ECOTOURISM, SUN & BEACHES
Fernando de Noronha
This archipelago of 21 islands offers breathtaking beaches and rich marine wildlife, such as dolphins, tortoises and albatrosses.
Located 545 km from Recife, Noronha, as it known, is a UNESCO Natural Heritage site. Some 70% of the archipelago is a National Marine Park and the rest an Environmental Preservation Area.
You can get there by plane or cruise, but only 450 visitors per day are accepted, and a small environmental preservation fee is charged from tourists upon arrival. Most tourists choose to stay at the lively Vila dos Remédios, which is closer to groceries, pharmacies and restaurants. There are trails, ancient fortresses, lush greenery and hills. This is an area of stunning natural beauty, great for diving and surfing, but Noronha also offers both regional and international cuisine.
SPORTS, SUN & BEACHES
Jijoca de Jericoacoara
This is a dream location. Located on the north coast in the state of Ceará, approximately 300 km from state capital Fortaleza, sand dunes dominate the landscape and the wind forms them into sculptures. The constant breeze makes this beach perfect for sports such as kite surfing and windsurfing.
Jericoacoara is also situated inside the National Park, an untouched environmentally-protected area home to endless beaches.
Jeri, as it is affectionately called, it is reachable by bus or off-road car and the route passes through both desert and wild beaches.
Jericoacoara remains under a spell, reflecting the simple patterns of life of a fishermen village. There are sand streets and much of the houses are simple wood structures, surrounded by tropical plants and flowers.
Historical Gold Cycle cities in Minas Gerais
Founded in 1698, and now a World Heritage site, Ouro Preto is living artistic and architectural memorial of Brazil’s colonial period and has the world’s largest collection of Baroque architecture. It was designed in a European style by artists and built by slaves.
This former gold-rush capital was one of the country’s most progressive cities and the birthplace of the former colony’s first stirrings of independence. Toward the end of the 18th century the mines began running out, as all the gold and jewels were being sent to Portugal. Dissatisfied inhabitants, incensed by the governor’s corruption, organized the Inconfidência Mineira to overthrow the Portuguese rulers and establish an independent Brazilian republic. The movement failed, but is remembered today as a valiant struggle of Brazilian independence and freedom.
The surrounding mountains, the preserved mansions, the cobblestone streets, morning mist and evening fog give to this bustling university town an enchanting atmosphere.
Amongst its attractions, there are original works by Aleijadinho – the most celebrated sculptor, engraver and architect of colonial Brazil – museums, not to mention an intense cultural life.
Near to Ouro Preto are the gold cities of Mariana and Tiradentes. These smaller towns have preserved much of their 18th-century origins. Mariana is the oldest city in Minas Gerais and stages weekly organ concerts at its cathedral. Tirandentes has a charming atmosphere, with shops, restaurants, museums, churches, nightlife. In January the city hosts a film festival in January.
(Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul)
The Pantanal is one of the largest continental wetland in the world – with approximately 150,355 square kilometres, and stretches across the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. The Pantanal stands out for the richness of its fauna, with 263 species of fishes, 41 species of amphibians, 113 reptile species, 463 bird species and 132 mammal species. Nearly 2,000 species have been identified in the biome and some have powerful medicinal potential.
Enjoying the diversity of the wetland fauna is the main attraction here. Accompanied by local guides, tours take you into grasslands and woodlands, where multicolored toucans, blue macaws, alligators, capybaras, anteaters and monkeys are easy to see. At night, wildlife tours offer a different experience and you can even see wolves, raccoons and owls. There are also rafting and river trips.
Pantanal is ruled by annual cycles of rain and drought. For wildlife watching, go in the dry period, from May to September. This period is when flowers bloom, providing colourful views. From October to May, rivers and wetlands overflow and the fields flood. This is the season which most characterizes Pantanal. Boats trips, horseback riding in the water and 4×4 vehicle tours become more exciting.
SUN, BEACHES & SPORTS
Pipa /Tibau do Sul
(Rio Grande do Norte)
Tibau do Sul, which is both beach and city with the same name, is best known for hosting Pipa – one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil, famous for its accommodation, restaurants and nightlife. Descending from a high cliff, you are welcomed by a paradisiacal scene of beaches, reef pools, waves, coconut palms, bars and restaurants.
Tibau do Sul is also enchanting. Quieter, it still functions as a fishing village and offers tranquility and wildlife. Mangroves and cliffs hide secluded beaches. The picturesque views include fishing boats and people practicing water sports. The dunes and beaches are also perfect for surfing, kite surfing or sand boarding.
ECOTOURISM, SUN & BEACH
Santarém & Alter do Chão
The jungle city of Santarém sits where the muddy waters of the River Amazon meet the crystalline River Tapojós. Both effluents flow side by side without mixing, a local phenomenon which can be observed
Santarém is known as the ‘Pearl of the Tapojós’, and boasts colonia architecture and impressive old buildings, such as the church of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, made of stucco in 1661 and stuffed with colonial relics.
30km from Santarém is the charming riverside town of Alter do Chão – a fisherman’s village with a picturesque quayside that is also popular with tourists. Nearby is the Ilha do Amor (Love Island). There is also a beautiful riverside beach, which can be reached by canoe, and which is dotted with stalls that sell delicious grilled fish. A
little further away is a mid-river sandbank, popular with tourists and accessible by boat, where stunning sunsets can be enjoyed.
The freshwater beaches along the River Tapajós from Alter do Chão are known as the ‘Caribbean of the Amazon’, and depending on the tide, are an obligatory stop for passing international cruises. Every
August, in an unusual natural phenomenon, the paraenses rivers (the rivers from the state of Pará) subside and some 200 beaches appear. The best time to enjoy the Amazonian summer is during August and
From Alter do Chão, tourists can go trekking in the protected Tapojós Forest, take boat rides to lakes, and even see porpoises. The gastronomy in Pará is famous for its variety of herbs, fruits and freshwater fish, but a good place to start is with the pulp of the açaí berry.
CULTURAL, ECOTOURISM, SUN & BEACH
São Luís & Lençois Maranhenses
The atmospherically-beautiful, if crumbling, old centre of São Luís is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and bears influences from its French founders – although subsequent Dutch, Portuguese, African and native Indian influences are also visible. Take a stroll through Avenida Pedro II, to see the most impressive colonial buildings, whose balconies lean over cobbled streets.
The capital of Maranhão state, Brazil´s poorest, is also proud of its rich, distinctive culture and June´s Bumba Meu Boi festival of music and dance is an unmissable explosion of colour, costume and rhythm. As well as the tambor da criola, a hypnotic combination of African dance, percussion and rhyme, there are the costumed square dances of bumba meu boi, led by brass and drum combos. All of which takes place in the cobbled streets where 4,000 colonial buildings huddle together. The city is also the national capital of reggae, which here is danced by couples swaying in each arms.
São Luís does boast wide, beautiful beaches such as Praia de Ponta D’Areia with its bars, restaurants and nightlife, but unfortunately pollution means that swimming is not advised. Instead, head for Alcântara, an hour or so´s bumpy boat ride across the bay. This is a stone-built colonial town built by slaves for the visit of a Portuguese king who never actually arrived – and its heat-soaked air is heady with historical atmosphere. Folk festivals are common and there are also a handful of excellent pousadas such as Pousada Bela Vista with its stunning views, swimming pools and leafy grounds.
Maranhão is also famous for the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park – an eerie expanse of endlessly-rolling sand dunes punctuated by clear, blue lagoons such as Lagoa Bonita and Lagoa Azul. Barrerinhas is a centrally-located tourist town for 4×4 trips and pousadas and also has a charming river-side walkway with restaurants. Visit the small village of Atins, an access point for untouched beaches, take a scenic flight, or a speedboat journey down the lush, tropical Rio Preguiça and climb the lighthouse at Mandacaru for panoramic views. Don’t forget to try the regional food, such as the rich, tasty pescada (a coconut milk fish stew) or arroz de cuxá, a seafood risotto. And snap up the local crafts made of buriti straw. The best time of year to visit the Park Lençóis Maranhenses is between June to September, in winter when the lagoons are full.
Parque Nacional da Serra da Capivara
Retrace the footsteps of ancient primitive tribes. São Raimundo Nonato is the gateway to Parque da Serra da Capivara, in the Northeastern state of Piauí, which has the largest concentration of pre-historic archaeological sites in the country. There are more than 40,000 paintings, many over 9,000 years old and it is one of the best places in the Americas to see signs of the presence of pre-historic man dating back 50,000 years.
This wild and cinematic pre-historic landscape attracts travelers and researchers from all over the world and is framed by jagged rock formations and peaks. The Baixão da Pedra Furada is an archeological centre with ancient rock literature carvings there is a visitor´s centre. The Desfiladeiro da Capivara is a trail which visits some of the key archaeological sites.
In São Raimundo Nonato there is also the Museum of the American Man (O Museu do Homem Americano), where prehistoric urns, tools, housewares and inscriptions are on show.