Chapada Diamantina National Park, one of the most beautiful parks in the country is situated inland at 450 km from Salvador. Famous for its rocks sculpted by time but also by the diamond rush and for its caves and waterfalls, the park attracts thousands of tourists each year.
To access it, count six to seven hours. You can catch a bus from Salvador at the Central Bus Station (Rodoviaria) and reach directly the charming village of Lençois (four rides per day with Real Expresso about 70 reals per person).You can purchase the ticket at the bus terminal or on line on their website . Don’t worry too much about the accommodation, you will find there a wide range of pousadas and restaurants.
This village also has over 20 tour operators offering everything your heart wishes including the Valley do Pati trek (three, four or five days).
It will cost you 300 to 350 reals (€ 80-90) per day per person for the guide, accommodation, transportation and food (discounts for larger groups).
You will have different options to discover the valley so you should speak with the guide before paying to see if it’s what you want. One of the options is to reach by car with the guide the village of Guiné (located 2 h30 from Lençois on a bumpy road) or the Vale of Capao village situated at two hours by car.
Then first option is to cross the park from Guiné to Andarai and the other is to return to the village of Guiné. If you choose the four or five days trekking, you can also reach the Fumaca waterfall(360 m, one of the highest in the world and one of the main attractions of the park).
We went on a three days trek, the most popular, with Terra Chapada, a tour operator from Lençois.
During the drive to reach Guiné, the clouds gradually dissipated and a nice warm sun welcomed us in a perfectly shaped landscape.
With the sun accompanying us, we started a long but rewording climb with a view of the Serra do Esbarrancado and the aim to reach the Gerais do Rio Preto plateau. After only two hours hike and nice lunch we reached the Pati Valley and one of the most beautiful views that the hike has to offer.
So after a six hours hike we reached the welcoming Sr. Willson Pousada which offers 4 to 8 bed rooms and a very good dinner and breakfast buffet. Everybody is really nice here and you feel their love for Chapada and the wish to share it with the visitors.
The second day, we woke up again with a grey sky and heavy rain, the departure was delayed and the program of quite light. The aim was just to reach the next pousada situated only at four to five hours walking that as the previous day we did with the sun accompanying us. The Joia Pousada was much more spartan (it’s not very nice to wake up feeling the rain in your bed passing through the roof) and the food was this time a bit less tasty.
The third day wasn’t much better. The heavy overnight rain has forced us to change our route several times and we have finally been forced to return to Guiné about 9 hours walk with many challenging river crossings.
The local guides have told us that the best time to do this trek is the rainy season because the waterfalls are impressive. Our feeling is that the rainy season is a good time to do it but, our recommendation is to thoroughly check the weather before. In the rainy season the paths are often transformed into mud and the river or stream crossings are dangerous or impossible.
Hiking hours long with wet shoes only watching for your next step with the fear of slipping is not very nice and you won’t have the luxury to enjoy the landscapes.
Everyone will tell you that the trek is not recommended without a guide, in fact, the paths are not all indicated but for the experienced hikers there is no problem to do it without a guide. You still need a good map and some knowledge of Portuguese. Also never go alone always with a group!
If you choose to take a guide, ask to meet him prior to the departure so that you advise together on the route and attractions you want to see. Also if you don’t speak Portuguese it is good to have a guide that speaks English as on the trek he can explain lot of interesting things.
If you aren’t looking for a overnight trekking, there are many other things to do: see our article.
Nice accommodation and relaxing vibe in Lençois and Vale de Capao
Many natural pools in which you can refresh
The cons :
Many local guides do not have the skills of a mountain guide and do not speak English.
The trails are poorly maintained and very slippery in wet season
The park access roads are in poor condition.