Go for the culinary, ecotourism, unique ecosystem, national park, off-the-beaten path, hiking and swimming.
This is one of the off-the-beaten path destinations that I recommend, if you have an adventurous spirit and would be willing to travel to a place where you will not bump in many other international visitors. Chapada Diamantina is a National Park in the State of Bahia, located in the Espinhaço Mountain Ridge, about 7-hour drive from that State's capital, Salvador. This is one of the most magic and esoteric places in Brazil, where you will find peace as you hike for hours in the valley or up the mountains to visit beautiful waterfalls and caves. Due to its size and lack of public transportation, the best way to get around is with a rental car; and if you are planning to take a long day or multi-day hike, you should consider hiring a local guide to ensure the safety of your trip and that you will not get lost.
The small towns that will give you direct access to the Park are Lençois, Andaraí, Igatu and Mucugê to the East; and Vale do Capão to the West. Every each one of these villages have their own vibe, so it is worth trying to visit as many of them as you can, and selecting your accommodations based on these towns and the attractions that you plan to visit. If you break you visit in two parts, build an itinerary that will include a stay in the North end and another in the South end of the park, so that you can visit most attractions without much time spent driving your car. I really like the laid-back vibe of the under-developed Vale do Capão, so this would be my suggestion as a base in the North side of the park; alternatively you can choose to stay in Lençois, which is a beautiful historic town and the main entry port to the Park. In the South side, Igatu or Andaraí are great locations to stay and a pretty central point to visit the rest of the main attractions, including the town of Mucugê, the oldest town of the entire region, founded in the XVIII century.
The duration of your trip really depends on how much you would like to explore the trails and the towns. To have a good feel of the region, its people and culture, I suggest at least a 7-day stay.
Here's one idea.
4 days at Capão Valley
Mucugezinho - Poço do diabo (15 minutes walk) – easy access – Rapel
Lapa Doce - one of the 3 largest caves in Brazil 1 hr 45 min from Lençois (20 km from Pai Inácio)
Gruta da Pratinha (Cave)– On the other side of Lapa Doce – you can pay to swimm there
Gruta Azul – Close to Pratinha
Morro do Pai Inácio – Go for the sunset
Fumaça Waterfalls (top view) – 2 .5 hours climb using the Morro do Cruzeiro trail + 2 km of strenuous climb + 4 km - bring enough water – guide not needed.
Rodas – 0.5-hour hike – Rio Capão
Lençois Town – Historic Site
From Lencóis – short trails to Serrano (15 min) + salão de areias (15 minutos) + Cachoeirinha, Poço Halley e Cachoeira Primavera (20 min) – No guide needed
Riachinho – Easy Access
Cachoeira do Sossego (waterfalls)– difficult and strenuous hike (7 km from Lençois in and out) – include a stop at Ribeirão do meio (1 hour) e o de baixo (be careful if you take children) – the trailhead is close to the campground and the church of Rosário, in the Negros Street– Do not hike if it rains, due to risk of flash flood.
Cachoeira do escorrega (sliding rock) – on the way back from Cacheira Sossego
3 days at Igatu
Xique-xique do Igatu, the Brazilian Machu-Pichu – 12 km from Andaraí – 2 to 3 hour hike (one of the most beautiful trails in the region) – You can do it by car, too
Check out how diamonds are lapidated – Andaraí
Mucugê – Cemitery
Poço Encantado – 42 km from Andaraí
Poço Azul – 45 km from Andaraí
Cachoeira do Rio Roncador – 8 km hike
Marimbus – Pantanal – 6 km from Andaraí – de carro/barco – ½ dia
Gruta da Paixão – 50 km from Andaraí – half day (drive and hike)
Or Cachoeira do Ramalho – all day – 2-3 hours to get there.
There is plenty of information about the Chapada Diamantina available in the Internet. Check each of these attractions out and make your own itinerary. If you are into hiking and can spare a few more days, then you must include the multi-day hike in Vale do Pati (3-4 days), which arguably one of the most beautiful in the world.
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