The Chapada Diamantina is one of the most coveted destinations in Brazil for nature lovers. With its majestic mountains, stunning waterfalls and rich biodiversity, the region is an adventurer’s paradise. However, exploring these natural wonders responsibly requires an experienced and conscientious guide. That’s where Lucas Neves comes in, an adventure tourism guide and PlanetaEXO partner who has dedicated his career to promoting sustainable tourism in the region.
Who is Lucas Neves?
At 28, Lucas is a native of Vale do Capão, in the Chapada Diamantina. He found in the profession of adventure tourism guide the opportunity to combine his passion for nature with the freedom of being self-employed. Lucas also works as a brigadier in the Vale do Capão Volunteer Brigade, fighting forest fires, rescuing injured people in remote areas and saving wild animals in urban areas. As Lucas puts it, “As well as being an opportunity to work with what I love (mountains, trails, adventure), in the local reality it’s a profession that allows me to be self-employed, having more freedom, which is something I value a lot.”
Sustainable Tourism as a Mission
For Lucas Neves, sustainable tourism is not just a slogan, but a life mission. “Through practices with minimal impact on the environment and passing on knowledge to visitors, this awareness multiplies,” says Lucas. He believes that sustainability begins with education and awareness. Before each hike, Lucas makes a point of introducing visitors to the unique environment of the Chapada Diamantina, explaining the practices that minimise human impact. During the hikes, he demonstrates these practices in action, showing the positive impact they have on the local environment, not only in the short term, but also in the medium and long term.
Lucas Neves at the Vale do Pati viewpoint, Chapada Diamatina
Sustainable Practices in Action
Lucas adopts a number of initiatives to promote sustainable tourism. He is involved in environmental education programmes in the local community, teaching younger generations about the importance of conservation. In addition, he makes a point of hiring the services of native locals and encourages tourists to buy local handicrafts and culinary products. These actions not only help the local economy but also encourage a form of tourism that respects and values the local culture and environment.
The Traveller’s Experience
For Lucas, the aim is to be the link between the client and nature. He customises each itinerary based on the traveller’s profile, taking into account factors such as physical fitness and climate. The focus is always on safety, but also on exceeding visitors’ expectations, allowing them to integrate and give themselves as much as possible to the purpose of the itinerary.
”Fantastic guide! We had a fantastic time with your guidance, Lucas. You really love nature and your work, and it shows!Ole, from Germany
Lucas Neves and Ole
The role of PlanetaEXO
The partnership with PlanetaEXO amplifies these efforts. “The partnership with PlanetaEXO through the high frequency of work in partnership and the fair remuneration above what the market usually pays allows me to afford training to improve as a professional,” says Lucas. The company is committed to working with local guides and other stakeholders to contribute to the sustainable economic development of Chapada Diamantina communities. Learning English with the support and encouragement of PlanetaEXO has opened doors for Lucas, allowing him to interact with clients from other countries and enrich his world view.
According to Lucas Ribeiro, founder of PlanetaEXO, Lucas Neves serves as an inspiring role model and comments:
”From the very first days of PlanetaEXO, we realised in Lucas Neves not only a talented guide, but a professional whose values resonated deeply with our company's mission: the sustainable development of tourism and the strengthening of local communities. He became a source of inspiration for those entering or considering a career in sustainable tourism. Two years after the start of this fruitful collaboration, I can say with confidence that our mission has been fulfilled - and we're still only at the beginning. The partnership with Lucas Neves is a living testimony to the positive impact we can achieve when values, passion and professionalism align. We are excited about what the future holds and are confident that this partnership will continue to bear much fruit for the communities of Chapada Diamantina and the world of sustainable tourism as a whole."
Challenges and rewards
Being a guide in an area as biodiverse and sensitive as the Chapada Diamantina is no easy task. Lucas points out that one of the biggest challenges is catering for audiences with extremely different profiles, while always keeping his mind focused and positive. However, he keeps up to date and informed through constant communication with other guides and members of the local community.
Footprints of Change
Lucas Neves is not just a guide; he is an ambassador for sustainable tourism and an advocate for the local community. His partnership with PlanetaEXO exemplifies how responsible tourism can be a force for good, benefiting both visitors and host communities. In a world that desperately needs more sustainability and environmental awareness, figures like Lucas are true beacons of hope.