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Active Brazil: Remote Bahia and Fernando de Noronha

Day 1

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

Transfer to your hotel in the colonial centre of Salvador da Bahía, one of Brazil's most historically significant and culturally-rich cities, with a strong African influence devolving from the slave trade. 

The most vibrant and innovative district is colonial Pelourinho in the upper part of the city, Cidade Alta, which for pedestrians is linked to the lower port area of the city and commercial centre, Cidade Baixa, by art deco funicular elevators.

Day 2

Walking tour of historic Salvador.
Salvador da Bahia
Salvador has its own music, dominated by a throbbing African drum beat, its own distinctive cuisine and even its own religious traditions, where Catholicism melds with African mysticism, voodoo and revivalist Protestantism. All of this is in evidence on the streets, where there is always an excuse for a party. Capoeira, the martial arts dance invented by the African slaves, has its home here.

Your guided walking tour explores the historic Upper City (Cidade Alta) which has some of the best preserved (or restored) Portuguese colonial architecture in Latin America: graceful façades are painted in contrasting light pastel shades reflecting the sunlight. You’ll stroll along steeply cobbled streets flanked by the pastel-washed buildings of a bygone age. Take the Lacerda elevator down to the lower city and explore the Modelo Market then ride the Carmo elevator back up to Cidade Alta.

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Salvador da Bahia

Day 3

Transfer to Lençóis.
Chapada Diamantina
Travel by public coach inland to the Chapada Diamantina, a beautiful, sparsely populated area of scrubby vegetation and humid tropical forest studded with steep-cliffed table-top mountains. The park is run through with crystalline rivers and waterfalls tumbling through boulder strewn valleys. At its heart is the laid-back little town of Lençois, your base for visits and hikes in the area.

The town was originally founded to service diamond prospectors who flocked to the region in the 18th and 19th centuries in search of precious metal and stones. These hopefuls have now mostly departed but their rustic houses have been converted into family homes, guesthouses, cosy little restaurants and bars or craft shops

The drive is along a somewhat bumpy but paved road through the dusty sertão, a region susceptible to drought where it’s very hard to scratch a living from unforgiving soils.  In the past, the remote region has been a centre for political and religious upheavals but now low key tourism is bringing a modicum of prosperity. The journey takes about 5-6 hrs.

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Chapada Diamantina

Day 4

Explore the Chapada Diamantina National Park.
After breakfast there's a full day guided tour of the stunning Chapada Diamantina National Park. The park, established in 1985 to protect a rapidly declining natural habitat for flora and fauna, has little infrastructure, but that is part of its attraction. Gazing out from the many viewpoints you scarcely notice the signs of human interference as the forbidding-looking tablelands stretch towards a hazy blue horizon.

On today’s guided exploration, drive from Lençois to the Mucugezinho river, and trek to the black lake of Poço do Diabo. From here there's an opportunity to visit Lapa Doce cave, which involves about an hour's walking underground. Also visit Pratinha Cave, a beautiful subterranean river and lake. Later, drive to Pai Inacio plateau and walk the last 500m (20 mins) for some very rewarding views.

Day 5

Trek to the Sossego waterfall.

Today’s hike is a moderately strenuous activity involving a 3hr trek (in each direction), in part scrambling over boulders, with stops to cool off in natural pools en route. The Sossego falls crash over a wedged cliff of black stone creating a myriad of small cataracts. You can swim in the tea-coloured pool at the foot of the falls among smooth submerged rocks. 

Following an al fresco picnic you’ll return towards Lençois, stopping at Ribeirão do Meio, an impressive natural waterslide. The brave hearted can toboggan down the slippery rock surface or swim in the lagoon below. In the event of heavy rain, the trail to the Sossego may not be possible and an alternative excursion may be offered.

Day 6

Hike in the Vale do Capão.
Today there are two alternative hikes.  One is a full day guided excursion to one of the park's major highlights - Fumaça Falls. Drive to Vale do Capão in the heart of the Chapada Diamantina from where it is a 6km trek (2 hrs partly uphill, part along the plateau) to the vantage point above the falls. 

The water is sprayed by the breeze before it touches the ground, giving it the impression of a funnel of smoke.  The views from the top at 340m are fabulous. Return to the village of Vale do Capão and cool off at Riachinho waterfalls and natural pools before arriving back in Lençois.

The alternative trek involves a drive to Vale do Capão in the heart of the Chapada Diamantina, the main gateway for walking excursions in the park. Spend the whole day trekking, covering 25km of breathtaking scenery of lakes, rivers, waterfalls and canyons.

Day 7

Travel by public coach back to Salvador.

Day 8

Fly to Recife. Transfer to colonial Olinda.
Transfer to the airport and fly to Recife.  This major port sprawls across three small islands connected with each other and the mainland by over two dozen bridges. Continue by road to Olinda, one of Brazil's most beautiful and best-preserved colonial towns. A maze of steeply cobbled streets, pastel coloured houses, baroque fountains and elegant squares blankets the hills. Olinda is renowned for its wild and raucous Carnival.
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Day 9

Fly to the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha.
Fernando de Noronha
Transfer to the airport and fly to the archipelago embracing Fernando de Noronha. 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 garrigue-like vegetation (the original forests were destroyed) 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 here. There are no luxury facilities here: it’s a dream destination for lovers of nature, especially the undersea world. You spend four full days here, enough time to really get to know the place and explore the gorgeous scenery.

There are 26 deserted beaches, where swimming is permitted on just a few. Some are excellent surf beaches. At Baia do Sueste you can swim with turtles. Snorkelling and diving are especially rewarding and here are local companies which offer services for visitors.

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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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Active Brazil: Remote Bahia and Fernando de Noronha

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Active Brazil: Remote Bahia and Fernando de Noronha

15 days from £3,016pp

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


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