Vale do Pati, the best trek in Brazil

The araponga sounds like a creaking hammock. She had never heard a bird with such a metallic trill. And I couldn’t see it. In five days going up and down the paths of the Vale do Pati, its rusty song accompanied me all the time, but I could not see its white body and green head so particular, even though Ude (one of the guides) pointed it out to me between the trees

The vegetation of the chapada is that of the “cerrado” environment: the plants have thick leaves to absorb and conserve the water from the summer rains.Soledad Gil

It was the first thing I googled when I got a wifi signal again. While I was there, the disconnection was total. The digital wellness app – the one that tells us how much time we spend glued to the phone – makes so little sense that it doesn’t even work. On this trip, the cell phone is only used to take photos.

“In summer, the waterfalls have more water, but there is more mud on the trails and chances of rain. In winter, the climate is drier and, therefore, the falls are much less loaded, and some even disappear.”

But let’s go to the beginning, to the city of Linenthe service base of the diamond plated, a friendly little town that was dedicated to mining of diamonds –as artisanal mining is called in Brazil–, from the mid-nineteenth century until well into the last century. The area was only declared a national park in 1985. It protects part of the Sincorá mountains and its geography, so particular that it has the name “chapada”: an elevated area with a considerable surface and with flat tops, which look like plateaus, also called as a whole “planalto”.

Poço da Arvore is one of the pools in which to cool off during the Vale de Pati trek
Poço da Arvore is one of the pools in which to cool off during the Vale de Pati trekSoledad Gil

In this case, the park has 152,000 hectares and a long and narrow perimeter, surrounded by small towns such as Mucugê, Igatu, Andaraí and Vale do Capão. They all retain the appearance of old mining towns (cobbled streets, tiled houses painted in bright colors), but Capão adds to this a large concentration of people from other parts of Brazil, and the world, who come in search of a lifestyle sustainable, related to inner peace and spirituality. Although it has only 1,500 inhabitants, Vale do Capão is highly valued in Bahia, for having become a kind of ecovillage new era, and among the mansions domes, igloos and alternative inns proliferate.

View from the top of Morro do Castelo
View from the top of Morro do CasteloSoledad Gil

To do this trekking it is necessary to book in advance (unlike the daily departures, which are many and do not require an appointment). There are tours of three, five or seven days, and different routes. In my case, the plan was to go on foot Guinea to Andaraí, sleeping three nights in Igrejinha and one in Cachoeirão. It turned out great because by leaving the backpack in the same shelter, we could go for a walk without weight, which is a blessing as fatigue accumulates.

The group in the Igrejinha.
The group in the Igrejinha.Soledad Gil.

The group was 12 people, with three guides. The combi left Lençóis at 8, left us in Guiné, and that’s where we started walking. We had lunch on the banks of the Preto River and climbed up to the pat Lookout, with an incredible view of the valley that would receive us for the next four days. The descent was quite steep (“steep”), a little word that would become frequent in everyone’s ears and their respective knees, which had to face a few of these slopes. In the evening we arrived at the home of João Calixto Santos and his wife Marinete, who converted the ranch of their ancestors – with a small church and everything – into a kind of hostel with shared bathrooms and a community dining room, where breakfast and dinner are served.

View not suitable for those who suffer from vertigo in the Cachoeirao.
View not suitable for those who suffer from vertigo in the Cachoeirao.Soledad Gil

The next day we did the waterfall up (the “waterfall” above). It happens that all the waterfalls can be done from above or below, and the view changes a lot in each case. This turned out to be a wonderful experience. To the stone ledges –not suitable for those with vertigo– that allowed us to approach the splendid waterfall, we added the spontaneous rainbows formed by suspended water droplets that flew with the wind. It looked like one of those sunny, rainy days when an old woman gets married, but no, it was the water from the waterfall refreshing us and reminding us of the empire of nature. Things are very clear up there: she plays at home and one is a humble visitor. We went back detecting orchids, cacti and bromeliads, and learning the names of the plants, such as acorn lamp either quaresmeira.

Lunches are usually in a picnic version, with fruits, vegetables and some protein.
Lunches are usually in a picnic version, with fruits, vegetables and some protein.Soledad Gil

The third day, the last in Igrejinha, the climb had a prize. We went through the cave Morro do Castelo and we went to have lunch at the highest summit of the expedition: 1,600 meters. The view was dazzling in its 360º of pure plating. The promontory was quite narrow. Sitting there, eating mango, Guava paste or banana, we feel privileged.

On the fourth day, backpack on our shoulders, we moved to the house of your jewel, already on the way to the end. We made a stop to swim in the Poço da Árvore and we could see the Morro do Castelo, which we had climbed the day before, right in front of us.

The Seu Joia lodging is at the foot of the hill that must be climbed on the last day, before reaching Andaraí.
The Seu Joia lodging is at the foot of the hill that must be climbed on the last day, before reaching Andaraí.Soledad Gil

Joia’s lodging is at the foot of the mountains that awaited us for the last day, very early. The plan was to get up at six in the morning so that the harsh midday sun would catch us already going down, near Andaraí. The verticality of the stone wall was intimidating, and the goal of 20 km too, but if we had already walked more than 50 km by then, there was no question of shrinking at the last moment.

In Seu Jóia accommodation tourists are warned that breakfast is not served before 6 am.  As the heat tightens, more than one traveler has to start the march before that time.
In Seu Jóia accommodation tourists are warned that breakfast is not served before 6 am. As the heat tightens, more than one traveler has to start the march before that time.Soledad Gil

The climb was hard, but doing it without so much heat and in zigzag helped a lot. The landscapes were stunning. And seeing the roofs of the town like this, suddenly and unexpectedly, helped make us feel like adventurers who arrive in civilization after a long isolation. In short, it was a little what it was. I searched for the image of the spider on my cell phone and smiled. Who takes away what I’ve heard?

There are sections of the path that are "paved" (paved with slabs).
There are sections of the trail that are “lajeados” (paved with slabs).Soledad Gil

Chapada Adventure Daniel street with. Antônio Botelho de Andrade, Block 24, Lot 07, Meeting of the Rivers, Lençóis. T: (+55-75) 9928-3818. Agency with more than 10 years of experience in Chapada. As R$2,400 per person, the five-day journey with transfers, guides and meals included. Does not include drinks. There are departures all year round.

Calango Hiking. T: +55 75 9941-2695. Caeté-Açu, Palmeiras. IG: @calangotrekking

valley natives. T: +55 75 8293-7679. IG: @nativosdovaledopati They organize the trekking with other points, and they are characterized by having native guides from the Vale.

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