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Elevation: 3,204 ft
GPS: -19.30714, -43.61365
Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 4,672 total · 39/month
Shared By: Jim Lawyer on Jan 8, 2014 · Updates
Admins: Roberta Zouain, Matt Looby, Jim Lawyer

Description Suggest change

Considered the best sport climbing area in Brazil. Great limestone surrounded by dense forest. Variety of hold types that provide steep, athletic climbing, techy vertical faces, and bouldery cruxes. There are now over 750 routes including the hardest routes in the country (5.14c). Here's the breakdown as of 2022:

29 routes from 5.9 to 5.10b
73 routes from 5.10c to 5.11a
207 routes from 5.11b to 11d
164 routes from 5.12a to 5.12c
81 routes from 5.12d to 5.13b
34 routes from 5.13c to 5.14a
6 routes from 5.14b to 5.14d

Update: As of 2023, there are more than 200 new routes, including the first 5.15a in South America.

The area tends to have more visitors during weekends and holidays, but there are so many sectors, it's easy to find solitude.

The upper end routes in Cipó tend to be very bouldery, and as a result, difficult to onsight. You'll be at home, because everyone projects everything, and leaves their draws fixed for the duration. There's a large community of strong climbers all working projects, so many routes appear "equipped", when in fact they are simply somebody's project draws; no worries, though...climb at will, and don't be surprised to show up and find all the draws gone, because somebody finished their project and took their draws. The bouldery nature of the climbs may throw you off, as the boulder problems are often harder than the posted grade warrants. For example, in the US, a route with a V8 crux is minimum 5.13b. But here you will find 5.13a routes with V8 or (gasp) even V9 cruxes. So it's best not to get too caught up in the grades. I also found routes with multiple boulder problems not reflected in the grade; for example, a route with a V7 crux (which warrants the 5.13a in the US) followed by a V5 problem still gets the US this might get 13b.

Season: The best climbing season is from May through August. During this time there is very little rain, and cool temperatures (shorts and T-shirts during the day; long pants and hoodies in the evening). Outside of this season it's a bit hotter and rainy. Locals still climb through this period, as some cliffs overhang and stay dry (or dry quickly).

Pests: During the dry season, there are nearly zero bugs. Windows don't have screens, doors stay open, and many houses have outdoor kitchens. There's no issue with Malaria here. There are some bees nesting around the cliffs, but they are loud and you simply stay away from their nests. In some locations there are little black bees that nest in holes in the cliff; these do not have stingers, and just crawl through your hair. There is an issue with ticks during the dry season, so it pays to spray your clothing with permethrin and maybe apply DEET to your legs.

Sun Aspect: Much of the climbing is in perma-shade, so you don't have to worry much about the sun. There are some sectors that get sun sometime during the day, in which case you simply switch sectors.

Guidebooks: As of July 2022, there is a new climbing guidebook, "Escalada Cipo Guia" by Vinicius Dias Wilson (288 pages). You can purchase it locally from Madelena Hamburgueria (open Thursday through Sunday), Açai Da Serra (in the center of town), or Dinamic Boulder (the local climbing gym). You can also find it online at Companhia da Escalada, which can ship to the US!

Access: G1-G4 are privately owned. The local climbing organization has secured access for climbing...for now. It is important to observe good behavior when climbing here: (a) leave no trace, carry out all toilet paper, or maybe just time your pooping to avoid going at the crag, and perhaps bring WAG bags; (b) no music; (c) no dogs. The cliffs and surrounding areas are remarkably clean, especially considering the use they get; let's keep it that way. (Note: These rules are printed in the guidebook, and printed on signs along the trail. Locals pretty much ignore the no-dogs and no-music rules...that doesn't mean visiting climbers should also; let's be better.)

Bolting: Before adding new routes, get in touch with the locals, of which there are many. Start with the Associação de Escalada da Serra do Cipó (the instagram page is @aescserradocipo).

Grades: Brazil sport climbing grades look similar to the French sport climbing grades, but they are quite different. For example, Br 8a = Fr 7a+ = US 5.12a. When you talk with locals, at least the well-traveled ones, in an effort to make it easier for you, they constantly switch between US, French, and Brazil grades when describing things, which is confusing.

Getting There Suggest change

The cliffs are located just outside the small town of Serra do Cipó, which is about 1.5 hours from the airport (CNF) of Belo Horizonte. International travelers can take advantage of connecting flights through Florida, Panama, Colombia, and Portugal, as well as through the major hubs in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo). For the current routes, see

The town has complete services for climbers -- two grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, B&Bs, Airbnb's, and so on. Many are within walking distance to the crag. There are several parking locations, and from these, it's between 10 and 30 minutes to the cliff, depending on your desired sector.

Depending on where you stay in town, you may want a car. This also allows you to explore some nearby areas.

Sector Layout

Suggest change

There are three main groupings of climbs, Grupo 1, 2, and 3 (or simply G1, G2, and G3). Each of these groupings is divided into sectors. This organization (group/sector/climb) mirrors that of the current and previous guidebooks. (There is actually a fourth grouping, G4, but as of 2022 it is closed until the local climbing organization can secure access.)

Sector layout.

From afar, the climbing areas look like tiny lumps of rock poking out of the jungle. Appearances are deceiving. Each grouping is a maze of corridors, hidden valleys, caves, and amazing features.

G3 is accessible from this parking spot. Some of G2's sectors are also accessible from here. To reach the trailhead, walk about 100 meters further along the road to a gate on your right; enter the forest here. The trail is obvious, and the sectors are well sign-posted.

G1 is accessible from this parking spot. From here you follow a trail briefly through the forest and into the old quarry. Look for a steel ladder and follow the trail from there.

Travel Considerations

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Visa: For US citizens, no pre-arranged tourist visa is necessary for stays up to 90 days. This can be extended an additional 90 days, after which you have to leave the country.

New information: This visa policy will come to an end October 1, 2023, at which point visas will be required again. Always research the latest visa requirements before you book your travel!

Language: While some local climbers speak [some] English, there are many more that do not. Spanish is not a substitute; although knowledge of Spanish helps, locals will most likely not understand. So it's best to know a tiny bit of Portuguese. That, combined with gestures and context and Google Translate (be sure to download the Portuguese language module for offline use) will usually work.

Phones: I never fully cracked this issue. We purchased Vivo SIM cards at the CNF airport, then had locals help us activate them. Vivo offers the best reception in Cipó. You need a CPF number (the Brazilian equivalent of a social security number) to activate it, and it's a hard ask for a local to let you use theirs. I have read that if you purchase your SIM (say at a street vendor or at the airport), then bring this to the Vivo store, they can activate it with your passport. There are no Vivo stores in Cipó; the nearest one is in Lagoa Santa. (Again, we never personally tried this.)

An alternative is to pre-purchase SIMs from As of 2022, you can purchase a "Brazil Data SIM card" for $24 (US) that has 12GB of data, no activation necessary, just put it in your phone when you arrive and it works. Everyone in Brazil uses WhatsApp, so a data plan is all you really need. (If you're not a WhatsApp user, be sure to install WhatsApp *before* you leave the US and set it up.) The SimCorner SIM for Brazil piggybacks on Vivo, so you'll have good coverage in Cipó. The downside of a data-only SIM like this is that you won't have international calling, or even local calling. Not to worry, you can make WhatsApp calls over data to any other WhatsApp user in the world. Also, you'll find that locals don't type messages...they prefer to send voice messages through WhatsApp. (Perhaps this is because English isn't their first language, and it's easier for them to speak a message than to type it.)

If you have a US-based Verizon plan and you've enabled the international roaming (do this *before* leaving the US), then for $10 US per day you can use your phone in Brazil (you can use data and make calls as per your US plan). This worked well for us, and allowed us to use Google Maps, WhatsApp, etc until we could activate our local SIMs. One caveat is that once you hit 500MG of data, they throttle your data usage (so stay off IG, FB, and other data hogs).

Regardless of what you end up doing, make sure to turn cellular data OFF for every app on your phone except your critical ones. This ensures your apps won't consume all your data behind the scenes.

If you have any issues that require local phone support, it will be in Portuguese. So (a) try to work everything out beforehand, and (b) find a friendly local to help.

Wifi: Our house had pretty decent Wifi, well enough to work remotely and stream Netflix. This was a pleasant surprise. Cipó isn't like some destinations that haven't modernized to high-speed broadband.

Money: There is no ATM in town, so bring cash. That said, almost nobody accepts cash, and those that do accept cash often don't have cash to make change. Make sure to have an international credit card. I had three cards, none of which worked locally. Luckily my travel companion's CC worked.

If you have to make big payments for, say, your lodging, make sure in advance you'll have a way to pay for it. Airbnb works well here because it handles the international currency exchange issues. Same with PayPal, although you'll have to make sure your recipient also has a PayPal account. Locals pay for everything with Pix, a Brazil-based banking payment system similar to Venmo.

Maps: I found Google Maps to work pretty well in Brazil, at least in this part of Brazil.

Car Rental: I used Travelocity and regretted it. Through Travelocity I booked (and pre-paid) a Hertz car, only to arrive in Brazil and discover that Hertz doesn't exist in Brazil (they ceased operation in 2017). Furthermore, if you need a car longer than 30 days, most international car rental agencies limit their online rentals to 30 days. We ended up using Localiza, and they were super flexible with duration, allowing us to extend our rental through WhatsApp. Some other caveats: you have to return the car clean, which is impossible because there are so many dirt roads and your car gets totally covered in dust; no worries, return it dirty and pay the $30 fee for them to clean it. It was also not possible to pre-pay the gas, forcing you to fuel up in Lagoa Santa before returning it.

Despite what you read online, the rental car lots at CNF are not at the airport. There are a few rental counters at the airport, but they will shuttle you to their main lots a couple miles away, similar to many large airports in the US.

Roads: The roads in Brazil, at least around this section of Brazil, go from OK-ish to very bad. Our rental was upgraded to an "SUV", which was more like a small hatchback with a lift kit, and we were very grateful for the upgrade. (Consider this when getting your car.) The extra clearance was critical! Many roads are forests of potholes, and the dirt roads vary from smooth to ski moguls. Some steeper dirt roads were covered in inches of dust, more like driving in snow. While the main road from the CNF airport to Cipó is paved, there are hundreds of very large speed bumps, many of them unmarked. It is especially important to be alert, as hitting these at even a modest speed will destroy your vehicle's suspension (the Portuguese term for these translates to "suspension killers").

For these reasons, traveling even short distances can be very slow. Driving to the National Park trailheads near Cipó was similar to the road to Miller Fork in the RRG. The roads to Tabuleiro and Milho Verde were "adventurous", and that's being generous.

CNF Airport: Despite servicing a city of seven million people, this airport was surprisingly small and efficient. Unlike JFK, for example, the CNF airport is a good distance from the city, so you won't have to navigate a city hell-scape when you arrive. You'll have to drive through Lagoa Santa, which is busy, but still tame in comparison with other congested areas.

62 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Serra do Cipó

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Árvore da Vida
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Ninhos Grupo 3 > Ninhos
5.10c/d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Árvore da Vida Grupo 3 > Anfiteatro
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
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