Chapada Diamantina National Park
Chapada Diamantina National Park, once famous for diamond exploration, is now one of the most beautiful parks in Brazil. Its size is actually larger than some European countries like Holland & Belgium. The park is located at 420 kms away from Salvador in the center of Bahia State of Brazil. The Chapada Diamantina National Park was founded in 1985 with a very impressive ecosystem.
If you think of such a huge park, it might come in your mind that there will be uncountable varieties of flora, wildlife, valleys, mountains, caves, natural pools and waterfalls. The park has towers of minerals which are known as “tepuy” as called by the locals. There are plenty of hiking and trekking options to explore the park as it should be.
Chapada Diamantina was once very famous for Gold and Diamond mining and was also known as Diamond Highlands. The ecotourists from around the world love this place. The number of tourists is not as high as it is in the cities of Brazil, but the people who have visited here have fallen in love completely with this place. This park proves that Brazil has so much more to offer other than the cities and beaches.
I personally think that if you are planning to visit this area, at-least plan for a minimum of 3 days trip. Most of you will even regret for not staying for more days. The park has lovely hiking trails, natural crystal-clear water pools, amazing waterfalls, towers of minerals and wonderful places to enjoy the sunsets. There are many wonderful caves founded by the rivers and the east side of the park is famous for wonderful heavy rain falls.
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How to Reach Chapada Diamantina National Park
You can reach this amazing park by plane which lands in Lençóis from different cities of Brazil. The flights to Lençóis are mostly expensive as compared to other places. If you want to save some money, then you can choose to reach Lençóis by bus from Salvador which is a 7 hours journey. You can also choose to go to Vale do Capáo as well which will add another hour to your journey.
Once you have reached there, you will have to decide on how much you want to spend on visiting the whole park. There are some options where you can go by bus, but it will be a limited journey. Coming to this wonderland to see only a few limited places won’t feel great. You can hire a car to move around freely and to be able to see a lot of places around. I will try to talk about some more tips which might help you in planning your stay.
4 Tips about Traveling to Chapada Diamantina National Park
Where to Stay in Chapada Diamantina National Park
There are two options to stay near the Chapada Diamantina National Park. One option is Lençóis and the other place is called Vale Do Capão.
Lençóis used to be the third largest city in the state of Bahia. Now it’s a small town with a population of about 4000 residents. The cobble stone streets are lined with large colonial houses. The town has many hotels, restaurants and some shopping areas as well. There is a church and also a museum in the town. One important factor about the staying decision is that Lençóis is cheaper than Vale Do Capão. Lençóis is also near to more famous points of tourism in Chapada Diamantina National Park.
Vale Do Capão
Vale do Capão is a small village and is a bit farther from Salvador. It takes an hour more to reach here by the bus. The village has a very cozy environment and people have a very socializing attitude. The village is full of beautiful views all around it. You can walk with ease from the village to see a couple of beautiful waterfalls. Vale do Capão has only a few restaurants, hotels and shops. The atmosphere of the village is very meditational, but the prices of everything is higher than Lençóis.
It totally depends on your choice; If you want to save money, stay in Lençóis and if you want to enjoy the perfect environment, stay in Vale do Capão. The best you can do is to stay at the both places one by one.
The Best Time to Visit Chapada Diamantina National Park
There is always a good time to visit the park. If you want to enjoy the waterfalls at their best, the best time to go will be in the rainy season from November to January. But the tracks get muddy and slippery. March to June is considered as the best time as everything is in moderate condition due to the balanced weather. If you delay more and go between June to October, the chances are that large waterfalls will turn into small waterfalls due to dry weather.
Guides or No Guides?
You already know that Chapada Diamantina National Park is not a small park. This is bigger than a country so never take risk of getting lost in such a big area. You can go without a guide but then choose the better and very common routes.
At some routes, even if you are fully experienced and packed with your gadgets, you are not allowed to go without a guide. Yes, Guide is a must for some routes. So, prepare yourself to hire a guide. Local guides also don’t like people who go on solo-hiking because it becomes their headache if someone is lost. Yes, there are several cases of hikers who got lost, injured and died. That is why, hiring a guide is a better choice as they can help you with lots of stuff and with camping as well. Your hotels can help you hire a good guide.
Go well prepared !!!
To visit and hike at such a huge park you must need to pack your things wisely. The Chapada Diamantina National Park can get really cold at higher altitudes, especially during night camping. Be prepared for a lot of rain in the rainy weather and lots of sun in the dry weather. You need to pack your hiking gadgets, comfortable shoes, sunscreen, mosquito repellents and water bottles. Prepare yourself for long walks with a backpack. Also remember, that cellular services don’t wort at most of the places.
12 Things to do in Chapada Diamantina National Park
Morro do Pai Inácio
One of the main highlights of the park is Morro do Pai Inácio. This is an epic high plateau that offers breathless view of the area. You will see beautiful green valleys, rocks and a variety of plant species. It’s a great place to relax and to fall in love with nature. Best way to reach here is by car although there are many hiking trails that lead here. It will take around 30 minutes of a hike to the top from the car parking area.
Caves of Gruta Azul, Gruta da Pratinha & Lake Poco do Diabo
These caves are near to the Morro do Pai Inacio, which we discussed earlier. The two Grutas are the beautiful caves that are filled with crystal-clear water. These caves are very near to Poco do Diabo which is a beautiful small lake with a small but amazing waterfall. You will have to pay an entrée fee for the caves as they are a private property. All these three places are near to each other and takes a day tour to visit them all. Normally you will find many tourists here who come to spend the day here and the sunset at Morro do Pai Inacio.
Poco Azul of Chapada Diamantina National Park
This is also one of the best attractions of the Chapada Diamantina National Park. This is a magical cave filled with crystal-clear water and you can enjoy swimming here. You need to pay an entrée fee. The water of the caves become so clear in February that swimmers look like that they are floating in the air.
This cave is almost similar to the Poco Azul with beautiful crystal-clear water. Swimming is not allowed at this cave, so the visitors choose to go to Poco Azul more than Poco Encantado.
CACHOEIRA DA FUMAÇA
This waterfall is also one of the best highlights of the Chapada Diamantina. The superb viewpoint is located at a height of 420 meters next to a lovely cliff. The name of the waterfall means a smokey waterfall because of the huge waterfall heights which is around 1100 feet. The water falling from such height vaporizes and forms a smokey appearance around it. The waterfall is considered as one of the best waterfalls in the world.
CACHOEIRA DO SOSSEGO
Cachoeira do Sossego is a 15-meter magnificent waterfall in the middle of a wonderful canyon. The hiking trail to this waterfall is also magnificently amazing. The hiking trail can take 2 to 3 hours to reach to the waterfall depending on the conditions. Better take a guide if you are not an expert in hiking. You won’t find clear signposts on your way to the waterfall. The beautiful hike will take you through forests, mountains and jumping from rock to rock. The way back is also very nice, and you can also take a road which passes through Riberao do Meio. It is not very far from Lençóis.
CACHOEIRA DA PRIMAVERA
Cachoeira da Primavera is just a 40 minutes hike from Lençóis. This is one of the easiest trails that lead to a beautiful waterfall. This waterfall is not as massive as the Cachoeira do Sossego but still it is a very nice place to relax and enjoy the scenic views. During your 40 minutes trial you will also see another beautiful waterfall called Cachoeira do Serrano. You will also see some beautiful caves with colorful sand due to minerals.
CACHOEIRA DOS MOSQUITOS
This is another beautiful waterfall in the Chapada Diamantina. This waterfall has probably the most easy access out of all the major highlights. You can drive by car, park the car in parking and reach here by only 15 minutes of light walk. Hearing the name feels like there will be a lot of mosquitos here but it depends on weather conditions. Always keep a bug repellent with you when you are visiting this huge park in Brazil.
CACHOEIRA DO BURACÃO
This waterfall is a bit far from Lençóis and is an expensive tour, but it is worth the hike and hard work. This waterfall is also one of the best attractions of Chapada Diamantina. The name of the waterfall means a Big Hole. The name is given to the waterfall because it drops from the round cliff and covers a distance of 262 feet appearing like a sinking hole. You can enjoy various activities at this waterfall. Life jackets are available at the spot and you can enjoy the swimming in the waterfall. You can also jump off from different heights into the water pool below the waterfall.
CACHOEIRA DA FUMAÇINHA
This waterfall is at the same route as Cachoeira do Buracao but it is more difficult to reach and needs a professional guide to assist you. You will need to swim through water to keep moving forward. The hike is intense, but the views are rewarding.
Multi-Day Trail to Vale do Pati
Okay, now we are talking about a larger experience which is the multi-day tracking, hiking and camping. This is by far the best way to enjoy the great adventure of visiting Chapada Diamantina.
Vale do Pati is known as the best hiking trail in Brazil. This is one of the most important attractions of the park. This route gives a fair competition to all the best hiking routes in the world. It can take 4 to 5 days to complete this route where you will pass through jungle, visit the houses of residents and enjoy your camping nights with a lovely clear sky.
This route starts directly from Vale do Capão or from Guine, where you first reach by car to shorten the trip length. It depends on your objective, if you are here for fun and relaxation then do not worry about many things. Keep moving on and keep enjoying the place which you will remember all your life. During your hiking trip, you can find many local houses that offer food and place for sleep. The highlights of this multi-day trip are Mirante do Pati, Morro do Castelo, Cachoeirao por Cima and Cachoeirao por baixo.
Cachoeira Route 21 of Chapada Diamantina National Park
This is like a dive into the wild adventure. The hike will take you through wild forests and rivers. You will need to cross rivers to move forward. Best way to explore is with a guide because a non-experience person will easily get lost here. As we talked in the beginning, always go well prepared for the weather conditions and long hikes.
Summary of Chapada Diamantina National Park
Chapada Diamantina National Park is a wonderful natural park that has countless hiking and trekking routes. The park has Atlantic forest vegetation along with the lovely watercourses. There are meadows and waterfalls. There are rocky-mountains and caves filled with crystal-clear water. You can find many hummingbirds in the vicinity and a lot of other birds too. There is other wildlife as well including a few large animals but mostly small mammals, amphibians and reptiles.