I don’t know where to begin with this post, because we had such a unique experience in the Brazilian Diamond Highlands!
Famous for diamond mining long ago, it remains a special cluster of hidden gems.
Taking a 5-hour bus from Salvador, we reached Lencois, a small town in the hills.
The town positively sparkles a happy calm vibe that wanders the hilly cobbled streets.
Dolls-house-like homes, the colour of liquorice allsorts, welcome you with open arms at every twist and turn.
To say it is ‘lovely’ serves a grand injustice to the beauty of this place.
Our homestay chez Alcino was simply perfect. His gorgeous colonial house is painted canary yellow, a colour that accurately depicts its cheery demeanour.
Alcino and his cosy abode made us feel so welcome that it felt like coming home.
And the breakfasts! A veritable feast, served on a long table, where we sat with everyone else staying there, like one big family. We were so privileged to meet friends of Alcino: 2 lovely families – Marcio, Pat, Bruno and Maria; Fabio, Silue and Bernardo; plus grandma – thank you all for your generosity of spirit, kindness, wisdom and time.
Every day we were served a different banquet of homemade local delicacies, which you wouldn’t necessarily expect to get at that time of the morning!
Alongside a huge platter of tropical fruits, bowls of homemade yoghurts, jars of granola and baskets brimming with fresh bread, nestled at least 10 other dishes that varied daily, such as mini pizzas made from breadfruit, melt-in-the-mouth falafels, tapioca surprises, frittatas, pancakes dripping with chocolate, Brazilian cakes and I just can’t remember them all! My mouth is watering just writing about them!
Officially, THE BEST BREAKFAST IN THE WORLD can be found at Alcino Estalagem & Atelier.
Cocooning the town are endless lush green hills, waterfalls, rivers and swimming holes. A playground for exploration.
Chapada Diamantina is immense, the size of a small European country. Discovering small parts, lots of it walkable from Lencois, was enough for us to appreciate it.
We trekked to Poco do Diablo, which translates as the devil’s waterfall…
Jake and Lola triumphantly swam behind the Falls:
We hiked along dry paths and up craggy hillsides to Grupa Lapa do Sol Doce, apparently the largest sandstone cave in South America…
With torches, we could make out the gigantic stalagmites and stalagtites, whilst Lola and Albie created a story about a cave kingdom, inspired by the shapes and formations held within.
At last, there was light at the end of the long tunnel!
We were in awe at the colour of the water in the Gruta Azul (blue cave), as the shafts of sunlight hit the water.
The river of water, flowing out of the cave, pooled in a clear turquoise lake, a welcome swimming hole after the hot hike.
We hiked to the top of Pai Inácio, where we were rewarded with 360 degree views of the surrounding tabletop mountain landscape.
As the sun began to set, the beautiful light cast a magical spell over us…
From the town, in under a 30 minute walk, we found the Ribeira do Mel, a series of waterfalls with a ‘toboggan’ rock slide.
One of our favourite spots, overlooking the town, was a hotpotch of cauldron-like holes, filled with the water cascading down the smooth rocky face.
This fascinating geological feature creates a series of swimming holes from which you can jump, dive or slide from one to another!
Or just mess around with the foamy bubbles, created by the swirling water!
Further up the hill, Salao de Areias Coloridas – gigantic rocks, of layered colours – fascinated us in their varying forms of tunnels and caves, and the way our feet sunk into soft white icing sugar-like sands.
At the top, there is more cascading water…great for Albie-dunking!
Walking around, we spotted colourful birds…
And tried more local Bahian food…
…and appreciated the plants and flowers (although being the winter season, the flowers aren’t abundant).
Whilst in Lencois, it was a tense time in the World Cup. With our new ‘family’, we supported each other’s teams through 3 matches. Thank you Marcio for the prosecco!!
Of an evening, we laughed as pizzas were hungrily devoured on the narrow cobbled lanes.
Albie played football with the local children…
…and we watched the agile local capoeira group – Afro-Brazilian dance-like martial arts – in the square…
We all had tears in our eyes when it was time to leave. Three days had already turned into 6, and there was more of Bahia we wanted to explore. Lencois, you little gem, we take a fragment of you in our hearts.
A 1am bus ride wasn’t ideal, and Albs began his sleep before the journey began, but it’s all par for the course on the Tamlyn adventures!
Coast of Bahia, we are on our way to you!