Trekking through Chapada Diamantina

Lencois Travel Blog

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This was at the beginning of the hike, just outside of Lencois. I think in the distance was an old diamond mine that our guide pointed out to us.
We woke up bright and early on Friday morning to meet up with our guide Marcello who would take us on our trek to the Sossego Waterfall. We stopped by the store to get food and water before we took off. Marcello looked at our overstuffed backpack and wondered why we had packed enough for a week instead of just one day. We walked across town and there were tons of people casually strolling on paved paths wearing flip flops and such. I thought to myself, "this hike is going to be easy!" He assured us that those people were not going to the same place we were going to. At the edge of town were these cute houses with beautiful gardens that made me think of Anne of Green Gables, if it happened to take place in Brazil.

Sure enough, the crowds eventually disappeared and we were walking on a narrow paths, swatting plants out of our faces.
A random hut in the middle of the forest.
Marcello would often take off ahead of us, unaware of the fact that we were pretty far behind him. When he realized, he would slow down for a bit. In broken English he explained the history of the Chapada to us and pointed out the sights. Chapada Diamantina means "Diamond Plateau" and at one time made Brazil a major producer of diamonds. The town of Lencois and other towns surrounding the Chapada sprung up during the diamond boom and the colonial buildings reflect the architecture of the time.

After climbing up some steep sloping rocks, I begun to wonder what I had gotten myself into. It was really just the beginning of a long day.
A tame part of the "trail" to the waterfall. It was definitely all about the journey.
We stopped at a stream that Marcello claimed was so clean you could drink from it. That's probably partly why he didn't think we needed so much water. I opted out but my roommate Sarah decided to give it a try. Being from Alaska and doing all sorts of outdoor stuff on a regular basis, she was more adventurous when it came to those types of things. I just hoped she had some Immodium.

We continued on and the path (if there was one) became narrower and steeper. We were surrounded by beautiful nature and it felt great. All of a sudden, we came across an old man with a hut in the middle of the forest selling sodas, coconut juice and other things. You can't get away from vendors, even in the mountains. But he was very friendly and had a bunch of adorable kittens. We stopped to chat and play with the kittens until Marcello got a bit impatient and encouraged us to keep walking.
Cachoeira do Sossego- Waterfall of Calmness


Just when I settled into the hike, the trail completely vanished and all I could see was a river and huge boulders. Sarah, with her Alaskan optimism, thought this was a fun surprise. That was when I really begun to question my decision. But there was no turning back so I pressed on, hoping that I wouldn't lose a limb in between the boulders. They called it rock hopping, but being short and not used to that sort of activity, it was more like climbing to me. The rocks were slippery and so big that with each one, I had to figure out where to step and what to hold on to to avoid serious injury. Marcello paused to show us how to make paint by wetting red rocks in the river and then rubbing them against the boulders. At one point we had to basically crawl through a cave that was only a few feet high.
We spent a very nice day here with just a few other groups who took on the rock hopping challenge.
The boulder climbing continued for what seemed like forever until we reached our destination.

It was a beautiful waterfall made more beautiful by the fact that we had finally reached it. It's a great sense of accomplishment to push through a challenge like that and to do things you wouldn't normally do. Marcello told us that if we scaled the side of the mountain we would have a better view and a great place to take pictures. At that point, I thought scaling a mountain was no big deal so I went up. When we got back down, we ate lunch and swam in the swimming hole and just enjoyed the day. There was one group already there and a few more came after us. It was really pleasant and we spent a few hours there. On the way back, I knew what to expect and the boulder climbing seemed a lot less challenging. But once we were back on a regular trail, the adrenaline disappeared and tiredness set in. All of a sudden there was a bar in the middle of forest and a bunch of chickens and other animals. After pausing for a moment, we continued hiking and when we reached Lencois, we were extremely happy.

For dinner than night, we decided to go to Cozinha Aberta, a restaurant recommended by the Loney Planet Brazil guidebook. It was a tiny restaurant and was basically a few tables set up in the front of a house. It had an interesting menu of Italian, Indian and Thai food. I had Thai Coconut Curry chicken and it was amazing. I was definitely not expecting excellent Thai food in the middle of Bahia and it was delicious.

After eating, we made tour arrangements for the next day and then explored the Lencois nightlife. It's definitely not as lively as Salvador but it was still fun. Across the square from our hotel was a outdoor forro house party. People had gathered on the porch to play music and dance and it looked like a lot of fun. In another square there were vendors selling jewelery and other crafts that were different from the things we saw in Salvador. They were much more earthy and had more of a Native American influence rather than Afro-Brazilian influence.

We met up with Marcello and hung out at a bar on a busy street and sampled different flavors of infused cachaca. Marcello told some of the locals that Sarah and I were fast hikers. We thought we were slow because we spent the whole day trying to keep up with him. At the bar we met some American volunteers from a different organization based in Lencois. We compared and exchanged stories about volunteering and life in Bahia and then we all headed over to the Bar do Reggae (or maybe it was called Roots Reggae Bar). Almost all of the bars in town could've been called "Reggae Bar", but this was the only one with the official name. The inside of the bar made me laugh... a small room with a wooden bar and an MIA bartender. And when he finally appeared, I think he was serving beers from a cooler. There was some cool "wallpaper" though, album covers from Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Alpha Blondy, Jimmy Cliff, etc. There were a few old rastas dancing to the music coming from the sound system which was just a large stereo on the counter spinning a reggae CD. After hanging out for a bit, we went to bed early again to rest our sore muscles and prepare for another early morning and a day of cave exploration...
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This was at the beginning of the h…
This was at the beginning of the …
A random hut in the middle of the …
A random hut in the middle of the…
A tame part of the trail to the …
A tame part of the "trail" to the…
Cachoeira do Sossego- Waterfall of…
Cachoeira do Sossego- Waterfall o…
We spent a very nice day here with…
We spent a very nice day here wit…
Lencois
photo by: worldcitizen