Bahia - Body and Soul
Culture, exercise and relaxation. Discover the life and history of Salvador, stretch your legs in the spectacular landscapes of Chapada Diamantina and relax by gorgeous beaches.
Arrive in Salvador (Thu, Sat, Mon)
Day 1 You are met on arrival at Salvador airport and driven to your chosen hotel in the heart of Salvador, where you stay for 2 nights.
Day 2 B A day for exploring Salvador. There is lots to see. Your local guide will accompany you on a full day walking tour around the cobbled streets of the Pelhourino, adapted as you go to best match your interests.
You can decide with your guide what you would most like to see. You will probably want to visit the Sao Francisco church, and some of the many other churches and museums that tell of Salvador's colonial period, and there is a host of other sites to explore. Take some time to window shop in the boutiques, pause at pavement cafes‚ and soak up the city's great atmosphere. The early morning and the late afternoon are particularly good for photographing the fine colonial houses in their pastel shades.
You'll be sure to hear the hypnotic sound of the berimbau and chanting from impromptu capoeira on the street. Don't forget to try a freshly cooked acaraje from one of the large Bahian lady street vendors.
Perhaps take the Lacerda elevator to the lower town to visit the Mercado Modelo craft market, and the impressive Our Lady of Conception church.
For the evening, you could try a show at the Folkloric Ballet of Bahia, search out some music (there is always lots), or relax with a good dinner.
Day 3 B It's time to venture deep into Bahia's interior to Lencois and the amazing landscapes of the Chapada Diamantina.
There's a weekly flight to and from Lencois. Depending on your exact dates we can plan an extra day or two in Salvador on your way out or your way back so that you can catch it. The alternative is to travel by bus, which in Brazil is a comfortable and practical option and in this case doesn't take a great deal longer than messing about with airports.
However you travel to Lencois, you are collected from your hotel early in the morning and driven to Salvador's airport or its efficient bus station. The journey takes you over (or through) the vast semi-arid backlands of the 'sertao' - an open and forbidding landscape of scrubby thorn bush, now much cleared after centuries of cattle ranching and cotton farming.
Lencois itself is a photogenic town of cobbled streets which has become a centre for walkers and outdoors enthusiasts from all over Brazil. On arrival you are taken to your hotel to check in and have a late lunch. As the afternoon cools, there's a leg-stretching walk above Lencois to the Serrano swimming holes, sand caves, mines and waterfalls, to a high viewpoint above the little town.
Returning to Lencois at dusk, you might explore the town's historic streets and squares, and pause to reflect that this little town was once the world centre of diamond mining.
Lencois' streets come to life in the evening as the town's modest selection of cafes and bars fill with walkers after their various exertions, kids chase around, and elderly locals promenade.
Caves, waterfalls & summit of a table mountain (chapada)
Day 4 BL Today you are collected from your hotel by an experienced local walking guide and vehicle to explore the Chapada Diamantina on a 6-day circular route. It's a very varied and memorable trip and you will be out and about in some amazing scenery - just the thing to blow away the cobwebs and work on your fitness, Brazilian style.
You begin with the region north of Lencois, a limestone area of grottos and caves, where you stop to see the Poco do Diabo, (The Devil's Well) and then continue to your first cave, the Gruta da Pratinha, where you can swim in the clear waters outside the cave, and snorkel with a guide inside it.
After lunch you visit the small Gruta Azul or 'Blue Grotto' hoping for shafts of sunlight to make the waters glow their beautiful cobalt blue. Then its a 25 minute walk to the entrance of the Lapa Doce, a monstrous cavern formed by a subterranean river and accessed via an immense sink hole.
As the afternoon draws to a close you stop to visit the iconic Pai Inacio table mountain, the most prominent peak in this part of Chapada Diamantina and the one on all the postcards.
Then it's onwards to the picturesque Capao Valley for two nights at a countryside lodge. The Capao Valley is a sort of Shangri-la for Paulistanos - an earthly paradise where city-dwellers come to settle and to get themselves back to the Garden. It's a very pleasant place with an alternative feel.
Trek to Fumaca Falls
Day 5 BL A fairly strong day walk to the awesome Fumaca Falls whose waters plunge more than a thousand feet to the valley below, making it reputedly the tallest waterfall in Brazil. Return to the Capao Valley.
(In extreme drought conditions the falls can dry up: an alternative day walk in the local area could be substituted.)
Pati Valley trek
Day 6 BL Today's walk is an astonishing and very memorable 12 mile / 6 hour trek of medium difficulty across high plateau landscapes alongside the beautiful Pati Valley in the remote western section of the Chapada Diamantina national park.
The trek starts at the head of the Capao Valley, where the trail ascends to the high plateau landscape of the Chapada Diamantia. On your walk through the cerrado vegetation of the 'Gerais do Vieira' and 'Gerais do Rio Preto', a thick grass savannah with small scattered bushes and flowering plants, you have great views of Pati Valley, considered one of the most beautiful valleys in Brazil.
With luck you may encounter along the way giant anteaters, armadillos, lizards and the seriema - a large but elegant fast-running ground bird.
A 4WD vehicle picks you up at the end of the trek near the village of Guin, and drives you to the photogenic sleepy town of Mucuge in the south of the Chapada Diamantina national park. Mucuge is a sleepy former gold and diamond mining town and makes a good base for your next 2 nights.
Byzantine Cemetery & Buração Falls
Day 7 BL This morning you can make a short visit to the slightly bizarre 'byzantine' cemetery perched on a rocky ledge on the edge of Mucuge town.
Then you set off on the main trip of the day to explore the southern section of the Chapada region including the impressive Cachoeira do Buracao waterfall.
A dirt track leads to the start of the trail to the falls, from which it is a 2hr trek each way.
Blue Pool & Xigue Xigue de Igatu
Day 8 BL A break from serious walking today, as you tour the south-east section of Chapada Diamantina NP by vehicle passing the Andorinhas, Tres Barras and Cristais escarpments on the way to visit the Blue Pool, where at the right time of day (13.30-14.30 from Feb to Oct) the sunlight creates a beautiful effect on the waters within these caves - rather like the Gruta Azul which you saw on Day 2. Take your swimming things with you.
In the afternoon you continue off-road to stay in the delightful stone built village of Xique-Xique de Igatu. A principal settlement during the gold rush then later almost completely abandoned it is now just starting to be a remote hideaway retreat. There will be time to relax in the hotel's natural pool, or you might like to follow part way along the old miners cobbled path passing the ruined stone houses from bygone days.
If you would prefer another big walk today, there are many good trails in the area and we can instead arrange a hike of the length and strength of your choice.
Marimbus wetland boat trip, return Lencois
Day 9 BL This morning you are driven back for about 2hr almost as far as Lencois, before you take an off-road forested track to reach the former slave village of Remanso to see the Marimbus wetlands.
Here you will be paddled gently in a flat bottomed open boat through the wetlands on a 2hr trip. You are then driven back to Lencois with some time free in the afternoon to explore the town itself. Overnight at the same hotel as Day 3.
Days 10-14 B In the early morning you are picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport, if there is a flight, or the bus station, for your return to Salvador where you will be met and driven to the beach of your choice.
You arrive back in time to reach one of the beaches closer to Salvador, such as:
› Praia do Forte
› Morro de Sao Paulo (accessed by boat across the Bay of All Saints)
If you would like to spend another night in Salvador, you can make an early start next day to travel further afield to:
› the Marau Peninsula on the Dende Coast, or
› Boipeba island
Day 15 B Today you are collected from your hotel and driven back to Salvador airport for your international flight home overnight.
Contact our Brazil specialists
15 days / 14 nights. Tailor-made holiday
Guide price from: £call
based on two people sharing a double/twin
All transport within Brazil, 14 nights accommodation, meals as indicated B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner, all excursions described below with the services of a private local English speaking guide on days 2-9 inclusive.
International flights to Salvador, travel insurance, Brazilian departure taxes, items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, tips, laundry.
Notes: In order to give you flexibility in what you choose to see and
do on Day 2 we have only included the entry fee to the Sao Francisco church.
Other entry fees should be paid by you direct locally.
All excursions in Chapada Diamantina are active and require an ability to scramble over boulders, hike up steep hillsides and walk for several periods of at least 30 mins each day at times in the heat over sandy soils and bare rock.
Places you will visit
› Bahia beaches
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