Twenty or so years ago, the iconic peaks of Patagonia were relatively unknown. Now, Mt. FitzRoy at Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina and the peaks of Torres del Paine in Chile, are well known among adventure seekers and landscape/nature/travel photographers. Photographer friend Laurent Martres and I decided to venture into some new territory unknown to most North Americans and just being discovered by the rest of the world. We're in Brazil for a bit over two weeks to explore and photograph Chapada Diamantina and Lencois Maranhenses National Parks. Both are relatively unknown and are extreme opposites from each other. They represent, in my opinion, two of the most striking landscape locations in all of Brazil and will likely in the future become as well known as the parks at the other end of the South American continent.
Our trip was not quick. On top of the usual and unpredictable airline delays, the trip requires four to five flight segments, depending where you live in the USA. My trip started in St. George Utah, on to Salt Lake City and Atlanta, then overnight to Brasilia and a connecting flight to Salvador on the Brazilian coast. And finally, a connecting flight which I had severe doubts of making...but did...to Lencois, the gateway town to the Chapada Diamantina region. My total travel time from St. George to Lencois was 36 hours.
After recovering from our flights, we spent the first day on a half day trek to have a look at water falls near the town of Lencois. The water runs dark red to near black as a result of the decaying matter and resultant release of tannic acids. Many of the attractions are in the Chapada region rather than within the boundaries of the park. The sights include underground water pools that yield a beautiful blow glow when struck by sunlight, as a result of naturally occurring minerals in the water. Park travel distances can be far, sometimes well over a 100 miles to reach one specific feature.
Chapada Diamantina is a huge park with some hikes lasting several days or more and requiring substantial physical effort. If you visualize a combination of Canyonlands National Park and Monument Valley in Utah, but with greenery and forests rather than desert, and you throw in some waterfalls and rivers for good measure, you have a sense of what Chapada Diamantina is all about....mesas, valleys, caves, vertical formations and lots of water. Many of the roads and trails within the park were developed by diamond miners in the early to mid 1800s.
Here are a few selected pictures from my visit to Chapada Diamantina. More will follow in a new gallery that I will add shortly to my website, along with complete descriptions. Next week: Lencois Maranhenses National Park located on the northern Brazilian coast and unlike any other place on the planet.