If you love hiking and are traveling in Brazil, you can’t miss the Vale do Pati trek. Located in the heart of the state of Bahia, this route will take you through colorful savannas, endless valleys and great waterfalls. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to meet the friendly locals, who maintain a traditional way of life in harmony with nature.
Although Chapada Diamantina offers hundreds of beautiful landscapes, this route is undoubtedly the jewel of the park. In fact, it’s considered Brazil’s best hiking trail. Trust me, few places in the world are as impressive as this one.
You’ll find several ways to explore Vale do Pati, from short hikes to long trails, with a guide or without a guide, camping on your own or staying at local houses, etc. Today I’m going to give you some tips on how to trek Vale do Pati independently on your own.
For other routes in Chapada Diamantina, I recommend that you take a look at this detailed article.
ROUTES, ACCESS AND DURATION
Most popular routes can be completed in 4 to 7 days. If you take a 5- or 6-day route, you’ll be able to visit the most beautiful spots in the valley without hurrying.
I don’t recommend that you hike for less than 3 or 4 days because this will leave you yearning for more.
Most 4-day routes will take you to Mirante do Pati, Cachoeirão por cima, Cachoeira dos Funis and Morro do Castelo. Longer trails usually go up to Cachoeirão por baixo and Cachoeira do Calixto.
If you are hiking on your own, the access from Vale do Capão (or from the Bomba River) is the most popular option. It’s also the most remote access point, but you can do it on your own without private transport.
Most organized groups travel to Guiné by Jeep. This is the nearest access point to the valley, but you’ll need private transportation to get to Guiné early. Therefore, it’s not the best option if you’re on a budget.
A third access point starts from Andaraí, but it’s even more difficult to get there and it’s a little farther from the valley. This is the least popular option.
TREKKING VALE DO PATI IN 5 DAYS WITHOUT GUIDES
While I was in Salvador, I was lucky enough to meet Miriam – a great hiker and travel buddy. We decided to travel to Pati together and hike on our own.
After getting some supplies, a map and the Wikiloc app, we ventured through Vale do Pati for 5 unforgettable days.
We took the following route, which I think is the perfect option to explore the valley’s most important spots.
DAY 1: FROM VALE DO CAPÃO TO IGREJINHA
As we were starting from Vale do Capão, which is rather far from Pati, we decided to wake up very early to make the most of the day. At 6:30 a.m., we took a local taxi and drove down a dirt road for almost an hour to the Bomba River.
From Bomba, we took a fairly steep path until we reached a wide savannah known as the Gerais. Following the path to the right of the Gerais, we continued up to “Subida do Quebrabunda,” which leads to a higher savannah.
After a few hours, we had arrived at Mirante do Pati, a beautiful viewpoint from which we had a complete view of the valley.
Farther on, we took the path down to “La Rampa,” which is a steep descent with loose stones. This led us directly to Vale do Pati.
Once in the valley, we went to the Igrejinha, an old church transformed into lodging. This would be our home on that first night.
Tips: On this day, you’ll be walking along open fields, so remember to bring sunscreen and plenty of water.
If you arrive early and still have a few hours of sun, I suggest that you travel to the viewpoint near the Igrejinha to enjoy a beautiful sunset. The viewpoint is at the top of the hill right next to the Igrejinha.
DAY 2: CACHOEIRÃO POR CIMA
The second day was probably the longest on our route. We started early and full of energy, taking the path to Cachoeirão por cima. For most of the way, the road is well-marked. However, during the last few kilometers you’ll have to keep an eye on the GPS because the trail gets a bit confusing.
When we finally made it to Cachoeirão por cima, we couldn’t believe it. This was the most impressive place on the route, and I have to say: It was absolutely breathtaking! There were two lookouts with large stones flying over the 300-meter-high cliffs. Of course, we sat on the edge of the stones and put our lives at risk for a shot. Warning: If you do this, don’t show the picture to your mom.
After enjoying that great spot for a couple of hours, we made our way back to Igrejinha, where we had left our backpacks.
We followed the green and wild path along the Funís River, where we stopped and had a swim in the waterfall. Ten minutes before sunset, we arrived at Mr. Wilson’s house, had dinner and spent the night.
DAY 3: MORRO DO CASTELO
Another pretty long day. It’s not the day on which you’ll cover the most kilometers, but you have to climb up to Morro do Castelo, and let me warn you: The climb is quite steep. Take your time because it’s hot, humid and possibly muddy. You’d better stop a few times on your way up.
When we were close to the top, we entered a huge cave and found a narrow exit on the other side. This exit provided access to an Indiana-Jones-looking wild trail. This part of the hike is really adventurous, and we loved it.
From the top, we had a beautiful view of the Calixto forest and the large cliffs that rise on both sides.
Later, we walked back down to the lower part of the valley and continued on our way to Prefeitura.
DAY 4: CACHOEIRÃO POR BAIXO
Our initial plan was to return to Capão that day. However, we were so in love with Vale do Pati, we didn’t want to leave. We checked our money and though we were pretty short, we decided to stay one more night.
This way, we could visit Cachoeirão por baixo and spend another night in Prefeitura. This was our favorite lodging in the valley, both for the friendliness of the family and for the delicious food.
DAY 5: CALIXTO AND RETURN
On our way back to Capão, we walked through Calixto, a thick forest that meets the savannah of the Gerais, where we had started our adventure. This trail also took us to the Calixto waterfall, a beautiful place to have a break, enjoy lunch or take a swim.
After a long walk, we reached the Bomba River, where the dirt road to Capão begins. Because we had run out of money, we started walking and tried to hitchhike every time we saw a car. However, nobody wanted to give us a lift. When we were close to Capão, a cool Argentinean hippie stopped and drove us to our house, thus ending our odyssey.
These were five intense days, with many uphills and downhills, as well as some mud and rain. However, above all, they were five days during which we enjoyed some of the planet’s most wonderful landscapes.
Houses of Natives
In its heyday, Vale do Pati was inhabited by almost 400 families dedicated to agriculture and coffee production. Nowadays, there are only a few houses left, which have been transformed into shelters. Some families still live there, so the visitor can chat with them and learn about the local culture. Without a doubt, this is the most popular option for staying in the valley.
The houses offer accommodation, dinner and breakfast. They also have a kind of mini-market that sells food and basic supplies. The houses are large and have several rooms, dormitories and bathrooms. If you bring your own tent, you can camp for a more affordable price and cook your own food.
The facilities are basic but comfortable. The electricity works with solar panels, the bathroom is shared and sometimes no hot water is available. Even so, the houses are cozy, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy staying there.
If you don’t want to camp next to the houses, you can pitch your tent in the wild for free. I’m not sure if this is allowed, but we saw some people doing it, so I guess it’s OK. If you do this, please remember to collect your garbage, toilet paper, etc. The local people are very concerned about conserving the valley.
Tip: If you can afford it, I recommend that you stay at the local houses for a better experience.
WHAT TO BRING?
– Hiking clothes and shoes
– Raincoat and backpack cover
– Sunscreen and a hat or cap
– Headlamp and replacement batteries
– Bottle of water – you’ll find safe water to refill it
– Food for lunch and some snacks
– Plastic bags for garbage
– Personal hygiene kit and medicines
– Map of the region
– GPS or phone app
– Good camera
– Camping tent and sleeping bag if you plan to camp
WHEN TO HIKE VALE DO PATI
You can visit Vale do Pati at any time. However, the path gets pretty muddy during the rainy season, from November to January.
From March to June, the waterfalls carry a lot of water, the paths are green and rains are rare. This is one of the best times to visit the park.
After July, the chance of rain is practically zero, but the waterfalls are often dry.
IS IT SAFE TO GO WITHOUT A GUIDE?
No route is totally safe, as there are always risks when one is hiking. That said, Vale do Pati is not a difficult trail if you have some mountain experience. You will need a GPS or an app like Wikiloc because the path is not very clear in certain places.
Also, remember that you should never hike alone. Get a hiking buddy, a map and a GPS before venturing into the valley.
If you don’t have GPS, you’ll need a guide for sure.
TIPS FOR HIKING VALE DO PATI
– Go as lightweight as you can.
– At times, it gets a little cold at night. Bring some warm clothes.
– If you have to charge your phone or camera batteries, do it as soon as you get to the houses because they can run out of electricity later.
– If you have to go to the bathroom during the trek, make a hole (as far as you can from the rivers) and cover it when you are done.
– Taking photos of yourself on the edge of the cliff is really cool. However, keep in mind that some people have fallen off the cliff while fooling around. Watch out!
– I recommend that you hike for 3 nights and 4 days, at a minimum, to enjoy the valley properly.
– Get travel insurance to visit Chapada Diamantina National Park.
P.S. I’d like to thank Miriam for her company and the funny moments. Photo credits of several pics go to her.
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Hi, I’m Miguel; Adventure traveler, scuba diver and hiking lover. I have been traveling the world for the last 10 years and I hope my experiences, photos and hiking routes inspire you to travel the world too.