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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The African Roots of Salvador, Bahia

Streets of Pelourinho

Streets of Pelourinho

Salvador, the state capital of Bahia, was also the first capital of Brazilian Republic and even today is the city with most african influence. Salvador is also the third biggest city of the country, right after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and naturally its’ airport is among the busiest of northeastern part of Brazil. In Salvador you can easily feel the african roots of Brazilian culture, hear the rhythms, taste the flavours and feel the power of myths and such african religions as candomble.

If you are looking for culture together with city life, Salvador is probably one of the most interesting brazilian cities to stop by. The main attraction of Salvador is the old town called Pelourinho, located in the upper part of the city, which belongs in the Unesco list of World Heritage sites. It’s dominated by colorful colonial style buildings, beautiful churches and lively streets. Here you will find plenty of charming restaurants, shops of local handcrafts, artists of all kind and “baianas“, the local ladies wearing traditional white dressing and often selling some delicacies. It’s not rare to find people practising capoeira or playing Afro-Brazilian rhythms on the street. It’s here, where samba-reggae was born and became famous thanks to well known Afro-Brazilian band Olodum. Up from the edge of Perlourinho you will also have beautiful view over the Baía de Todos os Santos bay and if you take an elevator down you will find yourself being in front of the Mercado Modelo market, an another excellent place to buy local handcrafts and souvenirs of Bahia.

Mercado Modelo

Mercado Modelo

Salvador has another important historical spots as well, one of the most popular being the church of Bonfim. This church is a pilgrimage destination for the Brazilians, but is worth visiting for anybody who enjoys old architecture and history. To reach Bonfim, you can either take a regular bus leaving in front of Mercado Modelo or alternatively try the touristic Salvador Bahia Bus, which works on “hop on, hop off” basis and in addition to Bonfim takes you to many other interesting parts of the city with fixed daily price. If you choose regular bus, you better be prepared to longer travelling time, due to the number of stops and depending on the type of the bus, air conditioning may not be available either. Just like in Rio de Janeiro, in Salvador organized tours to favela (=slum) can also be found. Part of the tour fee usually goes in the education or in the improvement of the living conditions of the favela inhabitants, so therefore the tours are not only a safe way to visit favela, but also a great way to make this world a better place for everybody.

Church of Bonfim

Church of Bonfim

When choosing your neighborhood in Salvador we would recommend you to stay either in Pelourinho, Barra or Rio Vermelho. In Pelourinho you will find some charming old building that were refurbished to serve as hotels and has turned out to be an excellent place to spend overnight.  Another good options to stay are the neighborhoods of Barra and Rio Vermelho, both just a short drive away from Pelourinho with large variety of accommodation options for all budget and several restaurants and bars for dining as well. The carnival of Rio de Janeiro may be world widely more famous than the carnival of Bahia, but in fact the carnival of Salvador is the world’s biggest street party and attract a countless number of participants to celebrate in the streets of Salvador. Definetely something you should consider about, if you are into carnivals!

Baianas

Baianas

Many tourists travel to Bahia planning to stay at one of the stunning beaches of the state, but once you are in Salvador make sure you stop there at least for two or three nights. Salvador is worth stopping and after having explored Pelourinho, we are sure that you are not regretting at all. We recommed you to combine Salvador with some of the many beach or eco-tourism destination located close by.

In our other blog posts we have already covered destinations that combine perfectly with Salvador, check out our related blog posts:

Our suggested itineraries including Salvador:

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Casa do Amarelinho – A small hotel located in refurbished building in the heart of Pelourinho. Excellent level of service with special charm and all the amenities you might be expecting.
  • Catharina Paraguacu – A good tourist class hotel located at Rio Vermelho. Catharina Paraguacu offers you an intimate stay in an old style building surrounded by gardens.
  • Restaurante O Nilo – An excellent restaurant serving arab food in a peaceful corner of Pelourinho. O Nilo has tables both inside and outside, but does not accept credit cards.
Pelourinho

Pelourinho

Hiking in Chapada Diamantina, Bahia

Colors of Sertão

Colors of Sertão

The national park of Chapada Diamantina is located in the state of Bahia, about 400 kilometers from the state capital Salvador and is charactirized of cliffs, table mountains, canyons, caves and waterfalls. In the past decades Chapada Diamantina was famous for diamonds found from the rivers of this National Park, which nowadays is one of the most popular eco-tourism destinations in Bahia.

Due to the breathtaking landscapes and easy access, Chapada Diamantina has became a popular destination among tourists seeking an active holiday and willing to get to know this different, often less known part of brazilian countryside. Chapada Diamantina can be reached either car or by regular bus from Salvador. The bus journey to the principal village, Lencois, takes about 6-7 hours, but luckily in general brazilian busses are quite comfortable with plenty of leg space and inclining seats. A private transfer will naturally be more expensive, but also quicker way to reach the destination. An another option is to arrive to Lencois by air. A weekly flight from Salvador operated by Trip Linhas Aéreas takes about 55 minutes and is currently operated on Saturdays only. Lencois is a small and picturesque village with number of charming pousadas, colonial style buildings and tiny roads.

Hiking Sossego

Hiking Sossego

When visiting Chapada Diamantina, the focus is naturally on activities available in the area. It’s good to take into consideration, that some of the hikes do need a certain physical condition. Closest to the village you will find the Primavera waterfall and the Serrano River with beautiful views over the village. Thanks to the easy access they can be visited, for example on the day of arrival. Brazil’s highest waterfall, Cachoeira da Fumaca is one of the principal attractions of the national park. The most popular way to reach the waterfall is from above, which requieres 6 km walking from the ecological basement of Vale do Capão. For real adventures, with good physics, can reach Cachoeira da Fumaca from below. This route requiering a three days hike. An another popular hike leading you to a waterfall, is the trail of Sossego. The lenght of this trail is about 8 km per way and there is no real path. You will go up and down the river side, jumping from a stone till another until you reach the waterfall of Sossego at the end of the canyon. We do not recommend the trail of Sossego for persons, who have problems with knees or do not have physical preparation. It’s also recommendable to have a local guide with you on all hikes as there are no signs nor clear paths.

One of the several waterfalls

One of the several waterfalls

In addition to hikes there are also other interesting activities and excursions to be enjoyed in the area of Chapada Diamantina, being one of the most popular called “Roteiro 1” (route 1). This excurcion takes you to several attractions, including the caves of Gruta da Lapa Doce, Gruta Azul and Gruta da Pratinha. A walk through the Gruta da Lapa Doce takes about one hours and allows you to admire the sand formations inside of the cave. Both Gruta Azul and Gruta Pratinha are filled with crystal clear water and in Pratinha it’s possible to swim inside of the cave, observe the bats with a flashlight and see a number of fish when snorkeling towards the sunlight. The tour of “Roteiro 1” ends with a hike on the top of the table mountain Paí Inacio. After having reached the top you will enjoy endless landscapes and the breathtaking beauty of the sunset.

Check out our suggestions for itineraries including Chapada Diamantina.

View from the top of Paí Inacio

View from the top of Paí Inacio

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Vila Serrano – a lovely small pousada with personalized touch. All the rooms have a veranda or balcony and are individually decorated respecting the colonial style. Ideally located in a peaceful corner, close to the bus station and the heart of the city.
  • Restaurant Cozinha Aberta – Delicious food in a tiny restaurant and romantic dining in the terrace. Be prepared to wait, the slogan of the restaurant is “slow food” and it will take time for a meal to be served. However worth waiting for!
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