In ocean-side Salvador, the capital of Bahia, the influence of Africa dominates the culture and way of life. The multi-coloured Portuguese colonial heart of Brazil’s most exotic city throbs with drum and dance. Within the bay and further afield is a range of beach resorts, from the young and trendy to sophisticated luxury and barefoot paradises. Outside the city in former plantation country (the Recôncavo) there are charming, unspoilt backwater towns and ports. Over 300km inland is the forested Chapada Diamantina, studded with table-top mountains and run through with crystalline rivers and waterfalls: at its heart is the laid-back little town of Lençóis, base for visits and hikes in the area.
When's the best time to visit Salvador and Chapada Diamantina?
Salvador is an all-year destination, hot and humid with most rain falling from Mar to Jul. The Chapada Diamantina is also hot (27-32°C) all year round with most rain Nov to Mar. Dec-Feb and Jul are local holiday times, and will be busy in Salvador and on the beaches.
What is the official language of Salvador and Chapada Diamantina?
Brazilian Portuguese, a more languid and musical version of Portugal’s mother tongue.
What's the local currency in Salvador and Chapada Diamantina?
Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs of Banco do Brasil, Bradesco and HSBC using a UK credit or debit card. There are international ATMs in the Pelourinho, the beach at Barra and at the airport. There are ATMs in Lençóis. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. ATMs close at 10pm.
What's the time difference between Salvador, Chapada Diamantina and UK?
GMT -3 hours. There is daylight saving from Oct to the end of Feb (approx) when clocks are put forward one hour.
What places combine well with Salvador and Chapada Diamantina?
The up-and-coming, chic beach resort at Trancoso, close to the port of Porto Seguro (1 hour 10mins flight south from Salvador); Recife and Olinda (675 km, 1 hour by air).
There are flights from UK to Salvador with a change of ‘plane in Portugal. You can also get to Salvador with a change of ‘plane in the USA. Average flight time is 12 hours 40mins. It’s a 2 hour flight from Rio de Janeiro.
Carnival: 5 days in Feb/Mar, variable: 28 Feb – 4 Mar2014. The second largest in Brazil, with street processions, live bands playing Bahian pop music (axé and pagode), costume balls, over-indulgence and general frivolity.
Festa de Iemanjá: 2 Feb annually, Praia Rio Vermelho just outside Salvador. The biggest festival of candomblé (mix of African religious beliefs and Catholicism) with boat processions and live music.
Football World Cup: 12 Jun-13 Jul 2014. Cities all over Brazil are hosting matches, Salvador is one of them.