Beauty Is What We Seek – Chapada Diamantina

Beauty Is What We Seek – Chapada Diamantina

IMG_6372

Since we began traveling Brasil, multiple travelers have mentioned that we had to visit the natural wonders of Chapada Diamantina. As people continued to recommend this gem, we thought to ourselves… alright, we’d be stupid if we didn’t go! So, the day after our WorkAway destination, we packed our bags and made our way to this “unbelievable” National Park.

Flashback

If you recall, we actually debated going to Chapada Diamantina and ditching the beaches of Morro de Sao Paulo once we left Salvador. The good thing about traveling and being your own boss is, if you really want to do something; change your plans then do it son!

IMG_6314

Of course Liz photo bombed my selfie

About The National Park

Chapada diamintina became a national park about 40 years ago and is known for its steep ridged plateaus (Chapadas) and diamonds that were found in the beginning of the 19th century. That is how the name Parque Nacional do Chapada Diamantina came to be! The landscape was once below sea level and when two tectonic plates collided, one submerged underneath causing the “chapadas” to rise from the earths crust. Amazing right? The park also offers magnificent water caves, dense forests, a unique cultural atmosphere, a mini pantanal called the Marimbus, and epic hiking.

IMG_6224

 Nomadic Issues

Getting to Chapdada Diamantina was a story in itself. We realized when you travel you shouldn’t expect everything to go as planned. I’m going to list our 24-hour day of mayhem in order to satisy our nomadic souls.

  • I Partied until 5:00 am
  • Bus Left at 6:30 am
  • Shit… we missed the bus
  • Caught the 9:30 am bus – BAD IDEA
  • CLUNK, CLUNK, BANG… bus breaks down for 3 hours in the middle of nowhere
  • Got Sick of eating Pao de Quieso (little bread balls with cheese in the middle)
  • Tummy hurts
  • Arrived to our midway destination for a 3.5 hour lay over – SHIT!
  • Took a midnight bus to Lencois, a colonial city in the National Park
  • Arrived at 4:00 am without a hostel reservation
  • Knocked on every hostel door in the city… no one answered – SHAKE MY HEAD
  • Wound up waiting on the streets as a local parade flooded the streets at 5:30 am – RANDOM
  • Waited until 7 am to finally find a hostel
  • Watched the Seahawks loose in the super bowl – BUMMER
  • Got to experience the true art of traveling – PRICELESS

In the end we can’t complain because it made a great story and we made some great memories!

FullSizeRender

bus broke down…lets remember this moment!

IMG_6093

random parade at 5:30 in the morning!

IMG_6099

happy we met some friends in the same situation!

IMG_6105

Unfortunately the seahawks lost!  

Tour & Adventures

We did many adventures and tours in Chapada Diamintina with Zentour and highly recommend their services. Since the park is huge, it’s nearly impossible to navigate it yourself. We are going to list off the tours that we did in order, from our least favorite to the most amazing experience of our lives!

brasil-chapada_diamantina-mapa_dos_pontos_turisticos

Map of the National Park. We stayed in Lencois

IMG_6123

Marimbus – 1 Day Tour

The Marimbus tour was a trip through the mini-pantanal that was located on the western side of the National Park. We booked the tour with some friends and we were extremely stoked when we heard that the park had a mini-pantanal. We instantly thought of the exotic and wild animals that you would expect to see in the famous Pantanal located in the South-Western part of Brasil. Sounds safe to have that expectation, right? Well… Chapada Diamantina is known for its Chapadas, not it’s half ass mini-pantanal.

IMG_6116

yes that is water inside… now imagine 6 big guys and liz in one of those boats! Not exactly comfortable!

IMG_6111

the only wild animal we saw!

We don’t recommend it unless you enjoy sketchy canoes, the fear of sinking, enjoy mosquitos, or enjoy being in a canoe for 5 hours. Overall we’d say it was a great miserable experience! How? We were with awesome friends, made it to a chain of amazing waterfalls, and made it safe in our half-way sinking canoe!

 IMG_6113

Chapada Diamantina Highlights – 1 Day Tour

We highly recommend the 1-day tour that allows you to see the various landscapes of Chapada Diamantina! It was a perfect tour worth every penny. Check out the different locations we stopped at!

Cachoeria do Sossego
IMG_6141 IMG_6129 IMG_6126Morro do Pai Inacio

IMG_6220

IMG_6244

IMG_6257

IMG_6249

Gruta da Fumaca

IMG_6185 IMG_6165 IMG_6163 IMG_6162

Pratinha
IMG_6194IMG_6188 IMG_6191Gruta Azul
IMG_6202 IMG_6207
IMG_6212

Yes we did all of this in one day with lunch included!

Vale do Pati – 3 Day (30 mile) Trek

Our favorite tour of them all was of course, our 3-day trek through the sacred valley of Vale Do Pati. We booked our tour hoping someone would join our group to knock down the price, but in the end it became a private tour with Liz, our guide Pedro, and I. Jack Pot! We were lucky enough to score an English speaking guide so we got to know a lot of history about the surrounding area.

IMG_6263

History of Vale do Pati

In the early 1900’s there were only a couple family’s living in the valley. With the word of mouth spreading quickly, in as ittle as 20 years there were more than 2,000 inhabitants. These new inhabitants begin to build houses out of nautral resources and tried to make a living by deforesting the land to grow coffee and bananas. With only the resources brought in by mule or by foot, this was a hard way of living. And, in the early 1920s the valley became a ghost valley once again. Everybody moved to city’s and towns were making a living was much easier! 60 years later Chadapada Diamtnaina became a national park and only a few families remain! Prior to the trip Pedro mentioned that the Vale do Pati is comparable to the hikes of Machu Pichu and is gaining popularity with outdoor enthusiasts. With a bold comment like that we knew we were in for a treat!

IMG_6274

Our first view of the valley. The Deforestation was by the migration of settlers. Now nothing can grow back.

A little about Pedro

Pedro started guided tours in Chapada Diamantina about 15 years ago and has continued working as a free agent that third party agency’s hire like Zentour. So, if you contact us we can get you in line with him to save you some big bucks!

IMG_6340 Day 1 – Vale do Pati (13 KM)

We began day 1 with a long and interesting 2.5 hour drive through dirt roads, potholes, and small isolated towns to reach the eastside of the park. Yes if you can only imagine, we were in the middle of nowhere. With sleepy butts and stiff legs we were anxious to get going. The first day was an enjoyable trek. We trekked through semi-arid and dessert plains to get to the valley. He mentioned that in the 1900’s this desert plain used to be covered with more then just shrubs. With incoming settlers they continuously burned the land for cattle. This combination burned all possible life beneath the soil leaving the plains we see today.

IMG_6270

IMG_6273

As we reached the base of Vale do Pati, we were speechless. The beauty of the valley was shocking and soulfully calming.

This is why we travel.

IMG_6284
 

As we made our way into the valley we saw our fair share of waterfalls and jungle!

IMG_6303

In Pati there’s also a sacred herb that is used multiple times by nearly everybody so, we embraced the culture!

Day 2 – Cachoiero (15 KM)

We woke up to thunder, lightening, and cats and dogs falling from the sky. Great, we got rained in! Rather than pouting about the shitty situation, we played a board game. It was a fun time filled with laughter and fingers being pointed! I got the pleasure to work on my portuegse as we played the game. Since the game was based on phrases… of course I got last place!

As soon as we finished with the game… the rain stopped! So we were off to the waterfalls of Cachoiero (meaning big ass waterfall)!

IMG_6345

this was a 1 mile muddy incline. This was a true burner for the legs

IMG_6343

It was a fairly long hike through the rain and when we arrived to the destination my heart dropped as I overlooked this fascinating landscaped. I almost got teary eyed because I had never seen anything so beautiful; the rigid chapatis, green lush forest, gloomy clouds, and hundreds of waterfalls. At that point in time, it was as if time had stopped and all my senses were intensified. The smell was that of jungle, rain, and almost a mossy smell, similar to the smell back home when you cross over Snoqualmie pass in the spring time. The view was something out of National Geographic as hundred of waterfalls poured beneath our feet and plunged 200 meters to the forest floor. This quickly became one of the happiest moments of my life. I will remember this moment for the rest of my life. 

IMG_6387 IMG_6361    

IMG_6369

if couldn’t get any closer! 200 meters straight down to the forest floor.

IMG_6384

My happy place

Where did we stay?

We stayed at Dona Raquel’s house and we were treated like family (probably because Pedro is her favorite person in the world). It was one of my favorite overnight experiences! Dona Raquel was born and raised in the vale do Pati and she had the blessing to give birth to 14 kids! Bless her heart! Many of them still live around in the valley.

Day 3 – Vale do Capao (20 KM)

We woke up tired and exhausted and it came the time where we had to say our goodbyes to the family and the other travelers! We didn’t want to leave. Everything felt so right being there. Anyways, we made our way through the forest and into the plains with fog all around. 

This was a perfect time for some herbal medicine. so we made a pit stop. 

IMG_6423 IMG_6421

We finally made it to the vale do Capao! This was the final destination of our trip and we wished we could have spent more time in the valley. Note to future travelers! Stay more than 3 days in the Vale do Pati to get the true experience! We are happy that we got to experience something so unique and so extreme! in the end, we celebrated with some skols and enjoyed watching the roosters! Roosters are one of my favorite animals…

IMG_6428

Vale do Capao

IMG_6430

We made it! 

IMG_6434

Pedro invited us over to his house! We went to dinner together, he let use his shower, and of course we had our last Pow wow together. We will truly miss him!

We don’t know where we are going… But in the end, It will make a great story! – Dan & Liz

Thank you for joining our journey and keep following us! Feel free to ask any Questions! 

Cheers from the other side of the world!

Danny Z

IMG_6432

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s