Your day-by-day itinerary
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.
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.
You’ll spend your first night in the resort town of Porto de Galinhas (meaning chicken harbour!), 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. The waters here are warm and shallow, sheltered by the reefs offshore, and you can relax by the beach, and also organise dune buggies, snorkels and boat trips locally if you’re feeling more active. There’s not too much going on around here, but isn’t that sort of the point?
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 Sao Francisco 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 at the mouth of the Rio Real. The remote location amongst the dunes has spared this place from major development, and 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 all your worries. You’ll be staying 2 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. The area is also home to sea turtles.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Overnight in Salvador
You’ll return to your hotel near the Pelourinho for one final night. This is your chance for a final evening sipping Caipirinhas and listening to samba beats drifting through the streets, as you prepare to wave goodbye to the delights of North-East Brazil.