Mark’s first blog post!
Besides the food at Alcino’s, Chapada Diamantina national park is also renowned for some rewarding treks. The park has steep gorges, wide valleys, towering cliffs, extensive caves and around 300 waterfalls. As with everything in this country, the park is big, so we were only able to touch the sides of this beautiful place.
We ‘warmed up’ with a day long minibus tour of some highlights of the park. Our companions were a British and Australian group doing a seven month overland tour of the whole of South America. It wouldn’t be our choice to spend so long on a bus with 20-odd complete strangers but they seemed to be getting along. Highlights were some stunning caves, with monsters lurking in the shadows…
…and the sunset.
Leila almost missed it as she was taking flying lessons and had to climb back up.
We then found a local guide, Yuri, to take us on a three day trek: hard enough to test our stamina, and yet not break our uninitiated muscles. After a bumpy and sometimes fairly hairy ride on the back of a motorbike, the trek began with a 2 hour steep climb in the midday sun. Our water quickly finished and we were glad to reach the river on the other side of the ridge. All the water in the park is drinkable, despite its seeming muddy brown hue. In fact, the colour is derived from the tannins in the plant matter in the soil, so the water is rich in minerals. Good for anaemics and pregnant ladies apparently, though why they’d put themselves through a tough climb to get at it I don’t know.
The jungle that we trekked through was a gardener’s dream; there seemed to be every type of fern and cacti. And there were butterflies in their millions, all flying the same direction – where were they all going?
But the highlight was the waterfalls. There is something quite magical about a tumbling waterfall in a secluded gorge with just the three of us to admire it. Unfortunately we have no photos of the most spectacular one as it required leaping over boulders, climbing up slippery rock faces and swimming through deep pools to reach, so the camera got left behind.
Whilst the distances were not long, the terrain (near vertical gorges and boulder strewn river beds), the heat and sleeping on the rocks took it out of us.
So we were delighted by the finale to the trek, a stunning pool with a natural waterside and a friendly rasta selling ice cool beer under the shade of a tree.