Chapada Diamantina is a mountainous region in the middle of Bahia State and to call it an area of out standing naural beauty doesn’t really do it justice. We based ourselves in Lençóis on the east side of the park for fours days before moving on to Mucuge, a town a couple of hours further south.
The area, being in the hard to access ‘interior’ was largely unknown until 1710 when gold was discovered. The gold rush as such only lasted for about a hundred years and by the early part of the 19th century the population of the region declined with the gold reserves. However, in 1844, things changed when diamonds were discovered. (Makes you wonder how the gold prospectors missed them!) Anyway in 1844 a prospector and mule train operator found two large diamonds in his mules pasture on the Mucuge River, and over the next few days he picked up over 100 carats worth of stones. The secret of the location didn’t last obviously and overnight prospectors were filling their hats with diamonds! The population returned and everything was good until diamonds were discovered in South Africa and diamond prices dropped like a stone.
Lençóis was the hub of the diamond export trade and in its heyday even had a French embassy. Now the entire area is a National Park, created in 1985, and many of the towns have national monument status. Tourism is now the major business of the area, and you can see why; the scenery is amazing …. It is easy to run out of superlatives to describe the scenery, so i’ll just stop at amazing.
(I took most of this information from ‘Chapada Diamantina’, a book by Rodrigo Galvão. )