The Chapada Diamantina area is full of trails through the area’s amazing scenery and we had decided to walk three of these. The problem with writing this blog is that the pictures can’t do the scenery justice, and the challenge is to decide which photos to omit.
So, on Monday we took a guided hike along the Rio Serrano trail. Our guide, Junior, had been recommended to Anisia by a friend of hers and it was a good recommendation, Junior only speaks Portugese but was a lively, informative and attentive guide and booking direct the prices were exceptionally good.
The Rio Serrano is just outside of Lençóis and the trail we were to follow is about 3 kilometers long, of which only the first 500 m were flat. The rocks forming the river bed are primarily sandstone conglomerates and erode into fantastic shapes and in places are worn almost mirror smooth.
The word ‘Lençóis‘ means ‘bed sheets‘. The valley floor was once covered with the tents and shelters of the prospectors which made it look like the valley was covered in bed clothes, hence the name of the town.
From here the trail lead through the Salão de Areia, or Sand Salon. This is a large area of caves and fallen rocks carved out by the river and the floor covered in a deep carpet of sand. But the name comes from the fact that local craft workers collect coloured sands from the rocks to make the bottled sand sculptures sold in souvenir shops, The rocks themselves are conglomerates with larger stones embedded in what is still sand when scrapped out. The range of colours from this small area is quite amazing.
Leaving the Salão we followed the river further upwards and then came to our first swimming stop at Poço Halley; ‘Poço’ means ‘well’. This became a regular feature of these hikes and in the 35 degree heat a cool dip was always quite welcome.
The water here is clear but very brown, like weak coffee.
And then we began to climb out of the valley with D Ermida leading!
Junior, when he found out Ermida’s age became convinced that she is in actual fact one of the last of the Cangaceiras who used to roam these hills, maybe a relation to Maria Bonita. The thought of my mother-in-law armed with a rifle and a machete gave me an instinctive moment of panic, until I remembered that Dona Ermida is quite sweet and we get along really well.
The river valley, pools and the waterfalls were just beautiful and finally reaching the top of the valley side gave fantastic views across the area; the scenery is just vast and the views are awesome.