Chapada Diamantina

7 March 2020

Escarpments, thorn forests and rock gardens… we are a long way from the Amazon

Beyond the tropical surf beaches of Bahia and coconut plantations of the north east Brazilian coast, is the dry eco-region of caatinga vegetation, best exemplified in the Chapada Diamantina National Park.

Chapada Diamantina is a beautiful plateau of cliffs, escarpments and shallow bush valleys. It is made up of xeric scrubland and sub-tropical thorn forests of cacti that are beautiful in their strangeness, but it was the extraordinary rock gardens, shallow pools and windy paths along escapement edges that captivated us on our journey through the park. It felt more like a walk through an ornamental garden fringed with orchids, phosphorescent lichen and lounging lizards, rather than a hard bush trail. And hiking under the harsh sun of the interior was well rewarded by refreshing swims amongst the clear-water lagoons and cascades of the park.

Diamonds and quartz in the Brazilian interior

From the colonial town of Lencois we ventured deep into the Chapada Diamantina visiting a number of canyons and high waterfalls. Many of the trails we followed were originally way-paths for diamond miners, and the local quartz are renown for their special medicinal and spiritual qualities, to the extent that there is still a hippie community exisiting within the park. Many caves are also said to preserve prehistoric art, but the only art we found was the street kind, near where the hippies can be found at Vale do Capao.

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