Chapada Diamantina SignA city full of old colonial architecture, it was founded at at a time of great diamond extraction in the region. Today, it has become the gateway to Chapada Diamantina national park. With so many attractions, it is very easy to be charmed by this little town. Forests all around, with trails and waterfalls that you can find easily without guides, cute restaurants and cozy bars. It’s the perfect place to start getting back to nature.

Arriving in Lençóis after surviving the heavily potholed end of the road, (Imagine dodging stuff in Mario Kart), the first thing we did was look for a place to stay. We visited three: HI Hostel Chapada (R $ 50 / € 25 per person with breakfast) with an outdoor barbecue and lots of gringos. Pousada e Camping Lumiar (R $ 30 / € 7.50 per person for camping) a giant garden with amazing trees, or you have the option of staying in a private room (R $ 120 / € 35 with breakfast). We ended up choosing the Viela Hostel (R $ 40 / € 10 per person) in the centre of town, and had the whole house to ourselves. We could reccomend all three – all very clean and well kept, with friendly atmospheres and well equipped kitchens.

Old town Lençóis, and our hostel’s fun neighbours!

Tip: One of the things that makes a big difference in the price of travel- don’t eat in restaurants! Save your money from one meal out, and cook for yourself for 4 days instead. Especially if you know you’ll be staying in one place, make yourself a bit pot of rice, pasta etc on day 1, and leave it in the fridge. If you want to spend more time on the road, as we do, you can start cooking. Visit local markets, discover the day of the fair, you always find something different and interesting to try. I particularly love visiting fairs and markets in other countries or regions.

So now that we’ve found a place to stay, and filled up with food, what can we do outside town? Some of the best trips that you can do from the centre, without any car or guide are:

Marina found a bit of inner peace here

The Ribeirão do Meio, the famous natural slide. A delight to slip down, or just enjoy to relax in the swirling pools, teeming with little fish. Put your feet in and let the fish give you an expensive spa treatment for free. It’s an easy trail to follow, without obstacles, and well marked. In the morning it seemed quieter, the crowd begins to arrive at lunchtime to spend the day there.

Serrano, is another spot, where the Lençóis river flows before arriving in the town. Due to the porous, eroded rock, it form pools with small waterfalls, strange formations and a beautiful look. Go there in the afternoon, jumping from one pool to another, and waiting for the sunset. It’s one of the best things you can do there. The easiest route is to start behind the Hotel Lençóis, and in maximum 15 minutes you get there. To return, use the same path or follow the river all the way back to town. The unusual shapes you’ll see along the way will keep you entertained!

There are many other trails, but we only ended up doing a few close to town. As we’re driving, we chose to invite some other hostel guests and explore more distant trails. Whatever you do, it’s going to be great. The beautiful place that is Chapada!

At the sliding waterfall, the Ribeirão do Meio, we got to know Hans, a German engineer, living and working in São Paulo. A cool guy – he’s involved in some hard rock projects, but it’s all very underground. You might come across them in a few years! Being a sociable, meat-loving German, he invited us to a barbecue in his hostel that night. Arriving there in the evening we met a bunch of fellow travellers from all over the world. Everyone cooked together – An Australian at the grill, a German salad shef, Swiss and Canadian vinaigrette, Brazilian manioc flour. The diverse company of English speakers, Dutch, Germans, and the most Brazilian American I ever met, dancing to Rio funk. A perfect mix for a lot of fun.

With the Brazilian political crisis in full swing during our time in Lençóis, on March 31 we had the opportunity to participate in a beautiful demonstration. With many cries of revolt, music, bands and good people fighting for democracy in our country. And of course, as we are in Bahia, the protest ended with a capoeira circle in the town square.

In our next post we’ll travel north, out of Lençóis town, to see some of the nearby landscape by car.