Lençóis & Chapada da Diamantina National Park

One of Bahia Brazil’s best kept secrets


Lençóis is a small colonial gold and diamond mining town approximately 8 hours inland from historical Salvador, Bahia. It is an absolute gem. With the resident population (about 10,000) living in perfectly constructed terracotta one story houses spread along a gorgeous hillside on either side of a pristine river, it is a sight to behold. Upon arrival on a sunny day one cannot help but smile upon this tiny town looking like it has been picked from a dream. There are no street lights, minimal crime, friendly people, great accommodation, quaint restaurants, available social services (bank, clinic, post office, etc.), and best of all great access to Chapada da Diamantina National Park.

This tiny town is the heart of access to some of the best backcountry hiking in all of Brazil. Chapada da Diamantina is 1520sq km and contains close to 100 cachoeiras (waterfalls) most of which are accessible by a short day hike, others only accessible by two to seven multiday treks. The park’s main attraction is hiking, however there is also some great horseback riding, mountain biking, base jumping, ridge walking, and rock climbing. Lençóis has a ton of tour operators looking to sell you their latest and very best adventure in the Chapada da Diamantina. After some time researching the different opportunities for day trips, I came to the quick realization that most of the tour operators were basically offering the same trips at the same prices. Funny that tends to be the trend with operators no matter where you are in the world. The good thing about Lençóis is the tours are each of great quality and offer some stunning vistas only a short day trip away.

I spent three days here, one visiting the highest waterfall in Brazil (Cachoeira da Famaca, 425m), one visiting the Poco Azul (a cave with crystal clear spring fed water), and another touring the natural pools and waterfalls within walking distance of Lençóis. It was an amazing experience in the interior of Bahia and a great eye opener to the remoteness of some of the colonial mining towns. The people who set up Lençóis back in the 1600’s were definite pioneers and much more adventurous than most travellers are now a days. They were following a dream of riches and of a better life, so much so, that they often left everything behind and risked their lives to set up shop in an incredibly remote and wild country. The Chapada da Diamantina and Lençóis is exactly this.

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SEE – Photos & Videos

WSE Travel - Bahia Brazil - Natural Pools 1km from Lencois
Bahia Brazil – Natural Pools 1km from Lencois
WSE Travel - Bahia Brazil - Natural Pools 3km walking from Lencois
Natural Pools 3km walking from Lencois
WSE Travel - Bahia Brazil - Streets of Lencois
Streets of Lencois
WSE Travel - Chapada da Diamantina - fumaca landscape pano
Fumaca landscape pano
WSE Travel - Chapada da Diamantina - Greg at one of the local Cachoeiras
Greg at one of the local Cachoeiras
WSE Travel - Chapada da Diamantina - Italian style Steak, Salad, Bread, and Wine
Italian style Steak, Salad, Bread, and Wine! Nice!
WSE Travel - Chapada da Diamantina - Lying atop the highest single drop in Brazil 425m Cachoeira do Famaca
Lying atop the highest single drop in Brazil 425m Cachoeira do Famaca
WSE Travel - Chapada da Diamantina - Pai Inacio Mountain
Pai Inacio Mountain
WSE Travel - Chapada da Diamantina - Poco Azul (2)
Poco Azul natural pool
WSE Travel - Chapada da Diamantina - Poco Azul
Chapada da Diamantina – Poco Azul
WSE Travel - Chapada da Diamantina - Rain in the distance
Rain in the distance
WSE Travel - Chapada da Diamantina - Sitting atop the highest single drop in Brazil 425m Cachoeira do Famaca
Sitting atop the highest single drop in Brazil 425m Cachoeira do Famaca
WSE Travel - Chapada da Diamantina - Small house off a local path
Small house off a local path
WSE Travel - Chapada da Diamantina National Park
Chapada da Diamantina National Park

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GO – Getting There

The only real access to Lençóis is the classic South American bus journey. Most people come in from Salvador, which is apparently a 6 hour trip (took me 8 both ways). You can also come in from the north transferring at Feira de Santana and joining the Salvador highway for the last four – six hour stretch. The bus cost 50R for the one way ticket. There are three leaving daily from Salvador (7am, 13:30, and a 23:30 night bus). Additionally there is a small airport in Lençóis, but the flights are excessively overpriced nationally in Brazil and I never even heard a mention of anybody even thinking about flying the 400km something distance between Lençóis and the coast.

WSE Travel - Chapada da Diamantina National Park, Brazil - Map
Chapada da Diamantina National Park, Brazil – Map

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Do – Activities & Attractions

Coming Soon!

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Stay – Accommodation

There are a number of great small pousadas and boutique hotels offered for the weary traveller in Lençóis. I think I saw one nice hotel, but I bet most people reading this are looking for a pousada style anyway. I stayed at the Pousada dos Duendes on the edge of town about a five minute walk to the central square. It is a beautiful small locale with dorm rooms at 40R per bed, some privates at 110R for two (75R for a private solo), and some doubles at 60R per person. There is kitchen access and breakfast included in your stay (which is amazing). It was a great spot and one I would highly suggest, however I also passed a number of other very quaint and good looking hostels, so I guess my point is, the accomm is good and there is selection which is nice. If there in High Season (Nov-April), I would make a reservation in advance. All of the pousadas offer their own guiding services within Chapada da Diamantina and or a contact for a reputable guiding company.

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Eat – Restaurants

Coming Soon!

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Time – Seasonality & Schedules

There is a definite high and low season in Brazil. Luckily in Bahia, it doesn’t really exist as the closer you get to the equator the more the temperature stays relatively the same all year round. There is also a rainy and dry season, yet in Lençóis (almost desert) it is generally dry most of the year. This being said it doesn’t really matter what time of year you go! Happy days.

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Safety – Possible risks

Lençóis is generally safe. There is a very low crime rate due to the small tight knit community. However that being said there is somewhat high tourist traffic due to the accessibility of the national park and unfortunately this traffic attracts the pick pocketers and the people stealing petty theft style. Like anywhere else in South America, use your common sense, lock up your stuff where possible, always be aware, and never carry anything more than what you need at that time.

Please Note: Travel inherently comes with an element of risk (just like crossing the road does). You are putting yourself in elements that are unfamiliar and foreign to your usual lifestyle and with that, become more susceptible to fall victim those who try to play off those unfamiliar to their local scams. There are also potential dangers in the environments to which you may not be accustomed to.

Please take extra care in travelling, ensure that you have adequate medical insurance (accidents seem to happen when you least expect them), and have let a trusted colleague, family member or friend know your whereabouts and activities.

Where Sidewalks End travel advises you to travel at your own risk, and to be extra aware of your surroundings (without letting it spoiling your time).

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Pay – How much does it cost?

Brazil is relatively expensive and Lençóis is no exception to this fact. The accomm in town is reasonable enough the food however is a little pricey. If you’re eating at restos, you’re looking at 30-60R per meal. My trick to avoid this was to just buy food and cook at the pousada. Luckily for me I ran into a couple of Italian backpackers and they did most of the cooking for me, I just needed to contribute some cash. Nice.

The tours to Chapada da Diamantina National Park are also not the cheapest trips in the world. Most of the day trips range between 110-180R. I think that having the local guide does make the experience better (depending on how talkative they are) no matter where you are. Maybe ask the tour operator in advance who the guide is, if they speak English, etc. The guides around Chapada da Diamantina are generally really good. Here is a guide I worked with while I was there, Luiz Krug ([email protected]), sort of a local legend around town and an incredible wealth of quality information.

If you are looking to cut costs, it is also possible to rent cars in Lençóis and travel to a lot of the tour destinations on your own. It is not necessary to travel with a certified guide within the national park and many of the day trips are possible to do solo. Renting a car is only 100R (at time of writing) for 12 hours. This is a great deal with three to five people and still allows you to see a lot of the highlights, you are only really sacrificing the local guide.

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Responsible Travel – Best Practices

Coming Soon!

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Reality Check – Be Aware

There is a lot to do around Lençóis and it can be hard to pick which things you want to see with a limited amount of time. It also adds up quickly. If you are on a budget, this is going to take a chunk out of it for sure. Also, if the weather sucks, the tours suck. You really need sunny days to make the most of the area. Some of the vistas are incredible, but if they’re socked in clouds, there’s not much to see. Try and schedule about 4 days for the area and maybe $400USD, no joke.

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JOIN US! WSE Travel Packages

This sounds like quite the adventure, right? We thought so too! Though we realize it can be pretty intimidating to get out there into the world on your own, especially when travelling to some of these off the beaten path locations. We love it when our readers give it a shot and try it for themselves! In fact, please leave us feedback if you do!! If trying something ‘this’ adventurous on your own is just a bit outside of your comfort zone, WSE Travel is here to help!

Click on this link for our ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Tours – packages that are highly personalized and tailored at your request.

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Have you ever been to a National Park that just took your breath away? Where was it, and what did you do while there? Was it off the beaten path, and if so how did you find yourself there?

Please feel free to share your stories and thoughts in the comment section below!

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WSE Travel - Chapada da Diamantina - Sitting atop the highest single drop in Brazil 425m Cachoeira do Famaca
Sitting atop the highest single drop in Brazil 425m Cachoeira do Famaca

9 Responses

  1. Great write up! I was there in 2008. It was definitely one of the least visited places in Brazil. I liked the vibe of Lençóis town and the amazing view of Chapada da Diamantina National Park. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. Hi Noel, awesome to hear you also made it to Lencoise and Chapata Diamantina, what an incredible spot eh! Safe travels mate, glad you liked the write up!

  3. Thank you for the informative writeup! Me and my wife are thinking about ending our trip there. We will have 3 full days and your writeup convinced us to go! Thank you!
    David & Gali:)

  4. Hi David, no worries mate. Glad you and Gail enjoyed the info. It is an amazing place and great spot to finish up your travels 🙂 Boa Viagem!!

  5. Hi Greg! I plan to do this in Jan 2016. I’m travelling on my own but happy to share rooms, camp or whatever?! Can you recommend any good tour providers for single travellers? Thus far I’ve only found tours that charge you for two people whether you’re alone or not? Any advice? I literally want to do all the things you’ve mentioned and possibly the poço Encantad or is that too far by foot?

    1. I will also be traveling alone in early Jan 2016, my friends leave me on New Years and a bit of research has inspired me to do some hiking here. Thanks for the write up and for advice for solo travellers etc

  6. Hi Ashleigh,

    I would travel to Lencois on your own from Salvador and get a single bed at a hostel in town, then ask them to help you book tours for the area allowing you to do and see everything you want to. No worries to do this in advance, it can easily be done on location. Research which hostel you want to stay at then email them asking for more info. That is your best bet to do everything and keep your costs down as a solo traveller.


  7. Hi Greg, Thanks for the nice post about Chapada. This place is a paradise in the heart of Bahia state and offers one of the best places for trekkings in Brazil. The Chapada Diamantina has attractions for all types of tastes but the best ones need some prepare to get. For friends that are going there for the first time try to put on the list places like Buracao Waterfall, Fumacinha Waterfall and the Mixila Trekking in 3 days. For sure people will never forget chapada.

  8. Hello my friends my name is Fabio and i am living in Ibicoara in the South of Chapada Diamantina where are located the biggest waterfalls of the National Park. In Ibicoara are located many beatiful falls with an amazing climate without big crowds. Check on google “Cachoeira da Fumacinha” and “Cachoeira do Buracao”. If you are coming to Chapada Diamantina come to Ibicoara for at least 3 days. Fumaca Falls is amazing with water today is not whole year full. Lencois is nice and Capao is good. But if you want huge nature and the biggest and most pretty falls of Chapada Diamantina you need to check Ibicoara

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