Caverna Janelão

Gruta do Janelão

Useful Information

Location: Cavernas do Peruaçu National Park, municipality of Januária.
(-15.111328, -44.243053)
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave KarstTiankeng
Light: n/a
Dimension: L=4,740 m, VR=176 m.
Guided tours: Caminho da Gruta do Janelão: L=4,800 m, D=5.5 h.
Arco do André Trail: L=8,000 m, D=7 h.
Lapa Bonita: L=1,500 m, D=140 min.
Gruta do Índio: L=1,500 m, D=140 min.
Lapa do Boquete: L=1,200 m, D=90 min.
Lapa dos Desenhos: L=2,600 m, D=140 min.
V=600/a [2014]
V=4,000/a [2016]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Parque Nacional Cavernas do Peruaçu, s/n Fabião I, 155 BR-135 Januária - MG, 39480-000, Tel: +55-38-3623-1038. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1999 Peruaçu Caves National Park created.
2005 Management Plan elaborated for the PNCP.
2013 beginning of development.
JUL-2014 opened to the public.


Caverna Janelão (Big Window) is a huge show cave located at the Parque Nacional Cavernas do Peruaçu (Peruaçu Caves National Park, PCNP). The park has numerous caves, and the Janelão Cave is the first which was developed as a show cave. The name means Big Window, which is a result of the huge karstfensters the cave has. The huge passage with its cave river has numerous openings to the surface which allow sunlight to enter the cave. The cave is at the point where it will become a gorge, when the ceiling is completely collapsed. Fortunately this is a geologic process and will take many thousands of years. During the walk through the cave visitors are equipped with a helmet, because even small rocks or water drop can hurt or even be dangerous as they fall from a 100 m high ceiling.

The cave is visited on a loop trail named Caminho da Gruta do Janelão which starts and ends at the Visitor Center. It is 4.8 km long, and the walk takes four hours, it's a good idea to bring some water and probably a small snack. Just remember to take anything back you bring to the walk, even organic matter. It's forbidden to leave food, because this would harm the local fauna.

The area was visited by prehistoric man, who left paintings on the canyon walls some 10,000 years old. The Sítio Ateliê Janelão is one stop, which shows extraordinary paintings on a cliff wall. The paintings are in red, black and ochre, showing animals, geometric patterns and parallel lines. They are very well-preserved, which is the reason why the walk is guided. On self-guided visits there would be the danger of vandalism.

The cave entrance is a huge portal 100 m high, the trail leads along the Peruaçu River through the cave. It flows very calm and is rather shallow, it is crossed twice on stepstone which were placed in the river. The floor is level, and because of the openings, no light is needed. The sunlight allows the growth of plants, in some spots there are even small patches of forest. The whole cave belongs in the speleobiological sense to the entrance area. The most famous skylight is the Clarabóia do Coração (Heart Skylight), as its shape resembles a heart. Actually, the Caverna Janelão is more like a series of vast natural bridges than a cave.

At one point, there are rimstone pools which are coloured by red iron oxide and resemble huge red mushrooms. The cave also has the world's longest free-hanging stalactite, which is 28 m long, but hanging from a 100 m high ceiling, it looks quite small. It is called the Perna da Bailarina (Ballerina's Leg). The stalactite is located close to a karstfenster, and thus it does not grow any more. According to our own statistics, this is actually the Explainlongest stalactite of the world.

Other superlatives are two tiankengs, massive collapse dolines which are part of the system. The North Doline is obviously the collapsed remains of an old, abandoned, curving loop, nearly 500 m long, off the Janelão river cave. The walls are 150 m high from the floor to the plateau, the lower 100 m are cave, the upper third collapsed to the floor and was transported away by the water. Both the surrounding plateau and the floor of the doline are covered by dense forest. The cutoff spur is connected to today's main passage at both ends. The South Doline is not connected to the main cave, it is thought to be a collapsed tributary. It seems the connection was blocked by the debris. Both are tiankengs as they have a diameter and depth greater than 100 m.

There is another trail from the Visitor Center named Lapa dos Desenhos (Rock Paintings), which is 2.6 km long and takes about 1.5 hours. It is level, and very easy to walk, and leads to the Lapa dos Desenhos rock paintings. They are located on the wall of the Cânion do Vale and are even more interesting than those of Janelão, in greater quantity, colors and visibility. The place was visited since 12,000 BP, the paintings were dated to 9,000 BP.

It is planned to open six tours through eight caves of the park. The development is executed together with the WWF, which monitor the large and medium-sized mammals of the Cerrado and the drinking water project in the Peruaçu River basin. The creation of trails, the placement of explanatory sign, and the installation of infrastructure for tourists is currently in progress. It is necessary to install a water supply system and an effluents treatment unit. The following caves will be developed in the next steps:

  1. Lapa do Boquête
  2. Lapa do Índio and Lapa Bonita
  3. Lapa dos Desenhos
  4. Casa do Silu – Lapado Caboclo – Lapa do Carlúcio
  5. Casinha do Rezar – Lapa do Rezar

The Parque Nacional Cavernas do Peruaçu (Peruaçu Caves National Park, PCNP) is rather young, it was created in 1999. It is really huge, covers three cities, Januária, Itacarambi and São João das Missões and has a size of 56,400 hectares. The park is managed by the Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio) (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation).