Fly to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil's colonial capital.
The city was established in 1549 and rapidly became a major centre of the new world. In 1558 Salvador got the dubious honour of becoming the first slave-market town in the Americas with a high demand for cheap labour to work in the sugar plantations. These large African populations would have a deep impact on the city which is, today, the most African city on the continent and the centre of Candomble, a religion with its roots in voodoo practices from West Africa.
The old town, centred around the Pelourinho neighbourhood, is characterised by its colourful houses and renaissance architecture as well as its vistas resulting from being built on a hill.
This morning is free to relax after yesterday's long journey. Around lunch time we will head out to the airport to catch our domestic flight to Lencois in the heart of Chapada Diamantina.
Chapada Diamantina is one of Brazil's most beautiful regions with its flat-top mountains, small villages, clear streams, waterfalls and more.
As an introduction to this stunning region we will head out to Pai Inacio Hill, one of the region's most spectacular view-points, in the late afternoon to catch the sunset over the outstretched flat-top mountains. It is an easy 25minute walk to the top of the hill but bring a torch/flash light as we'll be walking back after the sun has set.
Today we explore the Lencois region. We start in the morning by visiting the Serrano cascades, a series of small waterfalls and natural pools and the Cachoeira da Primavera (Spring Waterfall).
After a boxed lunch we head to Ribeirao do Meio, about 3.5kms from town, another series of pools where we can have a dip and plunge off a natural rock-slide (bring shorts if you want to enjoy the rock slide). Today's total walking time is approximately 4hrs.
Our first stop today, after a short transfer and a 40min hike, is Poco do Diablo (the Devil's Well), whose dark waters may look daunting but are really quite refreshing. Next we head to Pratinha, an oasis in an arid part of the region. The clear blue waters are inviting and the bottom of the lake has a collection of micro-conch testifying to the oceanic past of this area. We also visit Gruta Azul (Blue Grotto), just beside Pratinha, with its attractive limestone formations.
After lunch we drive to Torrinha Cave, probably the most beautiful grotto in Chapada Diamantina, full of stalagmites, stalactites and other curious cave formations. Here we will have a 2hr walk through the cave exploring its geological features. Finally, we drive to the Capao Valley for the night.
Today is a longer hiking day as we visit the Cachoeira da Fumaca (Smoke Falls). The trailhead is just a short transfer from the village. From here the hike to the falls is 12kms, 6hrs round trip. This is the tallest waterfall in Brazil at 340m. The small stream of water is spread by the wind, sometimes even lifting it upwards (forming a curtain of droplets which has given the falls their name of 'smoke').
We later visit Riachinho, a series of small falls and pools, before returning to Lencois.
Today we visit two of Chapada Diamantina's most beautiful underground pools -Poco Azul (Blue Well) and Poco Encatado (Enchanted Pool). The flooded cave of Poco Azu's waters are an unnatural hue of blue, especially when the sun comes in through a crevice and shines onto the pool. We can spend about 20mins in the incredibly clear waters here exploring the ethereal décor.
Nearby Poco Encantado is another surreal flooded cavern of incredible blues. This is particularly highlighted during the months of April-August when sun comes in through a natural window and hits the water. Swimming is not allowed here.
After exploring these fairy-tale caverns we continue to the village of Igatu. Today Igatu has less than 400 inhabitants but back in the early 19th Century it was a town of 9,000 people. The draw was a nearby mine of black-diamonds (most of which were used to dig tunnels for the London Underground and the Panama Canal. After checking in to our hotel we will visit the nearby ruins of what is now a ghost town and learn about more prosperous days. Total walking time today is aproximately 2hrs).
Today we visit another part of the park as we head to Ibicoara, about 2.5 hours away in the South of Chapada Diamantina. Our purpose is to hike to Buracao (Big Hole) Waterfall. Only discovered in 2001, this is a definite highlight. This waterfall stands at more than 85m and tumbles over into a narrow canyon making for an incredibly picturesque setting but what makes this a special experience is that to get to the waterfall you need to hike for a while and then swim for a while (life vests are provided and you do not have to be a strong swimmer). The round trip to the base of the falls and back is about 3hrs. We later drive back to Igatu.
Today is a long drive (about 7hrs) back to Salvador. The rest of the day is free.
This morning we will have a guided walking tour of historic Salvador, exploring some of the city's cobbled streets, churches, colonial buildings and squares. The old town, Pelourinho, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also home to artist studios and galleries and cafes. This tour lasts about 4hrs. There should be time left for some last minute souvenir shopping before those on the group flights head to the aiport for an overnight flight. The land only tour ends this afternoon.