Lencois is, to all intents and purposes, the hub of the Chapada Diamantina highlands. It is a sleepy (for now, at least) town which is reached from Salvador da Bahia in around six hours bus ride. From there, you can arrange day excursions on walks and/or to places of astounding beauty, including grottoes and caves some of which allow visitors to snorkel in, as well as longer treks through the hills to the 'Fumaca' Falls (pronounced 'Foo-Massa' = 'Smoke').
The town itself is a wonderfully relaxed place to go to either after the tropical buzz of Salvador or, if you're coming in from Brasilia or another place in the interior, it's a great point to stop off before hitting Bahia's state capital. One of the walks to Fumaca allows walkers to stop at the 'Escorregadeira', an exhilarating natural rock waterslide which may or may not make your local osteopath a few quid in years to come, as well as some stunning pools that precede an under-reported classic experience of travel in Brazil: showering under a waterfall.
The land is known as Chapada Diamantina because it used to be a hunting ground for diamonds. The boom is over, with eco-tourism now a main source of wealth for the region; diamonds aren't forever, but my memories of walking up to Fumaca will be with me for a lot longer.
Bahia state, six hours inland.
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