My rather melancholy Christmas had a surprise ending!
Christian came home from work on Christmas evening and said, “I have the next 3 days off. Let’s go to Lençóis.” And after some phone calls to confirm the availability of a room, followed by an overnight bus trip, we were a world away from Salvador.
The town of Lençóis is one of the gateways to Chapada Diamantina National Park. Chapada Diamantina (meaning “Diamond Plateau”) was a major area for diamond prospecting in the 19th century. The name “Lençóis” means “sheets” and refers to the tents of the diamond prospectors, which were once spread out so extensively in the region that they looked like continuous sheets.
I highly recommend a visit to Chapada Diamantina for anyone coming to Bahia, because it is spectacular!
But just in case you’re not convinced…
Day 1: Grotto and Mountain Tour
We began with a hike to "Poço do Diabo" (Devil's Well), which included this lovely little bridge. See the little girl who's crossing behind me? She's 3 years old and absolutely fearless; I couldn't believe she did the whole day's hike.
There were some interesting rock formations along the way.
This is Poço do Diabo - a waterfall with a sweet little swimming area.
Next task: Climb this.
We made it!
Relaxing at the top. Notice the layers of rock in the cliff behind me - the same geological processes that compressed and compacted the layers of sediment also formed the region's diamonds.
I found this pretty cactus flower. The region is semi-arid, so there's a mixture of desert, scrubland, and tropical vegetation.
Now we're heading down to the Gruta da Fumaça (Smoke Grotto).
The ceiling looked like a stalactite chandelier!
It takes between 10 and 35 years for each stalactite or stalagmite to grow one centimeter. Imagine how many years are represented by these!
Because of the contours of the rock, these stalactites ended up looking like curtains.
This formation looks like a camel.
At about 150 feet below the surface, we turned off all the lanterns and sat in silence for a minute.
Thankful to see daylight again!
We made a quick stop at Poço Azul (Blue Well). The water actually IS blue!
The blue color comes from magnesium.
We ended the day at Pratinha, where I went down this zip line.
Day 2: Hike to Cachoeira da Fumaça (Smoke Waterfall)
The hike is 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) each way, with a climb of about 4400 feet.
Beginning the trail...
I forgot to take pictures on the way up, but here we are at the top. This picture doesn't do justice to the height.
This picture helps a little bit.
The drop off of this ledge is about 120 stories.
This is the waterfall that we actually didn't see. Since it hadn't rained in a while, it was only a trickle. We'll just have to come back someday to see it in its prime!
We ended the day with a swim in the Riachinho waterfall. The water is orange because of the high concentration of tannin.
Day 3: Natural Waterslide
This is a short hike close to Lençóis. On the way, we saw some great spiderwebs. This one looked like a funnel (see the spider coming out of the tube near the leaf?)
We stopped off here for a slice of watermelon.
The water provides a natural hydromassage.
There are all these little natural pools.
This is the natural waterslide! The rocks are completely smooth and there is a light coating of algae that makes them more slippery. Still, it is recommended to go down wearing shorts.
Here are some people going down:
This daredevil went down standing up!