Friday, May 20, 2016

Chapada Diamantina National Park, Brazil

The hamlet of Vale do Capao, Brazil sits cradled inside a western arm of Chapada Diamantina National Park. 2,000 people live there, most of them hippies and environmentalists and tour guides for the park. 

The park was created in 1985 when an American fought to save this gorgeous land from resource development. It has many trails, but few signs so guides are necessary to find some of the most incredible waterfalls and caves and swimming holes.

One of the business owners in Vale do Capao is Sylvia. Sylvia lived in Mankato, MN from 1975-85 and said she had yet to meet a Minnesotan visiting her lovely hostel. She helped arrange my hikes and tours, based on the fact that it is the low water season so some of the waterfalls are less impressive than others.

For instance, this is the highest waterfall in Brazil. It tumbles 1,400' over this ledge down to the valley floor below. But it holds no water right now as the river is only flowing after rain. It has barely rained in the past 3 months.

 Chapada Diamantina National Park used to be full of diamond mines. But the diamonds they could excavate were of lower and lower quality and not worthy of an international market. The park is still full of caves, however. This is Alice, Jiselle & Justin who joined me on a cave tour one day. Alice is from London. She's here visiting Jiselle who is from London but now living in Rio. Justin is from Lithuania.

This next picture is a lie. I used photo filters to gain the same image that I had seen on all the posters. 
 It is a cave where at certain times of the day (and the year) the sun shines in to the crystal clear water. There is no swimming in this pool because any disturbance would stir up the long-settled sediment and ruin the view. In reality, the extra blue glow in the pool was barely visible. But through the process I learned how they make marketing photos.

This is me falling backwards off a cliff and nearly dying.
Kidding, of course. I'm floating in clear water that is actually 50' deep. This is another pool with a beam of light shooting into it (see glow to the right of the frame). We were able to snorkel in this one which was super cool.

A small sampling of beautiful flowers I've seen along the way...

What's Next
I'm writing this from Rio de Janeiro and it's a phenomenal city. I wasn't sure what I would think of it, but I'm very impressed. More to share later.

Next week I'm excited to shoot up to Costa Rica to meet two college buddies, John & Mitch. It'll be great to hang out with longtime friends. 

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