NORTHEAST BRAZIL. SÃO PAULO - SALVADOR DA BAHIA

This route can be done all along the coast, but I recommend making an internal detour to enjoy the Chapada Diamantina. These are some of the most interesting places you can stop on this route:

  

- Ubatuba/Caraguatatuba

- Paraty and Trindade

- Rio de Janeiro

- Chapada Diamantina 

- Salvador da Bahia

Caraguatatuba and Ubatuba

These two neighbors of the north coast of São Paulo (170 km from the city), are a paradise of endless beaches, lonely and wild. In addition to the beaches of these two towns, you have dozens of beautiful beaches nearby. Frade, Itamambuca or Enseada are just three examples of a paradise of soft sand and sea. You can come and relax as on any other beach. But the best thing is to take advantage of the unique character of the area to do activities: its waves are ideal for intrepid surfers, in the same way that its forests are for adventurous hikers. The Mata Atlântica Forest is a rainforest that runs parallel to these coasts (most of the coastlines of São Paulo and Rio). In this area, in particular, there is a wonderful path that starts from Lagoinha (near Maranduba, between Caraguatatua and Ubatuba). It is called Trilha das Sete Praias (the Trail of the Seven Beaches) and it is a real wonder. Take a walk in the day or, better yet, spend the night with your tent on one of the beaches. It is such a magic place.

 

Finally, it is worth saying that this area also has beautiful waterfalls and natural spaces nearby. Come, everything is to be explored.

Paraty y Trindade

Two other ideal destinations to visit the beaches of your dreams (this time in the state of Rio). Some of these stretches of fine golden sand are: Praia do Cepilho, Cachadaço (Trindade), and, my favorite, Praia do Sono. But there are hundreds of beaches! All of them surrounded by the wild Mata Atlântica. On the beach of Trindade you can walk to natural pools with huge stones in which there is a secret tunnel that takes you to an underground slide that is very cool.

In addition, Paraty is a beautiful colonial city with cobblestone streets and colorful houses, ideal for strolling and enjoying the Brazilian flavors.

Rio de Janeiro

What to do in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Or rather the question would be what not to do. There are a thousand things to do in this mythical city, a Brazilian classic. For example:

 

- Go to the famous beaches of Copacabana, Leblon and Ipanema to relax (coconut water or beer in hand, obviously), walk or do some sport (running, yoga, etc), or, why not, flirt. 

- Visit the Christ the Redeemer (I did not do it!), one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. More than the statue itself (which in my opinion is not that much), the best are the views. By the way, you can watch the Christ from (almost) every corner in the city.

- Go up the Pão de Açúcar. You can do the whole trip flying by cable car or part walk, part by cable car. I recommend walking a bit, because you can find along the way with some nice marmosets (little primate). The views of Rio from the Pão de Açúcar are stunning. 

- Visit the neighborhoods of Santa Teresa, at the top of a hill, and Lapa which houses the famous stairs (Escadaria do Selarón), and where you can find an artistic and more authentic atmosphere (it is only my opinion) than at Ipanema area.

- Go to a football game at the Maracaná, if you are a football fan. I am not, but I went (for doing a favor to a friend) and I had a great time. I am not sure if it was because of the atmosphere itself (people live it in a very crazy way), or because we drank a bottle of cachaça. It is not expensive (at least regular games).

- Visit some favela. It is interesting to see with your own eyes the way people live in a favela. They are poor neighborhoods, very chaotic, but not so different from what many people think: there are bars, schools, medical centers... And, above all, people like you and me. I would only recommend a tourist one, like Santa Marta. I do not think it is wise to put yourself in a dangerous situation.

Chapada Diamantina

Wow, there is so much to do... This National Park in the interior of the state of Bahia is a paradise in the mountains, with waterfalls, rivers of colors (there are even red rivers!), interesting rock formations, caves, hippy villages... The best thing you can do is go and discover it by yourself. And the more days you stay the better. Some places you can visit are:

Cachoeira da Fumaça. It is the second highest waterfall in the country and, above all, it is in a beautiful environment. You can visit it at the top, after a walk of several hours, or from below, needing several days of trekking on a route between mountainous walls.

Morro do Pai Inácio. A small hill with a very curious vegetation and views of the valley and other sensational mountains. 

Lençóis. A colonial town in the heart of the Chapada. Perfect location to visit different points of the Park. 

Vale do Capão. A small hippie village in which even children wear dreadlocks. You will meet good people, eat delicious food and probably find an exciting event or festival.

Salvador da Bahia

Sorria, estamos na Bahia! Yes: smile, we are in Bahia!

Well, there is little more to add. All are joys for the tourist who visits the warm lands of the capital of Bahia. Just seeing the Bahian woman on foot (considered as cultural heritage) has been worth the visit. These women with clothes rooted in African culture can also sell local handicrafts and/or prepare delicious Bahian food, one of the greatest gifts of the region (do not miss some of their specialties in the post "Brazilian food").

 

But Salvador has many other attractions. Namely: its cobbled streets; the colonial architecture; its thousand churches; some symbolic and historical buildings and places (among them the Pelourinho); the Mercado (market) Modelo, full of smells, flavors and colors; wonderful beaches in the surroundings... It is worth coming to know this incredible and varied culture.

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