There’s a Crystal-Clear Swimming Hole in the Middle of This Brazilian Desert

Brazil National Parks Diving
by Ashley Welton Jun 18, 2018

It might not be as dramatic or well-known as Iguazu Falls, but Cachoeira do Formiga definitely deserves to be on your bucket list, especially if you love wild swimming.

Literally “ant waterfall” named for the river it sits on, Rio Formiga, this turquoise pool is as clear as they come. Cachoeira do Formiga is situated in the Jalapão State Park, a reserve whose ecology ranges from arid desert to flat-topped plateaus to lush vegetation surrounding water sources.

At 8-meter wide and just around 2-meter deep, it’s not that large, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in dumbfounding beauty. The bright turquoise color is so saturated that it looks Photoshopped, and the water is so clear you can make out the grains of white sand settled at the bottom of the pool.

Cachoeira do Formiga is privately owned and requires an entrance fee of 10-20 Reais ($3-5 USD). But the good news is, camping is allowed here for 30 Reais a night, so you can save on accommodation.

How to get there

Just 36 kilometers from Mateiros, in the state of Tocantins, Brazil. Cachoeira do Formiga is located in Jalapão State Park. Take Highway BR-22 toward São Félix do Tocantins. It’s all dirt road. Many car agencies won’t rent to tourists going to Jalapão because of the bad roads, so it’s a good idea to hire someone to get you there.

What to consider

  • During rainy season, from November to April, the water can get a little cloudy.
  • While it can be seen year-round, the best time to visit is from May to October.
  • Bring a mask, a snorkel, and bug repellent.
  • The falls may be small, but they are mighty and will pummel you if you sit under them.
  • It’s possible to climb around above the falls and jump from them, too.
  • Access to the pool itself is an easy 5-minute walk and can be done by just about anyone.
  • Ideally, if you’re driving yourself, you’ll want a 4×4 vehicle.

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