Saturday, January 28, 2012

Planning 2012 part 1 - Chapada Diamantina, Bahia

The planning of our trip began by the planning of the Brazilian leg of it.
We were going to spend a week in the Amazon forest, in the state of Amazonas, and a week in the country side of Bahia, the beautiful Chapada Diamantina, a trip that has been cancelled twice already due to situations out of our control - my unexpected new job in 08 and my father's illness in 10. This year I did not want to cancel it. Nothing could be in our way. And so far, so good. We are finally going to Chapada.

Chapada is portuguese for Plateau. Chapada Diamantina is a place in the country side of Bahia that is famous for its hills, caves and natural pools, some of them inside caves. I have been there once. It had been my dream to go back again for many years now. Check out this website:

Planning the Amazon part of the trip was easy. There are plenty of websites out there promoting Amazon tours. However the Chapada trip was hard to plan because there are not many websites about the places to go in Chapada. Not many people there are connected and websites don't get updated regularly. The streets of the cities of the chapada aren't on Google Maps either. I didn't find a website for each attraction with distances, directions, COST (very important!) - these, you will notice, are virtually non existent in my search.

I had to get help from friends and family members who have been there a few times to get ideas of places and costs.

I did, however, find a few websites that were helpful. Websites with lists of B&Bs. Some are innactive. But some are very active and many of them even have suggestions of  places to go and daily itineraries. These websites helped figure out our itinerary. Two of those websites also ended up being the ones I chose for our B&B:

1- Corona de Pedra in the town of Lençois.

2- Sincorá in the town of Andaraí

I made a special deal with each of them (one of the reasons why I ended choosing them): we paid for the place in advance to hold the 2011 rates for 2012. I even got a 10% discount with the Corona de Pedra for paying in full.

What to look for in a B&B in Chapada Diamantina?
Well, Chapada is a place in the country side of Bahia, so the typical food is a unique experience. But it's also a place where you go to enjoy nature - a lot of hiking and diving, so fancy places to stay are a waste of time!
A good description of breakfast and rooms that looked clean but not fancy is what you want.
Also try a place that has a local look.
The last thing you need is an expensive hotel that looks just like any other place in the planet. For example, stay away from places like Portal de Lençois, with its international (expensive) standards. You want a place that looks like the place you're visiting.
And if you are going for a place to spend time outside, paying for fancy lodging is a waste of your hard earned money.

Go to the posting Chapada on the Web to find a complete list of  websites I used for the planning of this leg of the trip with a description of what each of them are.
Also posted is the suggested itinerary. Why Suggested? Well I have learned from previous trips that itineraries must always remain flexible. To prepare this itinerary I talked to local guides and researched the websites I have mentioned earlier. But when we are there, things might change. The important thing is to remain flexible and enjoy each second of the trip. Enjoy each second because you won't get a second chance to live those seconds.

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