of tourist attractions, which are too far away to go to on foot.
Once there, the adventure begins with a visit to Fundação do Homem Americano, which houses an incredible museum where you can learn more about the occupation of the Americas by Man and see prehistoric artifacts or parts of them up close, as well as one of the oldest skulls discovered in the country, more than 10000 years old. There you will be introduced to the history and wealth of the location.
Now it's time to visit the impressive archaeological findings of the Serra da Capivara National Park, one of the most important in the world.
Start with the Desfiladeiro da Capivara circuit. It includes several sites at the disposal of visitors. Among them, you will find Toca da Entrada do Pajaú, which is shaped like a church dome. There, you can find paintings with more than 12000 years of age, very well preserved thanks to the sandstone block, that protects them from the rain and Sun. Nearby you will also find other points of interest, such as Toca do Inferno, and its beautiful gorge, and Toca da Entrada do Baixão da Vaca, with hundreds of paintings.
This is a good time for having lunch and regaining your strength for the second part of the tour. After the break, the next destination is the Sítio do Meio Circuit, where Toca do Sítio do Meio is located, in which you will find the remains of a 12000-year-old bonfire, in addition to broken stones, animal bones and even a necklace. If there's still time, visit Boqueirão do Pedro Rodrigues, a small archaeological site with many paintings. On the way there, it is possible to see Pedra Furada, which is the symbol of the Park.
Located 33 km from São Raimundo Nonato, the Serra Branca Circuit is as interesting as the one of the previous day, however, reaching the attractions is easier.
There you will find, for example, Toca do Alto and Toca Pinga do Boi, from where you may have a beautiful view of the caatinga (a type of desert vegetation) and the rocky walls. And Toca do Sobradinho I, which may be reached through a steep climb. The effort is rewarded by the beautiful collection of ancient images on the rocky walls, depicting scenes of the daily lives of our ancestors such as hunting.
A little further is Toca da Extrema II, where a 1400-year-old wooden flute was found, and Toca do Caboclo de Serra Branca, with drawings of human figures, many of them in fighting position. The most famous image of the location shows several people around a large tree, representing a kind of dance or ritual.
If you like to travel not only to places, but to different times, then you need to visit Serra da Capivara. A real jewel of the world of archaeology in Brazil.