First destination: Chapada Diamantina, Bahia

Earlier this year I embarked on an unforgettable journey to Brazil.  The trip is in collaboration with our partners Hunt and Brew and Jarrad Seng.

I love having the opportunity to share the beauty of my country; its diversity, the strength of our people and, of course, the great coffees.

The long journey began at Perth airport. It was an 11 hour flight to Dubai followed by a 15 hour flight to São Paulo.  Our first destination was meant to be Fazenda California, owned by our beloved friend Luiz.  Fazenda California is located in Brazil’s southern, Paraná State. As an expert in agronomy, coffee growing, processing and production management, Luiz produces outstanding coffees.  He has just launched a coffee Academy and hosts coffee professionals from all over the globe.  Unfortunately due to storms all around Paraná State, the local airport was closed and our first domestic flight cancelled.  Unfortunately, as we were on quite a strict schedule, we missed out on Fazenda California.

After making the difficult decision to cancel the first planned visit we pressed on to Salvador in Chapada Diamantina.  To get there, we took a 3 hour flight from São Paulo and then drove 6 hours to Lençóis, a small town in the Chapada Diamantina region.  As a side note: If you are interested in a Brazilian driving adventure, I highly recommend getting a private driver; the roads are very busy with lots of trucks, one way roads, no shoulders and no GPS signal!

After 3 days it was great to finally arrive somewhere!  We were very lucky to meet Victor, the owner of our hostel and a local tourism agency who helped us plan for the following day.

Jarrad had already researched the best spots around the Chapada Diamantina National Park and cherry-picked the places with the most stunning views.  The next morning Victor picked us up at 5am.  We had three stops planned that day and another 3 hour road trip to look forward to in the evening.  Our next scheduled activity, a 20km hike through dense jungle, required an early start and was quite exhausting; it was all worth it however when we got our first glimpse of the most beautiful waterfall in the region (Fumacinha).

Our next stop was the canyons at Chapada Diamantina National Park. Our journey began with a quick but tough hike to the top of the mountain.  The view was definitely worth it! We spent over an hour exploring every corner of the 360º/ 2000m-high view.

Next we ventured out to “Gruta Lapa Doce”, a very big cave, with amazing views.  The cave is famously featured in several Hollywood movies.  Once inside, we had a 40min walk in complete darkness with our torches as the only source of light.  It was a fascinating experience.

A further 40mins down the road was the “Blue water Cave”. Luckily we arrived in time to catch the sunlight illuminating the blue water.

Later we stopped for lunch in a local restaurant and tasted some local food… including cactus!  There we got some well-earned rest before hitting the road again.  After 3 more hours in the car (2 hours of which was off-road), about 11pm we arrived in the middle of nowhere; “hostel” is probably too generous a term.  We were exhausted and feeling sick of the bumps; when Victor advised us to be prepared for a 20km hike the next morning.  I have to confess that I was ready to throw in the towel.  I was completely exhausted and I had never done such a long hike before!  In the end however I felt that, since I had come this far, that I had to see that jungle and waterfall.

We hit the trail at 6am.  We were a 5 person team: Jarrad, Tim, Victor (our guide) another local guide and myself.

The first kilometer was a proper trail but we quickly descended into the dense jungle.  Soon after we crossed a river and then began our long climb.  I was lucky that the boys stopped frequently to take photos as it gave me a chance to rest.  Working out where to step (and where not to!) required all of my focus so as to avoid injuries.  It did help however, that the entire hike was beautiful with incredible views every kilometer.  The hike was 10km of winding track that followed the river to the waterfall.  The tropical vegetation, wildlife, and the immense canyons formed a unique natural sanctuary; an awe-inspiring experience.

“Fumacinha” waterfall (means smoke/steam) is 280m high.

Well, first mission accomplished.  We then had to retrace our steps back to São Paulo where a driver from another coffee farm awaited us.  Part two of my Brazilian odyssey is coming soon!

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