Driving inland to Lencois and Chapada Diamantina National Park.
So, in order to do this section justice, I must explain the fundamental rules of the Cath and Greg Adventuring Partnership:
- The Driver drives the car, the navigator makes no comment about his driving, choice of rental car, the state of the car, his choice of gear (for example when overtaking over a speed bump) etc…
- The Navigator makes all decisions relating to the route, roads, music (except if “Foo Fighters” are playing), lunch stops, lollies and direction of travel (in consultation with the GPS). However at any point of time, She, may overrule the GPS.
Roads in north east of Brasil are notorious for not being maintained, badly sign posted and in this particular stretch, even known to have “bandits” on the road.
It was not uncommon to see police vehicles with their automatic rifles already loaded on their laps so we approached this stint of driving with a little more care than what we normally do.
Progress so far:
1,300km so far to get here…
We wanted to head West from Salvador to Lencois at the edge of the Chapada Diamantina national park, which involved finding a mischievous road called the BR 116. This road may sound innocent to you, but it was extremely good at hiding. Anyway, to cut a long story (a story that went on for 140km), I had serious words with the GPS and we managed to get our directions right and we drove back to where we needed to be. Greg was very gracious and only gloated a couple times before I reminded me him of the before-mentioned rules.
And then, the following conversation happened:
SCENE: 300km from Salvador, about to turn on to the BR 242 from the BR 116. The BR 242 is described in our guidebook as “one of the worst roads in Brasil, poorly maintained and littered with potholes”. And don’t forget about the bandits!
Cath: Hey, there’s a cleanish looking petrol station over there, should we get some more petrol. It’s been a while.
Greg: Oh no, its OK, we’ve got a quarter of a tank left.
*** 60 km passes ***
Cath: Hey, there’s another petrol station, do you reckon we should get petrol now?
Greg: Nah, don’t worry, the light hasn’t even come on yet, we just got onto red.
**** 5 km passes ***
Cath: So it looks like the light has come on, do you think we should turn around and get some petrol?
Greg: Seriously, you don’t need to worry until the light is permanently on. And anyway, we’ll come to another town.
Cath: Well, it is true we will come to another town, but I don’t know how far away it is.
**** 20km passes
Cath: It looks like the light has stopped flashing
Greg: Yeah, it has. But don’t worry, we’ve got at least 60km left in the tank before it will run out
**** 2 minutes passes ***
Cath: Hang on, when did you have time to read the owner’s manual of our GM 1.4L Prisma, in Portuguese? How do you know how many km’s we have left.
**** Laughter, OK, nervous laughter
**** Cath pulls out the sat nav and figures out we have 20 km to go until we get to the nearest town. Air con gets turned off.
Cath: Don’t worry babe, you’ll only have 20km to walk to find petrol.
**** More nervous laughter
*** 10km later, Greg pulls off another master overtaking manoeuvre and then, yep, we loose power…. Luckily we were on the crest of a hill and we were able to coast down the hill, which saved us another 500m, until we face the grim reality that…
We had run out of petrol!!!!
So, Greg went hitchhiking along the bandit stretch of highway to try and find the next fuel station. Luckily the slightly scary truck driver who Greg had just overtaken took pity on the stupid Gringos and picked him up after only a couple of kilometres, while Cath stayed with the Car. Then the guys at the Shell garage 10km further down the highway found the whole incident very amusing and even offered him a lift back to our car!
So after filling up the car and providing the petrol station staff with some light engertainment, we headed to Lencois, but more specifically we headed to Chapada Diamantina National Park for 3 days of nature lovin… its OK, Greg stayed clothed this time.
First stop was the hotel, “Cantos das Aguas” which was literally situated next to a waterfall, and with an outdoor restaurant, massage tents, a 50m pool, and a foyer that smelt fresh jasmine, it was difficult to find something wrong with life.
The view from our room
However, we couldn’t wait for the next morning to arrive to get amongst it. So we got up early, yes, 7am! Outrageous I know, but we managed to buy a map and headed straight for what we thought was a 10km walk, thinking, yeah that will take us 3 hours. First step however was to find the start of our walk. The four locals that we spoke to shook their heads earnestly and said “you need a guide”.
Now, as an observation, Brasilians need a “guide” or “help” to do ANYTHING, unless it involves orientation to a shopping centre or a “pay by the kilo” restaurant so we were sceptical. We explained that we were from Australia/NZ, we had a compass, we had a map, we could see the sun, we understood a topography map, now show us the start… we eventually found a man who did, and we set off.
Things were a little different in a Brasilian Park, no “routes”, no “markers” etc, sometimes we found an arrow etched into a rock, but generally it was hard work. We went to see “Sorrego” waterfall, and after 3 hours of pretty hard walking, climbing, scratching, cursing, we realised we didn’t know how far we had left to the waterfall and we had to turnaround now otherwise we would miss our massage sessions that we had booked prior to leaving! So we headed back …
One of the hiking trails
The locals surf down this waterfall standing up, we tourists on our bums
Cath makes a friend
(this picture is definitely not labeled:
Cath strokes her pussy)
The rocks are stunning, a mix of pinks, greys and greens – and maybe even diamonds!
We almost made it to Cachoeira da Fumaca
Hmmm… so on reflection, we ended up walking for over 6 hours, it was great, but, um, ergh, I would recommend getting a guide!
So the next day, that’s exactly what we did, and he was terrific. His name was Aide Andrade Souza or “Ari” (firstname.lastname@example.org) He is local born and bred, speaks English, has a great sense of humour and has the remarkable ability to literally pull me up onto rocks, trees etc …. I never thought I would do rock climbing like we did, just amazing. We headed out for over seven hours, I am still “sore” four days later, so good!!!
Kids enjoying a waterslide beside another awesome swimming hole
Another day of hiking in the hills
Next day we headed north to see the “Blue Grotto”, unfortunately, we headed out too early. You really need to get there in the afternoon to get the true effect. Still we got to see Lapa Doce, a massive cave, and once again had a terrific guide, all in Portuguese though this time.
Inside the Lapa Doce, Iron oneside, Calcium the other (much like gregs mouth)
As an aside, it is really going to be interesting to see how Brasil copes with the World Cup in a few years time. There is so much to see and do, yet there are so few people who speak English and with the lack of investment in tourism… well, I’m a little nervous.
So, overall, a massive thumbs up for Chapada Diamantina. I think we could have stayed at least a week without too much trouble …
The view from Morro do Pai Inacio
The view from Morro do Pai Inacio looking West
Bye for now!