Chapada Diamantina rises out of Brazil’s northeaster sertão or “backlands”. Hundreds of thousands of years ago these mountains lay at the bottom of the ocean, but now rise over 1000 meters above sea level.
The Chapada welcomes divers year-round to its crystal clear waters in places such as Gruta da Pratinha and Poço Azul, where the skeletons of prehistoric animals have been found.
Diamond mining in the late nineteenth century hacked huge wounds in the landscape, wich still bears the scars of diamond prospecting. In the twentieth century mining stagnated , and the economy suffered. Howewer, agriculture and livestock breeding then flourished, and tourism took off a few years ago. It is to be hoped that the latter activity has come to saty.
This lake possesses fascinating rock formations and exceptionally transparent water. The area of the cavern is approximately one thousand square meters, and its covers the entire lake. To reach it by land there is a steep descent down a staircase carved in the rock. The lake is fed by a spring and is heavily sediment.
Gruta da Pratinha
The cavern lies below the ranch house of the Pratinha farm. The blue is even more intense when seen from the cavern. There is a very beautiful rock formation. Thousands of fish reflect the torchlight, providing a beautiful spectacle. The visit follows the main passageway to the skinhole down to Gruta Azul. From that point onwards, only experienced divers should continue.
The river rises in the Gruta da Pratinha, and forms a lake with crystal clear water – with visibility of 30 meters. On the opposite shore there is a cliff with a small cave, in wich divers can practice snorkeling to observe tilapia, characins and other small freshwater fish.
The cave lies 3 kilometers from the Fazenda Pratinha ranch house, and is reached by a pathway atop a 50 meter drop, with very tight clefts, a tunnel cut from the rock through which visitors must crawl, steep slopes you lower yourself down by clinging on tree trunks, and a river flowing out of the cave and flooding the first chamber, making a type of quicksand. In the cave there are chambers decorated with stalactites, curtains and wonderful speleothems, or cave deposits.
Several passages make up a kind of maze conecting with the underground lake. Several hollows have been sculpted out of the rock. Right below the wooden platform there is a skinhole down to another chamber. At the bottomthere are skeletons, including that of a giant sloth. On the opposite bank, wich is a larger area, you will find rock formations and small crustaceans.
This is a lake inside a cavern, with crystal clear blue water, through wich you can observe submerged boulders and tree trunks over 50 meters deep. From july to august, sunlight enters through a cleft in the cave, and a beam of light falls on the surface of the lake. The cavern is currently closed, but with the new cave diving regulations brought in by IBAMA it may open again.
Source: Brazil Diving Guide