Pico das Agulhas Negras

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Pico das Agulhas Negras
Pico das Agulhas Negras
Highest point
Elevation 2,791 m (9,157 ft)
Coordinates 22°22′48″S 44°39′42″W / 22.38000°S 44.66167°W / -22.38000; -44.66167Coordinates: 22°22′48″S 44°39′42″W / 22.38000°S 44.66167°W / -22.38000; -44.66167
Pico das Agulhas Negras is located in Brazil
Pico das Agulhas Negras
Pico das Agulhas Negras
Location in southeastern Brazil
Location States of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, Brazil
Parent range Serra da Mantiqueira
First ascent 1919
Easiest route By car from Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo on the Dutra highway up to Engenheiro Passos; from there on BR-354 highway toward Itamonte until the Garganta do Registro mountain pass; then on a gravel road (BR-485) to Itatiaia National Park's north entrance and from there to Abrigo Rebouças mountain shelter; easy trek to the peak base; steep climb on rock afterwards.

Pico das Agulhas Negras (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpiˌkuˌdaˌzaˈɡuˌʎɐsˈneˌgɾɐs]) is the fifth highest mountain in Brazil,[Note 1] standing at 2,791 metres (9,157 ft) above sea level, making it one of the highest in the Brazilian Highlands.[3] It is located in Itatiaia National Park, in the Serra da Mantiqueira range, on the border of the states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais. It is the highest point in the state of Rio de Janeiro, the third highest peak in Minas Gerais, and the second highest in the Mantiqueira range.[1]

The climb to the top was first attempted by Franklin Massena in 1856. Further attempts were made by André Rebouças in 1878 and by Horácio de Carvalho in 1898, but the summit was only reached in 1919, by Carlos Spierling and Osvaldo Leal.[4]


Its name means Black Needles Peak, because of the sharp dark rocks on its top, which give it a distinctive shape. The peak's massif is known as Itatiaia, which means "stone with many sharp points" in Tupi. The highest rock, with the summit, is known as Itatiaiaçu, or simply Açu (a Tupi suffix meaning "big") among Brazilian mountaineers.


Pico das Agulhas Negras, the highest point of the state of Rio de Janeiro, and the fifth highest mountain in Brazil.

Pico das Agulhas Negras can be seen to the northwest of Resende when driving between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro on the Via Dutra highway, but this is only possible at a few points on the road, because a lower mountain range closer to the road stands in the line-of-sight at most other nearby spots.

A mountain shelter called Abrigo Rebouças is located near the base of the peak, at an elevation of about 2,350 m (7,710 ft). It is accessible by a badly maintained gravel road (BR-485) from the BR-354 federal highway at the Garganta do Registro mountain pass, via Itatiaia National Park's north entrance. The access road reaches an altitude of 2,460 metres (8,071 ft) at the entrance of the park, and a short spur from it leading to a communications tower of the Eletrobras Furnas electricity company reaches 2,662 metres (8,734 ft); these are the highest points one can reach in a regular car (as opposed to off-road vehicles) in Brazil.[5][6]

Elevation measurements[edit]

Tourist information signs in Itatiaia National Park close to Pico das Agulhas Negras, with the peak in the background.

For years, Pico das Agulhas Negras was thought to be the highest mountain in Brazil. The title later went to Pico da Bandeira, in the Caparaó range between the states of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo (now known to be at 2,891 m or 9,486 ft). In 1965, it was found that Pico da Neblina, in the state of Amazonas, was in fact the highest, with a currently revised height of 2,995 metres (9,827 ft).

Even then, Pico das Agulhas Negras was still thought to be the highest point in the Mantiqueira Mountains, until a 2001 GPS measurement (later confirmed by an official joint expedition of the Brazilian Army and the Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics - IBGE) showed that nearby Pedra da Mina was that mountain range's highest point at 2,798 metres (9,180 ft), about seven metres higher than Agulhas Negras.[3] Pedra da Mina was higher even though Agulhas Negras was also found to be slightly higher than previously thought, at 2,791.55 metres (9,158.6 ft), rather than its previous official altitude of 2,787 metres (9,144 ft). Pico das Agulhas Negras remains the highest point in Rio de Janeiro state.

In 2015, IBGE completed a new and more accurate mapping of the Brazilian territory regarding the geoid, the irregular imaginary surface based on the Earth's gravitational field that is the reference for altitude measurements. This led the institution to recalculate the altitude of the mountains measured in the earlier project, according to the new reference. The new data were published in February 2016. Pico das Agulhas Negras was then found to stand at 2,790.94 metres (9,156.6 ft), a difference of 61 cm or about two feet.[2]


  1. ^ The four higher Brazilian mountains are Pico da Neblina (2,995 m/9,827 ft), Pico 31 de Março (2,974 m/9,758 ft), Pico da Bandeira (2,891 m/9,486 ft), and Pedra da Mina (2,798 m/9,180 ft). Pico das Agulhas Negras becomes the eighth highest peak in Brazil (and the sixth in Minas Gerais) if three peaks in the Caparaó range are counted: Pico do Calçado (2,849 m/9,347 ft), Pico do Cruzeiro (2,852 m/9,357 ft), and Pico do Calçado-Mirim (2,818 m/9,245 ft). However, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics considers those peaks just secondary summits of Pico da Bandeira, and does not list them in its ranking of the highest Brazilian mountains, due to proximity and topographic prominence issues. Nonetheless, it is undisputed that Pico das Agulhas Negras is the highest point of Rio de Janeiro state and the second highest in the Mantiqueira range.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) (2014). Anuário Estatístico do Brasil 2014 [2014 Statistical Yearbook of Brazil] (in Portuguese). 74. Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). p. 33. ISSN 0100-1299. 
  2. ^ a b "Após nova medição, Pico da Neblina ganha 1,52 metros a mais" [After new measurement, Pico da Neblina becomes 1.52 metre higher]. Alta Montanha (in Portuguese). 2016-02-29. Retrieved 2016-05-30. 
  3. ^ a b IBGE Pontos Culminantes
  5. ^ Tizzani, Aldo (2012-07-02). "De bigtrail na estrada mais alta do Brasil" [Riding a bigtrail motorcycle on Brazil's highest road]. Infomoto (in Portuguese). UOL. Retrieved 2016-05-30. 
  6. ^ Santos, Eduardo Augusto (2016-06-20). "BR-485, a rodovia federal mais alta do Brasil" [BR-485, Brazil's highest federal highway]. Itamonte.net (in "Portuguese"). Retrieved 2016-08-08.