Tag Archives: Lencois

Lençóis

Square outside the Coronel’s mansion

Our base for the last 4 days has been Lençóis. Originally it was a mining town and the centre for the diamond trade for the area. It propsered and the buildings all have the distinctive Colonial appearance seen elsewhere on our travels in the North East.   It was built on the mountain side on the Serrano River valley and many of its streets are very steep.   The majority are also very narrow and in the evening in the centre of town are mainly taken over by restaurant tables.   Many of the shops sell local craft works and the place has a distinctly ‘hippy’ vibe.

Our Pousada,  Pouso da Trilha was a relatively basic place with few frills but had a very tranquil and relaxing atmosphere.   It was on the west side of the town close to the centre and within minutes of stepping out in the evening we were tripping over restaurant tables, there was certainly no shortage of places to eat or drink, and the food was all really good.  It took a while to get here but it was worth the effort.

A little history. One of the streets is called Rua das Pedras, or Road of Stones, and at first glance you could be mistaken for thinking the name referred to the cobbles which pave most of the streets. The cobbles, however, were laid in the 1970s to stop the streets washing away in the rain and the name is far older.  Rua das Pedras used to be the place miners, fresh back from prospecting and with pockets full of diamonds, would go for entertainment and in paying for it would leave most of their ‘stones‘ behind in Rua das Pedras!

Lençóis is a lively, colourful place and has bags of character and charm. Quite apart from the proximity to the magnificent scenery it is a nice place just to wander round.  Although a tourist destination it did not have a particularly tourist feel.   All in all a very enjoyable destination.

 

Rio Mucugêzinho and Ribeirão de Baixo

From Morro do Pai Inacio it was just a short drive to the trail alongside the Rio Mucugêzinho, a picturesque river valley with waterfalls, and after our climb up Pai Inacio the swim was appreciated.

Rio Muugezinho

The trail lead down stream along the banks and bed of the river which was a jumble of massive boulders through which the clear but coffee brown water made its way.

The end of this particular trail was  the Poço do Diabo or Devil’s Well,, a 25 metre high waterfall which then ran off into the gorge called the Garganta do Diablo, the Devil’s Throat.

Poço de Diablo
Garganta de Diablo, or Devil’s Throat

It was lovely to clamber among the rocks with just the noise of the water to be heard.  But it was very hot, especially on the exposed rocks, so the dip in the water was really refreshing.

We then drove back to Lençóis and picked up Dona Ermida and headed straight back out to drive to Ribeirão de Baixo, rough translation of Lower River, about 3 km along a dirt track outside Lençóis.

The track to Ribeirão de Baixo

Valeria and Ermida
Junior rides shotgun

This last excursion was pleasant, but by comparison a little bit of a let down.  Being so close to town it was in effect the local swimming pool and so was rather crowded with local youngsters and the odd family or two.  All good natured and noisy and I think we’ve just been spoilt already.

For this visit there were 6 of us and only 5 seats so our guide Junior sat in the back and shouted directions through the window to Anisia.  We were happy to get back for our dinner after what had been a pretty busy at day in Lencois.

Tomorrow we’re off to Mucugê.

 

Morro do Pai Inacio

Wednesday was busy. Morro do Pai Inacio and the Rio Mucugêzinho in the morning followed by a swim at Riberāo de Baixo,  outside Lençóis in the afternoon.

The Morro do Pai Inacio is one of the sources of picture postcard views of Chapada Diamantina and it is obvious why; from the top you can see everything. In every direction you have amazing views. The trail up to the summit from the car park was about 300 metres and was steep but not overly challenging; hot obviously but that made the light breeze at the summit even more pleasant. Again, words can’t describe the views and you could sit there for hours just looking.

Morro de Pai Inacio
Park entrance
View of the trail up
Junior, Anisia, Chris and Valeria

 

Only half way up !

The summit.

Having reached the summit, Junior told us the tale of Pai Inacio,  which he freely admitted was made up by the guides.  The short version is as follows. The beautiful daughter of the Coronel from Lençóis fell in love with Inaçio, one of the slaves in her father’s diamond mine. You can piece the rest together so we’ll skip to the end when Inacio is tracked to the top of the mountain that now bears his name. Inacio,  for some reason carrying and umbrella, told the Coronel he’d rather give himself to the hands of nature, than into the hands of the Coronel, and promptly jumped. At this point Junior did the same! Some what unexpected but a good way to deliver a punch line.  As Junior has told this tale a few times it was obvious there was a ledge below and it ran around part of the summit so he could come up behind us, so demonstrating how Inaçio,  escaped the Coronel, stole a horse, got the girl, and the diamonds. Fun story but we’re no wiser as to who Father Inacio actually was!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even on the trail up when you can’t see above the bushes the scenery is amazing.  The photos can only hint at the scale and beauty of the place and it was well worth the trek.

Our next stop was to be a short drive away and another trail along the Rio Mucugézinho, but that will have to be the next post.

 

 

Ribeirao do Meio

On Tuesday we took our second excursion, a ‘self guided’ walk to Ribeirão do Meio, just out side town. Junior had given us directions and we had Google Maps …… what could go wrong ?

Leaving Lençóis. …. next sign we saw was ‘Slow – School’ !!!!

We managed to find our way to the edge of town and then promptly got lost. We weren’t alone though, a group of French girls armed with a paper map were equally lost and so we asked our way.  We were only a little off course.

The walk was fairly easy, which was good as Ermida was with us, and most of it was through woodland with few views as such.   There was a ‘bar’ halfway there for a coconut water and the actual water fall itself was more of a water slide. It was a really pleasant walk and the pools at the far end were lovely.

Coconut Shack
Ribeirão do Meio

Area of outstanding natural beauty.

Rio Serrano

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.

Rio Serrano valley

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.

Rock pool on the valley floor

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.

Salão de Ariea
Salão de Areia

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.

Range of coloured sands – ‘Do not mix’

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.

Poço Halley

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!

Dona Ermida at 78 years old ……..

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.

Cachoeira Primavera
Erida takes point ….
It was probably only a climb of a hundred metres, but a personal best for Dona Ermida

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.

The road to Lencois

We set off from Piranhas at 7.30 on Sunday morning for a 700 plus kilometre trip to Lençóis in the Chapada Diamantina National Park in Bahia.  We estimated this would take about 12 hours and so I decided I’d try to take a couple of photos each hour to illustrate the journey. It gets dark at just after 6 pm and we arrived in Lencois at 7pm.

0740. Leaving Pousada O Canto, Piranhas.
0800. Heading north on AL-220 near Olho d’Água do Casado. AL.
0830. Heading west on BR-423 towards Paulo Afonso.
0840. Crossing the Paulo Afonso dam, entering Bahia State.
0900. South bound on BR-110
0930. South bound on the BR-110
1030. South on BR-110.
1140. South at Ribeiro do Pombal junction with BR-410
1200. Heading west on BR-410 approaching Tocano
1230. Tucano service station.
1330. South on BR-116 towards Serrinha.
1400. Heading north on xxxxxx in Serrinha, BA
1430. South on BR-116 at Santa Bárbara
1500. South on BR-116 at Feira de Santa
1530. Heading north west on BA-052
1600. West on BA-052 near Ipira, BA
1630. West on the BA-052
1710. Heading south west on BA-223 in Alto Vermellio (means High Red)
1730. West on BA-242 near Itabiraba, BA
1800. West on BA-242 near Boa Vista do Turpin
1920. Arrived at Pouso da Trillia, Lençóis.