Beauty Is What We Seek – Chapada Diamantina
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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
Gruta da Fumaca
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
As we made our way into the valley we saw our fair share of waterfalls and jungle!
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)!
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.
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.
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…