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Active Brazil: Remote Bahia and Fernando de Noronha

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Many people who visit Brazil stay on the coast but if you'd like to participate in active adventures, the interior beckons. Here you combine trekking in the heart of Brazil’s tableland scenery with snorkelling off the coast of the remote island of Fernando de Noronha.

The interior of the north-eastern state of Bahía is scenically alluring and historically interesting. This is plantation country: cotton and sugar were cultivated here in Portuguese colonial times and thousands of African slaves worked on them, resulting in today’s eclectic culture in this exotic region of Brazil. Beyond the plantations are forested hills punctuated by Lost World-like tablelands, remote and sparsely populated, separated by rushing rivers and tumbling waterfalls, and criss-crossed with delightful hikes.

Move on to Fernando de Noronha, the natural tropical beauty of which is protected by the Brazilian government. Some the world’s best diving sites are to be found here, and the snorkelling off the rugged bays is equally spell-binding.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Salvador. Transfer to your hotel in the colonial centre.

Day 2

Walking tour of historic Salvador.

Day 3

Transfer to Lençóis.

Day 4

Explore the Chapada Diamantina National Park.

Day 5

Trek to the Sossego waterfall.

Day 6

Hike in the Vale do Capão.

Day 7

Travel by public coach back to Salvador.

Day 8

Fly to Recife. Transfer to colonial Olinda.

Day 9

Fly to the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.

Days 10-13

At leisure on Fernando de Noronha.

Day 14

Transfer to the airport and fly to Recife; continue by road to Olinda for the final night of the holiday.

Day 15

Transfer to international airport in Recife, fly home.

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What our experts say

This holiday is perfect for those wanting to explore a lesser-visited part of Brazil – we’ve combined active adventures in a remote part of the interior and water-based activities such as snorkelling and diving in the rugged bays of Fernando de Noronha, home to some of the world’s best diving sites.

Caroline Maber

Caroline Maber

Travel Consultants

Places visited on this holiday

Active Brazil: Remote Bahia and Fernando de Noronha

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Salvador, Lencois and the beaches of Bahia
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

In ocean-side Salvador, the capital of Bahia, African influence dominates the culture and way of life. The multi-coloured Portuguese colonial heart of Brazil’s most exotic city throbs with exotic drum and dance. A short drive from the city there’s a wide range of beach hotels.

Further beyond the city limits, Bahia's seemingly infinite tropical coast has resorts to suit everyone, from the young and trendy to sophisticated luxury and barefoot paradises.  Lively beach towns such as Praia do Forte and Morro de São Paulo have attractive palm-lined beaches while upmarket Trancoso has fine boutique hotels and a gorgeous village square. Meanwhile, Boipeba island, the Marau peninsula and the remote village of Caraiva remain off the beaten track and perfect for those seeking unspoilt Brazil.

Inland from Salvador, in former plantation country (the Recôncavo), there are charming, unspoilt backwater towns and ports. Over 300km inland from the coast 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, an excellent base for visits and hikes in the area.

When's the best time to visit Salvador, Lencois and the beaches of Bahia?

Salvador and the northeastern beaches are all-year destinations, 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, Lencois and the beaches of Bahia?

Brazilian Portuguese, a more languid and musical version of Portugal’s mother tongue.

What's the local currency in Salvador, Lencois and the beaches of Bahia?

Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs of Banco do Brasil, Bradesco and HSBC using a 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 home bank allows. ATMs close at 10pm.

What's the time difference between Salvador, Lencois, the beaches of Bahia and UK?

UTC -3 hours. The daylight saving from Oct to the end of Feb (approx) was discontinued in 2019. 

What places combine well with Salvador, Lencois and the beaches of Bahia?

You can travel direct from Lençóis to the popular beaches such as Praia do Forte. Recife and Olinda (675 km, are 1 hour away by air). The up-and-coming, chic beach resort at Trancoso, is close to the port of Porto Seguro (1 hour 10mins flight south from Salvador).

How do I get to Salvador, Lencois and the beaches of Bahia?

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. Lençóis is a 7 hr drive from Salvador, or a 1hr flight.

What are the cultural and sporting events in Salvador and Lencois?

Carnival (Feb-Mar, variable): 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.

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Recife, Olinda and Fernando de Noronha
Fernando do Noronha

Recife has a vivid character all of its own; hosting a mix of modern high rise building and colonial architecture reflecting the riches of the plantation boom which brought many African and Amazonian indian immigrants to the city. Recently there has been an artistic revival with traditional music and dance featuring in a modern, slightly gritty incarnation. Just up the road is Olinda, where cobbled streets and Portuguese baroque architecture have enchanted visitors for many years.

The tiny state of Alagoas, with its small-scale modern capital Maceió, is wedged between more illustrious neighbours but its homeliness and unpretentious charm attracts sun-worshippers to a string of silky, flour-white beaches lapped by impossibly turquoise seas.

Accessible by air from Recife is the only populated island in a protected Atlantic Ocean archipelago, volcanic Fernando de Noronha. The remote island attracts nature-loving visitors, especially divers and surfers. Craggy cliffs jacketed in scrubby vegetation close in on gorgeous bays of sugary sand, and the waters here are sapphire-clear. Much of the island is a protected marine park: sharks, dolphins, turtles and stingrays thrive there.

When's the best time to visit Recife, Olinda, Fernando de Noronha?

It’s hot with plenty of sunshine all rear round, but most rain falls between Mar-Jul, so the Brazilian summer is relatively dry. 

Note that the time difference with the UK is GMT -2 hours in Fernando de Noronha and -3 hours on the mainland (Recife). There is daylight saving Oct- end Feb (approx) when clocks are put forward one hour.

What's the official language of Recife, Olinda, Fernando de Noronha?

Brazilian Portuguese, a more languid and musical version of Portugal’s mother tongue.

How do I get local currency in Recife, Olinda, Fernando de Noronha?

The easiest way to get local currency (reais) is to use a debit card in one of the many ATMs. You can also change US dollars in monet exchange offices - pounds sterling or euros are often not accepted as there is no rate available. 

What places combine well with Recife, Olinda, Fernnado de Noronha?

The towns and beaches of Brazil’s northeast: Natal, Pipa, Salvador da Bahia: Brazil’s most exotic city (1.5 hours by air from Natal, 1 hour 20mins from Recife); Lençóis in the Chapada Diamantina, via Salvador and a 6 hour drive.

How do I get to Recife, Olinda, Fernando de Noronha?
You can fly to Recife via a change of plane in Portugal on the Portuguese airline TAP.  Fernando de Noronha is 1 hour 40 minutes by air  from Recife. Flights between Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo take around 3 hours; to or from from Salvador it is 1hr 20mins.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

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Active Brazil: Remote Bahia and Fernando de Noronha

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Active Brazil: Remote Bahia and Fernando de Noronha

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The total price above excludes international flights at beginning and end of your trip. To add flights speak to one of our experts on 020 8747 8315.

Active Brazil: Remote Bahia and Fernando de Noronha

15 days from £3,284pp

Price excludes international flights at the beginning and end of the trip

 

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