Chapada Diamantina

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Lençóis - BA, Brazil, South America
4658 ft / 1420 m
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Chapada Diamantina
Created On: Jan 25, 2005
Last Edited On: Dec 10, 2009


The National Park of the Chapada Diamantina (Diamond Plateau) is one of the most fascinating natural parks of Brazil.
Known as Chapada Diamantina, this scenery mountain range runs north and south through the state of Bahia, with an average altitude of over 1000m (3000 feet), offers some of the most amazing landscapes you can find in the country.
The park, established in 1985, contains an extraordinary variety of ecosystems, like Cerrado, Mata Atlantica, and Caatinga, and is the home of many species of plants and animals. In its area you can find different species bromeliads and orchids. The highest mountains reach 1800m (5,660 feet) and they offer shelter to Jaguatiricas (local breed of feline), mocós (local rodents), deer's and teiús (local reptile find a privilege ambiance).

What is now a jewel of the ecotourism, was once a refugee of precious stones hunters. The cities that border the National Park are filled with colonial buildings representing the architecture of this time, a vivid memory of the richness of the diamonds, which made Brazil the first world producer of the stone during the beginnings of the 20th century. Lençois, (pronounced len-soiz), the main village in the Chapada, lies 400km (250 miles) west of Salvador. The city grew up around the huge diamond boom in the region in the mid-1800's. At one stage it had a population of 30,000, but as a result of the discovery of diamonds in South Africa, the town began to go into decline.

Today, the town is considered National Monument due to its important examples of residential architecture from the 19th century. The trails opened by the garimpeiros (searchers of precious minerals) today works for the enjoyment of hikers and trekkers from around the world. It is still possible to encounter old garimpeiros in the area, who experienced and lived the diamond rush that made the area famous. Most of the attractions at the Chapada are the trails to caves, hills and waterfalls that have as departure point the city of Lençóis.

Everything in the Chapada is wonderful, but the waterfalls deserve special attention. The most famous is the Cachoeira da Fumaça, the highest fall in the country, where the water does not have sufficient volume to overcome the drop of 380 meters and the force of the wind cooperates in transforming the water into vapour - a real spectacle. Other like the Cachoeira do Sossego and the Cachoeira do Buracão are among the most beautiful of Brazil. And the Chapada offers much more… The caverns of Lapa Doce and Pratinha, the amazing hills of the Capão Valley and the incredible blue waters of the Poço Encantado complete this wonderful scenario.

The landscape of the hills of the Chapada is a creation of the erosion process that the region have suffered that began in the Pre-Cambrian period, forming towers of minerals known as "TEPUY" by the local Indians that dominated the region before the arrival of the first settlers or “bandeirantes”, around the year 1750. The most astonishing TEPUY’s like the Tambor Hilltop, the Calumbi (also known as Morro do Camelo, or Camel Back), and the Morro do Pai Inácio, challenge time and feed the local legends. One good example is the Legend of Pai Ignacio that tells a story of a slave that fell in love with his colonel’s wife. Chased by the guards, he found a refugee in the top of the mountain, from where a dazzling sunset can be seen. When he was found, he preferred to throw himself into the abyss instead of being captured…

The main rivers of the area begin in the hidden rocks of the Chapada. The Paraguaçu and the de Contas rivers cave deep canyons in the hills and planes, creating a scenery of divine beauty. The same Rio das Contas will reach the ocean in the city of Itacaré, hundreds of kilometers further.
All these make Chapada Diamantina the perfect place in terms of adventure and integration with nature!!!

Getting There

Chapada Diamantina National Park includes some cities in your perimeter, how Lençóis, Andaraí, Igatu and Mucugê. The Park is in Bahia country side, from 430 km of Salvador, Bahia's Capital. From Salvador, take the BR-242 route to West to Lençóis. Over there, are more 10 km to National Park.
There are two options to get to Lençóis. Nordeste Airlines offers flights from São Paulo and from Salvador. By land, from Salvador to Lençóis daily bus service is available. The drive is approximately 267 miles.

Parque Nacional Chapada da Diamantina/BA
Rua Ruy Barbosa, 05 – Centro
phone: (55 75) 332-2229 /Telefax: (55 75) 332-2187

Red Tape

For Chapada's wildlife, just you know the Nature rules!
The flora and fauna of the park are highly varied. Although there are few large mammals, there is a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, birds, insects and small mammals. The flora mainly consists of small scrubland bushes, orchids and cactus.

The park is located in a semi-arid region, however has no shortage of water, from the many rivers and streams. On average, the altitude of the park is between 800 and 1000 metres above sea level, although parts are as high as 2000 metres above. The park is typified by hills, mountains, valleys and monoliths, with few plains.

The park has many cave systems formed by the rivers that run through the region. Several of these rivers run red due to impurities in the water. Both gold and diamonds have been found in the park.

When To Climb

All months are good. At winter, the temperature oscillates 22°/ 30°C at day and at night, 10°/18°C. At Summer, the storms are normal and the temperaturres are very hot.
In general, temperatures are warm in the 80s during the day and the 60s at night. June through September are the coolest months in Chapada Diamantina, with fall-like temperatures in the 50s at night and the 70s during the day.
From December to March, the rainy period, the greater flow of water makes more enjoyable the baths on the waterfalls as well as the appreciation of the flora and the healthier vegetation.

Camping & People

The National Park haven't structure and the tourists should to go to the little base towns to camp or stay in resting places at Lençóis.
Before the discovery of precious minerals in Chapada Diamantina, the region was almost inexplored. It was dominated by the Maracás Indians that used to react agressively to the arrival of strangers.
In 1710, when gold was found in the south part of Chapada (next to the Contas River), the resulting arrival of explorers coming from other mining regions, started the colonization of Chapada Diamantina. These explores are called the “Garimpeiros”. In 1844, with the announcement of the discovery of valious diamonds next to the Mucugê River, more garimpeiros came, also running from the crisis of the gold in other areas. That made the garimpeiros, the principal figure on the colonization of the region.
Today, you still can find some very old garimpeiros from the “diamond era”, but living from agricultural activities now, since the mineral extraction declined and recently got forbidden. Most of the young people of the new generation are also living from agricultural activities or from the tourism on the region that has increased a lot in the past 10 years. But, working in any kind of activity, what you’ll find for sure is the friendliness and happiness of the local “baianos” (born in the State of Bahia).
This very peculiar characteristic of these people will make you feel like you were home.

Mountain Conditions

Enter the website forecast.

Poço Encantado & Caves

Poço Encantado
The Enchanted Well or the Enchanted Sink houses a giant pond where the sunlight passes through a crevice and causes a blue reflection on the still water for a few days in July. The pond is 120 feet deep, but the water is so transparent that the bottom and its rocks and tree trunks can be clearly seen from above the surface. A descent of 360 feet leads to a colossal dome and the pond. The top of the cave is closed. Due its delicate and rare ecosystem, in which blind catfish were recently discovered, the federal environmental authorities have controlled its access to divers. Upon authorized access, the dive is indeed enchanting

Fumaça Waterfall

Fumaça Waterfall is unique and astonishing for its grandiosity and imposing scenery. With 380 meters of free fall, it is the second highest waterfall of the world, following only Salto Angel in Venezuela. During the season from May to September, the falling water levels are less abundant and the wind embraces the water drops and presents a smoky effect, which originated the name of "Fumaça". The road taking to the waterfall was created in the early days of the last century, time of the diamond seekers or garimpos, who established themselves in the basin of the rivers Capivara, Palmital, Capivarí e Caldeirão. The trail was partly covered with rocks to facilitate the access of the cattle that is brought to the Gerais for pasture in the drought season of the Sertão. The periodic fires of these pastures, purposely started by cattle ranchers, have a strong negative aspect on the local environment.
The first part of the trek to the Fumaça is an easy walk and offers the satisfaction of a visual panorama over serra do Rio Preto and Vale do Capão. After the first hour you reach a stable walking pace and the surrounding area is special for its rich and various flora of Bromeliads, Orchids e Cactus. The stone wall forbids the return of the cattle that periodically invades the gerais. From the wall, the trail is flat, with no difficulties, and displaying some areas rich in carnivorous plants (Drosera) and plants surrounded by the numerous Bromeliads (Vriesas e Tillandsias). The area has the name of "Gerais", an incense area that fosters a unique fauna rich in variety, including the local birds, monkeys, reptiles and passing felines. Fortunate trekkers might get a sight of the footprints of the local puma, currently in extinction! The approximate walking time to arrive to the Waterfall is two hours.
Arriving to the Waterfall is uplifting to look around, breath deeply and fall into the mystery of creation. Enjoy the peaceful and quiet moment, which you will probably never forget. The canyons through which the rivers cross by, is a natural refuge for the small palms or palmitos of the dense Mata Atlântica. After passing around a long curve, the river falls into the Capivara, which continues down the stream until joining the Rivers São José and Paraguaçu. The water flows and drops from Fumaça end then travels miles away, to the Bahia de Todos os Santos, Atlantic Ocean.

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Chapada Diamantina

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