South America

Things to do in Chapada Diamantina besides hiking

Chapada Diamantina National Park in Brazil is an absolute paradise for hikers. However, if hiking is not your cup of tea or you simply want to rest for a day or two between your hikes and do something different, there are plenty of opportunities for that. For instance, you can explore the streets of the charismatic town of Lençois, swim with thousands of fish in Pratinha or marvel at the view from Pai Inacio Mountain.

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To get an idea about what to expect in Chapada Diamantina, check out our travel video showcasing the natural beauty of Pratinha and Pai Inacio mountain (as well as the hikes to the Mixila and Fumacinha waterfalls):

How to get around

In order to explore the Chapada Diamantina region, I recommend renting a car as this gives you the flexibility to explore the various areas at your own pace. If you plan to visit the more remote places in Chapada Diamantina such as Fumacinha, Mucugê, or even Pratinha, you should get a car that can handle some seriously bumpy dirt roads and drive through occasional water ponds.

However, if you’d prefer to avoid driving, you can also find guided tours in the town of Lencois, which include pick-up, drop-off and an English-speaking tour guide.


Lençois is a charming little town in the northeast part of the Chapada Diamantina National Park (not to be confused with Lençois Maranhenses in the northern part of Brazil). It’s the largest town in the region and the main base for tourists setting out to discover the various attractions in Chapada.

Lençois used to be the base of many explorers who in the 19th century moved to the area in the hope of finding diamonds and gold. In the 1990s, however, mining activities were banned and tourism became the main industry in Lençois and the rest of Chapada Diamantina.

When you enter the town, you’ll notice right away the beautiful colonial architecture and small colorful houses in just about every possible shade.

me posing with a small house with vibrant turquoise walls in Lencois
small colorful houses lining the cobblestone streets of the historic town of Lencois in Bahia, Brazil

Visit one of the many cozy restaurants that have set up their tables on the cobblestone streets, enjoy the live music played on nearly every corner in the evening, and taste the delicious local cuisine.

One dish you should definitely try is a Bahian specialty called moqueca – a delicious stew made of coconut milk, fish, vegetables, coriander, and dendê oil which gives the dish a very special flavour and a distinctive bright orange color. It’s kind of like a Brazilian version of coconut curry.

A cobblestone street lined with colorful houses and sidewalk cafes in Lencois.
A Brazilian woman sitting on a stool in front of a handicraft shop and making a basket out of straw

Where to stay in Lençois?

There are many hotels and hostels in Lençois but for the most authentic experience, stay at one of the cozy little pousadas (small guest houses). We stayed in Pousada Recantos dos Mineiros and had a lovely stay. The house was simple but nicely decorated, the rooms were clean and the breakfast was abundant with many Brazilian cakes, exotic fruits, tapioca pancakes and more.

me lying in a beige hammock on the balcony of our room at the guesthouse we were staying at in Lencois

Fazenda Pratinha

About an hours’ drive from Lençois along terracotta-colored dirt roads through coffee plantations and herds of cows, is the Fazenda Pratinha ecotourism park offering a wide range of activities.

The most popular thing to do there is to take a snorkeling tour in the Pratinha cave and swim among thousands of small fish in clear blue water. It is mandatory to wear a life vest to avoid touching the bottom of the river as this would spin up sand and turn the crystal clear water cloudy. A staff member will guide you 200 meters into the limestone cave where you can see bats and turtles.

An underwater shot of me snorkeling in the clear blue water of the Pratinha river
snorkelers swimming in the turquoise water of the Pratinha River

Just a short walk from the Pratinha cave, you’ll find the Blue Cave (Gruta Azul da Fazenda Pratinha). As it’s hidden from the sunlight most of the time, this cave is only worth visiting during certain hours of the day (depending on the season) as that’s when the sun rays hit the bottom of it and illuminate the bright blue water.

A cave with limestone walls and a pond with clear blue water at the Pratinha ecotourism farm
The Blue Cave

On top of exploring the two caves, there are quite a few other ways to spend your time in the park. You can take a dip in the turquoise river, go kayaking or SUPing, zip-line down from a cliff into the river, get an underwater photo shoot or get a massage in the open air. They also have a riverside cafe where you can grab a bite if you get hungry.

a wooden dock extending out above the emerald green lake at Pratinha farm

Be aware that Fazenda Pratinha is very touristic and commercialized so if you’re looking for something more wild and authentic, this place is not the right choice.

While swimming in the clear blue waters and being surrounded by fish was a lovely experience, it can quickly turn into an expensive escapade since on top of the entrance fee of 40 Reais (9 euros), you’re asked to pay extra for each additional activity. If you’re short on time or traveling on a budget, I suggest you give this place a lower priority on your itinerary.

Pai Inacio Mountain (Morro do Pai Inacio)

Roughly 30-minute drive from Lençois, you’ll find one of the most photographed places in Chapada Diamantina – the Pai Inacio Mountain. More precisely, it’s the view from the top of the mountain that pops up as the first thing when you Google ‘Chapada Diamantina’. And it’s easy to understand why – that view looks phenomenal.

A view from the Pai Inacio hill over several flat-topped mountains in Chapada Diamantina National Park in Bahia, Brazil
A man sitting on a rock and photographing the scenery while being surrounded by otherworldly cliffs

The ticket to Pai Inacio is just a symbolic 6 Reais (1.5 Euro). It takes about 20 minutes from the parking lot to climb the steps leading to the summit. Once there, you’ll be greeted with astonishing panoramic views over the massive valleys and flat-topped mountains of Chapada Diamantina.

Aside from the spectacular views around it, the top of the mountain is a cool place in its own right with a moon-like landscape, hundreds of little water ponds and cacti.

It is recommended to go to Pai Inacio during sunset but as this didn’t suit our plans, we visited the mountain in the afternoon and definitely weren’t disappointed.

a man sitting on the edge of a cliff and meditating with a view of the valleys and mountains of Chapada Diamantina around him

You might also be interested in my other Brazil travel guides:

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