Lençóis & Chapada da Diamantina National Park
One of Bahia Brazil’s best kept secrets
This tiny town is the heart of access to some of the best backcountry hiking in all of Brazil. Chapada da Diamantina is 1520sq km and contains close to 100 cachoeiras (waterfalls) most of which are accessible by a short day hike, others only accessible by two to seven multiday treks. The park’s main attraction is hiking, however there is also some great horseback riding, mountain biking, base jumping, ridge walking, and rock climbing. Lençóis has a ton of tour operators looking to sell you their latest and very best adventure in the Chapada da Diamantina. After some time researching the different opportunities for day trips, I came to the quick realization that most of the tour operators were basically offering the same trips at the same prices. Funny that tends to be the trend with operators no matter where you are in the world. The good thing about Lençóis is the tours are each of great quality and offer some stunning vistas only a short day trip away.
I spent three days here, one visiting the highest waterfall in Brazil (Cachoeira da Famaca, 425m), one visiting the Poco Azul (a cave with crystal clear spring fed water), and another touring the natural pools and waterfalls within walking distance of Lençóis. It was an amazing experience in the interior of Bahia and a great eye opener to the remoteness of some of the colonial mining towns. The people who set up Lençóis back in the 1600’s were definite pioneers and much more adventurous than most travellers are now a days. They were following a dream of riches and of a better life, so much so, that they often left everything behind and risked their lives to set up shop in an incredibly remote and wild country. The Chapada da Diamantina and Lençóis is exactly this.
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Please Note: Travel inherently comes with an element of risk (just like crossing the road does). You are putting yourself in elements that are unfamiliar and foreign to your usual lifestyle and with that, become more susceptible to fall victim those who try to play off those unfamiliar to their local scams. There are also potential dangers in the environments to which you may not be accustomed to.
Please take extra care in travelling, ensure that you have adequate medical insurance (accidents seem to happen when you least expect them), and have let a trusted colleague, family member or friend know your whereabouts and activities.
Where Sidewalks End travel advises you to travel at your own risk, and to be extra aware of your surroundings (without letting it spoiling your time).
The tours to Chapada da Diamantina National Park are also not the cheapest trips in the world. Most of the day trips range between 110-180R. I think that having the local guide does make the experience better (depending on how talkative they are) no matter where you are. Maybe ask the tour operator in advance who the guide is, if they speak English, etc. The guides around Chapada da Diamantina are generally really good. Here is a guide I worked with while I was there, Luiz Krug ([email protected]), sort of a local legend around town and an incredible wealth of quality information.
If you are looking to cut costs, it is also possible to rent cars in Lençóis and travel to a lot of the tour destinations on your own. It is not necessary to travel with a certified guide within the national park and many of the day trips are possible to do solo. Renting a car is only 100R (at time of writing) for 12 hours. This is a great deal with three to five people and still allows you to see a lot of the highlights, you are only really sacrificing the local guide.
Click on this link for our ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Tours – packages that are highly personalized and tailored at your request.
Have you ever been to a National Park that just took your breath away? Where was it, and what did you do while there? Was it off the beaten path, and if so how did you find yourself there?