Chapada dos Guimarães Town
The Chapada’s geodesic centrality and the positive energies associated with this fact are partially responsible for the mystical, neo-hippie aura that permeates the small town of Chapada dos Guimarães. Aside from the excess of shops selling crystals, alternative remedies, and health food, the village is attractive.
The pretty main square, Praça Dom Wunibaldo, conserves the baroque Igreja de Nossa Senhora de Santana do Sacramento, Mato Grosso’s oldest church dating back to 1779. If you visit in late June/early July, take advantage of the Festival de Inverno, a lively arts and music festival with an interesting alternative edge. The town is also a good place to pick up locally produced art and handicrafts.
Several good shops are located on Praça Dom Wunibaldo; among them are Arte da Terra (tel. 65/3301-2016, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat.), specializing in decorative objects made from native plants of the Cerrado, and Xingú Artesenato Indígena (tel. 65/3664-1266, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat.), which carries a diverse array of indigenous art and objects such as jewelry and baskets.
Accommodations and Food
You’ll find a fair range of places to stay, both in town and in the surrounding countryside. During the summer months and on weekends, it’s advisable to make advance reservations.For the most part, eating options revolve around simple home-cooked regional fare. You’ll find several restaurants and bars on and around Praça Dom Wunibaldo. For lunch, Nivo’s Fogão Regional (Praça Dom Wunibaldo 63, 10:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Tues.–Sun., R$10–20) is an attractive old house decorated with Portuguese azulejos that serves up a wide variety of delicious regional fish and meat dishes.
Traditional accompaniments include pirão and farofa de banana. O Mestrinho (Rua Quinco Caldas 119, tel. 65/3791-1181, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and 6:30–10 p.m. Wed.–Mon., R$12–25) is an another classic spot with copious portions of chapadense fare as well as an all-you-can-eat churrasco rodízio on the weekends.
By far the most charming option in town is the Pousada Solar do Inglês (Rua Cipriano Curvo 142, tel. 65/3301-1389, www.chapadadosguimaraes.com.br/solardoingles, R$190–240 d), a cozy country-style lodge with refined European touches. The latter stem from the fact that the hospitable owner—who claims to treat all guests as “lords” and “ladies”—is an Englishman who lived for years in the Pantanal. As such, one of the bonuses is a smashing (and punctually served) English tea at 5 p.m. A pool, sauna, and lovely garden round out the amenities.
Only 2 kilometers (1 mile) from the center of town, the Pousada Villa Guimarães (Estrada de Cima do Jamacá Km 2.5, tel. 65/3301-1366, www.pousadavillaguimaraes.com.br, R$100–180 d) is nestled in the midst of a small ecological reserve. The comfortable rooms, which house up to four, are furnished in soothing tones. Lovely wooden verandas are hung with hammocks that gaze out over greenery. There is a pool and 24-hour Internet access.
More expensive and out-of-the-way, but definitely worthwhile is Morro dos Ventos (Estrada do Mirante Km 1, tel. 65/3301-1030, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, R$20–30), whose tables are clustered beneath a thatched-roofed indigenous-style oca overlooking a cliff. The views are absolutely stunning. The cuisine follows suit with well-prepared Mato Grossense dishes including galinha caipira com quiabo (a stew of country chicken with okra) and maria-isabel (a local version of risotto made with sun-dried beef, rice, and herbs). The restaurant is located within a private condominium complex.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition