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How to plan your trip to Brazil?

I find planning a trip entertaining. Maybe that’s why I ended up working in travel industry, which is full of changes, unexpected situations and challenges. On the other hand it’s also a very rewarding industry with huge cultural diversity and many very open minded people working on the field. Planning a trip may sound easy, but when it comes to creating an itinery in a foreign country it may not be that simple after all. This is why I wanted to share some of my tips with all of you who are planning to travel to Brazil, simply because I want you to see the diverse faces of this lovely country and get the best out of your stay in Brazil.

Ten things to take into consideration when planning a trip to Brazil.

1. – Destinations – First step is to choose your destination. What are you looking for? Do you prefer spending your holiday laying down on a beach and snorkeling in the crystal clear waters? Or maybe you enjoy an active holiday diving, hiking and surfing around. On the other hand you might enjoy observing the nature or spending your spare time in the pulsing nights of a tropical city. Choosing destination is basically the first thing to do. To ease your task, we have divided the top brazilian destinations into three categories: Beaches, Eco-Tourism and Culture.  Pick up the category that mostly fits into your needs and go through our suggestations or opt for a quick  search that takes you directly to a specific beach, eco-adventure or city break type. If you prefer a combination of these styles check out our itinerary suggestions or contact Brazil Diversity.

2. Seasons – Once you have decided what sort of holiday you are looking for it’s time to take a look at the seasons. To guarantee an unforgettable holiday it’s essential to pay attention on the weather, in case of Brazil especially on the rainy season. Brazil is a tropical country and you will always find a place to enjoy the sun, however you need to check when the rains tend to occur and when the temperatures are at lowest. Heavy rains  may not only destroy your holiday, but also close roads and cause complications when trying to reach your destination. Low season may also offer more attractive rates, but remember spending as little as possible is not always the best option. If you want to economise check out the weather conditions and try to take advantage of the middle season, that usually offers good rates and less crowded attractions. Finding out best seasons it easy. Brazil Diversity has included season recommendations in the description of each wonder, check them out!

3. Public Holidays – You may not know the dates of all public holidays in Brazil. Actually they even vary depending on the state. Now you may ask what they have to do with your vacation plans. Well, public holidays, not only New Years Eve and Carnaval, have all to do with your holiday, especially at the moment of making plans. In Brazil the hotels and pousadas usually not only increase prices but also sell packages with minimu stay during the public holidays. So if you planed to stay in a certain region only during few nights you will most probably find it extremely complicating to find an accommodation option during a long weekend or another public holiday period. If you were lucky enough to find something you would end up paying an extra price for that. This is why it’s good to take public holidays into account when travelling to Brazil and of course, if your budget is very tight it might be best to avoid these peak seasons. For further information and exact dates contact Brazil Diversity.

4. Distances – Brazil is a huge country, something that should be taken into consideration when planning an itinerary or a combination of several destinations. In a map the distances may not look that long, but believe me or not, they are! And it’s not only about the distance, it’s also about the transportation options and the condition of the roads. Public transportation may always not be as good, quick and direct as you are used to in your home country. The lack of infrastructure may also double the travelling times. Study these issues, check out the distances and opt for the best ways to get transfered from one place to another when planning your trip.

5. Transportation –Like I mentioned transportation is worth paying attention to. Basically there are no passanger trains in Brazil, so all long distance transportation is done either by road or by air. The busses are in general spacious and in good condition, though this means of transportation is very time taking, due  to several stops, heavy traffic and lack of  highways. Air transportation reaches all the mayor cities of Brazil and is a quick and easy way to move from one place to another. If you go through the offers and book early enough you will also be able to find quite nice deals and taking a plane can end up being a really good and time saving choice, and in some cases not even that much more expensive. Another option is to take a look at the airpasses offered by both GOL and TAM. They are a good option for a traveller who is planning to take several long distance flights in Brazil. Planning is essential in this case as well, because all the airpasses have to be purchased in before hand outside of Brazil. We have discussed about transportation options in our earlier blog posts, check them out for tips and recommendations or contact Brazil Diversity.

6. Time – How many days should you stay in Brazil? Well, this depends totally on how many cities/destinations you are planning to visit? I would say that on a city-break a minimun time would be three full days per city, especially if you are arriving from a long haul destination and still suffer jet-lag. Time that you spend in a beach destination depends totally on you. Personally I enjoy seeing as many different places as possible, meaning that 4 nights in a same village tends to be pretty much the maximum for me. However I do know people who enjoy relaxing on the beach for two weeks without changing destination, so this is pretty much based on your personal choices. When it comes to Brazil’s top destinations, I would say that 5 full days in Rio de Janeiro is an ideal time for you to visit the principal sights without rush and run. If you are planning to stay for more than that, consider an option of visiting nearby destinations, such as Búzios or Ilha Grande for couple of nights. The Falls of Iguacu can be seen in two days. If you want to extend your trip to Paraguay, add one more day into your itinerary. Time to spend in each eco-tourism destinations varies as well. As many of them are located in raither distant areas , so therefore a minimum stay of 3 to 4 nights is highly recommended.

7. Booking – Book in advance! Not only because booking your accommodation and transportation in advance makes your life a lot easier, but it’s also an excellent way to guarantee the availability and the price. As we all know in today’s world there are no last minutes prices in tourism, unless we talk about charter flights and package tours. You will never know when there happens to be a congress or any other mayor event in the city, so that all the hotels are fully booked leaving you without any reasonably priced option. Planning and booking in advance means that you can enjoy stress free vacation and in the meanwhile get the best out of your holiday. If you need any tips or if you are willing to book an unforgettable holiday in Brazil, contact Brazil Diversity.

8. Accommodation – I know accommodation is something that fully depends on our personal tastes. Some may enjoy luxurous pool villas, whiles other prefer raither small ecological hideaways. When planning a trip to Brazil you will run into the word “pousada”. If you are still unfamiliar with this term, check out our earlier blog post “Pousada: what is it and why should I stay in one”. I really want to encourage all of you to stay in a pousada. Pousada is not a just a simple guesthouse with minimum infrastructure, it’s definitely not a roadside motel or a hostel with shared bedrooms and bunk beds. Today pousada is a cozy and often raither small accommodation option that differs from a conventional hotel with personalized attentions and unique characteristics often related to local environment or culture. So when booking your accommodation in Brazil, consider seriously a possibility of staying in a pousada, you won’t regret your choice. Hand picked hotel and pousada recommendations can be found from the site of Brazil Diversity. Another thing to take into consideration is that most of the brazilian hotels and pousadas ask a prepayment of 50% from the total price in order to guarantee the booking.

9. Tours and Excursions – There was a time when I loved to explore touristic sights on my own. I used to think that taking a tour is waste of money and turns travelling less adventurous. To be honest I still apply this theory of mine in many destinations like Europe or US, where it’s easy to be an independent traveller and still not miss a single point. However today I do admit that this sort of travelling doesn’t work in each and every destination, or at least not with all the attractions. By taking a tour you will get a deeper knowledge of the sight you are visiting and in case of Brazil most importantly, a tour may be the only way to reach a certain spot or destination. It may also be the safetiest, the less stressfull and especially the quickest way to visit the sight. I’m quite sure that you are not willing to lose any precious time on holidays or happy about any extra stress that might appear, so why not booking a tour. If you have a very tight schedule consider an option of booking your tours in before hand, otherwise fix the dates once you have arrived to your destination and checked the climatical conditions for the coming days.

10. Attitude – Last but not least. Now that you have planned everything and are ready to take off, remember you will be on vacation and things may not always work on the way you are used to. Relax, leave the stress back home and enjoy your stay!

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My top places in Brazil

Sunset llha do Algodoal

Sunset llha do Algodoal

Top Beach Destination: Brazil is full of beaches and it’s hard to define if one more beautiful than another and it’s even harder to name a favourite beach destination. Out of all the beaches that I have visited each of them have their particular beauty. However when it comes to a beach destination, it’s not only to the beach itself that matters. There are few other facts that I personally enjoy when choosing a beach destination. I know some might like popular beaches where the rich and the beautiful locals hang around during their spare time, however I like raither distant destinations with less touristic infrastucture and a touch of the good old days when all the natural resources wasn’t yet explored. I like the destination that disconnects me more than totally from the rush and the run of every day life and makes me feel myself at the edge of the world. Therefore my top beach destination with these characteristic is the Ilha do Algodoal, a tropical island in the northern corner of Brazil. This extremely beautiful place incentivates you to listen to the voices of the nature, to pay attention to the endless horizon and to breath like if there were no worries in the entire world. For me Ilha do Algodoal is a real paradise on the earth.

Lencois Maranhenses

Lencois Maranhenses

Top Eco-Tourism Destination: Just like beaches, Brazil is also full of interesting eco-tourism destinations. There is everything from hiking to wildlife observation, from fishing to discovering the wonders of submarine life. There are also few unique phenomenon that can only observed here in Brazil. Pantanal happens to be world’s biggest wetland, the delta of Parnaíba on the other hand is the biggest delta of the Americas and naturally the Amazon rainforest is one in kind. However when it comes to top eco-tourism destination in Brazil, my choise  is Lencois Maranhenses, a simply unique and absolutely interesting region located in the state of Maranhão. This immense area with very fragile eco-system is formed by numerous sparkling lagoons hidden in between the white sand dunes. It’s a unique phenomenon that can only be observed in this dry region thanks to rainy season and the approximity to the Amazon basis. Lencois Maranhenses is an off-road eco-tourism experience that will surely impress you!

Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto

Top Historical Destination: I use to say that you haven’t seen all the faces of Brazil unless you have visited Ouro Preto. You might think that travelling all the way to Minas Gerais just to spend few days in Ouro Preto is not worth it, but I do guarantee that you will be surprised. Ouro Preto is the face of colonial Brazil. It’s a destination where you will be surrounded by history and art, no matter which part of the city you are. Ouro Preto takes you to an imaginary trip back to the past and captures all your attention with neverending details of this charming city. Simply a must see destination!

Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro

Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro

Top City Break: It might sounds like a cliché, but top city break must be the marvellous city of Rio de Janeiro, simply because of the variety of options it offers for a traveller. Beyond the traditional touristic sights Rio de Janeiro works as a city break for lovers of gourmet kitchen, for tireless party animal, for those who enjoy music and art and for the ones who enjoy chilling on the beach or practising sports. For me Rio de Janeiro is the top city break destination exactly because of its’ diversity and of course, also because of its’ unique beauty, which can be admired at any corner of the city.

Top Beach: Choosing one breach out of all the irresistible Brazilian beaches is a real challenge.  Year after year the beaches of Fernando Noronha are included into the top beaches of the country and there is no doubt that the beaches like Praia do Sancho, Praia do Leão and Baía dos Porcos aren’t some of the most  stunning beaches of Brazil, simply because of the clear turquoise and blue tones of the sea and the beautiful and well conserved landscapes of Fernando de Noronha. Beside of the archipelago, there area lovely white sand beaches with clear waters in many parts of the continent as well. In the state of Alagoas a large number of palm threes give a pictoresque appareance for the coastline, while in Ceará and Maranhão the dunes give raither a stark, but beautiful contrast for the sparkling sea.

Praia do Pesqueiro

Praia do Pesqueiro

So finally, out of all these beautiful beaches, which would I choose to be my top beach? My choise ia maybe a less known, but simply unique with a genuine feeling of an untouched beach. My top beach is Praia do Pesqueiro in the island of Marajó, located at the state of Pará, in northern most corner of Brazil. Praia do Pequeiro is a beach where the waters of a river get mixed to the sea. The water in fact is sweet, but the feeling is like if you were enjoying a bath at any seaside beach. Even smooth waves and a warm wind will refresh you in the heat of Pará. There are few rustic beach bars that serve ice cold drinks and light meals so that you can easily spend an entire day at this little paradise. The landscape is a beautiful mixture of tropical vegetation, natural swimming pools during  the low tide and endless views over this almost deserted beach. During the low season only few other tourists together with a couple of distant water buffalos and numerous sea birds will give you company. Simply a lovely place and a fantastic beach for you to enjoy youself in the middle of the virgin nature far away from the signs of modern life and from the rush and run of the cities.

Chapada Diamantina

Chapada Diamantina

Top Combination: Top combination is a region or state that allows you to experince the different faces of Brazil with no need for domestic flights or endless travelling. My top destination of this category is the regions of Salvador combined with eco-tourism experiences in Chapada Diamantina and beachside extention in the tropical islands of Tinharé and Boipeba. This simple combinations allows you to enjoy the afro-brazilian culture and colonial architecture in Salvador, the capital of Bahia, experience the inlands and practise hiking in South America’s top one hiking destination, Chapada Diamantina and last but not least enjoy the stunning beaches of Morro de São Paulo and maybe even extend your stay to the less crowded island of Boipepa, both of them filled with palm trees and most importantly with no motorized traffic to disturb you. A facinating combination that allows you to experience the best of Bahia with no need to spend and time on the airports!

Top Pousada: Naming a top pousada is a pretty tough question, maybe because I’m pretty critic when it comes to perfection or maybe many of them have been at expected level, but still it’s hard to say which one would be simply outstanding. So after having tought about the options, I decided to let you know my overall top pousada, my top charm pousada and my top service pousada.

Casarão da Amazônia

Casarão da Amazônia

The first one goes to Casarão da Amazônia, a simply lovely pousada in the island of Marajó, in Pará. Casarão da Amazônia has a perfect location in the village of Souré, close to the top beaches and interesting eco-tourism sights. It’s an old colonial mansion reformed with excellent taste and surrounded by a garden with pool area. And after all it’s not just the appearance and comfort, it’s also about the friendliness of the stuff and the great value for money that Casarão da Amazônia offers for its’ guests.

When it comes to charm I would name Vila Serrano, in the village of Lencois (Chapada Diamantina), in Bahia. This tiny pousada is a enchanting combination of colonial style, feng shui and comfort. The individually decorated rooms have and romantic ambient and even the public areas of this lovely pousada are in full harmony with the nature. Simply charming!

Top service wasn’t actually difficult at all. It goes clearly to Barra Velha, a pousada located in Maragogi, the state of Alagoas. I know the northeastern Brazil is known for hospitality, tasty food and generous breakfast, but still a stay at Barra Velha went over all my expectations when it comes to the hospitality. Being welcomed by the owners and attented with an attitude that went beyond our needs and expectations was something that made the service of Barra Velha extraordinary. Really a place to feel yourself at  home!

Top Restaurant: When I travel I usually enjoy trying different restaurants, tasting several options and discovering new experiences. Basically this means that unless the food is simply irresistible I rarely eat more than once or maximum twice in the same place, and in that case I surely taste two different dishes. However there do have been few exceptions being one of them over the others. I usually ask for restaurant recommendations from the staff of my pousada or hotel. This is exactly what I did in Canoa Quebrada as well. I was recommended to eat in a restaurant called Cabana, located right on Broadway, the main street of Canoa Quebrada. After having experienced Cabana I found myself repeating the experice even more than tiwce. I tried several dishes and time after time ended more and more satisfield. Cabana offer absolutely tasty food with first class incredients and great value for money. Cannot recommend more!

Vila Serrano

Vila Serrano

It wasn’t easy and my top places might change at any moment of time,

but today these are top choices in Brazil.

Travelling in Brazil is always a pleasure, it’s full of nice surprises and after all…

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Pousada, what is it and why should I stay in one?

When you are planning a trip to Brazil, you will surely run into the word Pousada. What is a Pousada? What would be the best way to translate this word? Some may suggest “Inn” or “Bed & Breakfast”, however I do think that there is not an exact way to translate Pousada into English. A brazilian Pousada is lot more than just an “Inn”  and nowadays it covers more categories than a simple “Bed & Breakfast”.

Pousada Masai Mara, CE

Pousada Masai Mara, CE

Traditionally a Pousada was raither a small family run business offering rooms for a traveller to stay overnight. Nowadays a Pousada can be anything in between a small but cozy and luxurious hideaway. The only thing that remains in the fact that Pousada still today tends to be a raither small place with personalized touch. When it comes to services Pousadas do not compete with hotels, even though nowadays many of them already offer such comfort as wi-fi access to the guests. Pousadas are widely available in beach side locations and other smaller towns. However you will find charming options also from bigger cities like Salvador and Rio de Janeiro.

Pousada Barra Velha, AL

Pousada Barra Velha, AL

So should you stay in a pousada or opt for a hotel? Personally I’m in love with Pousadas. Especially in tourist class categories many hotels are lacking of identity and personality seeming to be exactly the same no matter in which corner of the earth you are. Of course you may think that you are not travelling to stay in a hotel, but on the other hand you might pay approximately the same amouth of money or in many cases even less. So why wouldn’t you opt for a Pousada, which can offer you a more personalized accommodation with local touch and character, and a lot more welcoming hospitality than most of the traditional tourist class hotels offer.

Pousada Porto Buriti, MA

Pousada Porto Buriti, MA

Like I said a  Pousada can be anything from a basic and economic accommodation option to a luxurious hideaway villa offering you ultimate comfort with privacy. Pousadas are often decorated with pieces of art  and handcrafts, and offer at least a tasty homemade buffet breakfast for its’ guests. So now that you know, don’t hesitate in staying in a pousada. It is your home in Brazil, whenever you want to feel yourself welcome and experience the genuine touch of brazilian culture.

Ask for Brazil Diversity recommendations!

Alternative Rio de Janeiro

Maybe you have already visited Rio de Janeiro at least once, or even couple of times. Or perhaps you are spending a bit more than just few days in this marvellous city and are willing to see the alternative face of Rio, experience it just like the locals do. This is why we wanted to give you tips how to get beyond the traditional tourist attractions. Check out our suggestions and choose what mostly fits into your perfil as a traveller.

Praia Vermelha

Praia Vermelha

First of all, as always accommodation is one of the most basic needs when we are out of our homes. How to choose an alternative accommodation in Rio de Janeiro. The touristic neighbourhoods of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon are filled with hotels, some of them chic ones, others basic tourist class hotels like anywhere in the world. If you wish to feel the real Brazilian hospitality try to look for some smaller options, such as the brazilian pousadas. In a huge cosmopolitan city like Rio de Janeiro there are not that many pousadas as in many smaller villages, but still you can find some. A charming pousada with individually decorated rooms can be found right from the heart of Copacabana and a stylish luxury pousada in a hidden location is an excellent option for those looking for high quality escape. If you prefer raither simple life style, try out some of the bed & breakfast style pousadas in the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa and a radical adventure minded traveller will get some unforgettable memories by accommodating in a simple pousada located inside of a favela. Some peaceful favelas controlled by police offer bed and breakfast accommodation for tourists allowing them to see from close how is the real life in these communities. An excellent choice for you who want to experience Rio beyond the touristic sights.

Biking in Rio

Biking in Rio

During the day time try out some alternative ways to experience Rio de Janeiro. If the day is sunny, there is nothing better than biking in the fresh air while you admire the breathtaking landscapes of Rio de Janeiro. You will find traditional bicycle tours taking you to the world famous beaches of Rio de Janeiro or to the cultural heritage sites of the city. Some interesting alternative options  are biking through the forest of Tijuca National Park or along the beaches of Barra da Tijuca, Recreio dos Bandeirantes, Grumari and Prainha located west of Rio de Janeiro. If you are not into sports and wish to enjoy the city without practising physical excersise, get yourself a local friend. Local friend is a person, who has been chosen according to your needs and interests. Your new friend will plan a taylor made itinerary taking you to the most exciting spots of the city. This service will offer you a personalized way to explore the city just like if a local friend would be taking you to the most impressive viewpoints, the charmiest restaurants and the best parties of the city.

Bar do Arnaudo

Bar do Arnaudo

When the night falls you can always opt for some of the pulsing lounge bars of Ipanema and Leblon or enjoy the vibrating samba nights of Lapa. However, if you are looking for an alternative program check out Feira São Cristovão, a closed market place located in northern part of Rio de Janeiro. Feira de São Cristovão is an homege for the culture of northeastern Brazil. During the day time it’s an excellent place to buy local handcrafts and enjoy delicious tastes of northeastern culinary. Feira de São Cristovão is open every day, except on Monday and nonstop from Friday 10 a.m till Sunday 6 p.m . During the weekends you will have a chance to assist several shows of live music, all of the representing typical northeastern music styles. So if you are not afraid of loud music and crowds of people, Feira de São Cristovão is a alternative option for you to experience a piece of northeastern culture in the middle of Rio de Janeiro.

Jazz at the Maze

Jazz at the Maze

In case you prefer less crowded places with boheamian touch, check out the jazz jam sessions at Maze, a unique bar located inside of Tavares Bastos favela, in southern zone of Rio de Janeiro. The jams are generally organized on the first Friday of each month, however exceptions do happen so keep an eye on the schedules. The jazz night in an awasome experience and quality musicians will entertain you while you enjoy some of the most spectacular views over the bay of Guanabara,  in one of the safest favelas of Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro with all its’ attractions is waiting for you.

For further information, contact Brazil Diversity!

Why to travel to Brazil?

A recent research revealed what the foreign travellers most appreciate in Brazil. The top four included several facts related with the nature, but the interesting point in fact is the first position. People, was stated by most of the travellers and therefore stands at the number one position.

  1. Beach life

    Beach life

    People – Having people at the top of the list is an honour for any country. This means that the hospitality and the joy of brazilians is clearly visible for tourists visiting the country. In general the life has an easy-going rhythm and brazilians interact gladly with the foreigners. Here you will not stay at closed resort, but get mixed with the people and enjoy the same things as the brazilians do. I wonder if there is any other place on the earth where the joy of life is as visible as it is in Brazil. There may be many people with less conditions, but most of the will never lose their faith or the joy of life. If you come from a country with high level of self service you will also find it marvellous to be fully served at the stores,  bars and restaurants, and still you will not face disturbingly persisting sellers on the streets or at the beach.

  2. Country side

    Country side

    The beauty of the natureI would say that the second postition should be the beauty and the variety of the nature. As a huge country Brazil has an incredible variety of eco-systems depending on the part of the country. The beauty of the nature consists of numerous beaches, tropical vegetation, dunes, canyons, rainforest, waterfall, mountains, lagoons, lakes and rivers. There are extremely dry areas in Brazil and on the other hand a large part of the country is covered by rainforest. For sure the nature of this country offers something for each and every traveller, the question is do you really know all that Brazil has to offer?

  3. Endless beaches

    Endless beaches

    Beaches and the sea – Brazil has long coast with large number of beautiful beaches, some of the ideal for surfing, others for diving or snorkeling and almost all of them perfect for sunbathing and swimming. It’s not long time ago that I read an interesting review related to tourism in Brazil. The author said that Brazil may not have the most beautiful beaches of the world, compared to Southern Pacific of Maldives for example,  but Brazil certainly has the funniest beaches of the world. After having travelled widely around the world, I have to agree with the author of this article, Brazil definitely has the funniest beaches of the world and the best point is that many of them are among the most attracting ones as well. In Brazil beaches are like living-rooms, going to the beach is part of the culture and the daily life of brazilians. Here beaches are public and legally an access to any of them cannot be denied. This is why the coast of Brazil is not filled with resorts with private beaches, where only the clients can have an accesss. To be sincere, I think that is something Brazil should be proud of and this is why there is no other beach life like in Brazil. Being in the beach with the brazilians, you will quickly realize why people are in the top one position of the research. The joy of life is visible everywhere and there is always a beach bar to serve you whenever you are thirsty or hungry.

  4. Tropical vegetation

    Tropical vegetation

    Tropical climate – Thanks to the geographical position of Brazil, almost the whole country has tropical climate. This means that sunshine is basically guaranteed at any time of the year, at least in some part of the country. That’s why there are two basic things you should pay attention to before booking your trip to Brazil. First of all, if you have decided to travel during a specific time check out the climatical conditions in different parts of Brazil and choose your destination based on that. On the other hand, if you always wanted to visit certain area check out when is the best season to travel there, or at least when visiting those places is not recommendable and schedule your trip according to that. Right after that you are ready to enjoy the tropical climate and the sun shine of Brazil!

Eco-tourism and desert beaches at Ilha de Marajó, Pará

On the way to Ilha do Marajó

On the way to Ilha do Marajó

Ilha de Marajó is in fact a huge group of island slocated in the coast of Pará, not far away from state capital Belem. Marajó is a temptating mixture of eco-tourism and beaches. Thanks to the fact of being a very big and wide area there is plenty of space for everybody and you will rarely feel like being in a growded tourism destination. The access to Ilha de Marajó is done from Belem with daily ferry connections, generally departing very early in the morning and in the afternoon (check daily schedules). Reaching Marajó takes about 3-3½ hours depending on the winds and yes you will be crossing the river, not a sea, even if it may not look like it. An another, quicker option to reach Marajó is to take a catamaran, which also operates on daily basis excluding Wednesdays. A catamaran trip takes aproximately 2 hours. If you have flexibility with schedules, opt for the early morning departures both ways, even if you had to wake up before the sunrise. Later on the afternoon the winds tend to be stronger and a heavily swinging boat is not something rare at all.

Water buffalo eating

Water buffalo eating

The ferry boats arrive to the port of Camará from where you have to take a transfer (bus, van or taxi) to your final destination. Where to stay then? Most of the tourists stay either in Souré or in Salvaterra, which of these two is better then? The answer is simple, make sure that you will stay in the side of Souré where all the principal tourist attractions and the best accommodation options of the island are located. Salvaterra and Souré are separated by a river, just like all the other islands of the group. Crossing the river is easy as a motorized boat takes you to the other side of the river at any time needed and with a nominal cost.

Tropical birds

Tropical birds

The speciality of Ilha de Marajó are the water buffalos that long time ago where transported from Africa and adapted easily in the climate starting to reproduce on the island. Don’t forget to visit one of the “fazendas” (farms, like Fazenda São Jerónimo, Fazenda Sanjo, Fazenda Araruna or Fazenda Bom Jesus) of the island, which are excellent points to observe wildlife, especially birds and taking boat excursions along the narrow rivers/streams surrounded by mangrove vegetation. Most of the fazendas also offer options for light trekking and horseback riding, if you are an adventure minded traveller you can also try out riding a buffalo. A visit to Marajó takes you very close to the nature, as it’s present basically anywhere you go and luckily until now the human life has not destroyed this fantastic eco-system.

Praia do Pesquiero

Praia do Pesquiero

If you want to enjoy the wide beaches of Ilha do Marajó try to place you travel between July and December, this is the dry and hot season on the island and naturally also the best time to enjoy these marvellous beaches of freshwater. The most popular beaches are Praia do Pesquiero and Barra Velha, both of them located in the island of Souré. Praia do Pesquiero is a 3 km long beach, where a number of natural swimming pools can be found during the tide water. Barra Velha is minor, but it definitely is hard to say which of these two is more picturesque,  it’s all up to your personal taste. What makes Barra Velha attracting is the mixture of  magrove trees, streams and the tide water that forms a sort of sand island in the middle of the river. Both of these beaches are located further away from the heart of the village so that you will need to take some sort of transportation (taxi, mototaxi, bicycle) to reach them. Mototaxi is probably the simplest way to get moved from one place to another while you stay in Marajó. On your way to Barra Velha, you will cross a place called “Landing field of Guarás”, where a large number of these beautiful red birds, “Guarás”, can be seen. Like most of the brazilian beaches both these also have rustic beaches bars serving ice-cold drinks, snacks and meals, so that you can easily spend an entire day enjoying the sun, the tranquility and the smooth waves of the river.

Praia do Joanes

Praia do Joanes

Barra Velha

Barra Velha

Beside of these two most popular beaches, a distant beach of Praia do Araruna, wellknown of its’ extend mangrove vegetation is located at the side of Souré, but can only be reached via fluvial access. On the side of Salvaterra the most interesting beach is Praia de Joanes, located in the village of Joanes. This is where the old ruins, first signs of inhabitations on the island can be found as well. Compared to the beaches of Souré, Joanes has generally stronger waves and more green vegetation. It’s worth visiting, even though on our opinion is not comparable to Praia do Pesquiero or Barra Velha.

As a conclusion we would like to point out that Marajó is worth visiting even if the access from Belem is long and tiring. Ilha do Marajó is a destination for an open minded traveller, who will not be disturbed even if the highest class and the widest option of services may not be available. When travelling to Ilha do Marajó the motive of your trip should be the nature, if so you will not be dissappointed, Marajó is still an authentic paradise on the earth!

Boats at the beachside

Boats at the beachside

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Casarão da Amazônia – A lovely colonial style pousada in the hearth of Souré with excellent price-quality relation. One of the best options to stay in, if not the best!
  • Pousada O Canto do Francês – A good quality rustic pousada just a step away from the center of Souré.

Peaceful life at Ilha do Algodoal, Pará

Arrival to Ilha do Algodoal

Arrival to Ilha do Algodoal

Ilha do Algodoal is a small island located in Pará, one of the northern states of Brazil. In general Pará is well-known as eco-tourism destination, but the fact that it also offers cultural attractions and irresistable beaches, makes it an interesting destination for international tourism. Ilha do Algodoal is a mixture of eco-tourism and beaches. It’s a destination of an open-minded traveller, who is looking for once in a life time experiences. As soon as you arrive to Ilha do Algodoal and get transfered to your pousada by horse wagons, you will notice that tiny island is completely lost in time. A good proof of this is the electricity that came to the island just few years ago, and as motorized traffic doesn’t make part of the island life, you can only imagine how far away the rythms of life in Algodoal is from the rush and run of any big or any medium sized city.

Village of Algodoal

Village of Algodoal

Reaching this paradise requieres a little bit work, but is definitely worth it. The best access to the island is from Maruda, a small town located about 160 km from the state capital Belem. You can reach Maruda by a regular bus, which takes about 4-5 hours or by minibus/van when the journey takes about 2½-3 hours. Naturally a minibus/van is more recommendable even if it turns out to be slightly more expensive than the regular bus. The third option is to hire a private transfer, which of course is the most comfortable way of travelling and the arrival time will be planned according the departure time of the boats to Ilha do Algodoal. Once you reach Maruda you still have to take a boat across the river. The ride takes about 30-40 minutes and the departure times vary depending on the weekday, being generally few departures during the morning and the early afternoon. Once the boat arrives to the island of Algodoal several horse wagons are waiting for to transport the passangers to their final destinations. A horse ride a fantastic way to get used to the relaxed and easygoing atmospheare of this lovely island.

Praia da Princesa

Praia da Princesa

Even if the state of Pará is not wellknown as a beach destination, the beach of Princesa was recently chosen among the ten most beautiful beaches of Brazil. During the low tide you can reach Princesa either by walk or by hiring a ride with one of the many horse wagons operating around the island. When the tide is rising a small river has to be crossed by a rowboat. Here the sea water gets mixed with the rivers and therefore you will hardly notice any salty taste at all.  The color of the water may not be as bright as in many other brazilian beaches, but what makes Praia da Princesa special is a combination of several facts. This wide and long beach is surrounded by dunes, lies in a complete peace and harmony with the nature and has one of the most neverending kind of horizons for a traveller to admire. The beach bars serving clients are all rustic and outside of the high season (January & July) or the public holidays the beach can be basically yours. Once the sun goes down Praia da Princesa shows the another side of its’ beauty, here the sunsets are something spectacular. Due to the location close to the Equatorial the horizon seems to have no end at all, and the blue moment before the night falls is something to be remembered.

Lagoa da Princesa

Lagoa da Princesa

What are the other attractions of Ilha do Algodoal appart of the Praia da Princesa beach? The lagoon of Princesa is located in the middle of  the dunes and surroundedn by tropical vegetation, just about 30 minutes walk (or a short wagon ride) away from the beach. It’s a lovely place to visit and you can also enjoy a refreshing bath in the lagoon before starting your hike back to the beach. An another attraction requiring a longer hike is the village of Fortalezinha, located at the other end of the island. To reach Fortalezinha, you have three options: hire a local guide and hike approximately during two hours, take a wagon ride (approximately 1 hour) or a boat ride (approximately 30-40 minutes). Hiking is the best option if you wish to enjoy the pureness of the nature with all your instincts, but in this case it’s recommendable to start the journey as early as possible before the heat of the sun is insupportable. When reaching Fortalezinha, you will most probably see many species of birds, including beautiful red Guarás, be able to bath in the natural swimming pools during the low tide and enjoy the beach before returning back to the main village of Algodoal.

Beach at sunset

Beach at sunset

If you choose Ilha do Algodoal as your destination be prepared with a mosquito spray as there are a large number of all kind of insects in the island. Also do not expect to find a large variety of night life. On the weekends live Carimbo (a local dance) is played at the restaurant La Dune, while Raiz do Mangue concentrates on Reggae music, but that’s basically it. Algodoal is a place where you will mostly listen the sounds of the nature and easily forget everything related with your daily routines. Welcome to Ilha do Algodoal, one of our favourite destinations!

Colorful flowers

Colorful flowers

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Marhesias – A small pousada with 4 chalets surrended by tropical vegetation. The best option on the island with quality installations, stylish details and personalized treatment.
  • Chalets do Atlantico – Pousada offereing standard chalet accommodation, suitable especially for families or small groups.
  • Restaurante La Dune – A simple restaurant at the center of the village offering tasty home made food.
  • Bar & Restaurante Argentino – A recommendable bar at the beach of Princesa.

Travelling in Brazil FAQ. Part I: A-L

Tropical flowers

Tropical flowers

One of our followers suggested us to create a Frequently Asked Questions post, which actually turned out to be an excellent idea. When you are planning a trip many questions will arise and it may not always be easy to find information concerning local habits and other useful details. Knowing them in before hand will make travelling easier and most probably you will avoid some unexpected situations.

We have divided our Frequently Asked Questions in two parts, simply because there are many issues we want to share with our followers. The topics are in alphapetical order and the post post will include letters from A till L. In the future this post will be constantly modificated depending on the issues that may come up. If you have a question about travelling in Brazil, if you would like to read more about some particular issues or if you have any suggestions mail us at brazildiversity(a)gmail.com.

So let’s get started…

  • ACCOMMODATION – When you start searching for accommodation in Brazil, you will run into the concept of pousadas. In addition to pousadas the other accommodation options are hotels, hostels and rental apartments. English translation for a pousada would be guesthouse, however there are pousadas of different kind and therefore the term guesthouse doesn’t always fit for them. Pousadas are usually smaller, have more personalized touch than hotels and are often located in tiny cities or villages. There are pousadas for all budgets, very simple ones, comfortable tourist class pousadas and high quality pousada with ultimate luxury facilities. Usually pousadas requiere 50% of the total value at the moment of booking. Tighter conditions often apply during public holidays. We highly recommend you to book yourself a pousada accommodation, this is when you will feel the Brazilian hospitality and get the best out of your stay. Unlike many Caribbean countries, Brazil is NOT an “All Inclusive” destination. Some hotels/luxury pousadas do offer half board as part of the price and give an option for full board, but “all inclusive” resorts are not something you should be searching from Brazil. Personally I think it’s a good fact, because Brazilian food is inexpensive  and so diverse that it would pity to dine always within a resort area.
  • AIR TRANSPORTATIONCheck out our blog posts about  Travelling and Transportation and average distances & flight times between the major cities.
  • ATM MACHINES You can withdraw cash from ATM machines available at the airports, stations and all around the cities. Depending on the machine they work with all the major credit and debit cards, however we do recommend you to carry always a little bit cash with you, as it’s not uncommon to find an ATM machines out of order or simply without international connection. When travelling to smaller villages or islands, be prepared that not all of them have an ATM machine, so check it out first and plan your carry on cash depending on that. Even if there were an ATM machine in distant places it’s not good to count only on them.  Be also aware that due to the security reasons during the night time only a limited number of cash (100 R$) can be withdrawn from your account.
  • BANK – The banking hours are from Monday till Friday usually from 10 am till 4 pm. A large number of international banks can also be found from major Brazilian cities.
  • CLIMATE – Check out our blog post of the best seasons to travel….this will be out shortly!
  • Colorful Havaianas

    Colorful Havaianas

    CLOTHINGIn general Brazilians do not dress very formally on their spare time, especially in the cities located at the sea side. Why am I telling this to you then? There are few reasons why I would recommend you to dress like the brazilians do. First of this is a way for your not to call attention of the pickpockets and other unwished persons. Secondly due to the climate this will certainly be the best and the most comfortable way to get dressed. So don’t be asshamed to use shorts, mini-skirts, tops and tiny bikinies, this is exactly the way the brazilians are dressed when they head to the beach. Buy yourself a pair of world famous Brazilian Havaianas, colorful and comfortable flip flops used by each and everyone in this country.

  • CREDIT CARDS – The use of credit cards is very common in Brazil. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, but Amex and Diners may not turn out to be so useful to carry with you. Not all the restaurant and stores accept payment with credit cards, so check it out always before ordering. In general the credit card machines work with the chip code, so make sure you remember yours. Cloning cards do happen in Brazil, so be aware of that and always keep an eye on your card.
  • CURRENCY – The currency used in Brazil is called Real (R$). One Real is divided into 100 cents. In recent years the value of Real has been raither stable compared to the history of Brazil with several week and unstable currencies. In most of the countries it’s possible to exchange Reias (plural) in before hand, but you will certainly get a better a rate when exchanging for example dollars or euros in Brazil. However we do recommend you to change a little bit money before you arrive to Brazil. It’s always good to have at least some local cash with you when arriving to a new and unknown airport. Check out the daily value of Real using a currency converter.
  • DENGUEDengue fever is a tropical disease transmitted by mosquitos. It’s very common in Brazil throughout the year and unlike malaria dengue is as prevalent in urban districts as rural areas. The common signs of the disease are severe headache, fever, rash, muscle and joint pains. The best way to prevent dengue is to avoid touch with mosquitos. This basically means using anti-mosquito sprays and wearing long sleaves especially during the evening/night time. If you suspect you might be suffering dengue, contact a doctor immediately. Any aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be avoided as these drugs may worsen the bleeding tendency associated with some of these infections.
Coconuts

Coconuts

  • DRINKS – Brazil is full of interesting and delicious drinks for all the tastes. First of all, remember to buy mineral water, tap water is not drinkable. In Brazil there are many juice bars offering tasty tropical juices. Try as many as you can, because you will rarely find that many exotic tastes in any other place. Tropical fruit is also the main ingredient of a common soft drink Guaraná. Brazilians drink a lot beer as well, being Brama, Skol, Antartica, Bohemia, Original, and Itaipava some of the most common brands. Chopp is a draft beer served in bars and resturants. The most well known Brazilian alcoholic drink caipirinha is prepared of limon, sugar and cachaca (a sugar cane spirit). Nowadays you will find caipirinhas based on other fruits and caipivodkas where cachaca has been substituided with vodka.
  • DRIVING – The traffic in the big cities can be pretty chaotic and heavy traffic jams are part of the daily life, especially during early morning and late afternoon, when people are heading to work and back. Similar or even worst traffic jams can be expected during public holidays. If you are planning to drive in Brazil, we do recommend you to take few things into consideration. First of all driving can be a good method to move yourself from place A to place B in the coastal regions when visiting several smaller villages during your stay. Try to avoid driving in major cities, especially if you are not familiar with heavy traffic. Taking a taxi or a pre-booked transfer will save you from stress and headache. Secondly avoid driving after the sunset, when both the possibility of becoming robbed and the risk of getting involved in an accident are higher. In general brazilians drive fast and are not always respecting the speed limits and other regulations. Remember Brazil applies zero tolerance when it comes to alcohol and driving. For a  rental car company it might be enough to have you national driver’s license plus an official translation into portugues from your national authority, but we do recommend you to have an international drivers license as well. It may turn out to be useful especially if you get involved with the Brazilian authorities.
  • DUTY FREE – The duty free stores at the Brazilian airports are not particularly cheap. Buy souvenier before you head back to the airport, and also pay attention on the fact that at the airport’s international area the prices are in US dollars.
  • ELECTRICITY – In most of the places the electricity is 110v. However some northern states and some hotels may use 220v in stead. The outlets in Brazil usually accept two types of plugs, a flat blade plug or two round pins. In case your appliances plug has a different shape, you may need a plug adapter.
Favelas of Rio de Janeiro

Favela in Rio de Janeiro

  • FAVELA – Brazilian slums are called Favelas, they are present in all the major cities and for example in Rio de Janeiro the mountain sides are dominated by favelas. These areas are usually controlled by drug dealers and face conflicts on regular basis. It’s definitely NOT recommendable to visit favelas on your own as without knowledge and precaution you may end up in danger. Nowadays regular tours to favelas are organized at least in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. A part of the tour price usuaylly goes to some social project of the area such as health care and education.
  • FOOD – Brazilian food is tasty, fresh and in most of ther cases healthy as well. The basic component is rice which is often served with beans and other side dishes. Along the coast you will find a large choice of  seafood and fish. Throughout the country delicious barbecue dishes are served, but meat is speciality of southern part of Brazil, where the biggest ranches are located. Brazilian food is not spicy unless you personally prefer so. In restaurants the meals tend to be large and are often served for two persons. Before ordering it’s always good to check whether the meal is individual or not.
  • HEALTH CARE – The health care in Brazil is divided into public and private sectors. As a tourist you will have a travel insurance (at least we hope so!) and therefore a chance to use most of the private health care services when needed. Naturally the quality of the services vary depending on the hospital, but in general the standard of private health care in Brazil is really good. In smaller places, where private hospitals are not available you have a right to use the public services as well, though in those cases you better be prepared to face longer queues.
  • LANGUAGEPortuguese is the official language of Brazil, although many local dialect and indigenous languages are spoken widely around the country. English is spoken in touristic areas, but often only among the person with higher education or those who work in the tourism sector, so don’t expect your taxi driver to be fluent in English. It would be good for anyone to learn little bit portuguese, at least basic vocabulary and most used phrases before travelling to Brazil. If you know Spannish that will be an advantage, especially when it comes to written language. In case you don’t speak portuguese at all, raising your thumb is common sign to show that everything is alright.

Last but not least I would like to point out something that is always present, no matter where we travel to. Once you have made a decision to travel and left your home behind your expectations are naturally high. Knowing many facts and details of your destination will surely help you to have a wonderful and unforgettable travelling experience. However during your trip you are most likely to face some unexpected situations as well. This is when the attitude comes into question. Having an easygoing attitude is often the best way handle the up coming issues. After all each and every country has its’ own particular culture and when travelling we are expected to respect all these magnificant little details that make our destination different from our home.

Talking about attitude, I would like to quote someone I know. After having missed a visit to Iguassu Falls due to major problems in Brazilian domestic air traffic, this elderly gentleman kept enjoying the sun in Rio de Janeiro saying: “Now I have a good reason to come back, and after all there is only water there…”

Brazil Diversity wishes you Happy Travelling!

Tropical Islands of Tinharé and Boipeba, Bahia

The port of Morro de São Paulo

The port of Morro de São Paulo

The island of Tinhare is located in Bahia, almost in front of the state capital Salvador. This geographical fact makes it an excellent place to be combined for example with city break in Salvador or with an active hiking holiday in the National Park of Chapada Diamantina. The principal village of the island is Morro de São Paulo, which connects to the continent either by sea or by air. The small airport of the island receives single engine aircrafts proceeding from Salvador, and the port is a destination of catamarans and speed boats carrying both passangers and the goods to the island. A flight to the island takes only about 25 minutes and an average time of a sea transfer is about 2½ – 3 hours, depending on the weather conditions. Both, the catamarans and the speed boats leave from the port right behind the Mercado Modelo market in Salvador. We do recommend you to choose catamaran if possible, as the speed boat is a way more sensible and you will easily suffer the sea sickess.

The beaches of Morro de São Paulo

The beaches of Morro de São Paulo

Upon the arrival, it will be easy to notice that you have arrived to a tropical paradise. The island with altitude differences is filled with palms trees and tropical vegetation. As there is no asphalt, no cars on the island, a number of men with wheelbarrows are waiting for you in port and paying few coins they will take the luggage to your pousada. The main village is filled with small and charming pousadas of all the levels. The streets are sandy and the names of the principal beaches are as original as:  beach 1, beach 2, beach 3 and beach 4. Beach 2 is the most popular beach, when it comes to the beach life, bars and restaurants. Beach 4 on the other hand is the most distant one that offering peace and tranquility. In case you are into something in between choose the beach 3. It allows you an easy access to the services of the village and offers quality accomodation in harmony with the nature.

Beach side

Beach side

What to do on the island then? Walk along the beaches, swim and enjoy snorkeling in the clear waters. You can also visit the ruins of a historic fortress located close to the port, practise horseback riding or stroll along the paths all the way to a waterfall located in the middle of the island. One of the most interesting day trips is a boat ride to the near by island of Boipeba. The first stop of the tour is the natural swimming pool, a great place to observe the tropical fish in bright colors. After that the rubber boat continues to Boipeba, a beautiful and unspoiled neighbouring island. Here you will walk along the coastline, have a chance to take a bath and enjoy the beach life while having your lunch. If you prefer absolute peace and unobstructed touch with nature, you may even consider staying over night at Boipeba in stead of Morro de São Paulo. This island is less touristic and has less services available, but the small and cosy pousadas will make sure that your stay is going to be comfortable enough. Boipeba is the destination of  your urban escape, when the only things you want to hear are the proper sounds of the nature.

Boipepa

Boipepa

Back to Morro de São Paulo….Once the night falls, the bars on the second beach will receive both the locals and the tourists. At late night the show goes on in an old amphitheatre nowadays called just Teatro. This kind of open air “night club” located a short walk from the village in midst of a tropical biodiversity offers an easygoing atmospheare for those willing to discover the island’s night life. No matter whether you decide to stay calm and lay down in the hammock of your pousada or walk back from Teatro to your accommodation in the village, the thousand stars of this paradise island will light your way!

Other Bahia related blog posts and destinations combining perfectly with Tinharé and Boipeba:

Our suggested itineraries including the islands of Tinharé and Boipeba.

View over the sea

View over the sea

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Solar do Morró – A good tourist class pousada located in the heart of the village close to the beaches and to the services.
  • Pousada Minha Louca Paixão – Lovely pousada with prime location at the 3rd beach of Morro de São Paulo.
  • Pousada Portalo – A high quality pousada with up hill location and great views. Portalo offers apartments, suites and bungalows with pleasant pool area.
  • Pousada Vila dos Orixas – Vilas dos Orixias is a quality pousada located in a distant beach of Encanto. It offers bungalow accommodation and is an excellent choice for those looking for tranquility.
  • Pizzaria da Mercedes, Forno e Lenha – Delicious pizzas. If you offer any other meal, they are delicious as well, but be prepared to wait, it may take a while…
  • Restaurante Tia Dadai – Traditional restaurant, close to the main square of the village, serving tasty Bahian food.
  • Pousada Almaviva, Boipeba – A small colonial house which was fully renovated respecting the old style and today serves the travellers who want to enjoy cosy good old days style accommodation. A charming choise, just about 5 minutes walk from the beach.
  • Pousada Horizonte Azul, Boipeba – Pousada Horizonte Azul is located in the middle of the tropical gardens and is a perfect place for full relaxation.
  • Pousada Mangabeiras, Boipeba – Distant top hill location of this pousada guarantees a relaxing stay with all the comforts.
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