Digging deeper in the Chapada Diamantina

If I’m honest, I was a little unsure when I first arrived in the Chapada Diamantina. The landscape is striking, but when you compare it to the looming tepuis of the Gran Sabana in Venezuela, it’s not the same.

And that’s the point. Many of the Chapada’s secrets require a bit of scrambling over rocks, trekking down into caves and catching the light at the right time.

It reminded me how much I like to be outdoors doing that stuff, but how little I do it in my daily life. When I came back from this trip I looked up places that I might be able to do something similar near me, and the nearest is at least five hours away.

At the end of a long day we were overlooking a sweeping view that made me think of old Western movies, red dirt and all. J wanted to go down into the Gruta do Lapao, but I took some convincing. I don’t mind caves but the idea of a 1km cave where you couldn’t turn back didn’t sound that appealing. But I was glad I did it. The cave was wide, dry and bat-free (or so they told me ;). Nothing like the caves I’ve been into in France, wide with a sandy floor and silent as a church. We each carried our own powerful torch as we followed our guide and a rope along the way. A surreal way to end a day that began with swimming in a natural pool in a waterfall and walking on windswept Pai Inacio.

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