Breaking down on highways where robberies are common was a scary moment at the end of two very beautiful days. As we found out though, there are some people in this world still there to help others in their time of need, 3 very kind Brazilians helped us that night, but it all started with a road trip.
So armed with all of the information about the many tours on offer from Lençóis we decided it would be much cheaper to hire a car and do it ourselves. It helps when you have a group of 4 to cut the costs even more, which we did as Camilla and Mads from Denmark joined us.
With the knowledge that should anything happen to the car we would have to pay a R$2000 (£550 ish) insurance fee we set off cautiously to begin with, but if you know me it doesn’t take long for me to get into the groove and cover some tarmac to get to where we want to be.
We arrived at Lapa Doce, a huge cave set underground with stalactites and stalagmites everywhere. Only problem was they wouldn’t let me do it in my open sandals so had to wear some of the special shoes for people like me who are under prepared! I looked awesome as you can see!
The cave was amazing to see and we walked in the pitch black with only torches lighting our way for a good 30 minutes. We had an amazing moment where we sat down and turned off all the lights, no light, no sound at all. Pure peace on earth. Its very rare you can enjoy complete darkness and complete silence so we savoured it. The simple things ey.
Pratinha is a crystal clear lake not far from Lapa Doce. You can snorkel there but being the cheapskate travellers we are, we opted to just have a swim.
You could see your feet at the bottom it was so clear and as soon as you got in you were surrounded by little fish pecking at you. We decided to feed the fish a little biscuit and we got swarmed by them, so many fish. Great place to visit on the roads around Lençóis.
Travellers love Waterfalls
The last stop was at a huge set of waterfalls that spanned a good few hundred meters down river. There was a lot of walking over rocks and through overgrown paths to reach the largest part of the waterfall that must of had a 50 meter drop to it after a few small ones.
On our way back we fed some small monkeys in the trees with some banana and got some great photos!
We then tried to make it to a small town called Andarai, just south of Lençóis but it looked rather quiet once we got there. The journey wasn’t a complete waste though as we were treated to an amazing sunset, with the hills as the foreground, on the way.
Road Trip, Day 2
We decided to head south of Lençóis this time and so drove to the furthest point to work our way back again. It’s quite a drive down to the ‘Enchanted Well’ (Poço Encantado) but well worth it. We thought you could swim in here but we were wrong. After a walk down a huge set of steps we eventually got to the cave entrance and we could now see why we were wearing hard hats.
It was a tight squeeze through the rocks, on which I hit my head 3 times (no there has been little sense knocked in, or out!), into the darkness below. Once into the cave it’s difficult to see where the water starts, but once you adjust to the limited light you can see the faint waterline and then what looks like a drop to nothing. You can see rocks and old tree stumps at the bottom 40 meters below, the only part where you can’t see the bottom perfectly is where it’s 60 meters deep and black.
Waterfalls & Sunset 2
Another waterfall to visit after lunch so we drove another hour back towards Lençóis. There were two waterfalls, the first a 3 minute walk from the car which was merely a trickle down a huge rock, I’m sure it’s much more impressive in wet season! The second was a huge waterfall that came in many stages but with a lot more water flowing down it.
We made it to the bottom after climbing down the rocky terrain to find the clear water tinted brown from all the iron in the rocks (so I’m told).
On the way back to the first waterfall we were treated to another amazing sunset over the hills which were a lot closer than the day before. It was set off with a reflection of the sky in a pool right in front of us.
The Drive Back, or, The Breakdown!
The breakdown sounds so much more dramatic, so we will stick with that. So after 2 full days of me behind the wheel and an estimated 500KM under my belt on Brazilian roads I was feeling pretty confident. We had been on dirt roads with sharp rocks all the way down, we had been on ’tarmac roads’ with pot holes on and that had more dirt than road on it and pretty much hit every single thing on the way.
So when I said to everyone in the car that we were close to home and “All we have to do is get past this last set of potholes and we will be back in Lençóis”. Famous last words as there was no warning on the main road they were about to start a little sooner than expected, 10 seconds after my confident statement we hit a huge pothole at about 71MPH (115KMPH).
Sure enough the front passenger side tyre blew out and dented the alloy, so we were forced to the side of a 1 lane ‘highway’ with luckily a hard shoulder that could just about fit our car. There were no street lights on this stretch of road and as it was now about 8PM we were only lit up by passing lorries, cars and our smartphones.
Mads and I set about changing the front tyre and left the headlights on to make sure we could be seen as much as possible from the front and back. After about 10 minutes 2 Brazilians pulled over that, thankfully didn’t steal our car and possessions, but helped us change the tyre. At which point the battery went and we were plunged into darkness apart from the car parked behind us lighting the back of the car.
Thankfully they were guides from Lençóis and recognised our hire car company so phoned them to pick us up. They then left as we waited at the side of the busy highway in total darkness. 30 minutes past and still no sign of the hire company so the talk changed to how we were going to get out of this without any phones or light, with walking around 14KM to Lençóis in the pitch black we were not looking forward to the prospect.
Luckily 10 minutes later we were helped by the hire company that came with jump leads for the car and with the help of another Brazilian we managed to start the car and he followed us back to Lençóis.
Normally in this situation you are looking at a hefty bill and our minds were set on the R$2000 (£550) insurance waiver we had signed we feared the worst. In the end the hire company didn’t even charge us for the blown out tyre or the huge dent I put in the rim, only R$20 (£5.50) for him having to come pick us up. We got off very lightly, very very lightly!
So thankful that we weren’t left for dead or worse the only thing left to do was get drunk, so we picked up a bottle of rum, some beers and mixer then played drinking games until the early hours of the morning.
We got up early the next morning feeling pretty tired and maybe a little hungover, maybe, a little. So we kept it local and walked up the stream of water to see if we could find anything. Turns out there were a set of natural pools that had been carved out by the water.
So you heard it here first, the cure, or part of the cure, for a hangover is freezing cold water. Mads and I jumped in and explored the cold pools to escape the sun beating down while Brogan and Camilla chilled outside of the water.
Beautiful set of natural pools and the perfect place to end our time in Lençóis.
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