The national park was created in 1985 to protect Serra do Cincorá and to attract growing number of ecotourists.
This scenery mountain range includes mountains, valleys, monoliths, caves, rivers and waterfalls. Highest parts of the park raise over 2000 m above sea level (average being 1000 m above sea level) and offer breathtaking views. The area is about 400 km inland, west of Salvador in Bahia state in the Northeast region of Brazil in the middle of the dry sertão (back-country plains).
It is an important water source with many rivers starting here. These rivers make incredible waterfalls as they fall off the vertical walls of the mountains. The vegetation is of open grassy fields with isolated trees (similar to the African savannah) with some thicker vegetation along the rivers.
Flora and fauna
At the top of the flat top hills the vegetation is particularly weird and fantastic. Wildlife is not very easy to spot. Apart from humming birds and vultures you are unlikely to see the anteaters or jaguars which live here.
You can start from Lençóis, by plane from São Paulo and Salvador or bus from Salvador (Real Expresso - R$72). Coaches are clean, comfortable (good reclining seats) and air conditioned. The bus’ suspension also deals with the potholes and lumps better than a car’s. There’s a conductor and a driver aboard. Depending on season, there may be one or two services every day between Salvador and Lençois. Just check the departure times in the apps of Clickbus or Buscaonibus.
If the departure times from Salvador or the arrival times in Palmeiras do not fit for you, you can take a bus to Seabra and change the bus there to Palmeiras.
From Brasilia there are buses, too. You can depart in the afternoon and arrive in the late morning in Seabra. It costs around R$170 (Feb 2021). There you may have to walk six minutes to another intercity bus station. Just ask where you arrive. The bus to Palmeiras is for R$7 and to Lençois R$15 (Feb 2021). The app from Buscaonibus shows all operating bus companies on this route with their departure times.
Another option is to go to Vale do Capão which is at walking distance of many places of interest, and more quiet than Lençóis.
Fees and permits
As of Apr 2015 the NP has not been established, and they won't charge you to enter it
The best sights and experiences will be found on walks into the mountains. These can be short excursions (eg to see the Fumaça waterfall) or longer treks such as a 4-5 day Capão and Pati Valley hike.
- Cachoeira da Fumaça - the highest waterfall (380 m) of Brazil is so high that the water never hits the ground. It vaporizes in the air by the force of the wind and sun. Access usual from guided tours starting in Lençóis that make the whole trip to and from, or using Vale do Capão, but if starting from Vale do Capão, walk 3km from the main village, get to the entrance, pay a donation (they won't force you), they will offer you a guide, but it is an easy 2-hour walk, with only two places where the trail forks (pay attention). Start in the early morning (best if hot season) and you will be back for lunch.
- Cachoeira do Sossego - another spectacular waterfall easily accessible from Lençóis.
- Cachoeira do Buracão - ...and another.
- The caverns of Lapa Doce and Pratinha - a must for cave enthusiasts.
- Poço Encantado - Enchanted Pool with incredibly blue water (entrance 20 Rs).
- Poço Azul - Snorkeling in the incredibly blue water for R$15.
Godó de banana is a must try when visiting Chapada Diamantina. It's a dish created by the prospectors of diamonds who first inhabited the region and consists of: unripe cooked bananas, different types of meat (including sausage, dry/jerked beef and bacon), tomatoes, parsley and spring onions.
Lençois is the most developed town in the Chapada Diamantina thanks to its accessible position and to its history as a wealthy mining and trading town in the 19th century and beyond. If you stay at the very pretty Hotel Canto dos Aguas, it’s a 2-minute walk into the town, crossing a smart bridge into the town square (Praça Nagôs).
Since commercial agriculture and mining is now banned in the National Park, the remaining handful of families in the Pati Valley make a living providing accommodation to hikers. They are basic, but impressive in the circumstances and more comfortable and responsible than camping. Maps of the Chapada have the few houses marked on it and labeled with the names of their inhabitants.
A couple of cheap pousadas are also available in Palmeiras, but there is not much point of staying here. Better head straight to Vale do Capão. Jeeps do the trip for R$15 usually.
Vale do Capão has many places to stay for all budgets. If you fancy camping you can stay at the Pousada Sempre Viva, you get plenty of room for your tent, plus cement bungalows and cheap rooms with toilet. You can haggle for longer stays. A bunk bed in a dormitory there is for R$50 per night (March 2021).
Inside the National Park in the Vale do Paty trail you can do camping in locals houses, they will give you firewood and the kitchen to use.
Otherwise you can camp anywhere else, but beware of camping close to a river, because of flash floods. A few people have drowned already.
Evening storms are quite frequent in the area.