Up and Down
The Hill

Historical Paths Linking
Cuiabá to Chapada de Guimarães

by Noam Salzstein

“... without memory, there is neither love nor resistance.
Memory is a right ...”

Godard, in Elegy of Love.

First Inhabitants

rotas-pre-colombianasThe high incidence of archaeological sites in the meeting of the plateau with the plain reinforces the thesis that there were already several pre-Columbian routes and that the new settlers, in the majority of the cases, only adapted them for the passage of troops of donkeys, cattle, horses, ox carts, etc. It should be noted that one of the oldest archaeological sites in the Americas is less than 100km from the Chapada. This is the site known as Santa Elina, with confirmed dates over 30,000 years. Some of the cave paintings found have very similar language to those of the Chapada and refer to hunters and collectors who wandered throughout the region. They were probably gradually being replaced by more sedentary cultures, with traits and more elaborate rituals, like the Boróro. rotas-pre-colombianas

According to some archaeologists, about 10,000 years ago the Amazon was already widely colonized, providing migratory currents for our region. If in the Amazon the main roads were fluvial, when leaving the dense forest to occupy the cerrado these cultures developed more terrestrial ways. This may have happened at the end of the last glaciation, only 15,000 years ago, when the climate became wetter, warmer, and the vegetation denser.

The Beginning of Occupation

bandeirantes bandeirantesWhen, at the end of the seventeenth century, the first bandeirantes arrived in the region in search of indians to enslave and precious minerals, they encountered the "gentile" Boróro scattered in several villages. Among them, the Coxiponés - from Cujibo (river of the curassows) - people who inhabited what would become the Baixada Cuiabana, geographical and cultural unit at the foot of the Chapada dos Guimarães. The road, then, was the Cuiabá River. Leaving the river, they reached the plateau around 1677, passing by the Bokodoriri hill (giant armadillo, as called in Boróro language), which they named São Jerônimo, invoking this protector against the rays and storms that commonly devastated the region. It is to be noted that this saint is referred to in his biography as an intellectual, translator of the bible, etc., and is most likely clad in such quality after syncretism with Xangô, orixá of rays, thunder and fire.

After discovered abundant gold in the early eighteenth century, Cuiabá was founded on the bar of the Coxipó-Mirim creek, where there was gold of alluvium. Soon miners were scattered all over the foot of the mountain range, the first of which was the Forquilha, already in 1719. This camp was a few meters from the confluence of Mutuca and Coxipó-Mirim creeks. Coxipozinho, still high in the mountain range, with springs in the Benção Valley, the stream and its tributaries functioned as the first axis of bandeirante occupation and umbilical cord connecting the plateau to the plain.

Almost simultaneously with the foundation of Cuiabá, the bandeirante Antônio de Almeida Lara went up the mountain, finding a strip of fertile land and good and abundant water, founding the Burity Monjolinho farm. With more than 30 slaves and the first sugarcane and alembic plantation, the Chapada's vocation arose to produce and provide food to the gold miners, a business as profitable as the plantations themselves.

As we know, the bandeirantes, in addition to preying on Indians to enslave them, used them as guides and interpreters. In the absence of white women, they often married Indians or half-breeds and some of their children were legitimized as heirs, bearing their parents' last names. It was a complex, dubious relationship.

The Paths of the Bandeirantes

bandeirantes bandeirantesBandeirantes With the gold fever the region quickly became populous, Cuiabá was elevated to the condition of Vila Real and the Engenho do Buriti granted to Almeida Lara as sesmaria. Then another contiguous sesmaria was granted to Lanhas Peixoto, private secretary of the first Captain General of the newly created Captainship of São Paulo.

The flow of people and merchandise continued to increase, especially when in 1736 the opening of the first land route was completed by linking the region to the Goyaz Mines and the then newly founded Vila Boa, now Goiás Velho. The route continued to Meia-Ponte (today Pirenópolis), from there branching to reach the valley of the São Francisco and Northeastern coast, and to the new political and economic center of the colony, Minas Gerais. The economic cycle of sugarcane, concentrated in the northeast coast, was being replaced by the mining cycle and the occupation of the Baixada Cuiabana is located in this context.

Leaving Cuiabá, with the axis of occupation along the Prainha Creek, where the Lavras do Sutil had been discovered in the present center, the road to Goiás had two variants: one, going eastwards, crossing Coxipó and going up Serra de São Vicente; Another, to the Lavras do Jacé (probably the current neighborhood of the CPA), rising to the Chapada and following to the east by the top of the plateau, with a more pleasant topography.

However, in the same period the region suffers a blow and sees its population decline: the Paes de Barros brothers discover gold in the Galera River, a tributary of Guaporé, far to the west. Several campuses are founded in the region, where these bandeirantes for the first time take contact with the Amazon forest. Impressed, they call the region of 'Mato Grosso'. Somehow, the Guaporé settlements ended up favoring Cuiabá, because the river connection with Belém never reached the same intensity of the Prata basin. Even so, the bandeirantes had already penetrated at least 500km in Hispanic territory. They had also destroyed several Castilian and Stolen Jesuit missions, as well as Indians to enslave, cattle, mules, and horses they used to carry cargo. Thus, they went through old ways, opened new ones and structured their occupation better.

The flow returns to increase when the Portuguese crown decides to take advantage of the penetration of São Paulo, taking for itself a wide range of the Hispanic territory. In 1745 Pope Benedict XIV created the prelatures of Cuiabá and Goiás, and three years later the Captaincy of Mato Grosso was created. The legal legitimation of the Portuguese occupation takes place in 1750, when the Treaty of Madrid is signed with the Spanish Crown, which uses the Uti Possidetis concept. This meant that each party would actually occupy the territory and made the border basically a line defined by the Paraguay and Guaporé rivers. Therefore, Chapada was definitely a Portuguese possession, giving more security to its inhabitants, even for the military investments of the crown. The bandeirantes tended not to like the Portuguese, by whom they had been expelled from Minas Gerais in the War of the Emboabas at the beginning of the century. They regarded the Crown officials as parasitic bureaucrats, financed huge expeditions with capital, and preferred to live in a parallel "state," where they themselves held power.

The Jesuits in Chapada

missa-jesuita missa-jesuitaThe Portuguese crown continued in the firm intention to impose its authority in the place and already in 1748 had been created the Captaincy of Mato Grosso. However, the first Captain General Rolim de Moura only arrives in 1751, bringing in his entourage the Jesuit Estevam de Castro. In the same year, the Jesuit mission of Santana was founded, with a simple chapel and image of this saint. According to Carlos Rosa, the property was already acquired with a certain structure, such as some buildings and orchard, which contributes to a more intense occupation already in this period, reflecting in greater use of the roads.

Thus began a settlement with "tamed" Indians of various ethnic groups, including some from Chiquitania, region of present-day Bolivia. Thus, once again the saw flow increased upward downward. It should be noted that with the creation of the captaincy, Vila Bela da Santíssima Trindade, on the banks of the Guaporé, becomes the first capital. But the truth is that Vila Real do Bom Jesus do Cuiabá would never be dethroned from its status as a political and administrative center of the captaincy, and Chapada, then called by the people of Santana da Chapada, remained in its orbit.

In this period, the crown seeks to diminish the intense power of the Catholic Church in state affairs, and in 1759 the Jesuits were expelled from Brazil. The gold was almost gone, and the region bitterly decayed.

The Name 'Guimarães'

guimaraes-castelo guimaraes-casteloChapada changed little its condition, but it changed its name when Luis Pinto de Souza Coutinho calls it 'Lugar de Guimarães'. Lugar was then the denomination for small settlements below the category of village, and Guimarães a homage to the homonymous Portuguese village, in fact very important, since it was the city where Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal ruled (apart the City Of Porto, was practically its first capital, still in the small County Portucalense, from where its first monarch went to the south to expel the Moors and establish the unit of one of the first European nations).

In essence, the royal determination was aimed at reaffirming Portuguese rule over the vast territory. Most of the Portuguese settlements were called Catholic saints who invoked as protection, but the same was true of Hispanic settlements. Therefore, to consolidate their political and cultural domination, typical Portuguese names were needed. Assigned in a blink, as it would be said today, the name did not get in the popular taste. The term 'Lugar' (Place), for example, lasted except in official documents and the Chapada continued with different denominations. As it is nowadays, the term "Chapada" (tableland, plateau) was the one that avenged, since the plain of the top of the mountain very marked the popular culture, that therefore was referring strongly by the topography.

The Church of Santana

igreja-santana igreja-santanaIn 1772 the laziness is broken by the arrival of one of the most notable general captains that the capitania had: Luis de Albuquerque de Mello Pereira and Cáceres. Very enterprising, he moved the region with new settlements, fortifications, etc. Thus, in 1778, passed through the Chapada Juiz de Fora Dr. José Carlos Pereira who, when seeing the old chapel, describes it as a "hut in the most indecent truth". Thus began to materialize the present Church of Santana, the largest and most beautiful of the local architectural legacies..

Dr. José Carlos collected funds, joined slave and free workers, artisans and the following year began the work, ordering a new image in Rio de Janeiro. The Church was completed very quickly, although it soon suffered damage, being reformed and enlarged, abolishing the lateral towers of the original design. The construction of the beautiful church once again moved the paths of the region: the church was made of stones brought from the Coxipó on donkey's back, the main painter and gilding craftsman came from Goiás, Portuguese tiles were hand painted and it is said, Heavy balustrades of jacaranda came from Bahia on the backs of donkeys. Another important legacy was the consolidation of the church's location as the core of the urban center, which until then was probably a passage on the roadside to Goiás. The justification for the change is, above all, the presence of materials such as wood from the surrounding forests and mud Removed from the area occupied today by the central square of the city. He also collaborated with the fact that the location of the old mission, today the Aldeia Velha neighborhood, is practically a great swamp, with sidewalks and buritizais on all sides. The name 'sidewalk', a moist field, is also referred to as path and passage. It is clear that for the ancients, denser forests were oppressive and they preferred the open countryside and the cerrado, where there is the comfort and security of the visual domain. What they probably did not count on was excessive moisture, like the water that still sinks in several neighborhood yards.

This fact intensified the use, among others, of the current Matão Trail, which cuts through the Serra do Uatman connecting the Serra da Russa - or Ruça? - and the region of Morro São Jerônimo directly with the urban center, cutting path. This avoided the need to go through the Buriti farm and the old mission / village. In addition, the discovery of tracts of fertile land in the Jamacá Valley and the upper Ribeirão Lagoinha helped to shift the occupation of the Chapada to the east.

New Activities, New Paths

adrien-taunay-palmeiras-buriti adrien-taunay-palmeiras-buritiAdrien-taunay-palmeiras-buriti In the 1800's, some little economic activity moved the way of the region. We know that to the north of the Chapada, in the Quilombo river, affluent of the river of the Casca, modest establishments are established diamonds. The paths passed through the farms Buriti and Morro da Laje, but it must be from this period the Mutucão, a path more to the west that deviated from the most rugged part of the mountain range, passing through the Mutuca creek and then through the upper part of the Coxipó-Açu.

Certainly, the entire region of the present National Park, comprising part of the Serra da Quebra-Gamela and headwaters of the present Rio Claro, Paciência and Salgadeira had already been turned over by the gold miners. Therefore, the Bocaina do Inferno road, now MT-251, asphalted in 1974 by the governor Garcia Neto, already existed in a similar route and, in addition to Salgadeira itself, climbed the mountain past the Gate of Hell and then 'Bocaina do Inferno ', Current Veil-of-Bride waterfall. We never got more information about the current Salgadeira, but we have no doubt that this strategically located point was a "saladeiro", that is, place of slaughter of cattle, mantequilla and salgador of meat. In the midst of the Serra da Quebra-Gamela, which was very rugged, there was a network of paths, such as descents from the Mata Fria / Córrego Congonhas, and for those who came from the south, the Mother Wind Trail. Until the 70's, former residents of the foot of the mountain used to make plantations, hunting, etc. Nearby there are archaeological sites with language reminiscent of more recent cultures, which could be Boros or Bakairis, for example. Unfortunately, besides the little study, there is already a lot of depredation.

Another modest economic activity that moved the roads in the early nineteenth century was the exploration of species of Quina, a plant used to combat malaria. With the progressive penetration towards the north and the Amazon, the demand increased but never came to be configured as a consistent economic cycle. Other products that managed to mobilize more people and resources, such as cattle, poa, sugar cane and rubber were more geographically localized and appear to have had little influence on the movement of the Chapada.

Francisco de Paula Magessi had a short passage as Captain General of the captaincy, taking over the post in July 1819 and being deposed in 1821. We have reason to believe that this rigid Portuguese military at least began the construction of this path. Among the many trails, few were the roads that climbed the mountain range. Almost all the transportation was with donkeys and oxen carrying 'bent' leather bruacas, that is, pairs of balanced pockets on the backs of the animals. The opening of roads in steep hills like Chapada demanded much greater investments in labor and technology. These roads were called "reunions," a collective use asset whose flow could not be prevented by individuals. It was almost always the travelers themselves who did maintenance with great simplicity and knowledge. The main factor in the degradation of these roads has always been torrential rains and consequent flooding. The ancients knew how to dialogue with the relief and did not economize on the sinuosities in order to minimize the slopes and drain the water of the ways, not allowing their accumulation in floods.

The Langsdorff Expedition

langsdorff langsdorffThe Chapada continued to be steeped in decay, registered in 1827 by the Langsdorff Expedition, with its two designers, Aime-Adrièn Taunay and Hercules Florence, who most likely climbed the Carretão Trail or the Magessi Road. On the way up, Florence tells in her daily 'Fluvial Trip from Tietê to the Amazon':

"Five times we pass a waterfall stream that goes around in the mountain diaper, and as we approach the plateau that crowns, we hear the noise of the earth that it gives in a gorge, a fall of about 50 feet, but hidden by the dense Vegetation that covers the folds of the whole mountain range. Above, the outlook is magnificent. .. and right next to us, on the left, rises above the Morro San Jerónimo.

langsdorff-taunay-quilombo langsdorff-taunay-quilombo Would it be a reference to the Aricazinho Waterfall? The five passages through the stream reportedly leave no doubt that they were in the mouth of Aricazinho. Florence and Taunay went to Fazenda Buriti, where they stayed. They spent days wandering around the area and went up the St. Jerome, drawing and painting watercolors. Several locations portrayed are perfectly recognizable. They describe, among others, the House of Stone and the Bride's Veil, which impressed them greatly. With regard to the current Magessi Trail, we have no doubt that one day it was a bush road, with the presence of still remains of stone walls.

langsdorff-desenho-hercules-florence langsdorff-desenho-hercules-florenceFlorence visits the present urban center and we can not fail to mention her comment to Santana Church:

"The narrow church has nothing of note abroad, but in its interior, though decadent, the richest of all the provinces are preserved in fine gold ornaments and low reliefs. No one is sure to find such remains of wealth in a decadent village in the province of Mato Grosso."

The designers also made a great contribution by portraying some local people, long before photography could capture and record these types that we can still appreciate today.

The War of Paraguay

guerra-do-paraguai guerra-do-paraguai guerra-do-paraguai Paraguay's war-of-paraguay The Chapada remained stagnant. Only the War of Paraguay, between 1864-70 brought agitation to the place. The fear that the Paraguayan army would climb the river to attack Cuiabá was never confirmed. On the other hand, the Brazilian soldiers themselves who left Corumbá fleeing to Cuiabá brought with them the plague of smallpox, which killed a large part of the population. Chapada, once again, stood out as a supplier of groceries, since he had several farms and some mills touched by slave labor. So much so that by 1870 there were some quilombos, especially to the north, in the Manso River region. guerra-do-paraguai
The greatest of these was the Cansanção, which brought together blacks, mestizos, Indians and even marginalized free men. It was a time when new paths were established to drain the production of the farms, but also for frequent attacks and looting, as reported in documents of the time.

Rondon and the Telegraph

marechal-rondon-telegrafo marechal-rondon-telegrafo rondonMarechal-rondon-telegraforondon Chapada does not seem to have had much participation in either the Independence episode or the Proclamation of the Republic. Soon after the latter, in 1890, after more than eight years of absence from his native state, the young military engineer Cândido Mariano Rondon arrived in Cuiabá. He had been summoned as 1st aide by Major Gomes Carneiro, head of the Commission for the Construction of the Telegraph Lines from Cuiabá to Araguaia. The work was completed the following year and most likely ran the plain bordering the foot of the mountain, until climbing up Morro da Rancharia and reach the top passing very close to the Aroe Jari Cave and Blue Lagoon. At that time, there were small communities below, such as Formoso and Arica-Açu. He may very well have used an existing path of connection with the River of Deaths. It is said that Rondon erred the path and abandoned the line, whose poles were still in place until a few years. Rondon continued in the region conducting studies and the fact is that it rebuilt the line between 1894 and 1898. Quite possibly, this time left the Chapada ways behind, preferring to climb the Serra de São Vicente. The fact is that the work once again activated the flow in ways of the Chapada. We should note that there is another road in the Chapada known as the Telegraph Road, rising from the vicinity of the Arraial dos Médicos community to the Serra da Russa rondon
There are still a few posts and several questions on the site. We do not know if the road, which rises through the field in the watershed and that was of electricity transmission going towards the Buriti, came one day to be in fact a telegraph line. Maybe it was just an extension. It is interesting to note that when we analyze the trajectory of historical paths on a map, we soon realize that most tend to have the shortest routes to make the connections that are proposed, always looking for alternatives to overcome the topographical barriers.

The 'Tope de Fita'

tope-de-fita-bike tope-de-fita-bike In this way, with the Fazenda Buriti Monjolinho being the first destination high in the mountain range, the first paths and travelers were looking for the straightest and shortest route possible, as long as the topography allowed. In this sense there is a big difference between track and road, because as pointed out above, a track is much simpler and easier to do. In them, they counted on the work of mules, much more resistant than horses. With time and the increase in the flow of loads, it became increasingly necessary to build roads for the passage of ox cars, buggies, carts, etc. The arrival of the first car in Cuiabá in 1911 represented somehow the beginning for a hard blow to the tracks. Soon the use of automobiles became popular, the trucks arrived and the old means began to be abandoned. If we specifically analyze the current MT-251, we will see that it takes a great turn around the Sierra da Quebra-Gamela and totals 61km, when the direct distance between Cuiabá and Chapada is about half. This shortening was for a long time an asset of the ancient ways.

Thus, in 1910 the governor Pedro Celestino appoints Virgílio Correa Filho like engineer chief of the construction of the Road Tope de Fita, until then Way of the Bocaina. To make it cantilevered, a great work was done, with ravine cuts, retaining walls, drainage and containment of runoff, pavement, etc. The work consumed great sums and before its conclusion, Pedro Celestino called Virgílio Correa asking for modifications in order to cheapen it. Virgilio did not agree to give up his initial project and abandoned the work, which was finished by his assistants. Curiously, Virgilio Correa eventually became one of the greatest historians of Mato Grosso. We just do not know for sure the meaning of the name Tope de Fita, but one hypothesis is that it was inaugurated and frequented by the cream of the local society, among them ladies in rich clothes and diverse props like colorful ribbons that impressed the residents along the way, very simple people.

The fact that the 'Tope de Fita' has a relatively short track and moderate slopes, considering the great difference of the region, gave rise to a movement in the 70's for its reform. On occasion, some vehicles descended the mountain forming a retinue, which did not disturb the then Governor Jose Fragelli. Unfortunately, the road continues in the most desolate abandonment, aggravated when, in the late 90's, it became a motocross track, as well as a good part of other historical trails, including inside the National Park.

The Casca Power Plant

usina do casca I usina do casca I In 1928, the Hydroelectric Power Plant of Rio da Casca was inaugurated, under the government of Mário Correa da Costa, the first one in Mato Grosso, providing electricity to Cuiabá. Once again, the flow of people intensified along the paths of the mountain range, as well as guards who regularly visited them, several employees, including foreigners, were brought in due to the shortage of skilled labor in the area. Not satisfied, in 1929 Mário Correa built near the plant the House of Governors, which was effectively used by some of his successors and still exists today. Dreamer, tried to change the capital to saw up and build a train to the region of Ribeirão Lagoinha. It should be noted that at that time there was already the famous Engenho do Abrilongo, which used mainly Manuel Antonio Road to drain its production. Chapada became famous as a major coffee supplier to Cuiabá.Casca II

Casca IICasca I plant had its capacity doubled in 1941. The Casca II and Casca III plants were inaugurated respectively in 1960 and 1971, and the old transmission line ended up having its route modified, passing by the Seat of the Xavier..

This intermediate plateau is served with two serra tracks above: the Farinheiros, and another more to the east, with an incredible stairway carved in stone. Today, both are closed for visitation and some adventure through them, especially the first, to access the wonderful Waterfall of the Ballerina, which in the period of the waters fell from its more than 100 meters to fall on a delicate beach and form a well. As we have ascertained - and contrary to our initial assumption - it seems that the place was not inhabited by anyone named Xavier, but this is the name of the Rio das Pedras trainer at the foot of the mountain.

The 'Revoltosos'

coluna-prestes coluna-prestes coluna-prestes In 1927 Chapada received an illustrious visit that once again moved its paths: it is the Prestes Column, known in the region as the 'Revoltosos'. After traveling more than 20,000km collecting victories over the government troops, still under the leadership of Luis Carlos Prestes, the column arrived at the Chapada greatly weakened.

In his last days and already retiring to Bolivia where it would disperse in the same year, it did not count on the sympathy of the population, at least in the reports by our ears. It is said that one of their camps was in Casa de Pedra, but we did not get any documentary evidence, only indirect reports. In any case, the Prestes Column was one of the most important political-military events that occurred in the first half of the twentieth century in Brazil, fighting against old oligarchies and paving the way for the 1930 Revolution that brought Getúlio Vargas to power. Getulio did have a sensation in the state, appointing an intervener who set limits for the exploitation of labor by the local colonels, winning the sympathy of the people. coluna-prestes

Diamonds, Parks and Horse Riding

In the interwar period, a new phenomenon shook the Chapada: the discovery of diamonds. It is interesting to note that in both the above and the below saw the mining culture is very strong. The difference is just the diamonds from the above saw. After the old plantations on the Quilombo River - portrayed by Taunay and Florence in 1827 - a panjill fever took possession of the Chapada for at least thirty years, especially in the formers of Rio da Casca, further north of the municipality. It is during this time that Água Fria and Rica / Peba Waterfalls have seen their population multiply sharply. The roads and the flows also multiplied and several became roadways, typically of "sanding", that so much hardships they imposed and still impose to the bystanders.

The historical link between the Chapada and the Baixada Cuiabana is so strong that, even if it is above, the Chapada is culturally belonging to the hills below. Therefore, Chapada is a geographic-cultural contradiction, since it belongs to the Baixada Cuiabana. The old residents have the same accent, practically the same customs, the same taste for the gold mining, for the livestock. This became much more evident when, in the 1970s, soybean culture came with "southern tones" (just go to neighboring Campo Verde to change cultural universe). The big difference is that Chapada is for the diamond as Cuiabá is for Gold. In one, there is the "Mother of Gold", in another, the "Mother of the Diamond", both leading towards wealth.

Not for nothing, in 1941, José de Mesquita writes the essay 'A Chapada Cuiabana'. In it, he names 14 paths that connect the Serra da Serra mountain range, some of which until today we have not found: Gate (Bocaina) of Inferno, Quebra-Gamela, Carretão, Magessi, Ruça (Russian), Bocaina (Tappe), Xavier Farinheiros), Seated, Manuel Antônio, Serrinha, Captain Agostinho, Ranchão, São Vicente and Cupim. Today we know more paths, usually little used tracks.

cavalgadaHorseback riding In 1989 the National Park of Chapada dos Guimarães was created. Several tracks were left inside, in whole or in part. A trail that we can never find rises from the headwaters of the Mutuca stream, where Sadia currently has a eucalyptus plantation, for Fazenda Chafariz. But there are several others. Some practically disappeared taken by the vegetation, like the Quebra-Gamela, others are active, like the Carretão.
cavalgada One of the measures taken by the Park was the ban on exotic animals inside. Of course, this is confronted with the tradition of the use of troops, although this had almost disappeared at the time of its creation. The great loss was to the Cavalcade of the Divine, of religious character, that still today every May May leaves the urban center of the Chapada descending to the village Coxipó do Ouro, where the first mass of Mato Grosso would have been said. From the neighboring Arraial dos Freitas left Mr. Cipriano de Freitas to establish serra up, as he himself tells the documentary a few weeks before his death. The last few times we saw the ride, the truth was that it had few horsemen and had lost a lot of its spirit of devotion.


The work of Mr. Jurandir Spinelli, who as a breeder, local owner and president of ACRIMAT - Association of Breeders of Mato Grosso, in 1993 organized the first Cavalcade Tope de Fita, from Cuiabá to the Chapada dos Guimarães. It was a great success that involved a few hundred riders. The following year, as part of the cavalcade was published the excellent work of the historian Carlos Alberto Rosa, 'Esbarro no Hoje, Retreat in Time, Gallo in History'. In the following years, the cavalcade began to use other historical tracks, an event that was preceded by a cleaning and maintenance in them, constituting a true historical rescue. This is how we had the rare opportunity to get to know the Manuel Antonio Road, although we noticed that some riders did not understand the proposal and have become distorted in binge and alcoholism, without diminishing the value of the event.

This work is also a tribute to Mr. Jurandir Spinelli, who inspired us a lot. The fact that it was a very respected name and with free transit among farmers, politicians and former colonels of the region allowed many porches and padlocks to be opened and long abandoned roads were resumed.

Ecotourism in Chapada

In the late 90's we began to use these trails for tourism, because we were at the same time enchanted with its beauty and sad with its abandonment. In 1998 we established our local association of guides and drivers and that same year we did a training course of Regional Tourism Guide. For us who had begun to guide professionally about two years before, it was a divisive landmark, a great stimulus. We who had militated in the environmental struggle saw the possibility of remaining close to nature and earn honestly our livelihood. That was when ecotourism fell, which still presents itself today as the great solution for combining environmental preservation, management of sustainable tourism, valuation of local culture, income generation in the community, environmental education and healthy, non-polluting activities, Such as hiking, cycling, etc.

cachoeira cachoeira

If Carlos Drummond wrote: "In the middle of the road there was a stone, there was a stone in the middle of the road," when I used the poem to complain to the former secretary of tourism and local culture Daniel Pellegrin, he suddenly amended: "in the middle The path had a fence, it had a fence in the middle ". It referred to the same problem: fences, porches and padlocks. In this way, several paths we only knew entering hiding and, against our will, we had to jump many fences and locked gates. But we always did it with the utmost respect, without ever disturbing others or letting animals escape. For us, the closed field, porter, or bracket remain closed, whether on the property of a rich farmer or a simple farmer or farmer. We know the work of looking for and collecting a stray animal, and pleading for free passage on these paths is intimately bound up with respect for properties and their routine.

As one of the pillars of ecotourism is the local culture, we always seek to value it and help to rescue it, while generating income in the communities. In this way we seek partnerships in places such as the St. Jerome Community, which already had an organized association and a historic home as headquarters. We took many tourists to spend the night there, ordering meals based on typical foods produced locally: cheeses, sweets, flour, rice cake in the wood oven, pachamama, banana farofa, etc. We stimulate the commercialization of local handicrafts such as shovels and sieves, troughs, potholes and trough viols, etc. For years we have made a profitable partnership with 'his' Romualdo, player and producer of viola de trough in Urubamba. We also buy and stimulate the production if his wife 'donna' Juraci, redeira and weaver and several others. We took the Terra da Gente program there to promote local values, including a dance group by Siriri and Cururu. We organized a "entourage" saw below to participate in the Feast of St. Benedict, where the elders danced the Dance of St. Gonçalo, some for the last time. In the following years, we noticed the tendency for the use of mechanical sound in substitution of the musicians and their typical instruments like the viola of trough, the owl and the ganzá. At that time, the National Park was still little more than a piece of paper, there was no management of visitation, much less the concept of sustainability that we are very happy to see implemented today.

The Documentary

Around 2006, when we saw the rapid decline of the local culture, the death of several residents who in the oral tradition represented a living memory, the degradation of the tracks, the abandonment and increasing restriction of access by owners, we decided to record testimonials at the source . We walked at the foot of the mountain, from the Coxipó do Ouro towards the east, passing through the old communities. We collect hours of material and resolve to edit. We had support, but a strong resistance with regard to the final edition. It was not easy to convince some partners to keep a documentary with such a long duration, in fact, just over two hours divided into two parts. The claims that it was too long and exhausting, that almost no one would have a 'sack' to watch everything, never moved us, and long before we are sorry we did not interview more people and increased the content. After all, we never set out to produce entertainment material, but a historical document, a clear proof of the immemoriality of these tracks. At no time did any of the former residents know that either of these paths was opened by so-and-so or beltran. Therefore, we truly believe that these paths are a collective patrimony that belongs to the community and to society in general. In addition to material patrimony, it is also part of the collective memory, as important as, and I do not see why not be valued also economically.

The ancient inhabitants of the foot of the mountain with whom we talked in this documentary had their youth at this time, that is, between the two great world wars. We noticed that, with the exception of one, they did not get directly involved, but reported intense use of the roads, being more related to the practice of agriculture. To our surprise, we found that many residents came up to make plantations on the top of the mountain range in the region of Olho d'Água, now the backyard of the São Sebastião neighborhood; In Alto Jamacá, then Cueva de Forca; In Capão do Boi; Cajuru, headwaters of Capão Seco; Bugres; Ribeirão Glória; Lagoinha; etc. We found that Chapada was an excellent producer of beans, corn, coffee and cachaça, while the foot of the mountain was a great producer of flour.

The collected material excited the then municipal secretary of culture, tourism and environment Daniel Pellegrin and his wife Emily. Daniel, a man tuned in new technologies, introduced me to the recently launched in Brazil program GoogleEarth. When I saw him for the first time, I was amazed and immediately suggested that he help me map the various historical paths I was researching. I have only omitted the various archaeological sites - a treasure of its own - because when I saw the depredations, I always thought it best to keep them secret. Today I think differently, perhaps it is the moment to begin the sustainable management of the visitation of some of them. After all, I believe that this set of treasures can touch people and conquer them as allies for their valuation and preservation. The experience of passing these paths and visiting certain places and landscapes is very touching and can be transformative.

Daniel sent the maps with the paths to the then state secretary of culture Paulo Pitaluga. It is a proficient historian who has already contemplated us with several works on regional history, also researched to compose this text. On April 15, 2009, the Official Gazette of Mato Grosso published Portaria No. 007 / SEC / 2009, which "provides for the Tumbamento for the State Historic and Artistic Heritage of material and Natural monuments, natural and scenic monuments of the Cold Forest Trail, Top of the Trail Trail, Matão Trail, Carretão Trail, Magessi Trail, Trail-Breaker Trail and Xavier Trail - prof. Aecim Tocantins ".

Among others, it left out the old Manuel Antonio road, we believe that in order not to "tie" a new highway that the state government intends to build for the grain disposal.

After a brief description of the trails, the ordinance resolves in paragraph 2 of Article 1 that "this ordinance implies in the tipping of the historical assets inserted in the aforementioned perimeter and they will be protected by the special protection of the State Public Power that will ensure that the expected effects By disciplinary norms are duly respected. " And he goes on to say that "The asset listed is subject to the supervision of the Secretary of State for Culture", etc. In article 2, he goes on to say that "... therefore, the register of its historical and artistic significance for the community and memory of Mato Grosso.".

All very beautiful, but until today, we have no news that it has left the paper. Okay, because the National Park was also paper for years and today, even in the midst of many problems, its creation is more than justified and could be much larger were not some 'malandragens'.

We hope you enjoy the documentary and, moreover, that everyone knows the trails, that they appreciate them, that the closed paths are reopened and receive the maintenance and the value they deserve. May they bear fruit.

Noam, Chapada dos Guimarães, April 2017.


  • Esbarro no Hoje, Recuo no Tempo, Galope na História. Carlos Rosa, 1994.
  • Cuiabá: Rio, Porto, Cidade. Maria de Fátima Costa e Paulo Diener 2000.
  • Caminhos Históricos de Mato Grosso, Período Colonial. Paulo Pitaluga e Moacyr Freitas. 2000.
  • História de Mato Grosso, da Ancestralidade aos Dias Atuais. Elizabeth Madureira. 2002.
  • Relatos Sertanistas. Afonso de Taunay. Edição de 1976.
  • Viagem Fluvial do Tietê ao Amazonas de 1825 a1829. Hércules Florence. Edição 2007.
  • Diversidade Sociocultural em Mato Grosso. Maria Fátima Roberto. 2008.
  • História de Mato Grosso, Virgílio Correa Filho. Ano?
  • A Igreja de Santana. Carlos Francisco Moura. Ano?
  • A Chapada Cuiabana – Seu Passado – Seu Presente – As Possibilidades de seu futuro. Ensaio. José de Mesquita. 1941.
  • Diário Oficial do estado de Mato Grosso. 2009.
  • Paisagens de Rondon, catálogo da exposição. Mário Friedlander, João Antônio Botelho, Eduardo Espíndola, Viviene Lozi.

NOAM SALZSTEIN is from São Paulo and has been living in Chapada dos Guimarães since 1990. He is passionate about nature and local culture, and for many years he has traveled throughout the region, gathering new knowledge. Versed in Cerrado plants, native fauna and bird watching, he lives in the Jamacá Valley and works as a nature guide in Chapada dos Guimarães and Pantanal guiding tourists from Brazil and abroad.