Chapada Diamantina DIY tour from Salvador

Lençóis is the gateway to the amazing Chapada Diamantina national park with stunning canyons and waterfalls. Be aware that there are two Lençóis. The other one is at the ocean and has incredible sand dunes.

The city of Lençóis itself is more like a village. With the colorful buildings and the cobblestone roads, it’s extremely charming. Plus, it’s safe! Even after dark, I walked through narrow laneways on my own since the owner of my hostel told me that it’s okay. You will feel this atmosphere from the first moment when you walk away from the bus station and breathe in the clean air.

chapada diamantina

How to get to Lençóis

From Salvador, there are 3 daily buses with Rapido Federal. At 7 a.m., 1 p.m. and 11 p.m. The journey takes about 7 hours and costs 90 BRL. You can buy the ticket at the terminal or online on a website like Clickbus. Since the buses are often fully booked, it might be a good idea to buy the ticket beforehand. In case you buy the ticket online, you have to present your ticket number at the booth of Rapido Federal at the main bus station in Salvador. You then also have to pay a terminal fee of 2 BRL.

What to do in Lençóis

Now, let’s have a look at the wonders of Chapada Diamantina. Most sights involve a lot of driving and therefore are best visited on a tour with a guide. Each full-day tour costs about 200 BRL and can easily be arranged once you are in Lençóis. I booked my tours at the Hi Hostel Chapada and was very happy with the trips. However, you can also book arranged packages in Salvador or even online. This, of course, will turn out more expensive.

Get the full I love Brazil travel guide here or get I love Brasilien in German.

Visit Mosquito Waterfall

This waterfall is quite high and therefore impressive. Plus, the way it falls over the rocks it’s spread into a nice spray. The easy walk from the car park 100m down to the river in a picturesque gorge takes 20 – 30 minutes.

mosquito waterfall chapada diamantina

Swim in Poço Azul

This is like a cenote in Mexico. You descend about 40m into a cave where you find a pool of stunningly blue water. It looks especially nice when the sun shines and different hues of blue dance in the water. Although the pool is 4-21 meters deep, and like I said, in a semi-dark cave, you can see to the ground since the water is so clear.

On the path to the cave, look out for small circles on the ground that appear as if a big raindrop had fallen there. You could open them up since they are the homes of trap-door spiders (argh, gross!).

Visit a cave

There are several caves in this area. On our tour, we visited “Gruta da Fumaca”. That was an interesting experience as there are many different stalagmites and stalactites. Plus, it’s not decorated like in Asian caves but left in the natural state. If you aren’t claustrophobic you will enjoy crawling through the smaller sections of the cave 40m underground.

Next to “Gruta da Fumaca” was a restaurant that served a buffet lunch for 30 BRL. The food was very good and offered all the Brazilian specialties (and a lot of vegetables and salads).

Visit Fazenda Pratinha

The lagoon with its clear blue water looks very nice from further away. However, be aware that this place is a tourist trap. You can do zip-lining, snorkeling, and horseback riding. All at an additional cost. Plus, there are so many people there that it’s one loud amusement park.

Enjoy the stunning view at Pai Ignacio

Now, this is the must-do stop in this area. Hike up the 150m to reach a platform. The walk from the car park takes about 20 minutes. At the top, you have a spectacular view of the valley. Be there at sunset to watch the scenery change and best come with a tour guide who vividly tells you the story of how Father Ignacio saved his people by jumping down a small ledge with an umbrella.

chapada diamantina pai igancio

Bring a sweater or rain jacket as the top of the rock is completely exposed and everyone was quite cold.

The following things can easily be done on your own with

Bathe in the Serrano swimming holes

These rock pools are only a 20-minutes’ walk from the center of Lençóis. It’s a fun place and we saw several people having a picnic or even a BBQ. However, it’s an extremely slippery surface and you should be very careful. I met numerous people who twisted their foot while walking on the rocks. Therefore, if you want to continue to Cachoeira da Primavera afterward, I recommend that you go back on the normal path on the left side of the river and don’t try to find your way on the right side of the river with If you do continue on the right, you later will have to do a river crossing to get to the waterfalls. There is no bridge and you have to climb or jump across slippery rocks. During my stay, it rained a lot and perhaps, therefore the water level was higher. In any case, it was a dangerous adventure and not necessarily worth the risk.

Take a bath at the waterfall before Cachoeira da Primavera

This waterfall is located 30-minutes from town and an easy walk if you follow the trail along the left side of the river. The waterfall, which doesn’t have a name on is also much nicer than Cachoeira da Primavera 40 minutes up the hill, which I wouldn’t recommend visiting. On a nice day with a dry path, you might want to continue to Mirante viewpoint. However, you have to climb along a cliff and if you slip and fall it could be deadly. We were there on a rainy day and the climb was too difficult to really enjoy it.

Get the full I love Brazil travel guide here or get I love Brasilien in German.

About the natural waterslide

Another stroll near Lençóis brings you through the forest to Ribeirão do Meio. It might sound like a fun idea to slide down the waterfall into a river. However, it’s not comfortable and you can’t see below the dark water in case a swirl pulls you down. Since the walk here isn’t very entertaining, I wouldn’t come here and rather do something else, if your time in Lençóis is limited.

Where to eat in Lençóis

At first glance, there are only touristy restaurants with elevated prices. However, at several places you can find a local PF plate for 15 BRL. If you feel like eating a good steak, I can recommend the Steak House. The ribeye was amazing.