Lençois & Chapada Diamantina – Diamonds in the Dust of Brazil’s Interior
Lençois is an historic little mining town set amongst the scenic splendour of the Chapada Diamantina National Park, which gained its name from the diamonds that originally brought prospectors to the area. The colourful town sparkles amongst jungle-covered valleys, with tea-coloured waterfalls tumbling from the flat-topped mountains to the valley floor, in spectacular stages or drops so high that they don’t reach the floor. The surrounding countryside contains caves with cobalt blue and turquoise lakes lit by the sun for brief periods per day. If there is one interior destination to include in your Brazil itinerary, then Lençois & Chapada Diamantina should probably be top of the list.
The Chapada Diamantina National Park sparkles in the dust of the dry interior of Bahia like the diamonds sparkled in the dirt around the area. The mountains receive far more rain than the surrounding flat lands, which accounts for the lush valleys and impressive waterfalls The town of Lençois has a unique charm as well as a unique ecosystem, with bearded diamond miners mixing with eco-tourists and adventure-seekers. The relaxed nature of the people and the traditional huge Lençois breakfasts can make returning to the town after spending time around the park feel like returning home.
The main reason to spend time in the park is to explore the hills and valleys around Lençois and further afield. Caves such as Poço Azul ,Gruta da Lapa Doce and Prainha have incredibly clear water, and all feature on postcards of the area. The postcard waterfalls range in size from the 400m Cachoeira da Fumaça, whose waters evaporate into spray before they hit the ground, to the Serrano Falls a short walk out of Lençois, with Mosquito, Sossego and Buracão amongst the beautiful falls worth visiting. Some can be accessed by vehicle, some only by trails of a few hours or more.
Treks from half day to a few nights take you up valleys and along the flat summits of mountains, with stunning views of the park. On many of these treks, you can find yourself alone amongst natural scenery as good as any in Brazil or anywhere else. Trails can also be negotiated by mountain-bike and horse, while rock climbing and rapelling are also popular ways to explore the mountains and falls. Ziplines take you down into the clearest lakes, where you can also cave-snorkel.
Marimbus is a wetland area where canoe trips take you to view the wildlife from close quarters. Caimans and capybaras abound, whereas deer, ant-eaters and jaguars require a little more luck for a sighting.
There are so many options around Lençois & the Chapada Diamantina National Park, from scenic, relaxing days to week long treks. However you choose to spend your days, wonderful scenery, breathtaking views and memorable days are guaranteed, and the twinkling lights of Lençois will always be there to welcome you back in the evening.
Suitable Destination For: Those who don’t mind a 6hr road journey with the reward of a scenic little town at the end of it; those who want to hike the trails around jungle-covered mountains, with beautiful waterfalls, large and small; cave lovers; adventure and trekking enthusiasts.
Best Time to Visit: Lençois has heaviest rains in November, December and January, which are also the hottest and most humid. Temperatures at the slightly raised altitudes are cooler at night than the rest of Bahia, making for pleasant, fresh evenings.
Essential Sights & Activities: The historic town of Lençois; Waterfalls Galore; the view from the flat summit of at least one chapada; Marimbus; Beautiful valleys such as Capao and Pati; a traditional Lençois breakfast.