Cascading waterfalls, picturesque plateaus, and statuesque mountains are a few of the reasons to fall in love with Chapada Diamantina in Bahia, Brazil. A maze of trails, from beginner to advanced, taking hikers through valleys and streams, and showing some of the best of Brazil’s natural beauty. Check out our guide to the top trails in this sprawling national park.
The 1,378-ft (420-meter) plunge of this waterfall is a gorgeous sight to see, but the water evaporates into a fine mist as it reaches the bottom, giving it the name Smoke Waterfall. This 3.7-mile (six-kilometer) hike requires a guide, which can be arranged at any agency in the nearby town of Lençóis.
To get a good look at the Chapada Diamantina valley and all of its plateau glory, take the trail to Morro do Pai Inácio, which offers one of the best postcard views in the entire park. The trail is relatively easy to access and is located along the road BR-242, between the towns of Palmeiras and Lençóis. Be prepared for some inclines and steep hills and about a four- to five-hour hike each way.
For some mystical cave views, head to Gruta do Lapão, and take a car from nearby Lençóis to make things easier. The moderately difficult trail has a few challenging spots, but the reward is a beautiful view of a quartzite cave. While there, don’t forget to turn off your flashlight to experience the cave in total darkness—even if just for a few moments—for an unforgettable experience.
Cachoeira do Sossêgo is at the end of a rather challenging trail, but it is also home to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of Chapada. Be prepared for steep inclines and a total distance of approximately five miles (eight kilometers). The trail begins Lençóis and takes about three hours. Guides are recommended because the trail veers off and forks frequently enough to confuse hikers who aren’t familiar with the area. The reward is a swim in the cool, clear waters of the waterfall’s base.
This is a long trek that begins and ends in Vale do Capão and can last from four to six days depending on pace and number of detours. See sweeping views of Chapada’s plateaued mountains, and maybe even have stop in a local’s home for a meal or a night’s stay, but this is best done with the help of a local guide.
The Grand Circuit is best for ambitious hikers, as the trek covers over 62 miles (100 kilometers) of the park, and it takes from five to eight days, again depending on the number detours. Arranging for a guide is best here so they can assist in setting up lodging and meals in locals’ homes. Along the way, discover the gorgeous valley plains or venture off a for day trip or two to discover nearby waterfalls.