About the challenge
We follow the remote trails that wind through these beautiful valleys, climbing to viewpoints with breath-taking panoramas over these magnificent surroundings. The days are long and demanding, but the scenery more than makes up for our efforts. We stay in home-stays in the National Park, enjoying the warm welcome from our friendly hosts. After our trek we have time in Salvador, Bahia’s vibrant and easy-going city, where the wonderful old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are miles of beaches – a perfect city for celebrating our achievements before transferring to Rio and enjoying all it has to offer!
This trip has been voted by Wanderlust Magazine as one of the Top 50 Best Trips to take in 2014!
Dates & prices
|Departs||Days||Charity||Availability||Registration fee||Fundraising target||Payment option|
|27 Sep 2014||12||Open challenge||Spaces||£499||+||£4200||Or||£1900||Book now|
|17 Jan 2015||12||Open challenge||Spaces||£499||+||£4300||£1950||Book now|
|26 Sep 2015||12||Open challenge||Spaces||£499||+||£4300||£1950||Book now|
Day 1: Fly London to Salvador
We arrive and transfer to our hotel, where we have dinner and a good night’s sleep.
Day 2: Salvador – Lençois
Refreshed, we spend the morning exploring the colourful, historic streets of Salvador, enjoying its Portuguese colonial architecture and energetic street scenes. Salvador is one of the oldest cities in the Americas and known for its Afro-Brazilian culture, with distinctive cuisine and music. Its party atmosphere is as famous as its beaches and beautiful architecture. In the afternoon an hour’s flight takes us to Lençois, an old mining town and now the gateway to Chapada Diamantina National Park. After a drive and a short uphill walk (20-30 mins) we reach Morro do Pai Inácio (Father Ignacio’s Hill) – a flat-topped hill which towers over the town. At 1240m, it’s the perfect vantage-point for an introduction to the National Park, and we can enjoy incredible views of the morrãos and valleys that we’ll be trekking through. After watching the sun set over this wonderful landscape, we head to our hotel for dinner and a detailed trip briefing. Night hotel.
Day 3: Lençois – Capão Valley
Trek approx 6-7 hours (15km)
After an energising breakfast, we set off on our first day’s trek! Today’s route takes us into the Capão Valley, in the heart of the National Park. Chapada Diamantina is an old diamond-mining region; many prospectors flocked to the area in the 1840s when diamonds were first discovered here, and it soon became a centre of mining activity. Gems are occasionally still found, though large-scale mining is banned. The path we follow is an old prospectors’ mule-trail, which winds its way into the deep valley towards a large flat-topped mountain. We are surrounded by lush vegetation including bromeliads and orchids, which cloaks the steep valley walls. We pass quiet pools and streams, many of which have an orange hue due to the natural tannins, and have almost-constant views of the large monolith ahead of us. Night guesthouse.
Day 4: Capão Valley – Pati Valley
Trek approx 7-8 hours (22km)
The scenery becomes even more beautiful today as we head deeper into this spectacular region. We continue through the Capão Valley, crossing the Capão River and other smaller streams, walking much of the time on paths that undulate through the grassy highland plains of Gerais do Vieira and Gerais do Rio Preto. Cattle used to roam here, and many of the paths were created to drive them to new pastures. Today’s walk is long, and fairly hilly, but the views continue to impress; we are surrounded by valley walls, swathed in green Atlantic forest which gives way to sheer rock face higher up. Waterfalls tumble down the steep sides. In the distance we see more of the long series of morrãos that tower up from the valley floor; these sandstone mountains date back a billion years, to a time when the Americas and Africa were joined. We continue into the Pati Valley to our simple accommodation. Night homestay.
Day 5: Pati Valley – Cachoeirão Falls
Trek approx 5-6 hours (16km)
Pati Valley is the jewel of Chapada Diamantina, with high waterfalls that plunge dramatically down sheer ravines and escarpments. Today is a shorter day, taking us to Cachoeirão Falls – a trek which takes us steadily uphill to start with, then levels out. At a height of almost 280m, Cachoeirão is one of the highest waterfalls in the National Park, and an incredible sight to see. We head back to our homestay, finishing the day with a long section of downhill walking. Night homestay.
Day 6: Pati Valley – Castelo
Trek approx 5 hours (10km)
More waterfalls await us today, as we continue through Pati Valley and head for the Funil and Lejado waterfalls. Not as dramatically high, they are wide and tumble photogenically down a series of rock ledges. The pool beneath is perfect for swimming, and we have plenty of time to enjoy this tranquil spot. We continue trekking, over fairly flat terrain, to our homestay, which we should reach in time for lunch. This afternoon we walk to Castelo Morrão, so called because of its fortress-like rocky ridges. The walk takes us gradually uphill to the base; we return the same way. Night homestay.
Day 7: Castelo – Cachoeirão Valley
Trek approx 5-6 hours (12km)
Another day takes us further along the Pati Valley, enjoying the changing landscapes around us. The weathered rock has created fascinating formations and there is always something new to look at. We discover deep hidden canyons, and caves hidden among the cleft rock, many of which were used for shelter by the prospectors. Occasionally we may see tocas, simple dwellings made out of the rock – sometimes little more than a cave – which were rudimentary homes for prospectors and other visitors to the valley. We pass more waterfalls and pools on today’s route, and should have time for a swim or a paddle. Tonight’s accommodation lies close to Cachoeirão Valley. Night homestay
Day 8: Cachoeirão Valley – Lençois
Trek approx 6-7 hours (16km); drive approx 3 hours
An early start sees us trekking through the Pati Valley for the last time. The scenery is as magnificent as ever, but our Chapada Diamantina adventure is almost at an end. Our last challenge is the long ascent which takes us up the valley walls, zig-zagging for some of the time; this can be arduous in the heat. The views back across the valley are absolutely breath-taking. A short downhill walk takes us towards Andarai, a small mining town, where our vehicles await. Driving partly on dirt roads, we whizz off to Poço Azul, (Blue Pool), an impressive reward for our efforts. A submerged cave, the crystal-clear water forms a range of dazzling colours depending on the light, and it’s an incredible experience to swim here, or just gaze spellbound! Ancient submerged trees are visible below the surface, and bones of long-extinct animals have been found here. Although it’s just outside the boundaries of the National Park, it’s a fitting place to celebrate the end of our trek. After plenty of time to enjoy the pool, we drive back to Lençois. Night hotel.
Day 9: Lençois – Salvador
We have the morning to explore the cobbled streets and characterful old buildings of Lençois, before an afternoon flight takes us back to Salvador. We check into our hotel and you are free to explore or relax. We meet up again in the evening for a slap-up dinner to celebrate our time in Chapada Diamantina and our achievements in the last week. Night hotel. (Lunch and dinner not included)
Day 10: Salvador – Rio de Janeiro
A morning flight takes us to Rio, a city which needs no introduction! Home to Carnival and beaches like Copacabana, it’s a city with a larger-than-life party atmosphere. We head for one of the city’s highlights – Sugarloaf Mountain, which dominates the bay. We take the steep walk up Urca Hill, the first part of Sugarloaf, and rest to enjoy the views of Rio - it’s a great introduction to the city. We then take the last section of the famous cable-car to the top, where the views are even more impressive. We have the rest of the day free to enjoy the sights of Rio. You could spend some time relaxing at one of the many beaches with a caipirinha, the national cocktail, or watch the locals taking part in beach volleyball or capoeira, a graceful and fascinating blend of dance and martial arts which is a real symbol of Brazilian culture. Night hotel. (Lunch and dinner not included)
Day 11: Free time Rio; flight departs
Today you are free to explore Rio until our flight departs. One of the main highlights – which you will have seen from Sugarloaf Mountain – is the Corcovado. One of the new Seven Wonders of the World, this is home to the statue of Christ the Redeemer (Christo Redentor) which towers high over the hills of the city. Or there are plenty of last-minute shopping opportunities! We transfer to the airport later in the day for our flight home. (Lunch and dinner not included if not in-flight)
Day 12: Arrive UK
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
All accommodation is included as well as all flights, transfers, all meals except five or six (depending on flight times) as specified in the itinerary; National Park entry fees and all other sites visited as part of the itinerary. Experienced Discover Adventure leaders and doctor (depending on final group size) are also included, along with a local support crew of porters, guides and drivers.
It does not include personal travel insurance, airline fuel supplement if charged by the airline (capped at £200 by Discover Adventure), meals as specified, tip for local crew, entry visa or international departure tax (if applicable). It also does not include any entrance fees to any optional sites or attractions. Remember to allow extra for drinks, souvenirs, sight-seeing in Rio, and other personal expenses. This recommendation is a guideline only. Please note that costs may fluctuate and we have no control over any changes.
We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Group flights leave from London Heathrow or Gatwick, (we regret that we are unable to book connecting flights), and are booked through Discover Adventure Ltd under ATOL licence 5636. By travelling with Discover Adventure you are protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are most likely to fly with TAP Portugal. However, we don’t always fly with the same airline so this is a guideline only. You will usually receive confirmed flight details several months before departure. Our itineraries are always based on current flight schedules and are therefore subject to change by the airline. If you prefer to book your own flights please ask us for a land-only cost.
Accommodation is on a twin-share basis; you will be sharing with someone else on your trek. We stay in home-stays and guesthouses in the National Park, and hotels when in the cities. Our hotels may vary between simple pousadas (guesthouses) and more international-style hotels. Please do not expect hotels to be the same as a tourist hotel in the UK – they may be better in some ways and more basic in others!
All food is included when trekking. The food is great, will give you plenty of energy, and there is plenty of it. Five or six meals (depending on flight times) as specified in the itinerary are not included.
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. Please do not expect as much variety as you would have access to at home – we will be in rural areas and among people of a different culture who may not understand your requirements, however willing they are to help. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply. Please feel free to ask us for advice. Any meals not included are listed in the itinerary and are generally when we are in towns or cities and you are free to explore and try other culinary experiences! There is always something to suit every budget.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. Although our leaders are trained in expedition first-aid, they are accompanied by an expedition doctor or medic (dependent on group size), who is there to look after the well-being of the whole group and deal with any incidents. They help the leaders to ensure the trip runs smoothly and encourage you when things get tough. The number of crew looking after you will depend on the final size of your group. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: trekker ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Local Support Crew
Our local support crew is made up of local guides and drivers. Your local guide knows the local area well, and is a great source of knowledge about local customs and lifestyles. Other crew do not always speak much English but are very friendly and approachable. The Discover Adventure crew work closely with the local crew to ensure your trip runs smoothly and safely. Your leader will arrange a collection of tips for the local support crew at the end of your trek. Tipping is not obligatory, but once you see how hard they work on your behalf you will be happy to donate something! All our local crew are paid wages, but bear in mind that the average wage in this country is considerably lower than ours.
Vehicles take the group to the start of the trek and pick us up at the end. Vehicles or porters carry all luggage, food and water. Space is limited and hard-sided luggage is not suitable, so it is essential that your kit is packed in a soft sailing bag, rucksack or expedition kitbag. Ask us about our specially-designed low-cost kitbags if you don’t have one already. You should also bring a small daypack to carry for items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage until the evening.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with radios and emergency satellite phones, extensive medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary. They always have access to our 24-hour emergency back-up in the UK. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind
Preparing for the challenge
We trek through the National Park on varied paths, from clear grass and dirt paths, and some paths paved with slabs. Other areas are rougher underfoot, over rocky or stony ground. There are many uphill and downhill sections of varying gradients, which can be hard in the heat. There are numerous water-crossings.
You will trek approximately 75km on this trip overall. Because of the varied terrain and lack of accurate maps, it’s impossible to give more accurate daily distances. It’s also much more useful when training to think about the hours you need to walk for, and the terrain! We are always happy to talk through the trip in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
Clothing & Equipment
We are trekking in a remote region, where we could be exposed to bad weather at any time so be prepared for all weathers and temperatures. Remember weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
Chapada Diamantina National Park commonly experiences its own micro-climate influenced by the steep valley walls. It is generally warm, can be humid, with tropical rain-showers common. Don’t worry if it rains while you are trekking – the waterfalls are much more impressive! Altitude has a great effect on temperatures and although Chapada Diamantina lies at an average 1000m, it does vary and may be warmer as you lose height.
The figures below show average min and max temperatures and monthly rainfall (mm) for:
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
Passport & Visa
A valid ten-year passport is essential; it should be valid for at least six months from date of entry into Brazil. British passport-holders do not need a visa; other nationalities should check entry requirements.
We insist that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years, and recommend protection against Polio, Hepatitis A and Typhoid. A Yellow Fever vaccination is not required for this area of Bahia and Rio; it is however recommended for areas of Bahia further west, so check with your GP. Malaria is low-risk in the areas of Brazil we visit. You should always check with your GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.
For most people, the main attraction of travelling to a different country is to see new sights and enjoy new experiences. Sometimes those new experiences can make life harder or more inconvenient than you may like, such as toilet hygiene or different food, or simply a different attitude to solving problems. This is all part of the challenge you are signing up for! We are very privileged to live in a country with a high standard of living, and travelling exposes us to different challenges – all of which help broaden our horizons. We can guarantee that coming face-to-face with experiences outside your normal ‘comfort zone’ will help you bond with your fellow trekkers and provide you with plenty of things to laugh about! A sense of humour and sense of adventure are two of the most important things to bring with you! Our experienced tour leaders and local crew will help bridge the cultural gap; take advantage of their knowledge so you can come away with an understanding of a new culture as well as the achievement of completing a challenging trek.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through. AITO, our Trade Association, has recognised the work we do in this area and has awarded us 5 stars as a Responsible Tour Operator.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them.
Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.