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10 Things to Know Before Visiting Pico da Neblina, Brazil's Secret Mountain

Picture of Will Lees
Updated: 5 April 2018
Mountains are one of the slower-evolving creations on Earth, with some growing mere millimeters annually, so documenting and learning about them is not as tall a task as trying to catch a glimpse of the Yeti. So how did the Pico da Neblina in Brazil remain so unknown for so long? If you plan to get a closer glimpse, duly note these beneficial and interesting pieces of information.

As remote as possible

If you want to conquer or just visit something that would be considered the “outback” of Brazil, then this may be your mountain, as you cannot get much more remote than Pico da Neblina. Hugging the border of Venezuela—in fact just 670 meters (0.4 miles) from being part of the country—this peak is in the Pico da Neblina National Park in the middle of the Amazon River basin.

Pico da Neblina, Amazonas, Brazil

Where to start

To put its location into perspective, the main starting point of your hike to the mountain, and the closest civilization to it, is São Gabriel da Cachoeira, which is, as the crow flies, 140 kilometers (87 miles) away.

São Gabriel da Cachoeira, Amazonas, Brazil

The climb

The natives in the area aren’t too happy about people frequenting it and climbing through their backyards, thought they don’t often make their frustrations known if you are considerate about it. Organize your trip with a Brazilian tour company that knows the correct route and your ascent and descent of the mountain will take approximately one week.

Dangers

Being such a humid, remote part of the jungle, all sorts of creepy crawlers and strange creatures have evolved here, and most peoples’ systems are not used to them. For this reason, be overly cautious when entering this area and get your necessary vaccinations, like malaria and yellow fever, at the least.

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Bugs can be a risky local | © CDC Global / Flickr

Brazil’s highest peak

Once you have completed your hike, you will be able to say you have climbed the highest peak in all of Brazil. Standing at a modest 2995 meters (9827 feet) above sea level, it isn’t going to hold any South American records, but it is the country’s tallest.

It “shrunk”

No, the mountain did not suffer an enormous landslide, nor did it technically shrink, but the initial elevation they recorded, which was three kilometers (9888 feet), was with outdated equipment. It was revised with state-of-the-art technology and correctly updated in 2016 to its correct elevation of 2.9 kilometers (9827 feet).

Twin peaks

You don’t have to venture far from Pico da Neblina to see the second-largest peak in Brazil, as its neighboring mountain—31 de Março, less than one kilometer away (0.62 miles)—is only 21 meters (69 feet) lower than its larger brother.

It remained hidden for years

The name Pico da Neblina translates in forms to Mist Peak or Peak of the Mists, and this constant mist that rises from the river basin and engulfs the mountain, hiding it from view, ensured it was not officially discovered by Brazil until sometime in the 1950s.

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River basin | © Max Gomes / Flickr

Its disputed discovery

The actual discovery of the peak is not well documented, but it is said that a Brazilian pilot flew over the mountain on a cloudless day and reported its discovery. However, in Venezuela, the knowledge of the massif and rising ridge of earth was known for quite some time (although never summited) and was known as Cerro Jime.

Recognition in Venezuela

Around the same time the Brazilians “discovered it,” a Venezuelan expedition was lead to the mountain by William H. Phelps Jr.. He was the first documented explorer to approach the base of the mountain for research purposes, and thus in Venezuela it is sometimes referred to as Cerro Phelps.