Brazil Beyond the Beach
Most visitors to Brazil stay in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and other well-known coastal cities. But just 250 miles inland from Salvador lies the Chapada Diamantina (literally Diamond Plateau), an extensive range of towering mesas that runs across the central part of Bahia—whose national park encloses a great place for hiking, canyoning, canoeing, rappelling, as well as horse riding, mountain biking, and even scuba diving. Diamonds were discovered here in 1845, which initiated the regions settlement and development. Towns such as Lençois, Mucugê, and Andaraí still maintain their historic aura.
Lençois is the hub for day trips to the national park and surrounding region. Buses run daily from Salvador to Lençois, and the town offers affordable and pleasant pousadas (guest houses). Local guides are available to take trekkers into the back country on overnight backpacking trips from two to five days or for day hikes to explore waterfalls and other attractions. For those without their own transportation, several tour operators organize daily excursions to the greatest attractions, including waterfalls, caves, and the Chapadas best-known vista point, the Morro do Pai Inácio, which offers sweeping views of the Diamantina plateau. Guides charge an average of $15 per person per day for a guided hike. Day trips to the regions most scenic sites cost about the same.
Other national parks—such as Chapada dos Guimarães in the state of Mato Grosso, Parque Nacional de Sete Cidades and Parque Nacional da Serra da Capivara in Piauí, and Parque Nacional da Serra dos Veadeiros in Goiás—also offer remote adventures in a similar setting.
Outfitters and Tour Operators
Lentur Viagens e Turismo Ltda.; Tel./fax 011-55-75-334-1271 or 9985-1003; firstname.lastname@example.org, www.lentur.com.br (in Portuguese).
IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of the Environment and of Renewable Resources), Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina, Rua Luiz Viana, S/Nº, Palmeiras-BA, CEP: 46930-000, Brazil; 011-55-75-332-2229.
VOLKER POELZL is the author of Culture Shock! Brazil and Culture Shock! Portugal. He has lived and traveled extensively in the Brazilian Amazon.