Your day-by-day itinerary
Olinda/Recife – Porto de Galinhas
This morning you’ll be collected from your hotel and taken to the rental office in Recife. An English speaking local representative will give detailed directions and information about driving in Brazil, before you get on the road. You’ll have a modern compact car, but we can arrange something a little bigger if you’d prefer.
Once you get out of the city, Porto de Galinhas is only around 1.5 hours south.
Porto de Galinhas (meaning chicken harbour!) is perhaps a little more developed than the other stops on this trip, but it has a gorgeous tree-lined beach, some good restaurants and bars, and a relaxed holiday atmosphere. This is also where you can take your first dip in the ocean! It’s a perfect location to spend a night before continuing your journey south, and you’ll stay in a locally run pousada within walking distance of the centre.
São Miguel dos Milagres
The journey to your next stop should take around 3.5 hours, including hopping onto a car ferry to cross the Rio Manguaba (it’ll cost about £3).
São Miguel dos Milagres 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.
You’ll stay in a little pousada within walking distance of the beach, and of the few restaurants, bars and shops in the town. The next couple of days you’ll have a free to relax by the pool or on the beach, but you can 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?
Today’s drive is around 5 hours, but you can take it easy and find a nice spot for lunch along the way.
Penedo is 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. You’ll stay in a hotel near the centre, with views out over the river.
Today’s 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 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.
Just 25 minutes drive from the bigger, more famous resort of Praia do Forte, Itacimirim is 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.
Itacimirim – Salvador
It’s about a 1.5-hour drive from Itacimirim to Salvador, where this part of your journey comes to an end. If you’re heading home or elsewhere in Brazil, then you can head to the airport. Salvador is a wonderful city though, so we’d really recommend sticking around for a day or two if you have time.
Combine this trip with...
Where to next? This trip goes together perfectly with these: