Nivi's Adventures

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Chapada Diamantina - Day 1

So last week I got a call from Paulo (my Carioca friend whom I stayed with Rio) saying that his friends were coming to Bahia for a 10day trip. I knew Luciane (the samba queen) and as for Raquel, I'm always happy to meet new people, especially when they are friends of friends... They weren't intending to spend much time in Salvador but the airport is here in Salvador so I glady offered my place as a base for them.

Their flight got in early Thursday morning (some crazy hour like 2am) and the girls were very apologetic about waking me up, but it was no big drama, and in fact it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for me! They were leaving Salvador Thurs night itself but being typical Brasileiras, they were very friendly and invited me to join them in Chapada Diamantina for the weekend.

Chapada Diamantina means Diamond Plateau and it gets it's name from the Diamond Rush that started in 1844. I hadn't heard of Chapada Diamantina before, but its now a big National Park in Bahia, about 400km west of Salvador. FYI Bahia is a state in the North East of Brasil, of which Salvador is the capital.


Chapada Diamantina is meant to have some beautiful scenery and trekking - Luciane simply said to me "google it, look at some of the pictures, and I promise you there is no way you'll decide not come!" And sure enough she was right... So on Friday at lunchtime I bought my bus tickets (leaving Salvador Fri 23:30, arriving in Lençóis Sat 05:00) and was soon on my merry way!

A colleague had said to me that perhaps the 2 best things to see were Cachoeira da Fumaça (waterfall of smoke - getting it's name because the water of the fall doesn't reach the bottom in liquid form) and Pai de Inácio (a rock formation from which you can see the whole of Chapada Diamantina). So I was a little bit disappointed when I spoke with the girls and they said they'd already planned something else for the weekend... However my disappointment was very was shortlived! They, with some difficulty, had finally convinced a guide/driver to take us out another 200km or so to check out some sights a fair distance from Lençóis (the main town in Chapada Diamantina)

I arrived in Lençóis early Saturday morning where Luciane & Raquel met me and we went to the pousada (hostel) for another couple of hours sleep before breakfasting and heading off with Tiago our driver/guide.

Anyway here are the pictures of my weekend away...


DIAMONDS ARE A GIRLS BEST FRIEND!

Chapada Diamantina used to have lots of diamonds and there are still some around. Tiago noting that he had 3 women in the car decided we might like to see a diamond workshop. I dont know much about how much diamonds usually cost, but the amount this guy was asking meant us 3 girls all seriously considered buying a diamond! Unfortunately most were already sold!


The rather old school equipment, but it still gets the job done!


A rushed shot taken out the back of the car (but I spose you could tell that already ;) This was near the diamond place we stopped at, and here it's amazingly safe. So much so that Tiago didn't lock the doors of the car when we got out to see the diamond place. When one of the girls asked him about it, he joked that we only needed to worry if we had live chickens in the car - they wouldn't be interested in anything else :)


Pretty, random church



POÇO AZUL
(Blue Pool)

From the outside you can't quite imagine what beauty lies within!



Our guide Juraci for Poço Azul (really cool, nice dude) suggested that descending into the cave would be a better experience for us if we didn't use the lanterns. But had time to take a quick snap before the latern was extinguished.


Stalactites! (not stalacmites, because tights fall down! ;)

Poço Azul!


The photos really dont do it any justice, the water looked like it was radiating silvery-blue light (you know like those little fish with the electric blue strips!)


I tried my hardest with these photos but the whole long exposure without a tripod or suitable resting place meant that even on the best pics there is a bit of blur. So apologies for this, and in the next few photos too!


So I believe the pool gets it's colour from the minerals dripping from the stalactites. I also think the (rough) diameter of the pool is about 90m across and the visibility is 60m.


Outside, after spending more than an hour inside, somewhat transfixed by it's beauty! (L-R: Nivi, Raquel, Juraci & Luciane)



POÇO ENCANTADO
(Enchanted Pool)
Poço Encantado was apparently much the same as Poço Azul, but we could swim there which we were all looking forward to - it was another scorcher of a day in Bahia! They only allow 12 people in at a time - in the high season they have upto 250 people a day, meaning you are only allowed in the pool for 15min! However we incredibly lucky - we reckon the combination of it not being summer quite yet, the weekend before a long weekend and being quite some distance from Lençóis - we had the place completely to ourselves. We were swimming in Poço Encantado for over 2 hours! Muito Legal!!!

Again, from the outside, you have no idea what wonder lies ahead. The white house is the entrance to Poço Encantado.


Kinda enchanting eh? The water is so clear it's kinda hard to see where it starts! Can you tell? Hint, look for the white buoy in the upper right quandrant of the photo.


Bit easier to see the buoy in this picture.


Amazing eh?


Looking onto the floor of the pool.


Most of this is actually underwater...


Looking onto the pool floor again - you might just be able to see the outline of a tree stump. It's about 6-7m below water surface and is apparently forever preserved as it's not exposed to the air...


The opening of the cave which lets in that shaft of sunlight...


I wish I could dazzle you with lots of information about this Poço but frankly much of it was lost in translation. Airton (the guide for Poço Encantado) was speaking in portuguese - but the girls did translate a bit for me...


No Raquel is not levitating ;) the water is just that clear!




Did I mention how stoked we were that we had the place completely to ourselves! :D This shot really makes you appreciate the size of the place!


MUCUGÊ

After eventually leaving Poço Encantado, we headed to Mucugê where we had dinner. Wow what an amazingly quaint little town. Dinner was cool - we had por kilo (kinda buffet styles, but you pay according to the weight of the food you pick - very very common in Brasil). For dessert there was a selection of sorvetes (ice cream), pudims (puddings) and basically preserved fruit. We tried a few different ones - many of the fruits are only found in Bahia so even Luciane & Raquel hadn't tried some of them before.

The lady in the restaurant found it hysterical when I smelt the Mangaba fruit, and still didn't stop laughing when I told her we didn't get 'Mangaba' in NZ! I tried quite a few different things - preserved mangaba fruit, rapadura sorvete, preserved umbu-caja and a sweet made of tamarind but when I came to pay, probably due to the novelty of not having had many tourists, let alone new zealanders, she hadn't charged me for any of this... So when I left a tip, she insisted on giving me another few sweets to take for the road!

After dinner, while the girls downloaded the pictures from their camera (it seemed sooo odd to me that this town had a internet cafe - it seemed like it shouldn't have even had electricity!), I took a bit of a stroll around the praça. It was a little bit odd at first for me... Seeing as though I've been on my own in Brasil, a country not famous for it's safety, I've been in a state of constant vigilance (Professor Moody would be proud!) and have seldom, if ever, wandered around by myself at night. This was just beautiful though - and elderly couple sitting together in the praça, young children playing in the street, people sitting at tables at the local watering hole with a beer in hand.


Just one example of the beautiful, old buildings in the town...


The Praça, complete with full moon. (There aren't 2 moons though, it's a reflection off the car we used to lean on to try and eliminate the blur ;)


After the girls were done, we set off for Ibicoara, the town closest to the start of the walk we were going to do tomorrow. Sunday's activities coming soon...

8 Comments:

  • Amazing?!?! I don't think amazing begins to cover it. I would love to see these places in real life. Nice going Niv :D

    By Blogger Pyotr, at 8:07 AM  

  • Holy smokes! That place looks amazing. I've never heard of it before and that's probably a good thing, to keep if off the radar. I imagine it wouldn't be as special when there are crowds of people outside waiting for their 15 minutes. What a great find.

    By Blogger Craig, at 11:24 AM  

  • How awesome! What an incredible weekend and I can't believe that that is only half of it! I look forward to hearing what you did the next day babe! I must jot these places down to go visit when I get the chance and the money!

    By Blogger Bex, at 5:46 AM  

  • Dang!
    The floating girl is awesome... and fyi I'm pretty sure they're called Stalactites cause they have to hold on tight not cause tights fall down! ;)

    By Blogger Bree, at 2:29 PM  

  • I'm with Bree on the whole stalagtites thing! It's 'stalagtites clingly tightly to the ceiling and stalagmites might reach them one day'!

    By Blogger Bex, at 4:07 AM  

  • No, no, no :-) StalaCtites come from the Ceiling and stalaGmites come from the Ground!

    By Blogger Rachael, at 4:50 PM  

  • Wow, I dont think I've ever had so many comments on one post before! Mental note to self, go somewhere fantastically spectacular next time I want lots of comments. Or make a reference to a geographical mnemonic! ;)

    By Blogger Nivi, at 4:57 AM  

  • no, you've got it all wrong. StalagTITes go saggy, so they must go from the roof, and stalagmites is the other one....

    KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:33 PM  

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