Cachoeira da Fumaça
22 February: We're up at 7, same as yesterday, have breakfast, pack and store our bags in the storeroom of our Pousada, since we would be moving Pousadas today. The bus and guide are yesterday's as well. Today we take the front seats next to the driver (sitting in the not fully functional spare seats yesterday was not that pleasant). We drive once again through the spectacular Morrño (table mountain) landscape, through the sleepy village of Palmeiras till we reach a small cafe. This is where our two-hour hike starts!
We didn't know the extent of the walk to Cachoeira da Fumaça at all: it consists of a strenuous one-hour walk uphill (it's a cloudless day with the sun's out in force and there practically no trees) to the top of a table mountain and another hour walking on the flat terrain of the mountain to the waterfall. It's steep climbing and I'm sweating rivers! I pick a swift, regular pace. There are loads of strange plants on the way. We lose the group somewhere on the mountaintop and it takes about 10 minutes till we see them walking in another direction. Thankfully, clouds pop up now and now and then below the sun.
Suddenly we're at a small, wonderful lagoon with brownish-red tannin water. Our guide beckons us on and just minutes away from there we're standing on some rocks and see that we're on the edge of a very high cliff, actually a table mountain. Our guide points out the waterfall Cachoeira da Fumaça to us. It's difficult to see without stepping to the edge of the cliff, which plunges down over 450 metres. Looking down makes everyone dizzy!
The waterfall is 420m high, Brazil's highest. There's little water today so the falling water's quite thin and soon dissolves into mist. There's a nice rainbow caused by the spray just below from where it begins; sometimes there are two! To actually see all the way down you have to lie belly-down on a triangular slab of rock perhaps 80 cm thick which hangs free in space. After half an hour of walking around I finally muster the courage to lie down on the rock too. It's a strange feeling, since it slopes slightly downward, giving me the unpleasant feeling of it not taking much for me to slip uncontrollably down into the abyss! The look down is breathtakingly mind-blowing and takes a while for me to get used to. There's a small lake right at the bottom and I can see clothes of hikers put out to dry on it's banks (there is a hiking tour to the bottom of the falls which takes 3 days in total).
Walking back down, I'm always the last in my group, filming fascinating plants and the landscape on our way. Back at the restaurant we're absolutely exhausted and we down most of an ice-cold 2 litre bottle of coke. We drive on for a short while.
Suddenly we stop and get out, nearby is another wonderful set of waterfalls called Riachinho, which has wonderful rock with colourful inlaid stone. We swim there and carefully walk on the slippery stone to the base of powerful falls. After relaxing for awhile we set back to Lençois. The dust path back to the paved road is quite long and we're driving with all the windows closed and the a/c on. Our driver is a master of dodging the incredible potholes in the road and plays good local music on his tape deck. Back in Lençois we get our bus ticket to Salvador and call Hertz car rental to reserve a car from Salvador to Recife. We give our laundry and move to our new pousada (Raias do Sol, Sunrays), which is quite good.