In the heart of Bahia, Chapada Diamantina is one of the top regions for adventure tourism in Brazil. With breathtaking views, made up of one of the country highest mountains, canyons, open grasslands and magnificent waterfalls Chapada Diamantina a perfect destination for adventure lovers.
Chapada Diamantina means ‘diamond highlands’. Diamonds were discovered here in 1844 and is part of its history and can be seen in many places including its colonials cities like Lençois or Mucugê. More than a century later, in 1983, it became Chapada Diamantina National and now, the has an eco-adventure tourist as its new diamond.
Formed of ancient sandstones that date back to the time when South America and Africa were joined, Chapada Diamantina topography is the cake-like layers of sediment once collected on a primaeval ocean floor and pushed up to be carved by wind and water into mesas, canyons, and caverns.
Hiking is among the most common activities of Chapada Diamantina. There are trails for all types of travellers, with varying degrees of difficulty and travel time. You can find handpicked tours provided by a local English speaking guide here at PlanetaEXO.
There two flights going to Lençois Thursday and Sunday.
The buses to Chapada Diamantina are clean, comfortable (good reclining seats) and air-conditioned. The bus’ suspension also deals with the potholes and lumps better than a car’s. There’s a conductor as well as driver aboard.
There are three buses operated by Rápido Federal leaving the central bus station in Salvador Terminal de Ônibus da Rodoviária at 7 am, 1 pm and 11 pm. The ticket costs around R$100 plus the terminal fee which is R$5,25. The trip takes about 6,5 hours.
Vale do Capão
The same busses that go to Lençois also continue to Palmeiras. The trip takes about 7 hours and costs around R$100 plus the R$5,25 terminal fee. If you are coming with the night or the morning bus from Salvador, minibuses are waiting at the bus terminal in Palmeiras to take you to Vale do Capão. The trip takes about an hour and costs R$15.
• You do not need to buy your return ticket from Palmeiras already in Salvador, even if the vendors in Salvador tell you so. You can still buy it at a Launchonette selling also the minibus tickets, which is located next to the central square in Vale do Capão. However, it is good to book the bus and the minibus back at least a day in advance to guarantee a spot. It gets full, especially on the weekends.
Chapada Diamantina’s towns and villages
The main town for the Chapada Diamantina is Lencois, a colonial mining town set astride a tumbling river on the eastern flank of the highlands. At its height, this little town was the centre of the world’s most productive diamond mines. The city has many restaurants options, hotels and ATM. Lençois is the best place if you want to start the Fumaça Waterfall 3 days trek, Pai Inácio and Gruta Azul.
» Click here to find accommodation in Lençois via Booking.com
Vale do Capão
Vale do Capão is a small town called Caete-Açu, which has a slight hippie feel. This spot is closer to the park, making it easier for one-day excursions like Fumaça waterfall and the to start or finish the multiple days Trekking of Vale do Pati. It is a little less structured than Lençóis. There is no ATM in Vale do Capão. You can arrange with the markets to withdraw money
» Click here to find accommodation at Vale do Capão via Booking.com
Mucuge is a pleasant little town that dates back to the very beginnings of the diamond rush. These days, Mucuge is notable for two things: growing everlasting flowers, and its extraordinary ‘byzantine’ cemetery perched on a rocky ledge on the edge of town. Dating from an outbreak of plague, each grave is marked with a miniature church complete with spires and domes, all painted sparkling white – an idea inspired by Turkish diamond buyers in the 19th century. It’s an arresting sight silhouetted against the dark rock of the hills behind.
» Click here to find accommodation at Mucugê at Booking.com
Surrounded by mountains and waterfalls, Ibicoara is located south of Chapada Diamantina National Park and 1,100 meters above sea level. It is the starting point of the tours to see two of the region’s main waterfalls: Buracão, almost 90 meters down a narrow canyon, and Fumacinha. The best way to get to Ibicoara is to go to Mucugê and take a private transfer to Ibicoara.
» Click here to find accommodation at Ibicoara at Booking.com
We advise hiring a guide, even for shorter hikes, as it can be quite easy to get lost if you aren’t sure where you’re going. They’re affordable, and guides are incredibly knowledgeable about local flora and fauna, and they can find the best spots, very important in the park with very few signs or official trail. By hiring a guide, you will also support the local community. You can find handpicked tour provided by local English speaking guides here in PlanetaEXO.
Chapada Diamantina’s rains usually arrive at some time in November in the form of hard rain showers, interspersed with reasonably good weather. These remain a feature until February or March. It becomes progressively drier through April to July. There is usually a dry season from August to October.
The months of March to October are the best for walking, though the other times are by no means bad. Luck with the weather comes into play at any time of year.
Chapada can get pretty cold.
Although Brazil is known for its bronzing beaches, Chapada Diamantina is far from the coast, and temperatures can drop quickly, particularly at higher altitudes and in the evening. Pack in layers and prepare for the sun, rain, and cooler temps. Pack sunscreen, bug spray, and a water bottle for hikes, and most importantly, wear comfortable shoes.
Short on time? Take the night bus!
If you short on time, we recommend taking the night bus from Salvador, that arrives in Palmeiras (if you are going to Vale do Capão) or Lençois early morning. The bus is comfortable enough for you to sleep during the way. Remember to bring a sweater because it gets quite cold in the bus due to the strong air conditioner.
Preparing yourself (and your feet) beforehand is essential.
Speaking of shoes, for those not accustomed to hiking, it’s best to start prepping well before arriving in Chapada Diamatina. Take some long walks or practice hikes while carrying the weight you plan to have on the trails, whether that’s a small backpack or full camping pack, and wear the shoes you plan to bring on the trip to break them in. You’ll be better suited to enjoy all those stunning vistas if you’re not sweating it.
Cell service is unreliable.
Another reason to have a guide is the lack of connectivity. Your guide will be able to make arrangements for you (housing, transportation, etc) which is essential in the park. Of course, there will be an extraordinary amount of opportunities to take Instagram-worthy shots on a trip to Chapada Diamantina, so definitely bring a camera. But know that cell phone service in the park is spotty at best, so save your Snaps for another time. This is the perfect opportunity to leave your phone on airplane mode for a bit, disconnect, and enjoy nature without distraction.
Vale do Pati
Considered one of the best trekking in the world, this beautiful valley will take your breath away with beautiful canyons and waterfalls. You can stay in the houses of families delicious local food and basic accommodation. | Level: Moderate | Duration: 3-5 days
The second highest waterfall (340 m) of Brazil is so high that the water never hits the ground. It vaporizes in the air by the force of the wind. You can visit Fumaça via Vale do Capão on 3km hike (Level: Easy) or a 3 days trek and camp from Lençois (Level: Advanced)
At the extreme south of Chapada Diamantina, the stunning Fumacinha Waterfall will take your breath away. The unspoiled trek thought the river can be a little challenging but it is totally worth effort. Duration: 1-2 days | Level: Advanced
This giant sunken pool is 120 feet deep but the water is so transparent the rocks and ancient tree trunks are visible on the bottom. When the sun is just right, light comes through a crevice and creates a blue reflection on the water.
Pai Inacio is the best known peak in the Chapada Diamantina, a table mountain or mesa with majestic views from the summit. It is a 20 min steep uphill clamber to reach the windy summit at 1,240m which towers 250m above the surrounding landscape.
Buracao waterfall tumbles about 100m into a large sinkhole which connects with a narrow canyon. The entire walls of both the sinkhole and the canyon are of heavily striated rock. It's a 2 hour trek to the falls, rewarded by great view from the top. Local guide is required.
Chapada Diamantina Experiences
Check out latest curated tours from local English speaking guides:
Distance: 38km • Level: Moderate • Includes: English speaking guide, accommodation, meals & transfers.
Distance: 41km • Level: Moderate • Includes: English speaking guide, accommodation, meals & transfers.
Distance: 60km • Level: Moderate • Includes: English speaking guide, accommodation, meals & transfers.
Includes: English speaking guide, Breakfast and dinner, Snacks, Safety equipment, Travel insurance, Transfer
Includes: English speaking local guide, accommodation, meals, snacks, transfers
Includes: English/French/Spanish speaking local guide, meals during the trek, safety equipment, transfers
Pictures from Chapada Diamantina