Chapada Diamantina National Park and Vale de Capao & Pati


In the morning of the 13th December we were fetched by the tour company Nas Alturas, there was another lady joining us called Myriam from Brazil and then we fetched Mona who was staying down the road. We were all introduced to our guide Tye, who was a Frenchman. We were transported to a small dirt road where our trekking adventures would start at the foot of Morro do Pai Inacio, one of the flat topped chapadas in the Chapada Diamantina nation park.

We started the walk with a view of Vale do Cercado and the Tres Imaos (three brothers) mountains. The hike was largely flat and took us past Morrao, another picturesque chapada. The 5 of us stopped at the Aguas Claras swimming for a swim and some lunch. The break was cut short by rain, so we started a brisk walk.

Along the way I noticed quartz crystal and managed to find some incredible clear crystals with amazing symmetric shapes. I spent the majority of the last part of the hike looking for crystals and managed to collect quite a few little beauties! At the end of the hike we found the Nas Alturas vehicle waiting for us, Barbs, Myriam and Mona got into the vehicle while the guide Tye and I ran back to the small quiet village of Capao.

Charming Capao

We arrived in Capao and I was immediately taken by this village’s rustic nature. We were staying in a beautiful little Pousada with the most amazing garden. I took a shower and left Barbara reading while I headed into town to buy a beer and scope out something to do or a place to eat for dinner.

I found two places for dinner, the first was a pizza place that sold pizza by the slice and the second a vegetarian restaurant. I continued to explore the little village to see what else was happening. Capao is a quiet village with mostly hippy or simply alternative people living there. Shops and restaurants were very affordable and people friendly.

Barbara, Mona and I headed into town together much later after having a rest and relaxation session. We went over to the pizza joint first, they served devine pizza slices, the base was just perfect and for 6 slices we paid only R$15. Next we went for some veggie food around the corner where i proceeded to stuff down loads more yummy food.

The highest waterfall in Brazil

Our first morning in Capao we woke up around 5am, it seemed like our body clocks had still not fully adapted to the time zone. We lay in bed reading and chatting, it was so good to be on holiday. Around 8am we headed off to the breakfast table and had some interesting food for breakfast, so delicious.

The plan for the day was to hike up to the top of the Cachoeira dos Fumaça, which is the highest waterfall in Brazil. A driver picked us up from the Pousada after breakfast and shuttled us a few kilometers to the start of the trail. We checked in at an office at the bottom and we all made a donation. 20000 people per year hiked the Fumaça, each donation goes towards preserving and protecting the mountain and especially fires that break out periodically during the dry seasons.

I ran up the trail ahead of the rest of the group and it felt great to get a rush of endorphins going. I waited for the rest of the group higher up on the hiking trail and absorbed the incredible views that were in front of me. Once the group caught up, we all walked to the waterfall together.

The waterfall was so high that the water disappeared into vapour, I crawled to the edge of an overhang viewpoint and looked down to see an unnervingly high drop down to the bottom. We walked down to a nearby rock pool and had some lunch for the next hour or so. Before leaving we snapped some more photos from a different viewpoint, the spray that the waterfall produced was amazing.

After our photo session we walked back down the same route we walked up, so I ran ahead and pushed some speed on the trails, bouncing from rock to rock and splashing through the streams. We headed back to our Pousada in Capao for a rest, then went into town for pizza at a different place. OMG, some of the best pizza I have ever had. Bed time after all that food and beer.

Valley vistas of Pati valley

At breakfast we found out that Myriam would not be joining us due to an injury, so the rest of the trek was set to be just the 4 of us – Barbara, Ashley, Mona and Tye. After breakfast we were shuttled to the start of the our longest hike during the week of trekking, it would be a distance of 22km when we were done. We walked out of Vale do Capao up the Bomba trail, at the head of the valley we were presented with stunning views all the way down Vale do Capao with verdant chapadas up on either side.

After traversing the meadows of Gerais do Viera and the Rio Preto, we stopped for lunch at a rock pool. With some lunch to fuel us along the remaining hike we marched on eventually getting a good view point that looked down the Vale do Pati, giving us a glimpse of where our final destination would be for the day.

We walked down a steep rocky trail and then I ran up a steep incline on the path ahead. That was our last climb for the day, after which we headed down into the Pati Valley. We arrived at some simple local accommodation and were welcomed by the family that lived there with some wholesome delicious food and even some cold beers.

Terrenrial downpours and a day of rest

That night we heard some rain started, all was still fine, but suddenly we started hearing thunder, seeing lightening and then it started…. The rain poured down harder than it had rained in that region in many years, it rained so hard that the roof leaked a fine mist onto our beds. Barbara struggled to sleep as the frightening weather beat down on the little cottage we were sleeping in!

The next morning we found out that all the rivers had flooded and there was no chance of us walking anywhere. Our hike up to some near by caves had been cancelled, so we all sat around reading and relaxing, which was quite pleasant with the beautiful birds, kitties getting scratches and plants around where we were staying.

We packed up in the late part of the afternoon and headed to a new house about 10min walk down the path. We could move earlier in the day because all the streams had merged into a raging river, which blocked our path. The new house had panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Early to bed for everyone after a tasty dinner together.

Above the big waterfall

Barbs and I had a pretty bad night’s rest, so we woke up feeling stiff and miff… It had rained all night and the double mattress was too big for the bed frame, nothing a bit of Brazilian coffee couldn’t sort out!

We started off on our walk fairly early, first we took our bags to a new house about another 10 min walk up the path from where we were staying. On arrival, we realized the new place was a big upgrade on the previous two places. The family running the accommodation was much bigger, so there were more people to work on the buildings and garden. The garden was especially beautiful with a host of flowers, the cosmos flowers specifically made the gardens light up with incredible color.

All we did was drop our bags off at the new house, then start off on a hike up to the Cachoeira big waterfall, which was approximately a 9km walk one way and same distance back. The first part of the path was foreign to us, but then Tye said we had walked a stretch already, I didn’t recognize the path, but then I clicked, we walked the path as we entered the Pati Valley.

I took a run up ahead and chased down some mules with their owners, I love chasing down people ahead, it’s great fun. When I got on top of the chapada I waited for Mona, Barbs and Tye, then we walked the rest of the route together. After a few kilometers we headed down another path which lead us toward the forest surrounding the waterfall. The forest was incredible, it was a mash up of trees, ferns, roots and moss, making a beautiful wonderland.

We popped out of the forest a the perfect rock pool and mini waterfall where we would have lunch and take a swim. We dropped our bags and head to the big waterfall, what an incredible site, we saw what few people normally get to see and that was a raging mass of water exploding out of the rock. The waterfall was not created by a river or stream, it was pouring out of the rocks in many different locations. In some cases the water made it to the valley below, but the main waterfall disappeared into a fine mist like the Fumaça. Tye took us to one more view point to see another perspective of the raging waterfalls.

We headed back to our bags to munch some lunch and swim a little. While doing this it felt like a Steven King story as the mist started creeping through the forest around us and spreading around the area we were sitting. Next the rain started and it was kind of cold, so we packed up and headed out at a brisk pace.

I decided to run the last 7km or so, so I took off and ran like wind. The trails were sodden with water, which made running tricky, but I kept pushing. The rain had subsided a little once we got back onto the chapada, but soon it started to pour down again making the clay paths like slippery snot. I arrived back at the little cottages about 1 hour ahead of the others, so I took a shower and started reading.

That afternoon we all relaxed whiled appreciating the beautiful surroundings. Tye had suggested we watch TV, I thought this was a bit odd until I saw what he meant, there was a bench with a view of the mountains that was like a high definition infitinite sized LED TV screen. I made a new feline friend, this kitty sat on my lap and drooled on my for ages, cutest little creature.

In the evening after dinner, Tye joined the family in a music session. There were 5 men and 2 young boys all making music in harmony with one another. Barbara, Mona and I watched in awe as the 7 of them made what Tye dubbed peasant dance music, we felt quite honored that they were comfortable playing with us present. Bed time after the music session.

Out of the Pati Valley

The morning of the 18th December, we hiked out of the Pati Valley away from the beautiful chapadas we had grown accustomed to seeing for the previous few days. The hike took us back up the path we took down into the valley and up the steep rocky decent. When we had hiked into the valley, the path was not quite as damaged and wet, leaving was a different story.

As we got to the top of the chapada and walked across the Rio do Preto meadows the rain started up again. At first it was a fine drizzle, but over time this increased and so did the water flowing in the streams around us. We could not cross the river, which was normally the route, due to the river being raging torrent of water.

Luckily there was a bridge further up the trail that we could use to cross the river, this is also what the local families used when they crossed with their mules. We had lunch on the bridge, but this was cut short by a downpour, so we started hiking on the trail again.

We walked down the Morro do Beco towards a small farming town of Guine. The steep trail down had become a stream, it was great fun running down the rocky & watery decent. We had little to no visibility going down the trail due to heavy cloud, which was unfortunate because we would usually have incredible views.

Due to us pushing along quite fast, we finished the hike back in about an hour faster than expected, which meant that the driver had not arrived. We decided to into the town of Guine and find the driver there. We were lucky as we quickly found the driver, who then drove us back to Lençois. The journey back was nearly 2 hrs, so we were super happy to arrive at the Pousada we stayed in 6 days earlier called Villa Serano.

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