Lencois Tourist Attractions
LençóisSituation and CharacteristicsLençóis, 425km/264mi west of Salvador, enjoyed a rapid economic upswing when a rich seam of diamonds was discovered in the nearby Serra de Sincorá in 1844, and soon developed into the third largest town in Bahia, its prosperity reflected in fine new buildings. Within fifty years, however, the seam was worked out and the boom came to a sudden end. Evidence of this brief heyday is provided by the stone-built church of Bom Jesus dos Passos with its delicately wrought doorways and Baroque pictures. The town has also a number of handsome 18th and 19th century buildings.Bus stationAvenida Senhor dos Passos
Salão de Areias
Salão de AreiasThe Rio Lençóis flows through a rocky landscape in many shades of color, from which it has carved out many basins and pools, now filled with dark-colored ferruginous water. 2km/1.3mi upstream from the town center is the Salão de Areias, a cave famed for the sand which shimmers in over a hundred changing hues. Local artists use it to make colorful sand pictures in clear glass bottles.
WaterfallsOn the Rio Serrano, 1km/.7mi outside Lençóis, is a natural slide of smooth wet stones, at the end of which is a beautiful pool. There are other waterfalls in the area, notably the Cachoeira Primavera and the Cachoeirinha.
There are several towns and attractions within a short distance of Lençóis.
Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina
Parque Nacional da Chapada DiamantinaLençóis is the gateway to the Chapada Diamantina National Park (area 152,000 hectares/380,000 acres; established 1985). Some 75km/47mi long by 20km/12.4mi across, it lies in the Serra de Sincorá, part of a range of hills which is bounded by the valleys of the Rio São Francisco and Rio Paraguaçu and by the Rio de Contas. The park has a luxuriant vegetation watered by mountain streams, with many species of orchids and bromeliads.The fauna includes deer, capybaras, anteaters and jaguars (including the black jaguar). Of the many species of birds the most remarkable is the very rare beija flor gravata vermelha, a humming-bird with a red throat which was sighted in the 1980s, after a long absence, on the Morro do Chapéu in the northern Chapada Diamantina.
Lapão CaveWithin the park, 4km/2.5mi from Lençóis, is the Gruta do Lapão, which is over 1km/.7mi long - the largest quartzite cave in Brazil and one of the largest in the whole of South America.
Fumaça FallsOne of the most spectacular sights in the National Park is the Cachoeira da Fumaça, the highest waterfall in Brazil, tumbling down a rocky ridge 400m/1300ft high. At the foot of the slope the water dissolves into a veil of spray. The falls are 12km/7.5mi from Lençóis, and 7km/4.3mi of the distance must be done on foot (a good 2-hour walk).
Gruta Lapa Doce
70km/45mi from Lençóis, in the commune of Iraquara, are some of the most interesting caves in the Chapada Diamantina. The Lapa Doce Cave (13km/8mi long, but only 1300m/1420yds open to the public) is the fourth largest cave in the whole of Brazil, with magnificent stalactite formations.
Gruta de Brejões
On the Morro de Chapéu is the Brejões Cave, the sixth largest cave in Brazil. Huge limestone formations form a natural altar, on which are a cross and images of saints. The cave is near the Rio Jacaré, a tributary of the São Francisco. Access from BR 324 or from a road branching off BA 757.
Gruta da Pratinha
In the commune of Iraquara is the Pratinha Cave, through which the crystal-clear stream of that name follows a winding course. It contains a lake of very clear green water.
In the Gruta Azul (Blue Grotto) reflected sunlight gives the water its deep blue coloring. Access from BR 242, located in the commune of Iraquara.
Morro do Pai Inácio
Morro do Pai Inácio30km/19mi from the town is the Morro do Pai Inácio, a landmark in the Chapada Diamantina and a happy hunting ground for rock climbers. A local legend has it that a runaway slave named Inácio who was being pursued by his master flung himself down from the top of the hill and survived. The African heritage of this region is reflected in such ceremonies as the Festa do Jaré (Jaré being a local variant of Candomblé).
In the valley of the Rio de Contas, to the south of the Serra de Sincorá, is the Mangabeira Cave, which is illuminated by the candles of pilgrims who come, most of them in August, to pay homage to the Sacred Heart.