April 19, 2012
At the foot of Morro do Pai Inácio, a major natural attraction in Chapada Diamantina, family-owned Pousada Pai Inácio is a reference in local budget travel and also home style culinary - the restaurant is a popular stop on BR-242, which crosses the Chapada east-west.
Clean bedrooms with tile floors, surprisingly quiet for a pousada near a major freeway; carefully kept gardens and stunning hill views (Pai Inácio, Camelo and Morrão) are a hallmark of this convenient spot for backpackers, couples looking for a peaceful getaway that won't break the bank or families.
There are guest rooms with double beds and additional twin beds. All the guest rooms have tile flooring, a TV, a mini refrigerator, a telephone and a wardrobe.
Amenities include a bar, a room for events, parking, a pond, a playground and a backyard with centenary trees and hammocks in their shade. The large property has several lookout points and a trail leading to a spring.
History and Preservation:
Pousada Pai Inácio has been around for nearly a century. Its adjoining gas station was a pioneering business on BR-242, where gas was sold by the gallon from a container with a tap.
The Valois family has owned the pousada since 1982 and their presence has been a major factor in the preservation of the surrounding areas: preventing illegal hunting and the man-caused wildfires which periodically ravage Chapada Diamantina became life missions for Filemon Valois and his family.
"When we first arrived here, the forest behind the pousada was dwindling," said Valois. Today, part of that same forest is known locally by his name. "Where there used to be naked slopes, there are ten- to fifteen-foot tall trees nowadays, and even monkeys living there," he said.
The conservation work has had its share of risks - Valois has received threats from illegal hunters and faced danger time and again in the fight against wildfires, as part of a volunteer fire brigade made up of about 15 people.
Eco-friendly practices are also evident in the culinary. All the vegetables served in the kilo restaurant come from the family's organic garden. Lunch (R$27 the kilo) is a delightfully casual affair, served on long tables in a room decorated with country objects and windows looking out on the gardens with a burst of bougainvilleas and other lush blooms.
Pousada Pai Inácio:
BR-242 - Km 232
Palmeiras - BA
How to Get to Morro do Pai Inácio:
The easiest access to the hill and the clearly marked trail to the top is from BR-242, Km 231. Make arrangements with a local guide to be picked up at the pousada and taken to the start of the trail. To the top, it's about a 20-minute ascent with alternating stretches of easier terrain and steeper stretches with plenty of big rocks for footholds.
Sunset is a beautiful time to be at the top of the hill.
There are much more challenging ways to get to the hill; one of them is an 18-kilometer trail from Lençóis, via Barro Branco, which was an important mining center during the Chapada's diamond cycle. See more Chapada Diamantina trails in this trail and attraction map by CPRM, Brazil's Geological Service.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services (in this case, lunch at Pousada Pai Inácio) for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.