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Chapada Diamantina

The Diamond Highlands of Bahia

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Lençóis & Chapada Diamantina || Iraquara || Jacobina || Mucugê || Rio de Contas
 
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Seabra Region: Seabra, Abaíra, Andaraí, Barra da Estiva, Boninal, Bonito, Contendas do Sincorá, Ibicoara, Itaeté, Jussiape, Lençóis, Mucugê, Nova Redenção, Palmeiras, Piatã, Rio de Contas, Utinga, Wagner

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Bahia's heart rests in the Chapada Diamantina, thisCARN016.jpg mountainous region, an imposing landscape of high plains and dramatic mesas, is the source of 90% of the tributaries of the Paraguacu, Jacuipe and Contas rivers basins. Crystal clear water surges out of peaks, runs down mountain sides, forms dramatic waterfalls that come to rest in translucid pools and swimming holes that dot the lowland plains.
The Chapada is home to Bahia's three highest points: Pico
das Almas (Souls Peak), Itabira Peak and Barbados Peak. The Chapada is als home to the famous Glass Fall also known as Cachoeira da Fumaca (smoke Waterfall) whose free-falling water drops more than 415 meteres in to fascinating Poco Encantado (Enchanted Well).

The Chapada Diamantina National Park is surrounded by historic mining towns such as Andaraí, Lençóis, Palmeiras, Mucugê, and Igatu. Of these, Lençóis surely has the best infrastructure for visitors, with many restaurants, bars, and hotels to suit all tastes and budgets, and the greatest number of nearby natural attractions.

Just outside of the town of Lençóis, lies the Chapada Diamantina, or Diamond Highlands.
The beautiful mountains, waterfalls, and natural pools all help to make this a very special place to visit.  Valleys of lush green dotted with bright tropical flowers surround a mountain range of twisted red-rock formations.

Lençóis & Chapada Diamantina Park || TOP ||

The gateway community of Lençóis is an old colonial town of stone streets and little churches, with cellphone towers the only real sign of modern world. The attractions here are entirely natural. People walk the highlands, explore caves, mountain bike old miners' tracks, swim in natural pools, and waterfalls. All parts of Lençóis can be reached by foot in less than 15 minutes. Excursions to the many caves and waterfalls in the area all include transport .

Chapada Diamantina National Park:
The most famous waterfall in the park is Cachoeira de Fumaça (Waterfall of Smoke), so called because the thin stream of water slipping over the 335m (1,100-foot) precipice fades into a thick, fine mist before it ever reaches the ground.

The park is also known for its mesalike mountain formations. The most famous are Morro do Pai Inácio (located right next to BR-242 west of Lençóis), the 1,067m (3,500-ft.) Morro do Camelo, and the 1,403m (4,600-ft.) Monte Tabor (also called Marrão). All have trails to the top, and from the flat top of any one, you have the entire Chapada spread at your feet.

Caves are a fascinating aspect of the Chapada Diamantina Park. Some of the best-known ones in the area include Gruta de Lapão, a rare sandstone and quartzite cave over 1km (1/2 mile) long from end to end. It's located about 5km (3 miles) from Lençóis. Further afield one finds a number of the more traditional limestone caves, with rock flowers, stalagmites, and stalactites.
Gruta da Lapa Doce, may be the most beautiful, it extends 850m (2,788 ft.) underground. In the same area is Gruta da Pritinha, where an underground river emerges into the sun. Inside there's a large pool where you can dive and swim. Nearby is the small Gruta Azul. Late in the afternoon when the sun reaches into this cave, the water glows cobalt blue.

 [F] Diving in the Cave of Chapada Diamantina National Park Gruta da Pratinha Os Impossíveis, Poço Encantado & Poço de Milú
 [F] Brazil's wild west of caves: Poço Encantado Treasure Quest
"Getting permission to dive Poço Encantado has been a labor of love....The logistics were murder: the remote Impossibles lay at the bottom of a 100-foot pit with vertical walls. "


sbe.com.br Sociedade Brasileira de Espeleologia - SBE
Campinas SP - CEP: 13076-970 Fone/Fax: (19) 3296.5421

 

NATURAL ATTRACTIONS
Mucugezinho River. Close to Lençóis, very popular with refreshment stands lining its banks.  Below these stands on the same river is a deep cold pool called the Poço de Diablo.
Poço Azul South of Lençóis, near the town of Andaraí,  an underwater pool with crystal-clear water and excellent limestone formations  where swimming is allowed.

Poço Encantado: Swimming is not allowed. A long way from anywhere down some pretty bad roads, but it is special. It's a large underground cavern with perfectly clear water. Between April and August light reaches down through a window in the cavern wall, and the water glows electric blue.

Marimbus wetland. In addition to lots of caiman, it boasts capybaras and a wide variety of colorful bird life.

Biking -- Roney Oliverira Aleixo (tel. 075/334-1700) has lived in the area for 10 years and biked every possible trail.

Hiking -- Trails in the Chapada Diamantina are universally good. Many of them are old miners' supply routes. Signage is nonexistent. Carry a map, compass, and some spare food and water (locals insist the water from and in the highlands is drinkable, but there are enough cattle still illegally pastured up there that I have my doubts). If in doubt of your trail-finding skills, bring a guide along.

There's no end to hikes in the Chapada Diamantina, here's 4 suggested by Frommers.

  •  A short hike up the Lençóis River from the bridge will take you to the Serrano swimming holes, composed of little pools of pink conglomerate rock. About .5km (.25 miles) further up the river, there's the larger Hartley natural pool. A short and very pretty walk beyond that there's a small tributary coming in from the right, the Grizante Creek. Follow that up and you'll come to Primavera Falls.
  • An hour's walk south of town will lead you to the Ribeirão de Meio natural waterslide. The waterslide is also the trail head for a long (8-hr.) hike along the banks of the Ribeirão River to Sossego Canyon and Sossego Falls.
  • A good day hike that will take you through the heart of the Chapada is the 25km (16-mile) trek from the Capão Valley to Lençóis (or vice versa). Done from Lençóis, it's possible to get an 8am bus to Palmeiras (R$3/US$1) on the far side of the Chapada, then hire a cab to take you over the rough gravel road to the trail head (R$25/US$8.25). The mostly level hike takes about 8 hours and provides some excellent views along the way.
  • From the bridge in Lençóis a trail leads up beside the Lençóis River to the Serrano swimming hole and Primavera Falls. An hour's walk south of town will lead you to the Riberão de Meio rock slide, a huge natural waterslide flanked by many natural swimming holes. A long (8-hr.) hike up this same river leads to the Sossego canyon and waterfall.
Horseback Riding -- For horseback riding, find one-armed Taurino Sousa Alcantera in his souvenir shop at Rua das Pedras s/n, about halfway up the street (tel. 075/334-1403).

Rappelling -- A popular sport in Brazil, rappelling is the act of lowering yourself down a length of rope with a harness and a locking carabiner. You can rappel down a cliff face, a waterfall, into a cave, whatever. In Lençóis, the rappelling specialist is Nativos da Chapada, Rua Miguel Calmon 29 (tel. 075/334-1314 for the shop, or 075/9960-0131 cellphone).

Tour Operators

  • lentur.com.br  Lentur, Avenida Sete de Setembro (tel. 075/334-1271;
    offers different guided minivan tours to just about all of the local caves, springs, waterfalls, and mesas (Lapa Doce, Gruta Azul, Poço do Diable, Poço Encantado, and so on).
    Lentur also does guided trail hikes for groups of up to six people.
  • Tatu na Trilha-english ||francais ||PORTUGUÊS
    Trekking Agency at Chapada Diamantina  Find hiking maps on-line w/ fotos
  • ACVL (Associação dos Conductores de Visitores no Lençóis), Av. General Viveiros 61, (tel. 075/334-1425).
    across the river by the Cantos dos Aguas Hotel is a way to contact a  guide  directly:
  • www.venturas.com.br , Venturas & Aventuras, Praça Horácio de Matos 16 (tel. 075/ 334-1304
    On the main square ), is run by English-speaking guides.
"Our destination, the mountain-resort town of Lençóis, built by the falls of the Rio Santo Antonio, looked like the Town of Bedrock -- stone houses, stone streets, an open-air market selling stone carvings and stone picture frames."
 [F] Brazil's wild west of caves: Poço Encantado Treasure Quest

 

Visitor Information

DownloadLENTUR VIAGENS E TURISMO LTDA.
Av 7 de Setembro, 15 

Lençóis-Bahia-Brasil  CEP 49600-000  
Telefax:55. 75. 334-1271 / 334-1117
In Lençóis, the local tourism agency Sectur Lençóis, Av. Sr. dos Passos s/n, opposite the Portal Lençóis Hotel on the far side of the river from the main square, has pamphlets on tours and attractions in the area, and a color brochure on the Chapada for sale for R$8 (US$2.65).
Staff speak Portuguese only, like the web site which is all flash so google cannot translate it.
 [F] Telephone Directory - Lençóis
 

Pousada Candombá   www.gd.com.br/candomba/english
excellent website with geology, history, trail maps, cave maps, trekkying guides including overnight trips

Download www.trilhasecaminhos.com.br >>  to English by google Guidebook website with many fotos by Roberto Sapucaia

chapada_diamantina by folha.uol.com.br  Portuguese only

 

Fast Facts  [F] Lencois/ Chapada Diamantina Telephone Directory

The Banco do Brasil, Praça Horario de Matos 56 (main square), ATM i-- PLUS/Visa only. Internet access at Pede Trilha, Rua Miguel Calmon s/n, opposite the market hall (tel. 075/334-1124);

PLACES TO STAY

  • Pousada dos Duendes: Located in Lençois.
     
  • Pousada Villa Serrano: Located in Lençois
  • Pousada Candombá: Located in the Chapada Diamantina
  •  
    An excellent place to stay is the pousada "Casa da Geléia" run by José Carlos and Lia (www.casadageleia.com.br ,tel/fax 075-334-1151,  in the road behind the petrol station, as you enter the town. José Carlos speaks English, they have a big garden and have had 14 different species of hummingbird at their feeders, including, occasionally, the rare (in Brazil) Brown Violetear Colibri delphinae. Lia provides early breakfast on a tray or a sumptuous feast at 8:00 am. arthurgrosset.com

GETTING THERE

By Car -- The main Chapada town of Lençóis is 427km (265 miles) from Salvador. Take BR-324 to Feira to Santana, turn onto BR-116 to Argoim and then BR-242 to Lençóis. The road is paved the entire way, but the asphalt breaks up in places on the BR-242. Car rental is best done in Salvador.

By Bus -- Real Expresso (tel. 0800/617-325; www.realexpresso.com.br ) makes the approximately 5-hour journey between Salvador and Lençóis at a cost of R$34 (US$11). Buses depart the Salvador Rodoviaria for Lençóis daily at 11:30pm (arriving at 5am), as well as Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 7am (arriving 2pm). From Lençóis, buses depart the bus station on Av. Senhor dos Passos s/n (tel. 075/334-1112) for Salvador on Sunday at 11pm, Monday through Saturday at midnight, and Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8am.

By Air --  the Airport of Lençois offers 3 flights a week from Salvador or Brasilia (Airlines available: Rio Sul, Nordeste) and 1 flight a week from São Paulo to Lençois (Airline: Pantanal)  
to Lençóis airport, 25km (16 miles) from town.

Jacobina  || TOP ||            the Golden City; Pop 75,000; dial code (74)
Situated in the northwest region of Bahia, Jacobina is 330 km from Salvador and is also known as Golden City because of its gold mines that used to attract explorers in the beginning of the 17th century. Surrounded by mountains, lakes, fountains and waterfalls, Jacobina is an excellent destination for those who like ecological tourism.
Jacobina is a regional hub with many options for the visitor, it is also an older City with  a rich historical and cultural heritage.
 

HIKING TRAILS

  • Trilha dos Bandeirantes (Pioneer's Trail)
    Situated 8 km from Jacobina on a farm that is going to be open for visitation, under the name 'Bandeirantes Ecological Station.' There are many areas of well preserved forest with very interesting things to see, such as the Jequitibá waterfall, the Amores waterfall and its canyon and the Brito waterfall. Tourists can hike on trails through the forest, observe century-old trees, and after that they can visit the ruins of the São Miguel das Figuras church, a building from the 18th century.
  • Véu da Noiva Trail
    This circuit includes a beautiful, 60-meter tall waterfall good for bathing and climbing.
  • Piancó Trail
    That is an easy trail that leads to the Pianco waterfall. It is 40 meters tall and forms natural swimming pools, great for bathing. It is situated on the Itaitu district.
  • Jaqueira Trail
    During this hike, it is possible to visit the Arapongas waterfall, the Geladeira well and the Sossego waterfall.
  • Payayás Trail
    Located in Saúde, 44 km far from Jacobina. It is a very beautiful trail along a river with many small beaches. After walking about an hour, there is a 40-meter tall waterfall which forms a big lake, excellent for swimming.

Natural Attractions

  • Paulista Waterfalls:Next to Saúde, 45 km from Jacobina. These falls are formed by the Paulista river, which separates the towns of Caém and Saúde.
  • Aníbal Waterfall  50 meters tall.
  • Caldeirão Waterfall formed by the Canavieiras river and is 30 meters tall.
  • Itaipu Fountains: Natural springs of magnesium water.
  • Antônio Sobrinho Lake: The largest one in the region.
  • Jenipapo Lake: One of the most beautiful in the area, ideal for bathing.
  • Gruta dos Ossos (Bones Cave) bones of pre-historical animals have been found.
  • Alves and Piancó Waterfalls: very beautiful and worthwhile


FOOD: The cuisine is typical from the sertão: roast goat meat, carne-de-sol (beef dried on the sun), pirão de leite (a kind of mush made with milk), andu (a kind of vegetable) and feijão-de- corda (a variety of beans).
The city is also famous by its typical sweets and candies. The most famous are made with banana, guava and quince.

Shopping
Jacobina is a commercial center with two shopping malls, movie theaters, hotels, seven banks and lots of bars and restaurants because it is on the path to cities in the west, such as Barreiras.
Modelo Market
Very good selection of arts and crafts made with leather, ceramics and natural fibers. Also you may find a street fair.

The nightlife is good with many bars, good restaurants and barbecue places.

PLACES TO STAY
Jacobina has a good hotel infrastructure with over 12 hotels

GETTING THERE: The access is by land, from Salvador taking BR-324, which is in good conditions. You can buy bus tickets from the companies: Empresa Gontijo de Transportes Ltda., São Luís and Águia Branca.
 

Mucugê || TOP || pop. 15,000 Dialing code (75)
Situated 900 meters above the sea level, Mucugê is a place that astonishes the tourists with its beautiful scenery. The town is surrounded by mountains, caves, rivers and waterfalls, which are perfect for rafting and other sports on the water. Besides the nature, the town has a rich History and many fascinating stories about its early days as a mining claim.

Mucugê region, which since the beginning of the XIX century was occupied by farmers, was one of the first ones in Bahia that attracted gold washers.

According to the official History, the first diamond of the region was found on July 25, in 1844, by Cristiano Pereira do Nascimento, the godson of José Pereira do Prado, also known as "Cazuza do Prado", and an important man in the area.

The diamond probably was found in Cumbucas stream while Cristiano was washing his hands.

The Bizantino cemetery, the Sandália Bordada waterfall, the Siberia waterfall, the Cumbucas river, the Monte Azul valley, the Tiburtino waterfall, the Andorinhas waterfall and the Cardoso waterfall are places that offer a plesant contact with nature.

GETTING THERE: from Salvador.
The first one, via BR-242, passing through Itaberaba, until the road meets BA-142.
The newest access is using the BR-116 until a little before Milagres, where you should follow to Iaçu and Marcionílio Souza. Then, go to Itaetê until BA-142. Going through this route, the distance between Salvador and Mucugê is 430km.

From Ilhéus
A partir de Ilhéus, via BR-415, go to Vitória da Conquista. Then, get BR-407 until it meets BA-142, passing through Anagé, Tanhaçu and Barra da Estiva. Who comes from the south of the country also uses this route, leaving from Vitória da Conquista

Rio de Contas || TOP ||
Considered as one of the three most important examples of colonial architecture in Bahia, protected by the Bureau of Historic and Artistic Heritage, the city of Rio de Contas is situated 1200 meters above the sea level and offers the authentic ecological tourism in a pleasant mountain climate.

With 287 very well preserved colonial buildings protected by the National Historic Heritage, Rio de Contas has a lot of interesting places to visit. In the town there are attractions as Almas peak, one of the highest points in Bahia, the Fraga waterfall, the Coronel bridge, the Royal Road and the village of Mato Grosso.

The streets of Rio de Contas are wide and full of flowers, surrounded by centenarian constructions, such as the building of the Paço Municipal (Municipal Palace), the old Casa de Câmara e Cadeia, turned into Court House, the Nossa Senhora de Santana church and Santíssimo Sacramento Church, the old Foundry House, the São Carlos Theatre, the only one in Chapada, built in 1892 and the Public Archive.

Rio Brumado Barrier
Situated 2 km far from the city center, this attraction is 18 km long and is ideal for water sports.

Real Road
This road, that connects Rio de Contas to Livramento was built 300 years ago by slaves. It is paved with thousands of regular stones.

Santíssimo Sacramento Church
Good examples of religious architecture are the Santíssimo Sacramento Church, from 1742, the Santana Church, also from the XVIII century, the Bom Jesus da Lapa Chapel, from 1842 and the São Sebastião Chapel, from the same period.

Fraga Waterfall
Located on the Fraga road, this waterfall is an attraction that can't be missed. To get there, it is necessary to walk 900 meters on a mild track.

Andorinhas Well
The well can only be reached by off-road vehicles or trekking through 4 km.

Almas Peak 1958 meters
The climbing fans find there a great adventure that lasts three days and includes camping on the ecological sanctuary of Largo do Queiroz


Itobira Peak  1970 meters.

Barbado Peak 2088 meters
The highest point in the state of Bahia An area of environmental protection due to its enormous quantity of species.

GETTNG THERE: By Air
There is a 1208 meters long airstrip for landing of small airplanes. Regular flights from Salvador to Vitória da Conquista or Brumado can be used for a faster access.
By Land
From Salvador take BR-324 until Feira de Santana, then take BR116 until Paraguaçu, after that BR-242 until the road meets BA-142 and then go to Mucugê. From this point on, there are only local roads to get to Rio de Contas.
You can also go through Vitória da Conquista. From Salvador take BR-324 until Feira de Santana, then BR-116 until Vitória da Conquista and after that take local road to Rio de Contas through the Jequiriçá Valley.

Iraquara
iraquara.ba.gov.br/
 [F] Annual Events
 
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