Camila went to Chapada Diamantina and has so much to tell us...
Finally the most expected destination of the trip arrived: the Chapada Diamantina. Chapada Diamantina National Park, created in 1985 and a distant 420 km from Salvador, houses 1520 square meters of caves, giant canyons and the most beautiful and highest waterfalls in the country. Altogether this makes Chapada one of the main ecotourism destinations in Brazil.
But the relationship between Chapada Diamantina and tourism is fairly recent. In the 17th century the region was inhabited by Indians, then invaded by blacks and Portuguese. During this year, the local economy became agiculture and the region gradually became populated by farms and small communities called `quilombos`. When the gold period began, the gold-mining cycle lasted for almost a century, and later the diamond's extraction lasted twenty-six years. In this period, the region exported gold and diamond to the nations like France, England and Germany.
It was during the diamond cycle that new settlements were created and, from there, the region happened to be called Chapada Diamantina, allusion to the mineral and its geological formation.
At the beginning of the 20th century, with the decay of the diamond cycle and its end, the era of the colonels began and grew through the territory. The diamond extraction was then banned and the Chapada Diamantina National Park was created, with its interface with ecotourism.
Although Lençóis is the main city, the towns like Mucugê, Capão Valley, Igatu and Ibicoara also stand out in the reception to the travelers. The ideal is to visit the Chapada Diamantina using the different villages as bases, since we are talking about displacements that could easily take more the 2 hours.
It was two important lessons that this trip to Chapada taught me:
1> There are several types of tourists, from the adventurous to the sedentary and the Chapada is really for everyone.
2> it is much more interesting to be able to travel through Chapada sleeping in different villages. The attractions of the Park are scattered throughout the region and taking a circular itinerary that includes overnight stays at different locations will make the trip much lighter and more attractive.
From everything we have experienced, my recommendations:
Vila de Ibicoara: Among the more than 200 waterfalls, the Buracão is a must see. To reach the huge water well - due to the decomposition of leaves and root tannins - surrounded by walls up to 85 meters high, it is necessary to face 30 km of dirt road from Ibicoara, in the southern part of the Chapada plus a 3km walk. From medium difficulty, the trail ends in a bautiful and surprising way.
Vila de Mucuge: it is listed as national patrimony by IPHAN (Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage). It was in this municipality that the first diamonds of the Chapada Diamantina appeared in 1844. And a beautiful village with colorful historical houses, great options of bars and restaurants and charming inns. One of the most interesting attractions is the Byzantine-style cemetery, unique in Brazil, which draws attention to its uniqueness. Composed of church-shaped deposits, all painted in white, it refers to the neogothic architectural style of the mid-18th century.
Village of Igatu: One of the most important heritages of the golden times of diamond mining in the region - that had its apex between 1844 and 1871 -, the town reached to have 9 thousand inhabitants. Today it has 500 inhabitants and a bucolic atmosphere, but the history continues present in the architecture and the lifestyle of its residents. Protected by Iphan, the ruins of the stone houses belonging to the garimpeiros are at one end of the district and, mixed with vegetation, make up a scenario reminiscent of European stone cities. Ali is worth taking a break in the Art and Memory Gallery, a space maintained by the artist Marcos Zacariades. On site, in addition to contemporary art exhibitions, there is an open-air museum with pieces from the garimpo era.
Between Mucuge (or Igatu) and Lencois: the Poco Azul (Blue Well) is one of the most unique attractions in the region. With a depth of up to 21 meters, the incredible crystal-clear reservoir located inside a cave was discovered in 1920 by local garimpeiros, but was only explored by tourism in the 90's. There, equipped with lifejackets, goggles and snorkel, the tourist can fall into the water and float gently observing the entire background well clear. In autumn and winter, the spectacle becomes even more fascinating, with a beam of sunlight streaming over the well. The temperature of the water stays the entire year in the range of 24oC and access is easy: just down a staircase.
Lençóis: considered the capital of the Chapada, and the main municipality and also the most tourist. Most of the tourists stay only here and do all the tours from the city. It has several options of accommodation, restaurants, shops and many attractions is based on this location. The most famous and recommended are:
Considered one of the largest waterfalls in the country, Cachoeira da Fumaça has an impressive 360 meters of fall and a spectacular view. It is the most sought after attraction for travelers who like to enjoy the excitement of being at the top of this waterfall.
Lapa Doce Grotto
It is the third largest cave in Brazil, with 20 km mapped and 850 meters open for visitation. It differs from most of the caves in the region because it is wide, airy and easily accessible.
This is an attraction with easy access, made by trail with about 15 minutes, which borders the Rio Mucugezinho.
Morro do Pai Inácio
traditional and unmissable attraction, from the top it seems that the Chapada has no end. It is the postcard of the Chapada and it is from there that one observes the most famous sunset of the Chapada.
For the more adventurous and trekking lovers, the Pati Valley Trekking:
Although many of the Chapada Diamantina's attractions are accessible by car or by day trails, the most breathtaking scenery of Bahia destination requires more disposition and physical preparation of the visitor. Much sought after by adventurers, wanderers and trekkers, the Vale do Pati is the crème de la crème in the region. There, you can only reach on foot - and the walk, although scenic, is not easy.
The Pati became populated in the early 20th century, when heavy drought led natives to seek survival in their wetlands. The site then became a thriving coffee producing area until the 1930s, when the government nationalized the coffee crop and ordered the end of plantations in the region. Little by little the 2,000 people who lived there left and today there are only 12 families who survive mainly from tourism, hosting and feeding the pilgrims.
The itineraries vary from three to seven nights in the Valley, with different routes and attractions. The most traditional goes from the Valley of Capão to Andaraí.
WHEN TO GO: Chapada is a destination to go year-round. From December to February the daily rates go up and the trails are a little busier - and the waterfalls are filled with more water. From June to August, the climate is dry (drink lots of water). June is also the month of the feast of St. John and in October, the Lençóis Festival takes place.
HOW TO GET THERE by bus from Salvador (only to Lençóis). There are two daily buses that take approximately 7 hours to travel. Azul Airlines flies to and from Lençóis airport from Salvador every Tuesday and Thursday.
How to circulate: Gondwana offers private or shared route options.
Contact us so we can offer the best routing option for your customers.