salvador → itacare; chapada diamantina → aracaju → fortaleza → jericoacoara → lencois maranhenses; manaus
27.06.2016 - 02.08.2016
Such a cool city that is pumping with African influence! My experience is a bit skewed considering I was only there for Carnaval. That being said, what a place to be for carnaval! Not that I have anywhere else to compare it to, but from what I've gathered it seems like one of the best places to go because anyone and everyone can experience it.
Tip #1: for Carnaval: book early!!!!!!!!!! before prices/spaces fill up
Tip #2: cameras are not advised due to potential for theft, but that will only happen if you allow it to. What I mean is, you are asking for it to be taken if it's just in your pocket. If it's attached to you, you reduce that chance.
Tip #3: The parade crawls along the main road that hugs the beach. The other side of the road has open air bars and restaurants, that require expensive tickets for entry/to see the parade. Skip the fee, don't just watch the party - be part of it on the streets! The bar-goers looked bored and pissed off they spent so much money.
STAY: Pelourinho, the historic center of the city (Acai hostel!)
GO: we stayed in Camacari, a few hours outside of Salvador, for a few nights with friends. Very beautiful and relaxing. Not so much a tourist hot spot, but that added to it's beauty. Nearby is Arembepe, home to Aldeia Hippie, a past refuge for the hippie movement located on an expansive beach.
The potential to get stuck here is high because it is pretty much paradise. Beautiful beaches, relaxed atmosphere, it's hard not to love it. It's definitely no secret to tourists, and during high season it will be swarming (book ahead). It's a bit out of the way to get to, but not difficult and absolutely worth it. Nearest connection city is Ilheus (airport and bus station).
DO: Surf! Explore the various beaches. There are 3 main ones close to town (walking distance). Make sure to take a day and hike through the jungle to Praia Paraina - guides are advised but only to find the way (once you know it's easy to go on your own). There are number of various hikes and tours to waterfalls. We took a boat ride down the Contas river through mangroves to Cleandro waterfalls (small fee required) -- beautiful! Kayaking and rafting among other activities are also possible.
Tip #1: tame your expectations!! I did a lot of research on this park before going, but none of it gave me the info I know now that I wish I had known before going. The internet shows you the photos of all the amazing waterfalls and attractions, but fails to remind you that the park is huge!!! Access to and from certain parts is not necessarily easy, cheap, or quick. And it turns out that all the most spectacular spots are in these hard to reach places. Which brings me to....
Tip #2: go with a car and friends so you can use your time and money more efficiently!
Tip #3: investigate before hand - do your research and choose where you want to go and what you want to see. Like I said Chapada Diamantina is huge! There are a couple different base towns scattered on different edges of the park which provide closer access to certain attractions.
Most people stay in Lencois. Don't, at least for very long. There are definitely cool things to see, but it's a trap!! There are only 3 attractions you can get to without some sort of guide (Ribeiro do Meio, Cachoeirinha (shown to left), and one other that I forget the name of - but I think it's on the way to Cachoeirinha).
Tour Tip: There are tons of tour options available. We took the popular day trip to Mucugezinho/Poco do Diabo, Gruta Lapa Doce, Poco Azul/Pratinha, and Morro do Pai Inacio. I've only heard raving reviews about this tour, but a dose of reality is necessary: The first stop was awesome - you get to swim in a pool with an incredible waterfall. The Gruta part was okay, but too long. Poco Azul and Pratinha were major disappointments, the first is literally just a 5 minute photo stop with a million other tourists. The way the sun hits the water is beautiful, but the magic is spoiled by the tourist spot it has become. Pratinha is nice but also filled with tourists and tourists activities (snorkeling, ziplining, SUP, kayaking). Morro do Pai Inacio had stunning landscapes, but once again - polluted with tourists. I would recommend NOT doing this tour - spend your time and money on something else.
Stay in Capao, it's much more relaxed and less touristy than Lencois. From here you can go to Fumaca and a number of other places on your own. You are also closer to Vale do Pati.
Or, stay even further south of the park in Mucuge, for closer access to Fumacinha, Buracao and other phenomenal waterfalls and pools.
Tip #4: find Puma, the tour guide. He and his dog, Canela, know the area super well and can take you on awesome trips.
Tip #5: buy a map and trek/camp on your own!
From what I've gathered this is moreso a popular destination for Brazilian travelers rather than international travelers, but it's a nice stop if you are hopping along the coast! It's a developing city situated on miles and miles of beautiful beach with some of the best acai in Brazil!
Fortaleza (right) felt like a more developed, busier version of aracaju (with less delicious acai). The beach was nice considering it was across the street from high rises, but it was lacked the relaxing, picturesque vibe typically associated with Brazilian beaches.
DO: spend time at the beach. Amble down the piers. Check out the historic center. Go out.
Jeri reminded me to never let my expectations run too high. I was convinced that I would fall in love with it and never want to leave, as it ranks highly among the best beaches in the world. However, there were WAY too many people for my liking, which was probably a combination of when I went (July - holiday month for many Brazilians) and the simple fact that everyone else wanted to see what this world renowned beach was all about. Jeri itself is pretty cool, an easily walkable, small network of sand roads. But, in my opinion, the beach is ruined by the resorts that line it.
DO: join the hundreds of others for sunset at the por-do-sol dune (don't forget to clap). For another sunset view, make the short trek to pedra furada. Water activities - windsurf, kitesurf, SUP. Horseback ride. Look into day tours to nearby lagoons and other attractions. (Note: you don't need a tour to go to lagoa paraiso! Go to Jeri's center, find a 4x4 that is headed to Paraiso and tell them you want to go to Restaurante Nova Esperanca - where you can relax in a hammock in the lagoon for free, 15 reais each way).
despite all the pictures I had seen prior to coming here, this place still took my breath away. If you are in the north east - make the trip here. It's not necessarily an easy/quick trip but it is worth it without a doubt!
TO/FROM: it is easier to get into from the west (Sao Luis) as this route consists only of a bus ride/transfer, as opposed to from the east (Jericoacoara or Fortaleza), which involves 4 or 5 different buses and an overnight stay somewhere. BUT either way is possible!
From Jeri: truck to Jijoca (15 reais), bus to Camocim (reais/one leaves at 12:30pm), bus to Parnaiba (19 reais/one leaves at 3:30pm). Spend the night here (Parnaiaba Hostel). In the morning you can continue with public transportation to Tutoia to Paulino Neves to Barreirinas. However, it is also possible to arrange a direct private transport from Parnaiba to Barreirinhas (ask the hostel) - which ends up not costing too much more than the public transpo if you have a full car. Much more convenient!
STAY: there are 3 different places that serve as a gateway into the park. Barreirinhas is the most common. It's not a particularly attractive city, but it gives you what you need - a place to stay with a variety of options to get you in the park. Atins is supposedly what Jericoacoara was 20 years ago - isolated, undeveloped paradise. It definitely provided a more peaceful and attractive place to stay than Barreirinhas, but less activity, tour, and transport options (access via 4x4 or boatride from B). I never made it to the third gateway, Santo Amaro, but it seems like its more similar to Atins than Barreirinhas in terms of being less developed and having less tourists.
DO: visit the dunes!!!! There are plenty of options (flights, 4x4, buggy rides, horseback riding, day trips, overnight treks, etc), all of which I can only assume are equally incredible. Our day trip to Lagoa Bonita was about $20 and was beyond amazing. We spent the night in the dunes with a tour guide we found in Atins. Note: tours/guides are necessary.
Didn't spend much time here....
DO: Take a tour of the theatre. Walk around the street markets.
-maceio (4-5 hr from aracaju)
--------jangadas from Praia de Pajucara
-tamandare via barreirros (praia dos carneiros)
-porto de galinhas
-recife (9h bus from Aracaju) - stay: piratas da praia on boa viagem or azul fusca in middle of recife\olinda
--------museu do homem do nordeste
------------Olinda (40 min bus ride)
-------------------alto da se for views
-praia da pipa
--------boat to see dolphins at praia curral /praia dos golfinhos?
--------praia do amor for surfing
--------8km north: lagoa de guarairas, 3 hr kayak around lake/creperia marinas for sunset
--------santuario ecologico de pipa for views/hiking
--------forte dos reis magos for views
--------parque das dunas
-------best beach: praia ponta negra (morro de careca)
-fortaleza (buggy ride in 3 or 4 nights from natal - canoa quebrada, )
-icarae de amontada