Smaller and less touristy than Lençóis , Mucugê (named after a native fruit used to make a terrific local liqueur) is another attractive colonial diamond mining town with its share of nearby natural attractions. Aside from pretty 19th-century buildings such as the Prefeitura (city hall) and the Igreja de Santa Isabel, it possesses the extremely unusual Cimitério Bizantino.
Built in 1855, following an outbreak of cholera, the haunting ensemble of snow-white gravestones and monuments of this windswept hillside cemetery does indeed bear a striking resemblance to Byzantine architecture.
Situated right in the heart of the Chapada , Mucugê is at close proximity to numerous natural attractions. Only 5 kilometers (3 miles) away is the Parque Municipal do Mucugê (access via BA-142, direction Andaraí, tel. 75/3338-2156, 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. daily, R$3), a research and cultivation center that doubles as a wildlife reserve. Relatively short and easy trails lead to the waterfalls of Piabinhas, Tiburtino, and Andorinhas (the furthest away at an hour), all with natural pools for bathing.
Also within 15 kilometers (9 miles) of Mucugê are more waterfalls—Cardoso, Córrego de Pedra (which only flows during the rainy season), Sibéria, and Martinha—all worthy of whiling away a few hours.
Mucugê is reputed for its vibrant Festa de São João (June 23–24) festivities, which include smoky bonfires in the streets, neighbors serving homemade fruit liqueurs from their homes, lots of forró music, and dancing from dusk till dawn. Book accommodations in advance and bundle up since the longest night of the year can get chilly.
The nicest place to stay in Mucugê is the Pousada Mucugê (Rua Dr. Rodrigues Lima 30, tel. 75/3338-2210, www.pousadamucuge.com.br , R$95 d). Well-equipped rooms occupy a restored 19th-century mansion in the center of town. The reputed restaurant serves local specialties such as godó, a stew made with green bananas and sun-dried beef and cortado de palma, in which ground beef is mixed with chunks of steamed cactus.
Cheaper and more rustic with lots of original stonework is the Pousada Pé de Serra (Rua José Alves Campos 33, tel. 75/3338-2066, R$50–80).
For delicious home-cooking and regional specialties, try Dona Nena (Rua Direita 140, tel. 75/3338-2143, 11:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m. daily, R$10–18) and Pé de Salsa (Rua Cel. Propércio, tel. 75/3338-2290, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 6–10:30 p.m. daily, R$8–15).
From Salvador , Águia Branca (tel. 71/4004-1010, www.aguiabranca.com.br ) provides bus service to Mucugê, passing through Andaraí . The trip takes about eight 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 and then continues another 50 kilometers (31 miles) to Mucugê.