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Brazil Tours


Brazil Travel / Tours – The Upper Ribeira State Park (PETAR) is an integral protection conservation unit of the Atlantic Rainforest South-East Reserves World Heritage Site and Mata Atlântica Biosphere Reserve in the State of São Paulo. The park is located in the upper Vale do Ribeira watershed basin, 320 km south of the capital. The colonial village of Iporanga is the main entry point to the park (see map).

With more than 200 registered limestone caves , PETAR, which in Portuguese means "Parque Estadual Turístico do Alto Ribeira", has one of the largest cave concentrations in the world. This geological site is geomorphologically and speleologically outstanding.

The combination of native Atlantic Rainforest and cave systems characterized by polygonal karst, cones and karst canyons, deep river valleys and rocky escarpments with cave entrances such as underground drainage systems with a wide variety of speleothem forms and Quaternary palaeontological sites is hard to find anywhere else in the world.

PETAR lies on the southeastern flank of the Paranapiacaba mountain range, with mountainous relief and altitude differences of up to 700 m . The karst here lies in the transition zone between the Atlantic (Guapiara) Plateau, at 800-1,200 m in the northwest of the Park, and the Coastal Lowlands to the East and Southeast. The Park is drained by the Betari, Iporanga and Pilões rivers, which flow from the edge of the plateau into the Ribeira river.

The water action in the limestones in a thousand years period allowed the formation of caves with floor, walls and ceilings decorated with many speleotems, like stalactites, stalagmites, columns, curtains, etc. The PETAR caves are divided into "dry" and "wet" caves. In case of the wet caves, the visitor must follow the internal flow of a river in order to discover the caves hidden secrets, like internal waterfalls. Sometimes the water can reach the visitors neck and in some cases it is necessary to dive. It is strongly recommended to avoid visiting those wet caves during times of strong rainfall, when the water level of the rivers can rise within seconds.

The secret world of the PETAR caves can be accessed by the sections Santana, Caboclos, Ouro Grosso and Casa da Pedra. The hiking trail connecting the núcleos Casa da Pedra and Caboclos passes the so-called Casa da Pedra cave (stone house) which has one of the the largest cave openings in the world. The principal feature of the Morro Preto cave is its setting in an archeological site containing pre-historic fossils. The Água Suja cave has chasms and an underground river with a waterfall at its end. The Areias cave is the only one in the world which is home to the blind catfish – Brazil Tours / São Paulo.

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Creation Date:



 S 24º 25’ /  W 48º 35’


 35.712 ha


 50 - 975 m


 Atlantic Rainforest / (Mata Atlântica)

Ecosystems / Vegetation:

  Seasonal / Tropical Rainforest

Altitudinal Zones:

  Alluvial / Lowland / Submontane / Montane