A Travellerspoint blog

Lencois

Beautiful brasil!!

sunny

We arrived in Lencois later than planned so it was dark and the truck couldn't fit through the narrow cobbled streets to take us to our campsite.  We loaded up a couple of taxis with our tents and bags and made our way there .  The drive through town was nice.  A tiny pretty little town with a really nice vibe.  

We got out tents up and organised pretty quickly and then headed into town to find the Thai restaurant that we had read about.  We walked about town for a while looking for it and making friends with the locals along the way, before finally giving up and heading back to the Mexican we had seen close to camp.  It was really nice, looking out over a river and selling the best frozen margaritas.  Maybe I can drink tequila after all!

We had a lovely meal there and many pitchers of margaritas before heading back to camp for an early night.

Next morning we finally managed to get ourselves a little lie in before heading off at 10am with a small group of us to seek out some of the local sights.   Our first stop was to be a waterfall.  Instructions were easy, follow the river.

So we followed the river and found ourselves navigating our way over another load of rocks.  They were really nice so it was a lovely walk although route planning was essential as some of them were pretty slippy.  We saw many locals in the river washing their clothes and lying them out on the hot rocks to dry.  Quite an unexpected sight as this town seemed to be a bit more modern than most that we had visited in brazil.

Some way into the walk we were faced with quite a large step across the rocks onto a curved rock.  It looked a bit challenging but we decided to go for it anyway.  Most of the others had taken an alternative route, but little Sarah and I were left to cross.  She was first and took a giant leap at the rock.  She landed with one leg on the dry rock but one leg on the wet part, which slipped out from under her and left her starfished on the rock.  It felt like she was there a while before she started sliding down the rock.  Then she stopped so she turned over tog et herself up but this regained her momentum so she started slipping again.  She didn't stop until she was off of her rock and was stuck under another in a little crevice that was full of water. I was little help to her as I was freaking about how her she could be and how the hell I was going to cross this myself.  Jarod came to her rescue and got her or of there and we eventually took an alternative route and finding the whole thing quite funny.  She is now covered in rainbow bruises and can't really bend her knee too well but she is still seeing the funny slide.

We carried on our walk for a while, walking past some little pools that a couple of people were swimming in.  They had little waterfalls in them and looked pretty nice.  We carries on or walk though, hoping that we'd find our waterfall.  Some of he locals stopped us and told us we needed to head right but that we had three hors of walking to get there.  This was not part of the plan.  Sarah and I have up at this point and decided to stick I the swimming holes.  Some of the others carried in but couldn't find a way through so soon enough we were all back and playing in the swimming holes.  

After a while we were joined by some
Locals, who we'd met the night before.  They told us that we were 10 minutes from the waterfall.  We'd been so close!!! We were pretty settled by then though so stayed put before heading back to town for some juice.

In the afternoon our plan was to head over to another waterfall that could be used as a water slide.  The walk was pretty easy to this one, about 40 minutes through the trees on a well established path with little bars selling coconuts on the way. We arrived at the waterfall to find a nice little area to sit and chill on, a great waterfall to slide down, a pool to swim about in, a group of locals and a tightrope set up over the pool.

We all played about in the pool for a while before taking to the rocks to chill in the sun.  This was when the local guys started to play about on the tightrope.  They were pretty good at it and we're obviously enjoying the attention from the locals.   A few of us had a go but it was pretty hard, we were useless.  One of the locals was pretty funny singing us little clips I English songs and trying to help us get across the tightrope.  He was doing some capoeira too which was pretty nice to watch.  We sat there all afternoon.  It was so nice to switch off and socialise with the
Locals a bit, and we'd see them around town a lot during our time there. 

We headed back to camp for a quick clean up and then back into town for a bite to eat.  We found ourselves in a little pizza bar which was owned by a really cool guy who made the best caiprinhas and they were cheap too!  He'd ask if we wanted them strong or not, make them really strong and then deliver them with the bottle of cachaca to top up the alcohol more once we had made room.  They were good!  He challenged some of the boys to some shot races, but they failed.  This guy was good!

Some of the others stayed out for more beers but Sarah and I wanted a little wander around town and Claire wanted to sober up a little.  We walked around for a while stopping at a little ice cream bar along the way for acai ice cream.  We found a really
Cool art shop selling some weird art that I loved.  It was a bit dark and noone else liked it but I thought it was cool.  I wanted to buy some of the painted blocks there but annoyingly when I went back it was shut.
We headed back to camp after that as most of us had organised a tour for the next day and with an 8am pick up we needed some sleep.

The following morning we were up and ready to go on our tour of chapada diamantina, the national park close to Lencois which was once mined for diamonds.  We had a packed schedule planned for the day, visiting 5 different sights.

Unfortunately the weather was against us so we shuffled the itinerary a little to save the outdoorsy stuff for later, hoping that the sun would come out.

Our first stop was a grotto famous for its stalactites and stalagmites.  The walk down to the cave itself was stunning, with amazing views across the park.  We had a brilliant guide who spoke perfect english and was a lot of fun too.  As we were walking down he was telling us all about the area and the flora and fauna.  At one point he said "there's an animal.." and the whole group stopped to look for it, only there wasn't an animal, he was just telling us about one.  Our reaction was brilliant, but his response, "calm down, not yet" was better.  You probably had to be there by it was very funny.  We've obviously been well trained in the search for animals on this trip.

The cave was huge and the entrance was beautiful with huge dramatic rocks made of lots of different colours. We made our way through the cave which was full of amazing stalactites and stalagmites.  Some of them were huge, some long and skinny, like needles.  We were shown ones that looked like goofy, dancers, jelly fish and loads more.  There was one that cast a shadow of a crocodile snapping its jaws if you moved a torch around in the right way behind it.  It was amazing.  

When we got to the end of the cave, we all took a seat on some rocks and turned all of our torches out.  It was darker in there than I've ever seen before, very weird but actually quite cool.  Once we managed to silence everyone it was really nice to sit there in the pitch black with empty minds.  

On the way back to our van, we saw
Some of the little animals he'd been telling us about on the way in.  Like little capyburras, or big rodents.  Very cute.

Our next destination was a lake to go swimming.  We drove over to this spot to find a crystal clear lake beside another cave.  You weren't allowed to walk in this cave but we did have the option to snorkel in there.  I chose to swim outside, the sun was out and the water was so
Warm and clear, I didn't want to miss out.  Some of the guys zip lined down to the lake, but having had my recent fill of zip lining in bonito, I chose to walk down instead.

When we got down there the guys who'd zip lined were already in the water and seemed to have made a friend of a labrador who was swimming with them.  Only he got a bit excited, scratched chas all down his back and the next thing we know chas is being chased around the lake by the dog.  Like some kind of benny hill sketch, very funny.  

Anyway, we got the dog out and had a lovely swim about spotting lots of little fish and enjoying cooling off.  Time for a little dry off in the sunshine before heading up for lunch.  Lunch was yet another buffet which are so popular here, but this was better than the others we'd tried.  We had goat and cactus and chips made from the same tree that the flour stuff they have here is made of.  They were yummy!

Our next stop was the blue cave which was at the same location.  We took the short walk to the cave and walked down the huge steps to the entrance.  On the way to the entrance we saw a tiny little snake, which we were told was extremely poisonous.  Not too scary as we practically stepped on him.  

The water in the cave looks more blue when the sun shines into the cave and we didn't have the best day so our guide was trying to get us to adjust to the light so we could see it better.  It worked, the water was bright bright blue.  Very pretty.  The walk out of the cave was also pretty special as there were lots of palm trees and hanging vines.  Just how you'd imagine brazil to be.

Onwards and upwards we headed over to the next sight which was devils pit, a lovely waterfall for
Us to swim in.  It's called devils pit as rumour has it that this is where they brought slaves and killed them.  We just saw the nice side of this.  A beautiful waterfall which you could swim up to and stand under.  It was so strong, but really nice.  We didn't have a lot of time here as we needed to get back and up a mountain in time for sunset.  So soon enough we were walking back to the van ready for our final stop of the day.

We drove most of the way up the mountain with only 600 metres of steep uphill to walk ourselves, but it was tough.  Over more rocks and very steep steps, we eventually got to the top to be faced with the most beautiful 360 views of the national park.  It was stunning.  We stayed up the top and watched the sunset, whilst we watched a storm in the distance which gradually made its made to us.  It created rainbows and the most amazing colours in the sky.  We took a lot of pictures from up there.  It really was the most beautiful end to an amazing day touring the park.

We walked back down the mountain, enjoying the different colours that the sky turned as the sun finally left. All the was left was to head back home.

When we got back to town Kate, Sarah and I headed out to try to the local craze that is acai juice.  It's bloody yummy.  Like a really thick slushy made of acai berries.  So thick you eat it with a spoon.  We enjoyed the first one so much that we immediately got another, only this time with banana and granola.  Soooo good!

Quick shower up before a lovely Italian dinner of aubergine parmagana and caiprinhas, before heading back to the pizza place for more strong caiprinhas.  There was a little performance going on with weird dancing and some pretty cool music, so we sat and enjoyed that before calling it a day and heading off to bed.  

Lencois is bloody amazing.  We quickly got to know many of the
Locals and recognised most people by the time we left.  A really friendly and lively little place.  I'd have loved to have stayed there longer but time to move on to Salvador, for the end of another leg of this trip.  

Posted by selson 13:31 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

Lencois bound

We got a long way to go, and a short time to get there

sunny

We were now headed for lencois, which would take two days to get there along dirt tracks in the blazing heat.  We were supposed to bush camp along the way, but we were all desperate for a shower and a little bit over camping, so we made the decision along the way to stop at a pousada (hostel).  

The pousada was pretty basic but it was lovely to have a real bed and a shower so we were all pretty happy.  

Once we were all checked in I headed to my room for a quick toilet spot.  Lifted the lid and was faced with a little black frog hopping about in there. Naturally I freaked out and went to get Sarah to help me.  She thought I was going to show her some big log in the toilet and when I lifted the lid again it was gone.  She thought I was making it up so I pushed the flush a lite to see if he was hiding and nothing happened.  So I went for a full flush and then he popped out.  Only he got flushed :-( I hope he's alive somewhere!  We spent the rest of the time freaking about him returning whilst we were sat on the loo.

Later that night Angela went to her room to be faced with a gecko.  This place was now freaking me out, there were spiders everywhere and god knows what else.  I didn't think I'd bet sleep!  

I was woken early for the second night in a row by the sound of a rooster.  Really not what you need in the early hours!  We headed off for another days driving.  Lencois bound.

Posted by selson 04:37 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Calvacante

Kalunga community visit

sunny

Our next stop was calvacante, where we were to stay amongst the kalunga community.  It's a remote community that weren't discovered until relatively recently.  

The drive there was fairly interesting as we were travelling in dirt tracks which were a little flooded in places.  You feel every little lump and bump in the road on these trucks so I can't say it was the most comfortable journey.  I guess we didn't sign up for comfortable!

We arrived at the community to find a few huts spread across a fairly baron piece of land. We were greeted by the owner of the piece of land that we were to camp on.  It was a really lovely spot, camping Ian circle around the huge tree, with most of us in a ring of tents and rudi in the middle on his hammock.

Whilst we were preparing lunch we heard the owner talking about how there was interest from the local tv station and they may make an appearance.  We didn't think it would actually happen but it really did.  This was only the third time they'd had dragoman trucks through their village and we'd got ourselves a bit of attention.  

When the tv crew appeared they explained that many of the local community were trying to learn English to be able to interact with the tourists more when they arrived so they were excited about our visit.  A couple of the group got interviewed and then we had to pretend to be given a talk by our guide whilst they did a speal about why we were there etc.  it was all a bit awkward and uncomfortable so we were happy when were eventually allowed to go off on our walk to yet another waterfall.

We picked up a couple of sausage dogs along the way who decided to come with us to the waterfall.  They were so cute.  One was quite puppyish and the other really soppy.  All of a sudden (whilst we were still being filmed walking away) one of the dogs started choking and we had to pull off an emergency rescue, finding a huge piece of bone caught in his mouth.  All good again we carried on our walk.

We were told it was flat and ok to do in flip flops, but they lied.  It was pretty steep and full of slippery rocks so most of us ended up doing it in flip flops.  Even the dogs freaked out and we had to help them cross some of the streams with us.  It's quite scary balancing in slippery rocks with a dog under your arm whilst surrounded by rapids flowing into a huge waterfall.

Anyway, we arrived safely to find a lovely spot with two waterfalls, one thin and tall which you could jump in from and the other wide and flatter which you could sit under.  We chilled there for ages, soaking it all in and enjoying a lazy afternoon.

In the evening we headed out to a local "restaurant" where we were cooked dinner by the locals.  Whilst we were waiting for dinner we walked over to another of the homes where they had a shop selling beers. We stocked up with enough to keep us going through dinner and then were given a shot of the locally brewed cachaca.  It was very smooth but so strong.  It burnt like hell for ages!

We walked back past the little church where we could here the congregation singing and the. Ticked into a really lovely dinner.  Traditional food, chicken, beef, fish with rice and beans and some salad.  There were also these little things which looked like new potatoes.  Whilst we were inside they explained that they were the fruit from the trees that were all around the village and that there was a specific way to eat them as the centre was full of very fine needles that would stick in your tongue.  Meanwhile Jarod and Anna have not listened and have raced back to the table and shoved the potatoes in and chewed on them, filling there mouths and tongues with spikes that we then had to remove one by one with a pair of tweezers!

After dinner we were joined by the family of the couple who had cooked for us and we chatted to them a little about their community. Sarah played with the kids for a while and they showed off their amazing hula hoop skills.  We then retired to bed ready for an early departure the following day.

Posted by selson 04:35 Archived in Brazil Comments (2)

Alto paraiso

Another waterfall?!!

sunny

We arrived in alto paraiso to find a cool little hostel waiting for us where we would camp for three nights.
It was pretty much a family home and we were camping in their garden.  The toilet and shower situation was a little odd as we quickly blocked the one dedicated for us so we had to use  the one in grandmas house whilst grandma was in there.  We just wandered in and out of her little granny annex whenever we needed to go and usually found her crying in front of some soap or other with her face pressed up against the tv as she was totally deaf.  Our other option was mum and dads bathroom but there were two doors leading to it, one from our side and one from theirs, so you were pretty much taking a chance of being walked in on every time you went there.  Anyway, enough of that.We had a lovely little courtyard to camp in and were joined most of the time by Apollo the dog who was a black retriever and was really lovely.

We took a walk into town and explored the whole thing within 30 minutes.  It basically consists of one long street which is full of lots of little hippy shops.  It's very cute.  The town is famous for its crystals so there are crystals in all if the shops and lots of people with dreadlocks who are really friendly.  Alto paraiso is said to be one of the most visible places to see from the moon as a result of the amount of crystals in the area.  They also have some weird alien thing going on there.

There are lots of murals of birds on the walls and some weird dome buildings that are all painted up too.  Some with elephants, some birds.  The whole town seems to have been painted up by the same person. 

We were meeting a local guide at 6pm so we headed back to camp to hear what options we had for activities for the next couple of days.   The guide, marcelo, agreed to take us to the national park the next day for some hiking and then the day after for a tour of moon valley and some waterfalls.  We had the option of zip lining here too, but we chose to pass on this and stick to chilling at the waterfalls.

After marcelo left us we sat around at camp having a few drinkies and enjoying having a night off from cooking as tonight crew were cooking for us, an amazing dish of chill prawn pasta. Mmmmm.  

At one point during the evening we had a blackout and Claire skipped off to find her head torch, forgetting that there was a slopey step thing behind her and all we heard was a massive thud as she landed heavily on concrete, twisting her knee and ankle, stopping her from hiking with us the next day and potentially stoping her from driving us too.

The following day marcelo joined us at 8am and we set off on the drive to the national park.  The walk was only 5k in each direction but it was really hot so was pretty tough.  The walk was beautiful, walking through the trees and over crystals which were everywhere underfoot.  We walked past an old crystal mine and stopped a couple of times to admire the crystals we were walking on.  Eventually we got to a huge waterfall, known as the 120 metre waterfall.  Not hard to work out why. It was stunning, it doesn't seem to matter how many waterfalls you see they are still pretty amazing when you find them.  

We walked on further to the smaller 80 metre waterfall and this time we stopped for a swim.  There were loads of fish in the water including
More of the ones that nibble at any dead skin that we keep coming across in brazil.  It was so relaxing and much needed to cool off after walking in the heat for so long.  We stayed there for lunch and then made our way on a little further.

The next set of waterfalls we came to were very low but wider with lots of places to sit about and get a free back massage.  Kate, Sarah and I played about for a while trying to get ourselves under one of them but getting blown back out each time.  These ones might have been small but they were powerful!  

The boys were all playing in the bigger ones diving in, until rudi dived and misjudged where he would land and cracked his head on a rock. Fortunately it wasn't too bad but there's a pretty big scar there now and it bled like hell.  So now both of our drivers were injured.  Things were going well!

At this point marcelo, our guide pulled it a weird pipe thing which the boys tried.  It was kind of like two small bamboo tubes hinged together.  He put this tobacco stuff in one tube, placed that tube up one nostril and then blew the other tube do that the tobacco shot up your nose.  You do this in each nostril apparently.  They were warned not to swallow it as it would make them throw up "all day".  It really didn't look that nice, their eyes went red and their nose burned and they spent about 10 minutes washing their nose and hacking and spitting so as not to swallow anything.  They did it loads over the couple of days despite not really getting any benefit from it.  Each to their own I guess.

We finished our walk and headed back to Sao jorge for an ice lolly before driving back to camp.  It was my turn to cook that night so we fajita'd it up, before drinking a load of rudi's wine and hitting the sack.  It was quite incredible how a days exercise wiped us out.  So unfit after so long sitting on a truck doing very little!

The next day we were to do it all again.  Our morning destination was Valle de Luna or moon valley.  A series of rock formations that look like the surface of the moon.  A shorter walk today but this time climbing over rocks.  Marcelo warned us to steer clear of any wet rocks as they'd be really slippery.  After about 2 minutes on the rocks I came across a slippery patch, thought to myself that it'd be slippery and then went for it anyway.  I slipped and fell down like a sack of spuds, taking the skin off of one of my arms and covering myself in mud. Mmmm a lovely bloody muddy arm.  Marcelo ran over to tell me not to go that way, which I'd kind of worked out before dragging me off quickly to see some rose quartz in the rock formations to take my mind off of my now stinging arm.  The rise quartz was petty cool and there was lots of it.  

We walked on the rocks for some time, balancing precariously at times on the edges of rocks with sheer drops underneath us where we could see a waterfall.  I didnt really feel all that safe so I got myself across those rocks as quickly as possible.

At the end of the rocks was another waterfall.  This time a pool of water at the bottom that you could swim in and then if you wanted to you could swim up under the rocks into a little natural jacuzzi.  I'd managed to freak myself out a bit so stayed in the safe part, enjoying cooling off.  The water was freezing!  We stayed and sunned ourselves on the rocks for some time before walking to the penultimate waterfall of the day.

The walk to this waterfall was a short one, but it was pretty scary.  Walking on the edge of a sheer drop and down the dodgiest steps that looked pretty rotten to me.  It was definitely worth it though.  It was nice waking through the vines and trees with the water dripping on us.  We stopped a couple times for some photos of the views before clambering down to the bottom of the waterfall.  

This time we were stopped on the flat between two waterfalls.  Another pool that we could swim about in but the best part was swimming upstream to the waterfall that was above us.  It was a battle getting up there as you were swimming against the current, but a lot of fun and we sat at the bottom of that one in the water for some time before being swept quickly back to our base.

We were messing about in the pool there trying to learn Sarah's technique of splashing people when all of a sudden Kate screams out that she's seen a snake.  She said it fell from the rocks above her.  Of course we all thought it was a stick or something so were ignoring her until Claire backed her up as we all ran off to see if we could see it.  It was huge.  About 2 metres long.  Black and yellow fading to a black tail.  It was pretty impressive watching it climb back up the rocks.  They are so strong to be able to lift their bodies the way they do.  A lovely bit of excitement for the day.

We finished our walk and headed to the truck for a change of destination for the final waterfall of the day.  To be honest we were all a little tired and weren't really feeling it but we'd heard this was a good one do we went with it.  This waterfall was much bigger than the others and gave the boys te opportunity to do some jumping.  Sarah ad Kate went in too, but it totally freaks me out and these jumps were high so I walked to the bottom and paddled about for a bit there whilst the others did their thing.

We returned back to the truck, quick coffee in the coffee shop (brazil has this great system where you have free coffee if you stand at the bar and drink it) a play with the dogs who looked like pigs, a quick massage with the rolly things they had in the coffee shop and then we had to say or goodbyes to marcelo and head back to camp.

Back at camp we were all pretty tired so most took to tents for a snooze whilst we waited for dinner to  be cooked.  Sarah and I planned to do the same but ended up having a bit of a singalonga in the tent with a load of snacks, testing out my new little travel speaker.  Andrew brought round popcorn to each of the tents and we chilled for a few hours before a scummy steak and salad dinner.

We left alto paraiso the following morning having finally got plenty of exercise and more than our full of waterfall action. 

Posted by selson 04:34 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Brasilia

Futuristic capital

sunny

Brasilia was created in the 50's and was specifically designed to be the capital of brazil.  We'd heard that it had been designed to be futuristic so we weren't really sure what to expect.

We were staying at a campsite behind a hostel as accommodation in the city is very expensive.  We arrived mid afternoon to be faced with a hostel that looked like some kind of mental institute.  A horrible yellow concrete building with no character just outside of the city.  The camping being a field at the back with little shade and pretty rubbish facilities.  

I felt like we were a million miles from the city but it turns out that everything in the city is a drive away, you can't live here without a car as you need to drive everywhere and the public transport system is pretty poor. 

For this reason we spent the evening at the campsite which was fairly dull. There's only so much you can do in an empty field when it's roasting hot.

The next morning we were meeting billy our guide who would take us on a tour of the city.  He explained to us that there was a competition to design the layout of the city an the person who won had come up with the design of a cross, with the business areas on the vertical line and the residential areas on the horizontal.  They realised that the residential areas needed to be bigger, so he made the horizontal areas wider and the layout quickly became like that of an aeroplane.  With the wings being residential and the body of the aircraft being businesses.  

At the front of the body of the aircraft lies the government buildings.  At the back some more official buildings and the area in the middle near the wings the hotel and entertainment districts.  It's all a little bit too organised and uniform.

As we drove around the city billy showed us the layout of the residential area, which is also very uniform owing to the strict building rules in the city.  The buildings must be an exact size with six stories and must be built on stilts.  The idea of the stilts was that you can walk through the buildings rather than having to walk around but was also to give the idea of space.  The blocks basically look like 1950's flats.  Some with tiny tiny windows.  If the designers want to build balconies they have to set back the inner walls as the blocks have to be fixed size with nothing outside.  They all look pretty boring to me.  

Four of these blocks makes up a superblock, each of which has a set of shops, church, school, recreational activity (pool or playground etc), healthcare centre, play school, library and cinema.  There's very little need to leave your superblock, which is just as well considering how hard it is to get around this over populated city.  

None of the streets have road names, instead each block has a number, odd on one side of the wings and even on the other.  As the city has developed little suburbs have developed outside of the city with less building regulations, with real houses which are much more affordable, but does require a long commute into the city each day.

We visited a number of the churches, each of which were pretty cool.  The first being really tiny and the congregation has to sit outside.  The second was huge with really high ceilings and all four walls made up of blue stained glass that started darker and faded to light to give perspective of night and day inside.  This one was very modern with clear glass confession boxes.  The final one was built underground with the most amazing roof and bell tower that can be seen from outside.  

We drove around past the national theatre with its amazing exterior walls, the done museum and the government buildings.  All the of the buildings are very modern looking but much classier and picturesque than I had expected.  

Our final stop was the bridge which is pretty special.  We sat there at the side of the river looking at it for a whole before we all got distracted by a playground and all of a sudden this more a little more interesting.

We dropped billy off and then parked the truck to give everyone time to explore the city.  We were all starving so raced to the shopping centre which was like any other shopping centre you've ever been to.  Some people went to explore but most of us were done.  It was interesting to see the city but it wasn't designed for tourists and was too spread out to go back and see anything again.  Sarah and I hung out in the air conditioned shopping centre eating frozen yoghurt which is everywhere in brazil, until it was time to head back.

We went back into the city once the sun had gone down to see everything lit up.  It was very pretty to see, everything always looks better at night. 

We left the following morning to head to alto paraiso which is by the chapada de valdeiros national park which was much more up my street, I was looking forward to some hiking and waterfall time.  This was going to be good....

Posted by selson 04:29 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

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