The Chapada dos Veadeiros ’s capital of ecotourism and esoterism, Alto Paraíso de Goiás is a trippy, incense-scented place haunted by a surprisingly international collection of astrologists, mystics, and latter-day hippies drawn by the abundance of sublime landscapes, natural crystals, and reports of frequent UFO and extraterrestrial sightings. Many buildings are pyramid-shaped, the better to capture the energies in circulation.
Meanwhile, one of the classic pastimes is to hang out at the Aeroporto de UFO, 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) north of town. This deactivated airstrip was supposedly built by a wealthy mystic as a welcoming gesture to receive any UFOs that wanted to land. These days it is the stage for meditation sessions, New Age rituals, and live music concerts, and is especially popular when the moon is full.
Esoturismo aside, the immediate surrounding area has lots of striking natural features and many waterfalls that you can easily hike to.
Although the alternative atmosphere can get a little tedious, the town offers a wide range of accommodations, mostly concentrated around the main drag of Avenida Ary Valadão. To take advantage of Alto Paraíso’s holistic vibes check into Pousada Alfa e Ômega (Rua Joaquim de Almeida 15, tel. 62/3446-1225, www.veadeiros.com.br , R$80–130 d). Although the rooms’ dark brick walls are hardly conducive to levitation, East Indian ornaments, a meditation room, sauna, and surrounding gardens have more mellowing influences. Ayurvedic massages and alternative therapies are also available.
Set amidst a bucolic farm filled with fruit orchards and flowers, the Casa Rosa Pousada das Cerejeiras (Rua Gumercindo Barboas 233, tel. 62/3446-1319, www.pousadacasarosa.com.br , R$95–140 d) is a pleasantly tranquil haven. Choose from spacious rooms in the renovated pale pink main casa or surrounding chalets with verandas overlooking the Vale do Moinho.
For creative vegetarian fare—salads (lunch is a self-service buffet), sandwiches, and pizzas—head to the lively Oca Lila (Av. João Bernardes Rabelo 449, tel. 62/3446-1006, noon–4 p.m. and 6 p.m.–midnight Wed.–Sun., R$10–20), a popular hangout for healthy youth, who flock to the place on weekends when live music is played.
Alto Paraíso de Goiás is 220 kilometers (137 miles) from Brasília . Real Expresso (tel. 61/3234-8774, www.realexpresso.com.br ) and Santo Antônio (tel. 61/2106-7199) offer daily bus service from Brasília’s rodoferroviária (long-distance bus station).
If you’re driving from Brasília , follow the BR-020 in the direction of Sobradinho and turn onto the GO-118, which leads to Alto Paraíso.