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Chapada Diamantina National Park

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The National Park of Chapada Diamantina (Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina) is in the centre of the state of Bahia in Brazil.

Understand[edit]

History[edit]

The National Park was created in 1985 to protect Serra do Cincorá and to attract growing number of ecotourists.

Landscape[edit]

This scenery mountain range includes mountains, valleys, monoliths, caves, rivers and waterfalls. Highest parts of the park raise over 2000 meters above sea level (average being 1000m above sea level) and offer breathtaking views. The area is about 400km inland, west of Salvador in Bahia state in the Northeast region of Brazil in the middle of the dry sertão (back-country plains).

It is an important water source with many rivers starting here. These rivers make incredible waterfalls as they fall off the vertical walls of the mountains. The vegetation is of open grassy fields with isolated trees (similar to the African savannah) with some thicker vegetation along the rivers.

Flora and fauna[edit]

At the top of the flat top hills the vegetation is particularly weird and fantastic. Wildlife is not very easy to spot. Apart from humming birds and vultures you are unlikely to see the anteaters or jaguars which live here.

Climate[edit]

Get in[edit]

You can start from Lençóis, by plane from São Paulo and Salvador or bus from Salvador.

Another option is to go to Vale do Capão which is at walking distance of many places of interest, and more quiet than Lençóis.

By bus[edit]

Coaches are clean, comfortable (good reclining seats) and air conditioned. The bus’ suspension also deals with the potholes and lumps better than a car’s. There’s a conductor as well as driver aboard.

Lençois
There are three busses operated by Rápido Federal leaving the central bus station in Salvador Terminal de Ônibus da Rodoviária at 7 am, 1 pm and 11 pm. The ticket costs around R$85 plus the terminal fee which is R$5,25. The trip takes about 6,5 hours.

Vale do Capão
The same busses that go to Lençois also continue to Palmeiras. The trip takes about 7 hours and costs R$91 plus the R$5,25 terminal fee. If you are coming with the night or the morning bus from Salvador, minibusses are waiting at the bus terminal in Palmeiras to take you to Vale do Capão. The trip takes about an hour and costs R$15.

Be aware:

  • You do not need to buy your return ticket from Palmeiras already in Salvador, even if the vendors in Salvador tell you so. You can still buy it at a Launchonette selling also the minibus tickets, which is located next to the central square in Vale do Capão. However, it is good to book the bus and the minibus back at least a day in advance to guarantee a spot. It gets full, especially on the weekends.
  • At the booth at the Salvador terminal they might tell you that you have to buy an insurance, which costs R$3,50. This is neither obligatory nor really needed.

Fees/Permits[edit]

You do not need to pay for the National Park. However, for some places you need to pay an entrance fee (e.g. when they are located on private property).

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

The best sights and experiences will be found on walks into the mountains. These can be short excursions (eg to see the Fumaça waterfall) or longer treks such as a 4-5 day Capão and Pati Valley hike.

  • Cachoeira da Fumaça - the second highest waterfall (340 m) of Brazil is so high that the water never hits the ground. It vaporizes in the air by the force of the wind. Access usual from guided tours starting in Lençóis that make the whole trip to and fro, or using Vale do Capão, but if starting from Vale do Capão, walk 3km from the main village, get to the entrance, pay a donation (they won't force you), they will offer you a guide, but it is an easy 2 hour walk, with only two places where the trail forks (pay attention). Start in the early morning (best if hot season) and you will be back for lunch.
  • Cachoeira do Sossego - another spectacular waterfall.
  • Cachoeira do Buracão - ...and another.
  • The caverns of Lapa Doce and Pratinha - a must for cave enthusiasts.
  • Poço Encantado - Enchanted Pool with incredibly blue water.
  • Devil's weel - A river with a waterfall with a black water, rich in iron.

Do[edit][add listing]

Trekking and hiking
A good base is Vale do Capão as it offers various trails starting close to the village including the trail to Brazil's second highest waterfall Cachoeira da Fumaça.

  • Vale do Pati:

You should plan at least three days to go there. On the way you can stay in the houses of families providing food and basic accommodation. It is best to go with a local guide, who can also organise the home stays. This way you also support the local community.

  • Day hikes from Vale do Capão:

If you do not have much time and/or do not want to spend money for a guide, you can do several day hikes from Vale do Capão. The following ones all take about 3-4 hours to go and get back. As long as you have an offline map and GPS, you do not need a guide for these:

  • Cachoeira da Fumaça:
    At the entrance of the trail you register yourself in a book and can leave a donation for the preservation of the trail. The path is quite easy to find and after about half an hour incline the rest of the way is quite flat. When you reach the waterfall go to both view points to enjoy its full beauty.
  • Cascata Angélica and Purificação:
    From the center of Vale do Capão walk south along the road towards Bomba. There the trail starts. You need to cross the river several times until you reach after another 15 minutes Cascata Angélica. A good place to stop and have a swim. Afterwards you can continue another 30 minutes to Purificação.
  • Ponta Velha, Cascata Rio Preto and Rio Rodas:
    The circuit starts in the West part of the village. You can take a bath in the ferrous and thus red-brownish waters of Ponte Velha and Cascata Rio. Rio Rosas is a good place to watch the sunset.
  • Riachinho:
    As the waterfall is located north of the village, follow the street in direction of Palmeiras until you reach the trail.

Visit a cave

  • Gruta Lapa Doce
  • Gruta Pratinha


  • Pura Aventura, +44 1273 676 712, [1]. They offer tailor made trips to the Chapada Diamantina National Park with various great walking options in and around the wonderfully remote Pati Valley, Cachoeirao waterfall, Morro do Castelo, the Blue Pool and more. Pura Aventura is a small but recognised tour operator from the UK.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

Godó de banana is a must try when visiting Chapada Diamantina. It's a dish created by the prospectors of diamonds who first inhabited the region and consists of: unripe cooked bananas, different types of meat (including sausage, dry/jerked beef and bacon), tomatoes, parsley and spring onions.

Drink[edit][add listing]

In this region one can find all kinds of flavoured cachaças, some found nowhere else in Brazil.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Lodging[edit]

Lençois is the most developed town in the Chapada Diamantina thanks to its accessible position and to its history as a wealthy mining and trading town in the C19th and beyond. If you stay at the very pretty Hotel Canto dos Aguas, it’s a 2 minute walk into the town, crossing a smart bridge into the town square (Praça Nagôs).

Since commercial agriculture and mining is now banned in the National Park, the remaining handful of families in the Pati Valley make a living providing accommodation to hikers. They are basic, but impressive in the circumstances and more comfortable and responsible than camping. Maps of the Chapada have the few houses marked on it and labeled with the names of their inhabitants.

A couple of cheap Posadas are also available in Palmeiras, starting from 10 real, but not much point staying here, better head straight to Vale do Capão. Jeeps do the trip for 15 real usually, but if you charter the vehicle they will charge 50 real.

Vale do Capão : Many places to stay to all budgets. If you facy camping go to Pousada Sempre Viva, you get plenty of room for your tent, plus cement bungalows and cheap rooms with toilet.

Camping[edit]

Inside the National Park in the Vale do Paty trail you can camping in locals houses, they will charge you between 5-6 real pp and give you firewood and kitchen to use. Otherwise you can camp anywhere else, but beware of camping close to a river, because of flashfloods. Few people have drowned already.

In Vale do Capão, best place to camp is Pousada Sempre Viva, from 7 real camping, but you can haggle for longer stays.

Backcountry[edit]

Stay safe[edit]

Keep in mind that evening storms are quite frequent in the area.

Get out[edit]

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