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Exploring natural splendor of Chapada Diamantina

May 9, 2014

By: Naresh Shah – Mumbai, India

From Salvador a comfortable six hours bus ride operated by Real Expresso took us to Lençóis (Bahia), a pretty little town with colorful houses on cobblestone streets. Lençóis serves as an excellent “base camp” to explore the Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina, a park enriched with valleys, caves, and waterfalls.

Just two day halt at Lençóis is considered very little time to fully explore the splendid park so we were advised to take an extensive day trip that promised us most exhaustive experience of the richness of the park operated by a local adventure tour company Eco Tur.

A ten hour day trip included visiting six spots of Poco do Diablo, Morro do Pai Inacio, Alto do Pai Inacio, Gruta da Pratinha, Gruta Azul and Gruta da Lapa Doce. Armed in the most comfortable footwear we started our trip at 8:30 AM on a mini van with an eclectic all-ages-small-group of nature enthusiasts. An easy hike by the flowing tea colored waters took us to our first stop; Poco do Diablo, a beautiful waterfall nestled in the untamed wild surroundings.

Poco do Diablo
[Poco do Diablo]

Swimming through the calming chilly waters all the way under the gushing waterfalls was such a refreshing delight. Next stop was a half an hour climb on the top of Morro do Pai Inacio, at height of 1,150 meters above sea level. The hike took us to the breathtaking valley views of Alto do Pai Inacio.

Chapada_Diamantina_Morro_do_Pai_Inacio
[Morro do Pai Inacio]

Chapada_Diamantina_Alto_do_Inacio
[Alto do Pai Inacio]

On top of the mountain our guide narrated us a fascinating story of brave handsome salve “Inácio” who escaped from the guns of a colonel whose daughter he fell in love, just with help of an umbrella from those heights!

Afterwards we were driven to Gruta da Pratinha, a beautiful spot for indulging in an experience of a life time, snorkeling in an under water cave system! This was to me the most exciting part of the day, where we snorkeled into caves for couple of meters where the only source of light was the torches we carried. On one side we were trying to spot fishes in the water with the scanty light of torches and on the other hand above us were hanging bats! This certainly provoked darkest spine-chilling-fears of the movies Descent and Piranha.

Chapada_Diamantina_Gruta_da_Pratinha
[Gruta da Pratinha]

After an incredible cave snorkeling experience I spent some more time playing with small fishes in open bluer pristine waters surroundings caves. Snorkeling is always so calming wish I could do that more often! Post that we took a short walk to spectacular Gruta Azul, a cool blue water reserve on the other end of cave system radiating sheer blueness of water illuminated by the particular angle of rays of sun.

Chapada_Diamantina_Gruta_Azul
[Gruta Azul]

Last stop for the day was exploring gigantic caves of Gruta da Lapa Doce. Over a kilometer long trail in total darkness takes you through amazing sights of speleothem sculpted by centuries of water circulation and drippings mimicking formations of Nativity Scene, angel, sugarloaf, dog, turtle etc. seen with help of lights of the torches.

Chapada_Diamantina_Gruta_da_Lapa_Doce
[Gruta da Lapa Doce]

I swear if you ever get separated from your group and the torch stops working you will never be able to find your way out of the caves on your own in that dooming cold darkness!

Towards end of the tour, our guide asked us to turn off the torches that transcended us to tranquil quietness in the complete darkness. What an unforgettable way to end our super elevating excursions in to the wilderness of Chapada Diamantina!



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