As we mentioned in our previous post, Lençóis is a bustling tourist town, with plenty of opportunities to do short trips within walking distance. It’s also conveniently located within less than an hour’s drive from many more of northern Chapada Diamantina’s natural wonders. We teamed up with Anish (from Australia) and Sara (from Sweden), who we’d met at a barbecue in the International Hostel, to take a day out and see some.
The route we took is a typical day out for many of the tour buses that can be booked within the town – but these can cost up to R$200 / €50 per person, per day. That doesn’t include the entrance fees to the attractions, or lunch. So it’s well worth it to either rent a car in Lençóis, or team up with somebody that has one. The roads are mostly good (although with many slow trucks), and guides are available at the entrances, where necessary.
Poço do Diabo, only about half an hour from Lençois, starts beside the main road. (Entrance is free). We followed the trail into a rocky ravine, and after a short reached a secluded waterfall with a huge pool at the bottom. A nice swim to cool off in the morning sunshine.
Leaving from here, heading west, we passed the towering sight of Morro do Pai Inácio, one of the most prominent local landmarks. The effects of millions of years of erosion are visible everywhere you look here, from waterfalls, to steep cliffs and deep valleys.
And where there’s spectacular things to see above the ground, so below it too. Our next stop was Gruta Lapa Doce, reputed to be the third largest cave in Brazil. A guide is required to enter here, and we were supplied with battery torches for the walk through this natural tunnel. We descended 70 metres below the ground. The light slowly faded, to complete darkness. With the torches switched off, there is complete silence. This cave has a few bats, but no other large creatures to make their calls into the eternal night.
850 metres further on, we step back into the warmth and light again. Back to the surface.
Our hostel owner in Lençóis had tipped us that the best place to get lunch around here was in fact Lapa Doce. For about R$25 / €6, you’ll get a good sized buffet lunch, with the typical selection of rural northeast meat, vegetables, rice and beans. Sadly our next stop would not be quite as good value, when we continued on to the blue waters of Gruta da Pratinha.
Chapada Diamantina is known as a region of exceptional natural beauty – but the national park only covers a small part of the whole region. Some nearby attractions sell on the same “protected status” idea, but are privately owned and managed. Pratinha has a R$20 / €5 entrance fee – and it’s swarming with people. They’ve got a zipline over the river (extra fee), a cave you can snorkel in (extra fee), restaurant, café, everything. It’s not quite the place to look for tranquility. But since we’d already paid, we had lots of fun swimming with the little fish (Free!).
There is a another feature on the opposite side of the hill, called Gruta Azul, which is not as well signposted, but is free, as of 2016. Here, on sunny days between about 2 and 4pm, light shines in through an underwater tunnel and illuminates the cave from below. We weren’t lucky enough to have direct sunlight, but it’s worth a look if you’re in the area.
Finally, to top off the day we headed back to Morro do Pai Inácio, the 1,120m peak that we passed earlier on that morning. A track leads to a small hut and a number of communications towers, and a brief hike will take you up to the summit. Enjoy the views:
Sara and Anish kept us company for the day – thanks guys, we had a great time! They left Lençóis in the following days, heading for Itacaré and Salvador respectively. For our second day out, we weren’t as lucky, and we didn’t find anyone else in time to join us.
Cachoeira do Mosquito was the sole destination this time, a 50 metre waterfall at the back of a deep canyon. The drive from Lençóis to here takes the best part of an hour – but it’s well signposted. Don’t trust Google for the directions on this one!
A R$15 / €4 entrance fee is charged at the farmhouse/restaurant on the way in, but the facilities are very well kept. Properly constructed trails, and a good sized car park. (And about R$20 / €5 for a hearty lunch afterward). After following the path down, we arrived at:
It’s the best shoulder massage you’ll get anywhere for under €5!