Make Tracks Along the Coconut Highway

16-Day Self-Drive Brazil Itinerary

Prices from £1,798 pp

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View day-by-day

Duration16 days / 15 nights (flexible)


ItineraryOlinda - Porto de Galinhas - São Miguel dos Milagres - Penedo - Mangue Seco - Itacimirim - Salvador de Bahia - Chapada Diamantina - Salvador de Bahia

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This itinerary combines colonial cities, some of the best beaches in the continent, and the spectacular landscape of Chapada Diamantina. With no internal flights and your own rental car, you’ll have the freedom to explore the charms of North-East Brazil at your own pace. In just over two weeks you’ll travel from Olinda to Salvador, trek through the Diamond Canyon and relax in quiet little beach towns along the coast.

What's included

  • Accommodation – price based on 2 people sharing
  • Breakfast
  • Car hire
  • Transfers as described
  • Excursions as described

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Location map

Your day-by-day itinerary

Historical Olinda

The colonial town of Olinda is one big open-air museum filled with churches, museums and art galleries. and has a very genuine and slightly European feel. You’ll stay in a locally owned pousada near the centre, and during your time here you’ll take a tour on foot with a local guide, learning about the town’s love affair with Carnival and its fascinating past, as well as visiting its most beautiful buildings. Your evenings are free to explore the various restaurants and bars, and take in the relaxed atmosphere of this little coastal gem.

Historical Olinda

Coconut Palms and Fishing Villages

Over the next 8 days, you’ll experience some of the unspoiled, deserted beaches which North-East Brazil is famous for, as you get behind the wheel for a self-drive adventure along the ‘Linha Verde’ from Recife to Salvador. You’ll pass through tiny coastal villages, a colonial city, natural reserves and sweeping sand dunes, as you travel by car (and occasionally ferry) along this beautiful section of coastline, staying in charming, locally run pousadas along the way.

Coconut Palms and Fishing Villages

You’ll spend your first night in the resort town of Porto de Galinhas, a couple of hours from Recife, before heading further south and away from the usual tourist trail. Your next stop will be São Miguel dos Milagres, around 3.5 hours further south, where you’ll spend 2 nights. This is a serene, picturesque little town next to a stretch of unspoiled coastline with warm and shallow waters, sheltered by the reefs offshore. Relax by the beach, rent a dune buggy, or head out snorkeling. There’s not too much going on around here, but isn’t that sort of the point?

Boats in Sao Miguel dos Milagres

Next, you’ll continue a further 5 hours to Penedo – an attractive colonial city on the banks of the Sao Francisco river. It’s a convenient and pleasant stop-off point for the night, with plenty of baroque architecture and some good places to eat. The next section of your journey is an experience in itself, beginning with a ferry ride across the river, before hitting the road again. It’s about a 4-hour drive which takes you through the Santa Isabel Nature Reserve, past lakes where you can stop for a dip, over Brazil’s longest bridge and into the state of Bahia.

Finally, you’ll board another car ferry which will take you to the tiny, rustic village of Mangue Seco, situated at the tip of a sandy peninsula. There’s not much more here than a church, lighthouse, and a scattering of houses, restaurants and guesthouses. It’s full of relaxed Bahian charm though, and there are few better places in Brazil to spend a couple of days forgetting your worries. You’ll stay2 nights in a comfy pousada near the ocean, and if you get bored of sitting in the sun eating seafood then you can arrange quad bikes and watersports nearby.


After taking the ferry back over the Rio Real, it’s a scenic 2.5-hour drive along the coast to Itacimirim – a peaceful haven where you can kick back, sink a few Caipirinhas, and enjoy the final night of your self-drive adventure. You’ll stay in a friendly pousada, with a nice pool, a good restaurant, and easy access to the beach.

Boat on itacimirim beach

Cobbled Streets of Salvador

Back in the colonial days when the Portuguese ruled over Brazil, the arrival of African slaves brought African culture and traditions to Salvador de Bahia. The current combination of Indian, Portuguese and African influences really gives this city its unique identity. We believe the best place to experience this melting pot of cultures is in the historic Pelourinho district.

Cobbled Streets of Salvador

Upon your arrival in Salvador you’ll find one of our local guides waiting for you. They’ll tell you all about the city and its heritage as they take you to your comfortable pousada in the Pelourinho district. During your stay you will head out with your guide to explore this historic district, as you wander along the cobbled streets you will learn all about the history and how the religions and cultures from Africa have mixed with the Portuguese heritage to create a unique Bahian community.

On Foot through Diamond Canyon

If you love the great outdoors, you’ll love Chapada Diamantina National Park. We’ll reserve your seats on the bus to take you to this land of table mountains, mysterious caves, waterfalls and breathtaking plateaus. You’ll arrive in Lencois, a cowboy town once inhabited by gold and diamond prospectors, after around 6 hours. We’ll make arrangements for you to spend two nights at a local colonial pousada, perched high upon a hill top.

a large boulder on top of a hill covered in green trees

During the trip we’ll arrange a local guide so you can explore the area’s most interesting spots. Your guide will take you hiking past waterfalls where prospectors once searched for gold and diamonds. You’ll also have an opportunity to go snorkelling through a network of caverns or you can climb a table mountain. On the evening of your third day we’ll arrange your reservation aboard the overnight bus to Salvador, arriving early the next morning.


Speak to our Brazil specialist, Ceri

Start planning your next adventure to Brazil by giving us a call or sending us your holiday plans.

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