Between Lençóis and Mucugê, pastel-hued Andaraí is scruffier and more dilapidated than the other two diamond towns, but it is surrounded by its share of fantastic natural sights and is the easiest way to get to Xique Xique de Igatú, a formerly grandiose diamond mining town now reduced to a tiny, but terribly charming mountain village, only 5 kilometers (3 miles) away.
Sights and Recreation
Andaraí is a great point of departure for many of the Chapada Diamantina’s star attractions. On the eastern edge of the Sincorá mountain chain, it is perfectly situated for those who want to go trekking through the Vale do Paty. It is also less than 10 kilometers from Marimbus, a swamp-like ecosystem created by the Rio Santo Antônio, brimming with exotic birds and wildlife such as anteaters, pacas, and giant sucuri snakes that measure up to 10 meters (33 feet).
The best way to get around the area is by hiring a guide with a canoe and then gliding through the waters adorned with oversized Victoria amazonica lily pads and giant water ferns.
A few kilometers outside of town is the Cachoeira de Ramalho (a medium-to-difficult trek along an ancient miner’s trail), surrounded by natural pools. Further afield (20 kilometers/12.5 miles) is the Cachoeira do Roncador, featuring pools sculpted out of rose quartz (reached after an easy hike).
Meanwhile, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Andaraí, the not-to-be missed Poço Encantado is a subterranean lake, which when illuminated by sunlight (in the morning) lives up to its name by being truly “enchanting.”
Accommodations and Food
The Pousada Sincorá (Av. Paraguassu 120, tel. 75/3335-2210, www.sincora.com.br, R$80 d) is a warm and appealingly decorated old house that is rightly proud of its hearty “colonial” breakfasts. For light food and especially the delicious homemade ice-cream, visit the Sorveteria Apollo (Praça Raul Dantas 1, tel. 75/3335-2256).
Getting to Andaraí
Andaraí is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Lençóis (to the north, via the BR-242 and BA-142) and around 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Mucugê (to the south along the BR-142). From Salvador’s Rodoviária Central, Águia Branca (tel. 71/4004-1010, www.aguiabranca.com.br) provides bus service to Andaraí. The trip takes about seven hours. Driving from Salvador, take the BR-324 to Feira de Santana, then the BR-242 to the town of Itaberaba, where the BA-142 leads to Andaraí.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition