Northern Brazil: Hiking & Beaches
8 days with Intrepid Travel Rating:
Day 1 Salvador
Bem vinda! Welcome to Salvador, the heart and soul of Brazil and the birthplace of Brazilian culture. Your adventure begins at 2 pm with an important welcome meeting followed by a free afternoon to relax or explore. As the oldest city in the country and the nation’s first capital, Salvador has transformed from what was once a major hub for the slave trade, into a thriving centre of Afro-Brazilian life. Considered Brazil’s most artistic city – the blended influence of European, African and indigenous cultures prevails through Salvador’s lively art scene, unique cuisine and vibrant streets – filled with an immersive energy thanks to year-round dance and music performances. During your free afternoon, why not acquaint yourself with the historic Pelourinho district – a UNESCO World Heritage site, characterised by its colourful colonial houses adorned with fine stuccowork. Perhaps take your time to admire some of the most well-preserved architecture in all the Americas, such as the exuberant Sao Francisco Church and Convent, with its extravagant baroque design and gold-leaf interior. This evening, you might like to join your fellow travellers for a group dinner and indulge in some Salvador specialties.
Day 2 Salvador
After breakfast, depart on a panoramic tour of the cultural capital of Brazil. Begin with breathtaking views of Baia de Todos os Santos (Bay of All Saints) from the viewpoint of the city’s historic landmark, Barra lighthouse, before continuing to the serene waters of the Itapagipe Peninsula, where fisherman catch fresh fish from traditional canoes, locals collect shellfish at low tide and life moves at a slower pace – all under the gaze of the famous Bonfim church, one of the most important churches of pilgrimage in Brazil. Your tour continues with a visit to the Monserrat district for sweeping views of this magnificent city, then on to the Mercado Modelo – once a customs house for processing slaves arriving in Brazil, now a thriving market offering an array of artisan goods. Your tour concludes along the narrow, winding streets of the Pelourinho district in the historic centre of Salvador. This afternoon, try your hand at the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira, which combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music – visit a school where you can observe a demonstration, followed by a short lesson. In the evening, discover the quintessentially Brazilian firewater that is Cachaca, as you visit a local bar that distills its own range of this unique cane liquor. Experiment with the many flavoured versions of the pure spirit – or try it as part of Brazil’s national cocktail, the world-famous Caipirinha.
Day 3 Morro de Sao Paulo
This morning, fuel up on breakfast and transfer from your hotel to the Salvador port to catch a high-speed catamaran to the island of Morro de Sao Paulo (approximately 2.5 hours), where a blend of lush jungles, picture-perfect beaches and tranquil waters wrap around a charming town that oozes historic character, and is home to a stunning church that dates back to the 1600s. Located almost 60 kilometres south of Salvador, one of the many attractions of the island is that it’s (for the most part) car-free, so upon arrival, observe the laidback village life as you make your way to the hotel on foot (for a small charge, local porters are available to transport heavy luggage with wheelbarrows). Once you’ve settled in, join your leader for an orientation walk around the town and nearby beaches before enjoying a free afternoon at leisure to explore this island paradise! This evening, why not unwind in one of Morro’s many barzinhos and watch the sleepy island burst to life after sunset – with its charismatic candle-lit luaus, rhythmic afro-Brazilian beats and free-flowing caipifrutas – Morro has something for everyone from day to night.
Day 4 Morro de Sao Paulo
Today is free for you to relax on the beach, enjoy the many local dining options, or take an optional tour by speedboat around the island. The tour takes in some of the Tinhare and Boipeba islands' most beautiful beaches as you circumnavigate Morro de Sao Paulo. First, cruise to Praia de Garapua, an idyllic palm-fringed beach with nearby natural pools rich in colourful reef fish – choose to snorkel in the turquoise waters or perhaps treat yourself to the famous ‘cocadas’, a typical sweet made of coconut and sold along the shoreline by locals. Continue by speedboat to Morere, on the island of Boipeba, and discover a secluded beach spot only accessible by boat. This stretch of paradise offers a tranquil and remote escape from mainland life thanks to its continued avoidance of tourist and urban development. Enjoy snorkeling and swimming in the pristine waters before stopping for lunch at Boca da Barra beach, where you’ll feast on an array of regional cuisine consisting of local ingredients. This afternoon, cruise to the Rio do Inferno, a water passage that divides the Tinhare and Boipeba islands, then on to Cairu to visit the Santo Antonio convent – one of the oldest standing pieces of colonial architecture in Brazil. On the way back, make a stop at Canavieira's natural oyster breeder, where you can taste their various fresh dishes and take one last swim in the ocean. Upon arrival in Morro de Sao Paulo, opt to stop at the historic fort and end your day basking in the rays of a beautiful island sunset.
Day 5 Lencois
Fill up on a hearty breakfast today as you leave behind the island life of Morro de Sao Paulo and make the long journey to the mountainous interior of Brazil, and the former diamond mining town of Lencois – gateway to the verdant landscapes of Chapada Diamantina National Park. First, sail back to the Salvador port before transferring to the station and taking a public bus (approximately 6 hours) through market towns and plantations, deep into the state of Bahia. After arriving and checking into the hotel, the evening is free to explore the brightly coloured buildings and cobbled streets of this charming colonial town where you’ll be spending the next three nights.
Day 6 Lencois / Serrano / Cachoeira Da Primavera
This morning, embark on a six-kilometre guided hike within the Chapada Diamantina National park that surrounds Lencois. Officially designated a national park in 1985, this hiker’s paradise spans over 1520 square kilometres and has drawn naturalists and adventurers ever since – all keen to explore the endless trekking trails which wind through rugged and rocky plains, thundering waterfalls, underground rivers, crystal clear lakes and quartzite caves – and discover the abundance of plant and animal species that inhabit this biodiverse ‘lost world’. Your expert guide will lead you through undulating terrain to a series of beautiful natural wonders, including Cachoeirinha (little waterfall), Primavera (spring) and Cataratas Paraiso (paradise waterfalls). Following an included lunch in the town of Lencois, continue your exploration on a three-kilometre walk to the Ribeirao do Meio River, famous for its clean, calm waters, natural water slide and jacuzzi!
Day 7 Lencois
After breakfast, enjoy another full day of hiking and activities. The day begins with a visit to the Rio Mucugezinho, a river that forms a variety of natural swimming pools including the Poco do Diabo (Devil’s Pool) waterfall, which aptly gets its name from the deep, dark water – feel free to take the plunge! After lunch, visit the Gruta Azul (Blue Cave), where at a certain time of day, the sun rays filter through an opening in the rock, beaming down on to the crystal-clear water, creating an astonishing vivid blue colour. Continue your exploration of natural wonders by descending 70 metres underground to wander through one of the most beautiful caves in Brazil, the Gruta da Lapa Doce. Explore 850 metres of fascinating limestone formations, before finishing the day with a short hike to the top of Morro do Pai Inacio (Father Inacio’s Hill) where you can enjoy panoramic views as the sun sets over the Chapada Diamantina National Park – a memorable finish before you return to Lencois for the evening.
Day 8 Salvador
Fill up on an early breakfast and bid farewell the stunning surrounds of Lencois as you travel back via public bus to Salvador. The bus departs this morning at 7.30 am and arrives in Salvador approximately 6 hours later at 1.30 pm. There are no activities planned for this afternoon – if you are leaving Salvador today, please ensure that flights are booked to depart at 5 pm or later, to avoid any risk of a missed flight in the event of delays.
All This Included
Experience the heart and soul of Brazilian culture and its remote interior wilderness as you embark on an eight-day adventure that breathes vibrant history and natural beauty. Feel the pulse of Afro-Brazilian beats on the streets of Salvador, sip Caipirinhas on the palm-fringed shores of Morro de Sao Paulo and traverse rugged plains and thundering waterfalls in the verdant landscapes of Chapada Diamantina National Park. Find yourself among lush jungles, picture-perfect beaches, colourful colonial houses and jaw-dropping caves on this perfect Brazilian blend of relaxation and exploration.
Hotel (7 nights)
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