Chapada Diamantina National Park in Brazil’s northeast is a wonder that has to be seen to be believed. Taking its name from the many flat-topped mountains that proliferate in the park, as well as the diamond hunting that happened here in earnest in the 19th century, Chapada Diamantina is a haven for those looking to immerse themselves in isolation and nature, coming into contact with as few people as possible and exploring vast landscapes that are as varied as they are jaw-dropping. Located in the state of Bahia, the park covers an incredible 152,142 hectares (375,950 acres) of land, which is by turns carved from craggy cliffs, by others laid out in lush green plateaus. Vistas stretch on for as far as the eye can see, merging the immense landforms into one another to create a never-ending landscape. Waterfalls drop through the creases of the park’s dense green forests, disappearing into a mist before they even touch the ground, such is the height of these vertical cascades, some of which reach to over 1,312 ft (400m), making the Cachoeira de Fumaça, or Waterfall of Smoke, Brazil’s highest waterfall.
You’ll begin by heading to Iraquara, which is known as the Capital of Caves and is home to some of the most impressive caves and underground rivers in the National Park. Your professional guide will take you through the enormous limestone Lapa Doce Cave, with its huge rock formations, stalactites and columns. After exploring the cave, you’ll enjoy a delicious regional lunch and visit the Pratinha Farm and the impressive Blue Cave. In the afternoon you will hike to the top of the tabletop mountain of Morro do Pai Inácio (20 minutes), perhaps the most famous postcard-view of the Chapada Diamantina. You’ll arrive just in time to watch the sunset and admire the unrestricted views of one of South America’s most unique landscapes, the peaks and valleys of the Chapada Diamantina, and the National Park itself. The amazing buttes and mesas called, tepuy, jut out of the valley landscape below for as far as the eye can see adding to this unforgettable view.
Arriving to Capão Valley, you begin the trail which starts with an uphill section for about 1.25 miles, followed by about 2.5 miles on more gentle, flat ground. The stunning views and landscapes which look like they’ve been taken from a Dr. Seuss book will accompany you throughout the hike. You’ll finally arrive at the centerpiece of the Cachoeira da Fumaca or aptly named Smoke Waterfall. The Cachoeira da Fumaca which is the equivalent to a 112-storey building, is without a doubt one of the most impressive waterfalls outside of Iguazu Falls! As the waterfall is so high up, the small water flow is sprayed by the wind before it can touch the ground, creating a fine mist and revealing colorful rainbows. Following a picnic lunch, you’ll start making your way back along the same route back to your transfer. You’ll stop off along the way at the Riachinho waterfall, to relax after the hike and if you want, enjoy a refreshing swim in its secluded waters before eventually returning to Lençóis.
This trip involves a boat tour along the Santo Antônio River in the swamplands near Lençóis. Pick-up at 8:30 and a 1.5 hour car ride to the fishing village of Remanso to start the boat ride. The trip includes the boating, a visit to the Roncador River and its many cascades, and a great lunch with regional food. In the afternoon, you’ll travel by jeep from the Roncador River back to Lençóis.
This is one of the most traditional hikes from Lencois. The tour starts at 8:30 and will take you along a 7 km mining trail following the Ribeirao river. Lunch break and swim at the Sossego waterfall. On the way back, you’ll visit the Ribeirao do Meio, a big pool with a fantastic natural rock slide. Return to Lencois around 17:00h.
This morning you’ll leave Lençóis and head out towards the iconic Poço Encantado. Upon arrival, you’ll be able to enjoy the impressive blue water pool inside the wide limestone cave, where you’ll be able to see the bottom of the cave through the clear water, 197 ft. below! From one incredible cave to the next as you visit the Poço Azul. This amazing underground pool of crystal blue water is where you can really dive into the adventure as you go snorkeling to see what lies at the bottom of the cave. After the swim, a delicious home-cooked lunch will be served before your transfer takes you back to Lençóis.
Chapada Diamantina can be visited practically all year round because its climate does not veer into any weather extremes. However, it does have a rainy season and a dry season. Considering it is one of the best walking destinations on the planet, many would assume that it is best to go in the dry season which runs from August to October, but actually, the rains that appear in abundance from November to March mean that this stunning area of natural beauty is bolstered by the damp, which makes the foliage and vegetation even more lush and dense. The rains start to die off from around April onwards, but there is no guarantee that it will not rain. Because of the altitude, temperatures average around 68˚F (20˚C) all year round, but the drier months see daytime temperatures reaching 86˚F (30˚C), but cooling off at night to below 68˚F (20˚C).
Chapada Diamantina can be accessed from the town of Lençóis, which is the main area serviced by a small airport 15.5 miles (25km) away. Ocean Air operates flights from Salvador de Bahia that return on Saturdays. Lençóis is 248.5 miles (400km) west of Salvador, which is serviced by domestic flights from every major city in Brazil. Most international flights from Europe and the US arrive to São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, from where connections to Salvador can be easily arranged as part of your itinerary. Transfers from the town of Lençóis can also be included in your travel plans, just speak to one of our travel experts and they will advise you.
Despite its size, there are a number of different lodging options in the town of Lençóis, from luxury hotels to budget accommodation, just ask our travel experts and they will tell you which hotel will best suit your needs. Taxis are a good way to get around when you are in the town, but if you wish to visit sites on the outskirts, it is best to do so as part of an organised tour, or we can arrange private transport with a local driver for you. In terms of food, Lençóis has a surprising amount of restaurants and cafes that cater to international tastes, serving everything from traditional Brazilian food to more global cuisine. Be sure and try a caipirinha, a local beverage that keeps revelers going well into the night. Once in the park, you will be led by a local guide, who will bring you around on foot or in a 4×4, as there are no usable roads into the mountains.