When it comes to the natural highlights of Brazil, it’s usually the low lying rainforest of the Amazon Basin, sun-kissed beaches, and magnificent waterfalls that steal the show. It might therefore be surprising to discover that South America’s largest nation is mostly made up of highlands. In fact, just the region of the Brazilian Highlands, known locally as Planalto Central, accounts for more than half its landmass. Beyond this, there is also the area of the densely forested Guiana Highlands. These elevated regions, stretching across vast areas, encompass some of the biggest mountains of Brazil.
So, what are the highest Brazilian mountains? Well, in 2015, the nation’s Institute for Geography and Statistics carried out the Highest Points Project to determine exactly that.
Pico da Neblina
As Brazil touches every South American country except Chile and Ecuador, it’s inevitable that natural features often overlap. This is the case with the entry at the top of the list of the highest mountains in Brazil, Pico da Neblina. While its approximately 9,827-foot summit and much of the rest of it stand in Brazil’s state of Amazonas, its northern slopes cross into Venezuela. On both sides, the vast sandstone landform is protected within national parks.
Part of the Serra do Imeri in the Guiana Highlands, its rather poetic name means “Mountain of the Mists”, an apt moniker for a peak that often has its head in the clouds. And what a peak it is. Tilted at an angle, its pyramid-like point seems to pierce the sky.
Pico 31 de Março
The second of the tallest mountains in Brazil, Pico 31 de Março boasts an elevation of around 9,757 feet. This peak stands as a sibling to Pico da Neblina, separated by less than half a mile and sharing the same massif. Some even consider it a secondary peak of Neblina. What’s more, just like its taller neighbour, it’s shared with Venezuela, where it is known as Pico Phelps. The Brazilian name, which translates as 31st March, refers to the date the military took over in Brazil in 1964.
Pico da Bandeira
Translated as “Flag Peak,” Pico da Bandeira is Brazil’s third-highest summit, reaching approximately 9,488 feet above sea level. Legend says it got its name when Emperor Pedro II of Brazil envisioned a flag waving atop it. Located on the border of the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo, this is the first entry of the tallest mountains in Brazil to be situated in the Brazilian Highlands, where it forms part of the Serra do Caparaó range.
Pedra da Mina
With an elevation nearing 9,180 feet, Pedra da Mina earns its fourth place among Brazil’s highest mountains. Located in the Mantiqueira Mountains, it straddles the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, where it’s the highest and second highest point respectively. While it doesn’t sit within a national park, its presence in the Mantiqueira Mountains Environmental Protection Area ensures it remains a cherished gem.
Pico das Agulhas Negras
At around 9,157 feet above sea level, Pico das Agulhas Negras or ‘Black Needles Peak’ is fifth among the tallest mountains in Brazil. Like Pedra da Mina, it’s part of the Mantiqueira Mountains, but differs in that it’s part of a national park, namely Itatiaia National Park.
The Biggest Mountains of Brazil
It’s clear that Brazil is anything but flat. Indeed, its terrain boasts extensive elevations, with the Brazilian Highlands alone making up over half of the country. The magnificence of these mountains stands as an awe-inspiring reminder of the geological richness and diverse terrain that Brazil holds within its expansive borders. And, even though Brazil’s highest mountains are not the giants of the Himalayas, each peak tells a story, whether draped in mists, echoing historical tales, or delineating shared borders.