February 18, 2004


Today Sarah and I got back from a town inland from Salvador by 400km called Lenšois. On the 12th of February we took a 6 hour bus ride from Salvador to Lenšois, not knowing where we were going to stay that night. On the bus we met Deiter, a Belgian, who is travelling by himself around South America as well. We chatted on the bus for a while and napped for another while and after a stretch of more pot holes than road we ended up in Lenšois, in the dark, without a place to stay. We were bombarded by people trying to get us to stay at their Pousada (bed and breakfast) or trying to get us to go on a trek with them the next day in the National park nearby, Chapada Diamantina. We were heading to a Pousada that was recomended in our guide book, Pousada dos Duendes, and asked around how to get there since we didn┤t have a map of the town. Once we found it we were told they were full but a guide that works for them runs his own Pousada and we could stay there for the night and come back to Duendes the next night. We contimplated this for a while and decided that we would go with this guy. It turns out that his pousada is his house too and he rents out rooms to help pay for the rent. It was empty except for Sarah, Deiter and I, which was kind of nice.

We slept well that night but we were awoken at 5:30am to the sound of the local roosters. The roof┤s aren┤t really sealed to the walls so sound gets in everywhere, it sounded like the roosters were in our room. Lucio, who runs the pousada had left for a 5 day trek, he is a guide, so a woman that lives downstairs made us a delicous breakfast. After breakfast we walked over to Duendes and checked into our room. We read about a waterfall not too far away from the town that you could slide down so we decided to walk to it. After a 45 minute hike we made it to the waterfall, went for a dip and slid down the falls, which looks more painful than it is. After lounging around in the sun for a while Sarah and I headed back to town while Deiter had a siesta on a rock at the falls. We had a siesta ourself in our room, Sarah in the hammock on the patio of our room, me in the bed in the room. We had a very tasty dinner at the Pousada with the other guests for only 7 Reais each, about $3.50 Canadian. After dinner we talked to the manager of the Pousada about going on a hike the next day. We decided to do a 3 day hike through the national park that would take us to some caves and waterfalls. We went to bed early to be well rested for the hike which we were told was challenging.

We started the hike at about 9am on Saturday the 14th. We stopped at the top of the slide waterfall to take a dip and get some water since we would be going up hill for the next few hours with little to no shade. We were somewhat dubious about the water since it is a brown, tea like colour but the guide said that it was fine. It was a long, hot hike until lunch, I could have really used some trail mix. After lunch we went to a really nice waterfall that we have a good picture of but can┤t upload quite yet so be patient. After a refreshing dip at this waterfall we hiked for another hour to the first campsite near another waterfall. There were 8 of us in our group along with 2 guides, and by the time we got to the campsite another couple of groups were already there. So the campsite was pretty full and Sarah and I ended up sleeping on a large rock with a bit of a slope. The guides made us a dinner of pasta and meat sauce and then we went to sleep under the stars. We were awoken around 2am by rain hitting our faces. Everyone else was scrambling to get in the cover of some over hanging rock that we didn┤t sleep under in the first place because it was pretty nasty. Sarah and I toughed it out and the rain never got too heavy and only lasted about 5 minutes. We woke up with the sun, had a breakfast of porridge and melba toast and started onto the second campsite.

The second campsite was only about 2 hours away along the river bed. It was more of a real cave than the first campsite but even more nasty. Before setting up our sleeping area we went on a hike to the bottom of the Cachoeira da Fumaša or the smoke waterfall. We hiked without our bags since this was a side hike. It took about 2 hours to walk through the jungly forest where we saw a monkey to get to the bottom of the falls. The falls are 384m high, the second highest in Brazil. The wind at the falls blows the water around making it look like smoke, hence the name. After another refreshing swim in the pool at the bottom of the falls and lunch we hiked back to camp for another swim and dinner. We decided that the cave was too crowded and stinky (it seems that anywhere was considered a good place to go to the bathroom by previous hikers) so we slept outside on a rock again. As we were falling asleep we saw the flashes of distant lightening but it was clear out so we thought we were safe. Well, we were wrong. At 11:30pm we were awoken by rain, we thought we could tough it out again but we were wrong. It got heavier and we got progressively more wet. We decided to look for a spot in the cave but it was too full. By the time I got back from looking for a spot in the cave the rain had subsided so we foolishly decided to stay where we were. It wasn┤t an hour later when we were awoken by rain again so we moved to a rock under a tree near the cave that looked relatively dry. We managed to sleep until 3am when the rain made it through the tree and woke us up again. I put on my jacket and tried to sleep through it (the inside of our sleeping bag never got wet). We slept on and off until the sun came up at around 5:30 which is when we got up too.

Breakfast took a while because the guides were sleeping under cover and managed to sleep in an hour or so longer than us. After breakfast we started day 3, which was billed as the most difficult day. It didn┤t dissapoint. We climbed basically straight up for about 2 hours with only a few stops along the way. My legs were burning but it definately was not as difficult as the Elsay lake hike Ritchie, Amir and I did up Grouse mountain last summer. After all the major ascending was done we stopped for a swim and lunch at a nice little waterfall and pool. From here we walked to the top of the smoke waterfall, and along the way we aparently crossed paths with a Cobra that freaked out Sarah even though she didn┤t see it herself.

The top of the smoke waterfall is an impressive sight, similar to the view from the top of the Chief but with water and in a horseshoe shape. You had crawl on your stomach to the edge of the cliff for a view, which was pretty scary. After baking in the sun at the top of the waterfall (pictures coming, hold your horses) we started the walk across the top of the plateau to the town where we would catch a ride back to Lenšois. I found this part of the hike more difficult than the climbing because it was so hot, there was no shade and Sarah and I were both a little sun burnt.

Eventually we made it to the town, had a beer and cooled down before the ride back to Lenšois. The hike was only 30km but the car ride is 70km because of the terrain. Our ride was a big toyota land cruiser with bench seats for 10 people in the open back of the truck. The first half hour was pot hole filled but it was smooth sailing after that. Back in Lenšcois we cleaned up, had dinner, a few beers and crashed. The next day was spent in a hammock reading and waiting for the 11:30pm bus to Salvador. The bus trip is a whole other story and will be posted soon.

Posted by bforsyth at February 18, 2004 07:19 AM