Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lençóis city, Chapada Diamantina, Bahia, Brazil


In the middle of Bahia state, Brazil, a rocky backbone stretches for several kilometers along a north – south axis. It belongs to the Espinhaço Range which starts at the Minas Gerais state, down south. One of its sub regions, known as Serra do Sincorá is part of the Chapada Diamantina, a very peculiar ecosystem, in the middle of the Bahia semi-arid region.
Formerly a diamond mining region, now is one important touristic spot, attracting tourists from Brazil and from other parts of the world. One of its main cities is Lençóis, a small colonial city, which now has approximately 10.000 inhabitants and is located about 400 kilometers from Salvador. Founded in the middle of the XIX century, after the discovery of diamonds, Lençóis became an important economic and cultural center. After the vanishing of the golden times of mining, the city entered a decadent period, redeemed after many years by tourism, in its ecological and adventure genres. Now it receives about 120.000 tourists per year and has good hotels, “pousadas” and restaurants. The city is very charming and is one of the main entries to the trekking, hiking and climbing paradise of Chapada Diamantina. It was considered, by a specialized Brazilian magazine, one of the 10 best touristic destinations in Brazil. Notwithstanding, it is not well known outside Brazil and if one takes into account the cities of Salvador and Rio de Janeiro it is not comparatively known even by Brazilians themselves.
For those who are at Salvador is very easy to reach Lençóis. The Real Expresso Bus Company has three daily buses from Salvador to Lençóis and the company Trip Airlines has one flight per week, at Saturdays. Once at Lençóis is very easy to find lodging and guiding services as the city is quite small and people are always willing to help. Some tourists complain about the harassment at the bus station, indeed one has to be carefull not to be lured with false promises. But don’t worry because a simple “No, thanks” (Não, muito obrigado) can drive off most of the annoying people.
At Lençóis there are attractions and tours for people of all ages and fitness condition. Most tourists are Brazilian but there are lots of foreigners, mainly from Europe, UK and Israel. Bilingual guides are not the majority, but is quite possible to find some english speaking guides along with some able to speak french, italian and spanish.
Very near the city there is the Lençóis River, with pools, cascades and waterfalls. A little bit further, but equally of easy access, are the Ribeirão River, which has excellent places for bathing and relaxing. Besides, the numerous agencies and independent guides offer all kinds of tours, from the easy ones mentioned above to the long hikes through huge canyons, plateaus and breathtaking waterfalls. Moreover, the rock climbing area is very near Lençóis and one can reach most of the sectors after just 30 minutes walking from the city.
Among the most sought after tours near Lençóis are the Serrano Pools, the Primavera and Cachoeirinha Waterfalls, the Sossego Waterfall, rappeling at the Lapão cave, rock climbing at Muritiba Municipal Park and the natural water slide at Ribeirão do Meio, which is an excellent bathing place at the Ribeirão River.
So if you are planning a trip to South America or to Brazil think about knowing this wonderful destination, where is possible to see and walk through breathtaking landscapes or just to relax from the agitation of big cities. 
Some photos from the tours around Lençóis can be seen at: Lençóis City, Chapada Diamantina, Bahia, Brazil


Saturday, August 6, 2011

From Lençóis to Lençóis, through the Ribeirão River and Mandassaia River valleys

One great thing about the trails at Chapada Diamantina is their connectivity. This means that there is the possibility of linking trails and of making different itineraries along the main trails. In an early post I described an easy trekking, which went from the surroundings of the Pai Inácio Hill to Lençóis, passing through the Águas Claras Pools and through the valley of the Ribeirão River. This trail can be made in one or two days. There is a different itinerary, a circuit starting and finishing at Lençóis, arriving there through the neighborhood of Barro Branco. This trekking needs at least two days to be really enjoyable and a vehicle is not necessary. The first part is going up the Serra do Grizante until crossing the watershed divide and entering the Ribeirão River valley. From there the trail follows through some grasslands, with an awesome view of the Morrão, until the Águas Claras Pools where there is a good place to make camping. The next day the trail goes through grasslands, with beautiful sightings of hills around and of the Pai Inácio Hill, until the slopes of the Serra do Campo Alegre and follow the Mandassaia River valley until a watershed divide which gives access to the Barro Branco. From there to Lençóis is a gentle walking downhill, through an old unpaved road. More photos of this pleasant trekking can be found at: Trekking through the Ribeirão River and Mandassaia River valleys