Numerous local agencies offer a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, rappelling, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking and horseback riding, in Chapada Diamantina national park. There are also great hikes leaving from town that the adventurous can undertake without a guide.
One such hike is a 3km walk out of town, following the Rio Lençóis upstream. You first pass a series of rapids known as Cachoeira Serrano; off to the right is the Salão de Coloridas Areias (Room of Colored Sands), where artisans gather material for bottled-sand paintings. You then pass Poço Halley (Swimming Hole), before seeing Cachoeirinha (Little Waterfall) on a tributary to your left. Continuing upriver, Cachoeira da Primavera (Spring Waterfall) is on another tributary on your left. (When the water is low, you can start this hike by climbing up the rocky slope on the right side of the stream. When the water is higher, you’ll have to cut through the woods – the ‘trail,’ if you can call it that, should start at the traffic turnaround and run parallel to the river.)
Another relaxing 4km hike is to Ribeirão do Meio, a series of swimming holes with a natural waterslide. It's not a long journey from town, but the path is hardly marked, so it can be a little tricky to access. To begin, follow Rua São Benedito (known as Rua dos Negros) from Pousada & Camping Lumiar. Continue past the pousada's entrance and keep walking out of town. When you see the sign for Pousada Solar Moraes, you know you're in the right place. Continue onto the red stone and dirt path that leads uphill. Five to ten minutes later, the trail levels off and you'll see a sign for Ribeirão do Meio. Keep going along the dirt road until you see the archway entrance for Pousada Luar do Sertão. The trail to Ribeirão do Meio really starts here, to the left of the pousada entrance, on a stone staircase that leads down through the woods. Keep following the trail until you reach a ridge overlooking Rio Ribeirão. There's no 'right way' to scramble down to a series of swimming holes and the natural waterslide, but there are easier ways and harder ways – just use common sense. Avoid injury by climbing the dry rocks (not the slide’s wet ones) before launching off.
For more swimming, catch the morning bus to Seabra and hop off at Mucugêzinho (25km). About 2km downstream is Poço do Diabo (Devil’s Well), a beautiful swimming hole on the Rio Mucugêzinho with a 25m waterfall.