Chapada Diamantina the Lost World of Brazil

Brazil is justifiably famous for immense Amazonian rain forest, its magnificent beaches, fabulous cities such as Rio de Janeiro, an unbelievable ability for Brazilians to party, but what Brazil is not generally known for is it canyons.

Located in the state of Bahia in north eastern Brazil is the Chapada Diamantina National Park, a mountainous region that is often referred to as the Lost World of Brazil because of its unusual rock formations, tablelands, subterranean rivers, waterfalls, canyons, valleys and mountains. Declared a national park in 1985, Chapada Diamantina is remote, difficult to reach and, as a result, almost in pristine condition.

Almost pristine because diamonds and gold were discovered in the region early in the 19th century, and it is those diamonds (diamantina) which give the part its name. It is the park’s phenomenal natural beauty which gives it a reputation for being a simply superb and unique landscape.

It is an astounding place to visit, but there are few facilities there so you do need to have an adventurous spirit and the right amount of zeal and fitness to tackle many of the park’s extensive attractions. These include waterfalls, canyons, rivers, cliffs, jungle, caves, rapids and transparent pools.

One of these crystal clear pools is the Enchanted Well which is often lit by direct sunlight between 10:30 – 12:30. This allows you to enjoy a breathtaking view down through 61 metres of turquoise blue water so clear that small stones can be seen at the bottom. The Enchanted Well is located in one of the many caverns in the area, and is the subject of the Chapada’s most famous postcard view.

The nearest town to the park is Lencois, from which several operators conduct tours into the park. One of the most popular activities is canyoning, but it can be quite tough. The trip to Capivari waterfalls, a distance of 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Lencois, is popular. The trip lasts three days and two nights of camping, and includes trekking and abseiling down the waterfalls, which are up to 37 m high.

There are some fantastic dive spots here as well, including Gruta da Pratinha which is approximately 100 metres wide and about two metres feet deep. To reach it you descend by natural stairs into a crystal clear lake. Another is called the Impossibles for its entrance which is difficult to negotiate, but once in the crater shaped area at the bottom of a 30 metre (100ft) pit with vertical walls; you’ll be rewarded with views of white stalagmites and access to various tunnels and an unforgettable snorkelling experience.

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