Located 500 km west of Salvador the Chapada Diamantina is one of the most ancient geological places on this continent.
In this sedimentary basin, the slow and steady erosion of time and the elements has caused two notable effects:
It uncovered the diamonds, formed in the depths of the earth causing a "diamond rush" in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and giving the mountain range the name of Diamantina.
It has also created a magnificently wild landscape overflowing with flowers and bursting with life, protected by the 84,000 square kilometers of National Park.
The word "chapada" comes from "chapa" (slab), which echoes the shape of the "morros", the almost circular flat toped mountains (table mountains). In between these colossal mounds reminiscent of Monument Valley, the plateaus are covered with low vegetation while typically lush tropical valleys, where most of the great rivers of the state of Bahia begin and wind their way from waterfall to waterfall, surround them.
Grandiose and wild Chapada Diamantina
This playground provides a variety of distractions and lends itself to a drive around the most famous sites (the Morro do Pai Inacio, the Cave of Lapa Doce, the Poço Azul and the Poço Encantado…); but better yet the best way to discover what the Chapada has to offer is on foot.
In six to eight days you can really appreciate what this area has to offer; be it walks across sand and earth or climbing a granite mountain with a view that will take your breath away.
Lodging is organized in the home of a local inhabitant; in the valleys where the paths are only wide enough for a donkey and where life moves to the rhythm of the land and this rare form of sincere and spontaneous hospitality full of kindness and respect still exists.
And as we have all understood, the true diamonds of the Chapada Diamantina are not hidden under the earth or at the bottom of rivers; they are simply accessible to those who open their eyes.
Bahia & Salvador, history & nature
Bahia, one of the largest Occidental Brazilian states, was the development center of the colonization of the country, and constituted during two Century the main reason behind the fights between the European powers to control and exploit the wealth of Brazil.
This state owes its name to the Bay of all the Saints (Bahia de todos os santos), on the shores of which was erected the city of Salvador, which name is not separable from that of Bahia (its complete name is after all “Salvador da Bahia”). Evidently, Salvador, un-avoidable with its popular vitality, its sublime historical center and its incandescent carnival, monopolizes the attention and the honor.
It would nonetheless be unjust to limit the description of this region to that of this important urban center, Bahia bursting with sites to discover.
Littoral or Recôncavo
On the littoral, the wild nature and the “in” spots cohabit in total harmony.
To the North, the Coco Coast and its string of famous beaches: Arembepe, Imbassai, Costa do Sauipe and especially the overdone star, Praia do Forte. To the South, the islands of the bay of Camamu.
On Tinharé, we will dive into the effervescence of Morro de São Paulo, the resort the most “in” right now, while on Boipeba, our favorite, we will delight in the vigor and the beauty of nature.
Inland; the Recôncavo designs the agricultural area matching the contours of Todos os santos Bay. The recipe that has insured the prosperity of this area, and that still today, represents an important part of its economy is none other than a mixture of cattle raising, little tobacco, some vegetables and large quantities sugar canes.
Spread out among the different cultures, numerous traces of the past, in Cachoeira, São Francisco de Paraguaçu, São Felix … Make a trip through the Recôncavo seems like time travel.
So, in addition to a visit to Salvador, a trip to the littoral or a dive inland is a must. So which one?
For you, we have chosen! Both!
Idyllic southern islands
Out of the 30 islands, which constitute the archipelago of the Bay of Camamu, the “Islands to the South of Salvador” are the most well known.
The islands vary in size and have a low population which exists mainly along the coast with the interior mostly allowing for farming and the existing forest or “mata”.
On Tinharé, the biggest island, the village of Morro de São Paulo has carved a first class reputation for itself. It was founded in 1630 by the Portuguese, as an advanced post destined to protect Salvador, the all-new capital of the colony.
The site is in effect strategic, at the extreme point of the island, the rocky outcrop on which the village was constructed not only offers an excellent view but excellent conditions for the construction of a fortress. Make your way from the majestic stone portico hundreds of meters across the ramparts along the seafront to the ruins of the fort.
At the foot of the lighthouse that dominates the “morro” (hill or promontory), a maze of winding alleyways brings us to the heart of the history of this village. Since it became popular as a beach resort the real heart of Morro Sao Paolo has been displaced to the beaches where it has since throbbed to the beat of forró, axé and techno.