Lençois, (pronounced len-soiz), lies 250 miles west of Salvador in the Chapada Diamantina (Diamond Plateau), mountain range running north - south through the state of Bahia. The average altitude is over 3000 feet. Lençois grew up around the huge diamond boom in the region in the mid-1800\'s. At one stage it had a population of 30,000 but as a result of the discovery of diamonds in South Africa, the town began to go into decline. The town has been designated a National Monument for it\'s important examples of residential architecture from the 19th century.
The Chapada Diamantina region has been the subject of two extensive studies by the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew in England for it\'s unusual and very varied flora. The dramatic table topped mountains provide stunning views of the region . There are innumerable rivers and waterfalls, amongst them the famous Smoke Waterfall, the tallest in Brazil, with a fall of 1350 feet, and so called because of the fact that the water from the falls evaporates before reaching the ground. The drive from Salvador takes about 6 hours and is in itself a lesson in geography, geology and botany. We leave the dense, low tropical vegetation of the coast and drive inland through the fertile pasture lands of the Recôncavo to the Sertão with it\'s scrub land and dramatic cacti and finally up into the Chapada with it\'s stunning variety of wild orchids and bromeliads.