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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 da Bahia and the Chapada Diamantina
Salvador da Bahía and the Chapada Diamantina

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).

Getting there

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.

Key events
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.
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Beaches of the northeast
Praia de Pipa
The northeast of Brazil, once wealthy with vast sugar plantations, has a cultural identity all of its own to complement its wonderful beaches.

Near Natal is Pipa, whose gorgeous top-ten beach is visited by turtles and the bay by porpoises. Close to Recife is Olinda, a preserved cobbled town of traditional baroque Portuguese churches and houses, a centre of culture and the arts with an effervescent display at Carnival. Sweeping beaches at Porto de Galinhas and Maragogi can be reached from here while the marine wonderland of Fernando de Noronha is a diving and snorkelling magnet with Unesco status.

Further south, Bahia's seemingly infinite tropical coast has something to suit everyone: typically Brazilian beach towns such as Praia do Forte and Morro de São Paulo have attractive palm-lined beaches within easy reach of Salvador. 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.
When's the best time to visit the beaches of northeast Brazil?

It’s hot with plenty of sunshine all rear round, but most rain falls between Mar and Jul, so the Brazilian summer is relatively dry. Beaches can be busy in the local holiday months of late Dec to Feb.

What's the official language of the beaches of northeast Brazil?

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

What's the time difference between the beaches of NE Brazil 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 beaches of NE Brazil?

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

How do I get to beaches of NE Brazil?

Flight time to Recife 12 hours, to Natal via Lisbon is 13 hours 40mins.

What are the festivals, cultural and sporting events at beaches of NE Brazil?
Carnival: 5 days in Feb/Mar, variable: 28 Feb – 4 Mar 2014. Olinda’s carnival is world famous and one of the most exotic and colourful.
Football World Cup: 12 Jun - 13 Jul 2014. Cities all over Brazil are hosting games, Natal and Recife among them.
How do I get local currency at beaches of NE Brazil?

Brazilian Real. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs of Banco do Brasil, Bradesco and HSBC in Recife and Natal using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. ATMs close at 10pm.

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Recife, Olinda and Fernando de Noronha
Fernando do Noronha

Recife is a captivating Brazilian city with a vivid character all of its own. It hosts a real mix of modern high rise building and colonial architecture referring back to the plantation boom which brought so many African and Amazonian indian immigrants to the city, all of whom have left their cultural mark and continue to do so.Nowadays there has been a real artisitic revival with traditional music and dance featuring in a modern, slightly gritty incarnation. Just up the road is Olinda, where cobbled streets and baroque architecture have enchanted visitors  for many years.

The only populated island in a protected volcanic archipelago way out in the Atlantic Ocean, Fernando de Noronha is almost off the map. But those who go there (and numbers are restricted), especially divers and surfers, are well rewarded. Craggy cliffs jacketed in close scrubby vegetation close in on gorgeous little bays of sugary sand, and the waters here, warm year-round, are sapphire-clear. Much of the area is designated a marine park, for good reason: sharks, dolphins, turtles and stingrays and a multitude of fish species thrive there. There are no luxury facilities here: it’s a dream destination for lovers of nature, especially the undersea world.

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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Explore the dates and prices of this unique holiday to Latin America.

Due to flexible pricing and minimum room night requirements during peak times (such as New Year, Carnival and Easter) we may not always present all the dates we have available.

If your ideal travel date is not shown, call us on 020 8747 8315, or click on the 'Make an Online Enquiry' button to the right.

Prices exclude international flights at the beginning and end of the trip.

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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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