Pati valley (pronounced as Pa-chi), located in Chapada Diamantina National Park in Bahia State is one of the most challenging trekking sites in Brazil. Renowned for its magnificent layered mountainous scenery, various rocky cliffs and hazardous winding canyons, high waterfalls and bottomless caves, Pati valley is almost completely isolated from the modern world.
Beautiful pictures and great articles about this hidden germ from the internet urged us to book 3 days trekking tour in Pati valley, despite the fact that we are not professional trekkers. In reality, the trail was much more complex than it had been described, however, in exchange for the difficult hike were breathtaking and magnificent natural landscape that took us by surprise with their overwhelming grandeur.
3 days immersing in the stunning nature, hiking more than 50km through almost the whole Pati valley under different types of weather (sunny, cloudy and rainy), climbing various hills and mountains, crossing multiple streams, relaxing and swimming in several waterfalls was an incredible and unforgettable experience in my life.
Day 1: 15 km, uphill & downhill, rough rocky trails
From Lencois, the nearest town, we were picked up by a car and had 3-hour drive to Guiné village where was our starting point.
On the first day, we started with 15km walk. My heart beat like a Samba drum when we ascended the high, steep slope with jagged rocks. After that, the rest of the journey went smoothly. Nevertheless, walking under the scorching midday sun on the top of a treeless mountain was not an easy task.
Reaching the first view point after 3 hours trekking, the entire Pati valley surrounded by 5 massive mountains spectacularly showed up in front of our eyes as a paid off for our efforts. The white clouds drifting across the sky, casting shadow on mountainside, made the scenery more fantastic.
From here, we could see various zigzagging trails crossing the valley, which looked extremely impressive and challenging. Sitting there and enjoying the beautiful landscape of the nature was an amazingly satisfied feeling.
Our journey continued with the conquest of precipitous and dangerous mountain paths. The most relaxing moment of that day was to take a leisurely swim in a water fall near our guesthouse. The last sunlight of the day reflecting twinkly on the water turned the scenery majestically. The refreshing stream put us in a cheery mood as well as awakened us after a hard day of climbing under the oppressive hot weather. It was peaceful to live so close to nature, likely to be a part of the nature.
Day 2: 7 km, jungle trek and mountain climbing
The second day began very peacefully, awaking to the fresh air of mountain woodlands, with birds twittering here and there.
Despite the trek being less than 7km, the journey was much more difficult because we had to manage to reach Castle mountain top at a height of 275 m. In addition to the climb were the rough conditions. Heavy rain from the previous night had made the trail slippery and hazardous.
The first 1 hour was quite easy as we walked through the jungle, under big trees. Even though there was no sunlight, it was very hot as no wind at all. Then the real challenge started when we had to climb over big and steep rocks. It was tough for those with shorter legs like me as sometimes the rocks formed high steps, I had to cling to tree branches or roots to be able to climb over.
We reached the mid view point after 3 hours hiking. All of our fatigue seemed to fade when we saw the breathtaking natural scene. From there we could see the flat mountain where we had crossed under the sun the day before. Such a great achievement!
After taking a short break, enjoying the scenery, chit chatting and photo shooting, we then continued our journey. Going thru a big and dark cave, we reached the best view point of the day. It was not the highest point of Castle mountain, however from there once again we could view the entire Pati Valley, but from the opposite angle compared to the previous day.
Perched precariously on the high rocky crag, overlooking Pati valley with it many deep blue-green ranges, enjoying the clouds drifting across the sky and mountains, I suddenly realized how small human are in this enormous world! I had never imagined that I would travel that far to sit on top of a mountain in Brazil, admire such a marvelous view. We are so proud to be two Vietnamese people on top of this crag, a rare sight here.
Day 3: 28 km, uphill & downhill, muddy red-soil trails, steep descents
The third day was the most difficult of the trek, the longest journey (28km) under persistent rain. We departed under the rain which was less heavy at that time. A steep winding red-soil road turned into mush. The rain was time to time pouring then light, thick frog floating around the mountain somewhat blocked the view. Lots of beautiful wild flowers along the trail made the scenery in the rain less boring. We pressed on, climbing and climbing, from one bend to another in 2 hours. When we reached the top of the mountain, the road was flattening. We crossed many small streams caused by the rain from the top of the mountain.
Continued walking tiredly on flat mountain for another 1 hour, we arrived the summit of Cachoeirao waterfall at noon as the dense clouds covered the surrounding landscape. We saw nothing but a wall of white.
Very tired and a bit disappointed since we spent almost haft a day to come there for nothing. However, after just 5 mins, the sky suddenly opened clear and blue, an absolutely speechless breathtaking sight gradually emerged through the white clouds.
We could see the whole Pati valley, with several waterfalls around and 2 small ponds deep down created by these waterfalls.
The scenery appeared to us like a painting of a fairyland. Such an unforgettable moment when eye-witnessing the clearness of the clouds, just like we unveiled an invisible window to admire the beauty of nature.
After a picnic lunch in that magnificent natural landscape, we continued our long journey ahead. We walked non-stop crossing almost the entire Pati valley to be back to Guiné. Although our legs were extremely tensed and exhausted when arriving the end point, we felt so satisfied that we had finished the trekking proudly and completely.
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Get in Pati valley:
Pati valley is located inside Chapada Diamantina National park. You can access to the park from 3 towns nearby
Lencois (the main town – our pick)
- By Air: Azul airlines (www.voeazul.com.br) operates the Salvador/ Lençois/ Salvador route twice a week on Thursdays and Sundays, leaving Salvador at 13.33, arriving 14.40. Return flight leaves at 15.05 arriving Salvador at 16.06. Prices range from R$70,00 one way to R$700 one way. Transfer to Lençois from the airport costs an additional R$150,00.
- By Bus: There are 4 buses a day from Salvador with Rapido Federal bus company. They leave at 7am, 1pm, 5pm and 11.30 pm, take between 6 and 7 hours and cost R$68 one way. The same buses return to Salvador at more or less the same hours, but it is always worth checking times with the guesthouse you are staying in. The bus is quite new, comfortable, clean, air conditioned with a toilet on board. Book bus online via www.brazilbustravel.com. It is around 5 min taxi from bus station in Lencois to the town center.
- By car: From Salvador it’s a 5-6 hour journey by car via Feria de Santana and then west along a variety of roads ranging from smooth to quite pothole-y. There’s a busy section where you join the main highway to Brasilia with lots of trucks, but mostly it’s fairly quiet.
Palmeiras/ Vale do Capão:
- By Bus: Just like Lençóis, the same bus works on these routes. To Capão Valley you must get a taxi from Palmeiras bus staion, they always wait on bus arrivals.
The company who works in this route is Águia Branca (http://www.aguiabranca.com.br). Visit their site for better information.
Get around Pati valley:
There is no proper road to go inside Chapada Diamantina National Park, hence the only way to explore Pati Valley is trekking. Since it is one of the most beautiful trek sights in Brazil, it is also very challenging, even if you are professional trekker. We would highly recommend to book a tour or at least a tour guide who knows very well the park and the trek to avoid unexpected conditions.
We booked 3 days tour with Diamantina Mountain as they were the fastest one who had answered our requests. The cost for 3D2N was 485US$ (Feb, 2018). Their website is well built with multiple languagues, including English (which is not the case in many other tour website in Brazil since they only have Portuguese). For this tour, they have several package options, from 2 days to 5 days.
Pieter – the Belgium owner – even met us in person the day before to ensure we were all set. We were also very satisfied with our tour guide – Saolo for his great service and cheering talent.
What to bring to the trek:
Since we will carry our own stuffs for 3 days, we would suggest just to bring what you really need.
- Trekking shoes or very good comfortable shoes (as you will walk 50km+)
- Sandals/ Flipflop (for the nights)
- Sweater (for the fresh or almost cold winter nights 14-18 degrees )
- Rain jacket and rain cover for backpack
- Medium backpack ( for your own gear + some small food supplies for lunch )
- Sunscreen ! ! !
- Hat ! ! !
- Swim suit
- 1 set of clothes for sleep (2 nights) and 1-2 set of clothes for trekking
- Camera and additional batteries
- Water bottle (to fill everyday with very clean water of the rivers)
Where to stay?
In Pati Valley
We slept in two different guesthouses inside Pati valley (including in tour), with basic facilities: simple but comfortable bed, shared toilet and bathroom. It was great to take a proper bath after a dirty day trekking, have great local food for dinner and a good sleep to recharge yourself for the next day.
There are not many proper hotels in Lencois, but lots of Pousada (guesthouse or hostel). Price may range from 40$-80$/ night and they prefer to use cash. We stayed at Lencois da Chapada Casas at 40$/ twin room (booked via agoda), very basic facilities, and not very clean though. The breakfast however was great.
– Capão Valley has a lot of options as pousadas, most of them are in esoteric or naturalistic style because of the magical atmosphere of this village. There are also many campsites and simple pousada.
– Mucugê: There is a big hotel outside the town, very cozy pousadas and simple pousada in town.
Traveled in Feb, 2018