Brasilia is on the World Heritage list for its modern urban planning, but perhaps its best attraction is one carved by Mother Nature. Bernard O’Shea goes chasing waterfalls and exotic blue wells.
In the woodlands on the outskirts of Brasilia is a wonderful bathing spot known as Poço Azul (Blue Well) and a series of waterfalls, the most spectacular of which is nicknamed Cachoeira do Suicídio. Not that people go there to commit ghastly deeds; rather, it requires great bravado and derring-do to take the plunge into the pool below.
The falls are on private property and hard to find: the best thing to do is look up “Poço Azul Brasilia” or “Blue Well Brasilia” on an internet maps, and make sure you type in Brasilia because there are lots of other Poço Azuls in the country and you don’t want to be sent into the wide blue yonder.
Basically, you have to get on route DF-001 and keep an eye out for the Poço Azul signposted turn-off. A dirt road will take you through what looks like farm scrub, then you come to a gate. Apparently it’s open daily, and there’s a small entrance fee. Unless you have a four-wheel-drive, you have to park near the entrance and walk for a couple of kilometres. Note, there is no food or drink available on the property, so bring plenty of your own – there are hills to descend and climb and it’s thirsty work! The road will fork into two – the upper waterfalls are to the right, and the lower waterfalls and Poço Azul to the left. I was with a “Brasiliense” friend, Wilson Gomes, who had been once before but quite a while ago, but there people in front so we followed them.
Brasilia is in the central highlands and the vegetation here is typically savanna. It looks dry and dusty, but don’t be fooled; Brazil has more freshwater resources than any other country. The land here slopes down gently but the sides of the ravine are steep, and as you get closer you will hear the trickle of running water, and catch a glimpse of it down below. But the best pools are hidden from view at this stage.
The descent is challenging: no neat steps have been laid out for visitors, the path is narrow and pebbly in parts and can be slippery. It’s not a place for children, nor for the frail or elderly. Wear good walking shoes.
There are a number of natural pools in the rocks: below is the first one we came to. It was serene, but as we would later discover, there are more exciting pools to swim in.
Next we had to follow the river upstream as best we could (following the young people). It is not always bubbling and overflowing and I couldn’t help wondering if what lay ahead would turn out to be worth the effort.
It was: suddenly we were alongside a gorgeous natural basin with clean-looking water in it…
I thought this was the Poço Azul, but I learned later it was just the entrée. Time for a swim.
The youths whom we had followed were energetic and eager to hit the heights.
I did my best but was not very elegant…
Still, I found a spot where the water bubbled over you, and suddenly I felt I was in one of the best spas that nature could provide, so much better than a commercial one. I was really enjoying being out in the fresh air, away from the concrete and bustle of the city, away from the crowds, This is what holidays should be all about. River water is much more refreshing to soak in than the sea.
After an hour or so, we all moved on, backtracking downhill.
We passed the very first pool that we came to, and then lo and behold, there it was, the Blue Well and the “Suicide Waterfall” plunging into it…
The group of youths who had gone ahead had a great time jumping into the well, which is fed by two waterfalls.
As for me, I was so busy taking superb action photos that I didn’t have a chance to take the leap of faith myself.
I was also aware that what jumps down must come back up, and to get back up required deft rock-climbing skills. If I were to try it, I would probably split my pants.
But how did these agile, daring young men fare with leaping down the Cachoeira do Suicídio? Click here to find out. TTW
Bernard O’Shea travelled at his own expense. Photos © Bernard O’Shea and Wilson Gomes. There is a good YouTube video with drone aerial footage of the waterfalls and Blue Well. The commentary is in Portuguese but it is well worth watching. (Keep an eye out for the slip-up caught by the drone.)