Active beach holiday in Itacaré

Itacaré

Itacaré

Itacaré is an extremely popular beach destination located in southern Bahia. It was just an another tiny fisherman village, which due to tourism transformed itself to a small village with large number of restaurants, hotels, pousadas, shops and other facilities. Itacaré is located roughly 70 km north of Ilheus, the principal gateway to the attractions of the famous Cacao Coast. The closest airport is also located in Ilheus and a transfer from the city can easily be arranged, either on before hand or upon arrival.

Hiking the paths of Itacaré

Hiking the paths of Itacaré

Itacaré is a destination for an active holiday maker. It offers a large number of eco-tourism adventures out of which the most popular activities are surfing, hiking, raftig, rappeling and tree top walking. In the region of Itacaré the eco-activities are usually combined to the beaches and the most popular excursion is a hike that through the Atlantic rainforest vegetation takes you to the beaches of Jeribucaçu, Engenhoca and Havaizinho allowing you to visit the waterfall of Engenhoca as well. A light leisure walk to the beach of Prainha can easily be done either on your own or accompanied by a tour guide. By planning it in before hand you can also try out tree top walking before reaching the beach. If you are a surfer Itacaré is a paradise for you. Most of the beaches have raither strong waves, being Tiririca the most popular one when it comes to surfing.

Itacarezinho

Itacarezinho

For those who just want to relax and prefer a quality resort with top amenities, we recommend staying at Txai Resort located at the beach of Itacarezinho. It’s a long white sand beach with limited infrastructure and guaranteed rest. Even if you didn’t stay at Txai we do recommend you to visit Itacarezinho, which is located about 15 km of distance from the village. This beach is ideal for both long walk (3,5km) and a refreshing bath in the sea. It’s just a perfect escape from the raither growded and touristic beaches of Itacaré.

Prainha

Prainha

A full day excursion from Itacaré to Taipú de Fora and Barra Grande is also offered by the travel agencies. To be honest I don’t think it’s worth it or better say the peninsula of Maraú, where these two villages are located, is worth much more than just a quick one day visit. If possible, forget about the excursion and combine Itacaré with Barra Grande and Taipú de Fora by staying at least 3 nights in this lovely peninsula. I’m absolutely positive that you will not regret it!

Itacaré

Itacaré

When the night falls, Rua Pituba,  the main street of Itacaré is filled with both locals and tourists. There are a large number of restaurants for all tastes and budgets, choose the one the most fits for your needs and enjoy the relaxed atmospheare of this lively village. After having had your dinner it’s time to enjoy some local rhythms. The night of Itacaré starts late and goes on until the first rays of sun rise from the horizon and it’s time to start an another day full of activities.

Area view

Area view

Then, what  do I sincerely think about Itacaré? If you are looking for night life, activities, water sports and eco-tourism, then yes Itacaré is your place. But in case you prefer pristine beaches, hideaway bays and full relaxation consider spending most of your time for example in Barra Grande or Taipú de Fora and just extend your stay to Itacaré before leaving southern Bahia.

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Maria Farinha – A good tourist class pousada with prime location, just a step of away from the main street and the beach of Concha. Very clean and well kept property.
  • Pousada Bambu – An another recommended pousada with excellent location and good value for money.
  • Txai Resort – For those who want to rest and relax, a luxurius Txai Beach Resort facing the untouched beach of Itacarezinho is the number one choice.
  • O Restaurante – An excellent restaurant serving typical Bahia meals. Highly recommended.
  • Restaurante Tia Deth – A very simple, but terribly traditional restaurant serving tipical home made dishes. Don’t miss it!
  • Mar e Mel – In case you want to have a drink or enjoy a light dinner while listening to local rhythms choose Mar e Mel as your destination.
Ribeira beach

Ribeira beach

Chapada dos Guimarães: Hiking the highlands of Mato Grosso

Chapada dos Guimarães

Chapada dos Guimarães

Chapada dos Guimarães is located roughly 100 km northeast of Cuiabá, the state capital of Mato Grosso. These highlands of Brazil invite you to hike in the endless landscapes and bath under refreshing waterfalls. Once you reach Cuiabá the easiest way to reach Chapada dos Guimarães is by renting a car or contracting a private transfer. The road is in pretty good conditions and a second lane is currently under construction, making it pretty easy to reach the city of Chapada dos Guimarães. The city itself is pretty small, though the area of the National Park is raither extend and has several attractions, including waterfalls, caves, canyons, rivers and lagoons.

When planning a trip try to avoid  the first few months of the year, when the rainstorms tend to be heavier. Due to the location up in the highlands the winters (June-August) tend to be colder and the night time temperature may dropp close to zero degrees, something that may prevent you from enjoying a bath under the waterfalls. Therefore some of the very best moments to visit Chapada dos Guimarães are the months of May, September, October and November.

Veú de Noiva Waterfall

Veú de Noiva Waterfall

Get accommodated in the heart of the village and fill your days with excursions. One of the principal tours takes you to the numerous waterfalls of the national park, allowing you to have a refreshing bath under them. This full day excursion will also introduce you to the endless landscapes and rich vegetation of Chapada dos Guimarães National Park.  The tour includes also a visit to Veú de Noiva, the highest waterfall of the region with a breathtaking viewpoint next to it. Another interesting day trip takes you to the valley of Rio Claro surrounded by huge canyon walls. You will have a chance to admire the green landscapes of the valley, bath in the Rio Claro river and observe the sign language of indigenous tribes in the rocks.

Rio Claro Valley

Rio Claro Valley

Beside of these two principal tours organized in the national park, you will find a number of other attractions such as the waterfall of Martinha, located about 40km outside of the city. This waterfall is a popular bathing place among the locals, especially during the weekends. On your way back to town stop at the viewpoint and admire a spectacular sunset from the top of it. Chapada dos Guimarães is also a popular destination for adventure tourism. If you are into trekking, challenge yourself with the trail of São Jerónimo. Wonderful views from the top of it (836m) make it worth hiking. In Chapada dos Guimarães you will also have a chance to practise rappeling under a waterfall or light hiking for example in so called dinosaurus valley known for its’ strange rock formations.

Andorinha waterfall

Andorinha waterfall

At the moment there are few attractions that are closed due to either political reasons or lack of security. Among them are some of the principal sights of Chapada dos Guimarães like Cidade de Pedra (city of the rocks), the canyon of Paredão do Eco, cave of Aroe Jari and the Blue Lagoon (Lagoa Azul). When you travel to Chapada dos Guimarães check out the latest updates conserning these sights and set up of visit if possible, as the views from both Paredão do Eco and Cidade de Pedra are one in kind, while the cave and the lagoon are also certainly worth visiting.

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Villa Guimarães – An outstanding tourist class pousada in the heart of the city. Spacious rooms, excellent buffet breakfast and hospitable owners. Great value for money!
  • Pousada Solar do Ingles – A lovely pousada surrounded by tropical gardens and decorated with the traditional English style. A great choice for a traveller looking for cozy, but stylish accommodation with number of details.
  • Restaurant Peixaria do Nelsinho – A fish restaurant with long traditions, remember to taste the smoked fish, the speciality of the house.
  • Restaurant Som da Oca – A simple restaurant in the city center with tasty food  and great value for money.
  • Restaurant Bistrô da Mata – A sophisticated restaurant in the middle of the nature with great views. An excellent place to enjoy both the atmospheare and the dinner.
Paredão do Eco

Paredão do Eco

Climate: Avoid the rainy seasons and find the best time to visit each part of Brazil.

Long time ago I promised to write about the seasons, but as there are so many interesting topics I totally forgot my intention to dedicate an entire blog post only for seasons. However this issue came up again sometime ago when I was wishing that central Brazil would get some heavy rains to extinguish the forest fires.

Seasons are funny. In theory there are better or worse seasons for travelling, but if we are totally honest in today’s

Eco-Adventures

Eco-Adventures

word there is no way to forecast all the climatical conditions and their consequences for the nature. This is exactly what happened in case of central Brazil as well. Basically the dry season is the best moment to hike around in such National Parks as Chapada dos Guimarães (Mato Grosso) and Chapada dos Veadeiros (Goiaís). However the extremely dry season with no rain at all for many months can cause several forest fires and damage these conserved areas. This is exactly what happened with Chapada dos Guimarães.

Anyhow none of us enjoys travelling during the rainy season, so this is basically one of the most important things to take into consideration when planning a trip. During the rainy season the northest part of Brazil receives heavy rainfalls and  just like the northeastern coast may also suffer intense floods. Naturally you don’t want to book a beach holiday if the probably of raining cats and dogs is pretty much higher than a possibility of sunbathing.

So, let’s take a look at the seasons. In the northern Brazil (See Map) the rainy season starts at the end of the year and goes basically until May. This is when it’s not worth visiting such beach destinations as Ilha do Algodoal, Ilha de Marajó and Alter do Chão, or depending on the intensity of the rains practise outdoor activities in the Amazon region . The northeastern coast is the next one to receive the rains. The extreme north of it (Maranhão and Ceará) tend to suffer for heaviest rains between March and May/June. However there are some very dry coastal areas in Ceará (like Canoa Quebrada) with very low annual rainfall. Right after follow the states of Rio Grande do Norte and Paraiba with the rainy season basically in between April and July, while Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe and Bahia tend to receive the highest amouth of rainfall between May and August. In the southern the end of Bahia the rainy season may extend until September.

Cloudy day in Rio

Cloudy day in Rio

When we reach the states of southeastern and southern Brazil things change. Then the guestion is not just about the rainy season, but raither about the temperature. Yes, Brazil is a tropical country, but it’s also a huge country meaning that there are times when you simply cannot enjoy sun and the beaches in extreme south like Florianopolis or Balneario de Camboriu. During the winter months even Rio de Janeiro has a raither mild weather, which is not bad at all when it comes to a city-break, but if you are dreaming of hot days on the beach you may not get what you are looking for. In this region the highest rainfall usually occurs during the summer months, which naturally are the hottest and the most humid months as well. There may be some days with heavy rains, but a typical summer rain in Rio de Janeiro tends to be a strong thunderstorm at the end of the day, something that really doesn’t deter you from having a perfect beach holiday.

When it comes to eco-tourism destinations thing get even a little bit more complicated. Like I mentioned earlier the rainy season hits the Amazon region during the first six months of the year. Other eco-tourism destinations that should be avoided during the beginning of the year are Chapada dos Veadeiros, Lencois Maranhenses, Pantanal and Jalapão. However when it comes to eco-tourism it’s highly recommended to visit these and some other destinations like Bonito, Iguacu Falls, Chapada dos Guimarães, Delta de Parnaiba and Chapada Diamantina right after the rains, when the level of water in the waterfalls is highest and the nature is very much alive thanks to the rains.

For more details and full information about best travelling seasons check out our specific destination guide divided into Beaches, Eco-tourism and Culture.

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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Alter do Chão: Caribbean of the Amazonas, Pará

Beaches of Alter do Chão

Beaches of Alter do Chão

It’s not long time ago that the newspaper La Guardian chose Alter do Chão as the most beautiful Brazilian beach. What makes this choice so particular is the fact of Alter do Chão is in fact located almost 1400 km from the coast. So how can it be that the most beautiful Brazilian beach is located in inlands? Anyone visiting Alter do Chão during the second half of the year can make their own conclusion, but there is not doubt that these river side beaches are incredible and totally comparable with any other beaches when it comes to the beauty. Thanks to the clear waters Tapajós river, this region is often called as the Caribbean of Amazonas. However Alter do Chão is not just a beach destination, in fact it’s raither a destination of eco-tourism, which allows you to combine eco-adventures with relaxing holiday on one of these fabulous beaches.

Rainforest vegetation

Rainforest vegetation

Alter do Chão is a tiny village located in the edge of Tapajós River, approximately 35 km from Santarem. It’s a very popular holiday destination in the region and during the recent years both national and international tourists have found it. Alter do Chão has quite an easy access, at least once you have reached Santarem either by plane or by fluvial access. After having arrived to Santarem, you can either take a transfer organized by your hotel/pousada, or reach Alter do Chão by renting a car. Even though many of the streets are not asphalted, driving in the region is not complicating at all. Once you start planning your holiday in Alter do Chão, there are few points you should pay attention to. If your intention is to enjoy one of those incredible beautiful beaches you have to visit Alter do Chão during the dry season. This means the last six months of the year when the beaches appear. In case you are looking for eco-tourism adventures and different beauties of the nature, other seasons can be considered as well.

Rainforest vegetation

One of the most famous beaches of the area is called Ilha do Amor (Island of love). It’s literally a kind of island with white sand beaches located in front of the village. During the low tide it can be reached on foot, otherwise you will need to take a rowboat accross the river. If possible we would recommend you to enjoy Ilha do Amor during the weekdays, when it’s less crowded. Other popular beaches located in the region are a little further away. Either you have to hire a tour or a car in order to reach them. One of the closest is the beach of Ponta da Pedra, which can be reached also via fluvial access. This naturally beautiful beach is worth visiting and it’s also an excellent for swimming and sunbathing. Other interesting beaches are Pindobal and little bit further away Cajutuba, which is in beauty is totally comparable to Ilha do Amor . The last beach with basic infrastructure is Aramanai. It’s a distant, but very peaceful beach with lovely little guesthouse surrounded by rainforest vegetation and serving also delicious homemade food.

Canal of Jari

Canal of Jari

Visiting the Canal of Jari is one of the eco-tourism adventures organized in the area. This tour takes you to the other side of the Tapajós river, where you will clearly observe how the brownish waters of the Amazon river get mixed with the clear blue waters of Tapajós river. The first stop of this day trip takes you to the beach of Ponta da Pedra, where a lunch can be enjoyed as well. The next stop is on the other side of the river, where the flora and the fauna of the canal can be observed. Please note that crossing the river is not a simple journey. The winds tend to be heavy and you better be prepared to get wet before reaching the final destination. While discovering the Canal of Jari, you will see many different species of birds, butterflies, monkeys, sloths, lizards and if you are lucky also the pink dolphins, typical of the Amazonian region. The families living around the Canal of Jari are a beautiful example of living in full harmony with the surrounding nature. Like we have pointed out earlier as well, eco-tourism is not the same as observing animals. When we talk about the wild life, there is no guarantee that you will be able to see some specific species. Searching them and observing the entire eco-system is part of the eco-tourism and each time you visit any of these rural areas you will certainly find something you never even expected. In the region of Alter do Chão, there is also an opportunity for guided visits to the rainforest areas. Please note that simply due to the safety reasons these areas are not recommendable to be discovered on your own, but always a with professional guide who can also provide you a large quantity of information during the tour.

Sloth

Sloth

Culturally the region has also an interesting history. During the rubber fever two important factories were established in the cities of Belterra and Fordlandia. In Belterra the typical North American style houses built in the years of glory can still be seen, but the welfare of the good old days is gone and for example Fordlandia is today basically an abandoned city. As an overall summary visiting the region of Alter do Chão and Santarem is an interesting experience, which allows you, not only to enjoy the nature but also perceive how is the way of life in these rural areas of the Amazon basin.

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Hotel BeloAlter, Alter do Chão – This cozy hotel offers excellent quality of accommodation surroundend by large tropical gardens. You can stay in a traditional room or choose an alternative option of staying at ecological “three house” with all the modern facilities. BeloAlter is located short walk or a quick drive away from the heart of the village. This is where the Prince Charles stayed during his visit to Alter do Chão..
  • Pousada Aramanai – A very small and simple, but extremely hospitable pousada with prime located in front of the Aramanai beach. A choice for those who prefer the nature and the tranquility out of modern facilities.
  • Hotel Sandis, Santarem – If for some reason you will stay over night in Santarem Hotel Sandis is a good and centrally located tourist class choice.
Cajutuba

Cajutuba

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.

The Delta of Parnaíba, Piauí

Delta of Parnaíba

Delta of Parnaíba

Delta of Parnaíba has a unique ecosystem, comparable only to the Nile or the Mekong River. It’s located in the state of Piauí, close to the boader of Maranhão and consists of 85 islands covering an area of 2700 km2. The Delta of Parnaíba is a mixture of rivers, lagoons, dunes and deserted beaches. The mangrove trees are home for many different species of birds and other animals, such as crocodiles, monkeys, turtles and crabs that can all be found from the area of Delta.

The unique nature of Delta

The unique nature of Delta

For a tourist , a visit to Delta of Parnaíba is not the simplest thing to do. First of all the access to this ecosystem has to be done from the city of Parnaíba, which do has an airport, but it’s only operated by small regional airlines. Therefore a visit to Delta often forms part of a larger itinery including either Lencois Maranhenses in Maranhão or Jericoacoara in Ceará, or both. The reach Parnaiba departing from Lencois Maranheses your first step will be reaching Caburé and then after you need to hire a 4×4 transfer to Parnaíba. The first part of this transfer takes you over the dunes until you reach a road leading to Parnaíba. In total the journey takes about 5 hours, as the road is not in the best possible conditions. If you are coming from direction of Jericoacoara, the access is done with 4×4 vehicles as well, as leaving Jericoacoara can only be done over the dunes. The total distance is about 220 km and an approximate time of journey is around 4 hours. An another option is to arrive from the direction of the state capital Teresina accessible by major airlines of the country. In this case the distance is about 335 km. If you decide to choose this option and are into active eco-tourism, including a visit to the National Park of Sete Cidades, located in the northern part of Piauí state only about 140 km from Parnaíba, might be an interesting option for you. This National Park is wellknown for particularly interesting stone formations dividing the area into seven different ambients (“Seven cities”, like the names says).

Boat excursion

Boat excursion

However let’s get back to the main point, the Delta of Parnaíba. To get to know the delta your options are either a private or a group excursion, being the second one of course a more economic option for you. Private tours are taylor made according to your schedules, while the group excursions have a duration of a day and are organized on board of a river boat, which in fact is a quite charming way to explore the region. The journey takes you along the river all the way to deserted beaches, where you have a chance for a bath. You will climb up on the dunes to see how wide the area of Delta really is and enjoy a delicious lunch buffet on the board surrounded but the mangrove vegetation. During the excursion you will fully experience the nature of this unique ecosystem. If you are not travelling during the high season try to visit Parnaíba on weekends, just to guarantee that the inexpensive group excursions are organized while you are in the city. Flying over the Delta is also a great way to see the expansion of the rivers and the islands. This is when you really realize how amzingly large the area is.

For those willing to feel the pureness of the nature with all their senses and discover the ecosystem on their own, we would recommend a visit to Ilha do Caju. This island that forms part of the Delta is in fact located in the side of Maranhão, but enjoys the best fluvial access leaving from Parnaíba (approximately 3½-4 hours). Ilha do Caju is under ecological protection and is a perfect destination for those who enjoy active eco-tourism. Due to the private ownership the access requires a reservation in the only pousada located on the island. The numerous cashew trees have given the name for this island, which until today is one of the few places where the wonders of the nature have been totally preserved.

Pedra do Sal

Pedra do Sal

Once you have arrived to Parnaíba visited Delta, it’s not worth continuing your journey immediately. Beside of Delta, Parnaíba has other attractions to offer as well. You may make a day trip to many of the beaches on the litoral of Piauí, being some of the most interesting ones Praia da Pedra do Sal and Macapá. All of them are naturally beautiful offering rustic beach services. Pedra do Sal is characterized by stone formations and Macapá on the other hand is a meeting point for a river and the sea. The most famous beach of the area is Luis Correia, which tends to be pretty crowded during the weekends. Try it out from Monday till Friday, and on weekends head to the more peaceful beach like Praia do Coqueiro located not so far away from Luis Correia. This beach with many palm trees offers also quality accommodation for those looking for to stay in front of the sea.

Our itinerary suggestions including Delta of Parnaiba.

Beach of Macapá

Beach of Macapá

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Dos Ventos, Parnaíba – Centrally located good quality pousada in Parnaíba. Excellent choice for any travelling willing to visit the Delta of Parnaíba.
  • Pousada Ecológica, Ilha do Caju – The only pousada of the island operates respecting the ecological values and is a perfect base for your eco-tourism adventures. Please not pousada doesn’t accept under 15 years old children.
  • Aimberê Eco-Resort, Praia do Coqueiro – A good quality choice for those willing to stay in front of the beach., just a short drive from the city of Parnaíba.
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