Chapada Diamantina: Caves and falls from another world

If you are planning your first trip to Brazil and don't know where to start, I suggest you scour your map for Salvador of Bahia, and once located, slide your finger inland to the domains of the Chapada Diamantina National Park.

Firstly, Salvador is the quintessence of Brazilian culture, an ideal place to start exploring the tropical country.

As for the park, everything is extraordinary in Chapada. This land of gold and diamond stands out from the rest of the world's natural parks for two main reasons: its prodigious caverns with their pools of magical colors (although the most outstanding ones are not technically included within the boundaries of the park), and second, the hundreds of wonderful waterfalls splashed across its territory.

Chapada Diamantina
The Blue Well or Poço Azul is a jewel in the crown, a flooded cave which held a precious treasure within its depths. Not long ago, explorers discovered the bones of about forty different species of animals, most of them extinct.
Image by Raphael Koerich

O mistério do poço Azul
A documentary from National Geographic tells the story of the scientific expedition that rescued, among others, the complete skeleton of a Megatherium, a beast the size of an elephant. Image by Fred Schinke

Poço Azul
Where does the water end and the rock begin?
Image by Fred Schinke

Blue Well
You can even swim in the crystal-clear waters of Poço Azul, and glide around the remains of old submerged trees, still in excellent condition. Image by Pedro Angelini

Chapada Diamantina National Park
The subsoil of the region has countless underground rivers collecting water that seeps in from the surface. This causes a gradual erosion until, as in these caves, the ground collapses and leaves the door open for you to come discover wonders like this place. Image by Otávio Nogueira

Enchanted well Brazil
Do not confuse the Blue Well with the Enchanted Well (pictured). The latter is a fragile ecosystem, where at certain times of day between April and September, the sunlight will fall in through a crevasse, like a celestial ray in an Indiana Jones movie. Image by

Poço Encantado
With these crystalline waters, no one would say that the cave has about sixty feet deep. Must see to believe, or do not forget your camera, so you friends will be able to check that you are not exaggerating when you want to explain it.
Image by Paul Goodman

Blue Grotto
Just one more: this is called the Blue Grotto and its waters communicate with Pratinha river (in the pictures below).
Image by

Gruta da Pratinha
The Gruta da Pratinha occupies a section of the river of the same name. It also flaunts the characteristic blue of the area, due to the richness of minerals that hide within this land. Image by

Image by Fred Schinke

Gruta da Fumaça
To put an end to the underworld chapter, I am only adding that Chapada has many more caves to offer that are slightly less spectacular, but still of great speleological value, including very rare stalagmite formations. Image by Rosino

Gruta da Fumaça
Like this unique form, called a flower of aragonite (or rather thistle, I'd say), which flowed into the Cave Torrinha.
Image by Valdiney Pimenta

Canyon do Buracão
Part II: waterfalls, like the one at the end of this Canyon do Buracão.
Image by Joao Vicente

Buracão Canyon
Look great as a wallpaper.
Image by José Gutiérrez

Chapada Diamantina Falls
And at the end of the canyon, Waterfall Buracão. Look how small the person is sitting at its base.
Image by Joao Vicente

Fumacinha Fall
Fumacinha Fall is considered the most beautiful by the few who visit it. If running water isn’t enough, it becomes an ethereal curtain of steam before reaching the pool. Image by Karsten Rau

The route to Fumacinha is a little tough, but these one hundred meters of waterfall within inclined walls is worth the effort.
Image by José Gutiérrez

Mixila Fall is another beauty hidden in a valley near Lençóis.
Image by Winter steele9

Lençóis is a charming village used as base camp to explore the region. A spot
of lunch after your dramatic morning trek?
Image by Otávio Nogueira

Lençóis Bahia
At present the town has an excellent infrastructure to supply the travelers who come here.
Image by Rosino

Today's comic relief is found in a tradition of Mucugê, one of the villages around the park. This apparent coffin does not serve as a vessel to the other world, but is rather the method of transport used to return drunks to their homes. It is stationed in the garden of the main square, available for anyone who may require its use. Image by Chico Ferreira


4 comments: said...

I'll let you Salvador now, leaving for Chapala Diamantina on 12/23/15

Michael Espinosa said...

Hello! Great photos! I'll be in Pelourinho for a week at the end of the month for business and wanted to know if you think I could do this in one day (my only free day)? I'd drive to Lencois the day before, and will have the entire next day to explore. I at least want to visit Poco Azul and Buracao (waterfall)--speaking of which, is driving there the preferred method? My email is, your response would be extremely helpful! Thank you for your time!

Renato said...

For anyone who needed a translation of what's written in the coffin-car:

I wanted to be
like you
wanted to have no reason
to drink

anyone drunk here
is taken care of
anyone is the owner of theirs*
and is respected

*this is a reference to the popular saying "drunk people has no owner", sometimes even used in a sexual and disrespectful manner, meaning that drunk guys should not complain if sexually harassed

Ra Moon said...

Amazing Renato, thanks a lot!

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