Magic Northern Brazil – Nature and Culture mixed in paradise

Magic Northern Brazil – Nature and Culture mixed in a paradise 8 Day Trip in Salvador and Morro de Sao Paulo – Itinerary suggested by Carina Valicati

This is entry #17 in the 2006 summer vacation plan 1,000 dollar travel writing contestless than one week left to send your entries to jtrotta@gmail.com

I will recommend a perfect trip for holidays, ideal if you have a young spirit, love sun, beaches and natural environments. This destination is perfect for group of friends, honeymooners or just couples, but without little children. Holidays take place mostly in a beautiful place named Morro de Sao Paulo, located in the Thinaré island in the state of Bahia, but a stop in Salvador, the capital of the mayor Northern Brazil littoral is almost a must to discover the essence of its people named “bahiana”.

Day 1: The trip starts in Salvador. Once you arrive at the airport you can take a taxi to the hotel (transfers U$D 25 / hotels or apartment from USD 50 to 150 a double room per day). Depending on your arrival time, a refreshing dip in a swimming pool could be an excellent beginning of your rest, specially after a long flight (most have one). The first sightseeing starts at the end of the afternoon, visiting the most historic, picturesque neighbourhood in this town: “Pelourinho”. As Salvador was the first place settled in Brazil by the Portuguese, this ancient area is full of details that will impress you. Pelourinho is one of the Cultural Human World Heritage, and it is easy to appreciate the beauty of their coloured houses, the old style architecture and the magnificence of its hundred churches. The nightlife in this old area is specially attractive when shops and restaurants open their doors, and fill the narrow stony streets with tables and chairs. It is the perfect opportunity to taste traditional food from Bahia, which has a strong afro influence. Try with the octopus “moqueca” or similar sea food (full dinner U$S 25). Local people love to wear white or shiny clothes. It is common to see some samba dance on the streets.

Day 2: Early in the morning take a taxi or rent a car and run over the 20 km coastline from Port and Farol da Barra, a famous point in Salvador where the lighthouse is a big reference, and continue this tour crossing Ondina, Amaralina, Pituba, Costa Azul, Armação, Corsario, Jaguaribe, Piatã, Plakaford, Itapuã until Stella Mares. A northern route, 60 km from Salvador, takes you to Arembepe, a little settlement beach but without infrastructure for tourism. This place was once popular as a truly hippie village, but today only few people still leave in some of its hovels. However, it is very attractive to visit and the beach is almost deserted with some palms printing a beautiful postcard. Further ahead (+ 20 km) is one of the nicest tourist spots: Praia Do Forte, which is full of shops and lodges. Its picturesque center is perfect for lunch. Few meters further walking is Tamar project, where many sea turtles are rescued and you can see and learn about this marine species (entrance U$S 5). After a long day and once back in Salvador many appealing restaurants near the sea in Barra are suitable for dinner.

Day 3: Before leaving the city, visit the harbour area, which is down to Pelourinho neighbourhood. There is a public elevator, which brings you up to the top, where you can appreciate fantastic views of the bay and take incredible pictures. Getting down again, just in front of this place only crossing the street is the Model Market, where you can buy beautiful souvenirs. Just for adventurous, the is another market close to this one, where locals buy typical products but it is definitely not a tourist place, even though it is exotic and allows you to taste the reality face to face; if you like this challenge it is better to be accompanied by a resident. Once at the harbour take a ferry boat to Morro de Sao Paulo Island (2 hours), which is a popular nice village in one of the extremes of the Tinharé Island in the Camamu Bay (U$S 30). It is recommendable to prevent possible sea-sickness depending of the tide. There are other ways to cross to the island: a shorter by light aircraft departing from the airport, which arrives in 20 minutes (U$S 140 one way), or a longer way (4 hours) combining a boat to Itaparica, a part by land until Valenca and another boat from here to Morro (U$S 42). When you arrive in Morro de Sao Paulo natives will help you with your luggage because of the rugged land (U$S 5-10 is enough for tips). Even though many people have already discovered this paradise, Morro de Sao Paulo seams lost in the world. No cars are available, except some tractors for natives which connect internal sandy trails. Accommodation options go from simple lodges (pousadas) to nice hotels, ranging prices from U$S 20 to U$S 150 a double room, depending on the season (except carnival period, where everything is considerably more expensive in all Brazil). There are many alternatives by cost, services and location, but it is recommendable to reserve your lodge according with your preferences before your arrival (www.e-pousadas.com). Many people will promote the Second Beach as ideal location because it is the coolest during nights, but I really recommend others in quieter beaches, which are beautiful and not so far away from here if you are looking for some entertainment at night (except the 4th or 5th beaches). To conclude the first day on the island just have a quite dinner in one of the nice bars in the little center of this place named “Vila”, with no more than 4 or 5 blocks extension.

Day 4: Start your tour from the Morro beaches in traditional spots. The island is divided into sections and it is very easy to identify each place. The same characteristic invades the region: crystal warm water and thin sand. During morning visit the First Beach, preferred by surfers. It is not so big and depending of the sea level (everything in Morro depends on this important factor), you can be immersed into some natural reef pools on the rocks side. The First beach was the oldest summer lodgings, so that’s why the architecture has not a modern style, in spite of refurnished work. After a while in this place continue the walking to the next popularly known Second beach, which is recognized for the live music, bars, parasols, and rest chairs. Here take a bath and swim to the little corner island named Ilha da Saudade. Many alternatives for lunch are available on the Second beach, but the grilled cheese is delicious (only U$S 1), while you are tanning you under the shine sun in a comfortable rest chair (all day parasol and chair U$S 5). For a great tour and some hike walk as far as the church, crossing the little village, and just in front of this one take the way which goes to the lighthouse. Here there is a spectacular panoramic point perfect for pictures, which goes from First to Third. It is also possible to get down by Tyrolean from this point to the sea at the First beach, but if you look for some quite and emotive moment just return to the church and take another way from the port which borders the sea until you arrive at the antique Portuguese ruins of a fortification built in 1630. Unfortunately, this place is not very well preserved but it reflects the magic of the past. You should arrive here not later than 5 PM to appreciate the marvelous sunset . It is definitely an strategic point of the island to contemplate the last glow of the sun and perhaps, if you are lucky, some “capoeira” show could take place here at the same time. By the end of the day just select one place for your dinner or go for a drink on the Second Beach.

Day 5: Start the day on the Third beach walking along the coast. This section offers different accommodation options (mostly very close to the sea), tents, bars and restaurants. Those who like scuba or snorkeling can rent the equipment here or reserve some excursion tour. In front of the Third beach and few meters from the coast is a very little island called Caitá, which is perfect for go swimming or by kayak. At the end of this beach the extensive Fourth beach appears, apparently unfinished and almost without visible urban development. In contrast with the other beaches, this is a real quiet paradise. The best moment to arrive here depends on the sea level (usually during mornings) but it should be ebb-tide to admire the charm of its place. Only in this case you can walk meters after meters in the sea with the water until your ankle and just then start to discover the magic of innumerable natural pools among coral reef, where you can admire some colourful fishes underwater or just get inside of a pool for a very hot bath (almost therapeutic!). This experience is amazing, specially because you can be in the middle of this paradise just by yourself. The only thing you should consider is to wear rubber summer shoes (because of the sharp coral reef) and a high UV protection because the sun is extremely strong and the salty water maximizes your bronze colour quickly. After a very relaxed day, walk once again until the village crossing the correlative number of beaches and just in front of the church is another strategic point to admire the incredible sunsets. The name of the place is “Pousada Passargada”, which has a beautiful deck with the harbour view. The afternoon meals are perfect to contemplate the imposing sunset in one of the corner tables: could be a cappuccino as well as a tropical drink among other options (U$S 8). You feel a mystic magic while you are focused on the last flash of light, listening to the daily religious music of the “Raval” bolero followed by the “Ave María”, awakening to a spiritual experience.

Day 6: Behind the little center of the Vila you will find a pathway to the historic point named “Fonte grande” (big fountain), built by Portuguese to reserve water for droughts (it is still working). From this point walk straight on your right and then take a down footpath to the beach named “Porto da Cima”. Here the water is incredibly transparent turning from green to blue, and the beach – sculptured with rocks- is quieter than the other visited zones. If there is ebb-tide you can undertake a beautiful walk along the cost, bordering the beach shape; in other terms, you can choose to get on a little boat in the harbour directly until Gamboa. If the walking tour is your choice, you will cross a wooden small port recognized as the yacht club and possibly contemplate bird species and local fisherman few meters from the coast. Afterwards, a pink and brown colorful rocky cliff appears. This is the “Arcila”, where people normally paint their bodies with the cream of clay, a natural product of the water flowing down from the top. It is a kind of a natural treatment of mud therapy, but mostly it is an exotic and fun experience. Just try it. Immediately then, the beach of Gamboa starts. This is a village where most of the locals and fisherman live as well as one of the beautiful spots of the island to spend all day. Choose one of the nice beach bars with rest chairs and parasols, highly recommended some of them situated on the big sandy belly. This will possibly mean a relaxing day for sunbathing. Some good options could be a book, a snorkel mask (if the sea is not rough) or simply take advantage of the deep sea (differently from the rest of the coast) for swimming. The best moment starts during afternoon, when the sun gets down. The sunset here is sensational for pictures, sometimes with some typical wooden boats as a part of a painting. You can return to Vila by boat from the sandy belly if tourists are still there or from the Gamboa port, where you can get around for sightseeing this little village.

Day 7: In the morning take a boat to the neighbouring Boipeba island for a full day excursion (you should book the trip at least one day before, U$S 25-30). The boats pick up tourists in the Morro harbour or at the Third beach. First stop is in Garapuá, a calm fishing spot of crystalline waters. Continuing the trip by boat and crossing the Inferno (Hell) river, which divides both islands, you will arrive in Boipeba, a rich ecosystem almost unexplored by tourism. The beach of Moreré is the disembarkation point, where a lunch with lobster and prawns with bananas is a must (U$S 20). This dish is prepared by natives on the beach with a few simple elements, so it is a fresh and natural home made food and absolutely delicious. Stroll along the beaches lined by coconut palms is a magic dream: fine white sand, blue and turquoise crystalline warm water and some coral reef complete the scenic sightseeing. Continue bordering the coast until the main beach of the island, where some bars seem idyllic on the sand corner. The panoramic view is simply unique. Few steps afterwards, the wooden port of the island appears, splashed with beautiful and colorful fisher boats. If you have the chance to stay here before the sunset, the water shine will record an unforgettable picture in your soul and a simple question will be obvious: “why not spend more time here?”, but the excursion is limited and it is time to return to Morro, not in vane enjoying the rest of the sunset sailing the river and the sea then.

Day 8: Behind the Second beach is stop of the unique motor land transport of the island (tractors) which cross one internal way. If you prefer take advantage of your last time here, wear your swimming suit but get your luggage with you. At around 10 AM you can take one truck to “Praia do Encanto” (Enchantment beach), which is around 6 kms away, and get inside the complex under this name. Here is possible spend half or full day using the swimming pool of the inn in case you are going to have lunch at the bar or restaurant. If the Fourth beach looks immense, this place is much more incredible when the low sea unveils hundreds of sandy meters. It is possible see some horses on the beach, where rare mangrove swamps help to preserve the shape of the coast. At midday is time to say goodbye. Option one (recommended) is take the light aircraft which is very close to Praia do Encanto (Aerostar), and goes directly to the international airport in only 20 minutes (U$S 140 one way), even though there is another company (Addey) in the middle of the Third beach. Option two is return to the Second beach by truck and cross the village to the harbour to take the ferry boat to Salvador, and then catch a taxi to the airport. Both ways are good but, if your arrival to the island is by boat, the airplane could be the perfect alternative for leaving this paradise, not only to have a fantastic panoramic overview of this place, also to finish your holidays in the most relaxing way.

Note: Prices are just references based on a recent experience (March 2006).

Filed Under: 2006 Summer vacation plan writing contest entries

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Comments (5)

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  1. Learsi says:

    On 5/11/06, Learsi Lewis wrote:

    >

    > Local people –predominantly coloured- love to wear white or shiny

    clothes

    >

    > How about local people who’s skinned has been kissed by the sun love

    to wear

    > white or shiny clothes .

    >

    > or

    >

    > Local people who’s beautiful toned skin love to wear white or shiny

    clothes

    >

    > or

    > Local people who’s dark skin love to wear white or shiny clothes

    >

    > my point is coloured is such a derogatory word .

    >

    > No one was coloured this is the way we were born. We are not a

    coloring books

  2. James Trotta says:

    This is an interesting point, although as a white linguist (I teach Second Language Acquisition) I can only look at it academically. I don’t know the author personally, but hopefully the writer will address your concerns.

    Can I ask where you’re from Learsi? I’m American, and to me coloured (or colored as I’d spell it) is very old-fashioned.

  3. Carina says:

    Learsi,

    Thanks a lot for your thoughts and comments, I’m a Spanish speaker and maybe some word connotations are not the same for different cultures.

    I found 56,500.000 hits of “colored people” in Google and thought I could use this word without running the risk of offending anyone.

    Luckily, I can count on people like you ready help me improve my knowledge of the English language. At the same time, I’ll be

    willing to help you with the Spanish connotations of tricky terms if you ever need to resort to Spanish.

    Thanks again and sorry for the misunderstanding.

    Carina.

  4. Carina says:

    Learsi,

    Thanks a lot for your thoughts and comments, I’m a Spanish speaker and maybe some word connotations are not the same for different cultures.

    I found 56,500.000 hits of “colored people” in Google and thought I could use this word without running the risk of offending anyone.

    Luckily, I can count on people like you ready help me improve my knowledge of the English language. At the same time, I’ll be

    willing to help you with the Spanish connotations of tricky terms if you ever need to resort to Spanish.

    Thanks again and sorry for the misunderstanding.

    Carina.

  5. James Trotta says:

    At the author’s request, this travel plan has been slightly modified (to eliminate the offensive word). Let’s see if we can turn our discussion ot the travel plan itself. I think there are a lot of details here, a lot to talk about.

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