Our 1am bus from Lencois landed us in the city of Feira de Santana (apparently one of the most dangerous in the world, get us out of here quick!), where we changed buses for Itacaré on the east coast.
Thus began our Bahian colourful coastal adventure…
A small town at the mouth of the Rio de Contas, Itacare has palm-lined sandy beaches…
…interspersed with laidback bars and water sports…
…whilst restaurants and bars populate Rua Pedro Longo.
Unfortunately, Tash was knocked out by the flu Jake had previously, so there’s not many photos, sorry!
With no roads or electricity until relatively recently, and the federal Ministry of the Environment’s initiative to preserve the natural biosphere of the remaining Atlantic rainforest in the area, touristic overdevelopment has been curbed, giving the town an recently discovered, enchanting air.
The historic centre (called the Quadrado) originates from a Jesuit village called St. John Baptist of the Indians, founded in 1586, over a century after Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral first landed on this region’s shores in 1500. The people remained unknown until they were discovered at the end of the 1970s by hippies. At the time, it was just a group of houses arranged around a large rectangle lawn, with a church in the background that had a panoramic view of the sea.
Today, the colourfully painted, hut-like houses, bordering the spacious Quadrado, sparkle with white fairy lights at night. Now housing expensive boutiques, artist studios, pousadas, hotels, bars and restaurants, they are a wealthy person’s holiday playground.
The beautiful Igreja de São João Batista stands at the cliff edge as a proud reminder of the village’s past.
Trancoso is also famous for its beautiful stretches of beach, such as Praia dos Nativos, Praia dos Coqueiros and Praia do Espelho.
The photo above is the view from the Quadrado’s church.
We love that Brazilians play football to have fun with the ball, and everyone is welcome to join in, at any point in the game, no matter sex, race or age. Here’s Jake and Albie learning some tricks!
Little surprise visits also add interest to our adventure!
Staying in our own spacious and light-filled hut-come-cottage at the super-friendly Pousada Jacaranda, a gorgeously decorated place with a swimming pool overlooking a lush garden, we were only a 10-15 minute walk to the Quadrado, beaches and also the ‘real’ town. This special place was a top find and we ended up staying there again as we passed back through Trancoso.
Look, we don’t want to knock the historical centre of Trancoso, it’s magical, but if, like us, you prefer to find where the locals live and play, it’s the ‘real’ town you need to go! Here, we ate at local’s prices, played football with the children and chatted to people who said, “We’ve never met someone from another country before.” The two areas seemed sadly separate. Make up your own mind about what you think of that!
If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ll know we’re dab hands at bus journeys now! This is a typical photo of us hanging around bus or van stops, watching the world go by as we wait for our next destination’s transport!
Accessible only by a fisherman’s boat, with no motorised vehicles and horse and cart taxis, this little village exudes tranquility and timelessness.
How lucky were we to find Natacha’s Casa (house) right on the beach – unique in Caraíva! We hope these photos do justice to the artistically-designed space.
An exemplar of a host, Natacha shared her incredible inside-outside house with us and, along with her lovely friend Lena, made us feel so welcome.
Lena with Lola and Albie above; Tash with Natacha and Lena below.
The sandy tracked village is super cute…
…and filled with a scattering of higgledy-piggledy creatively coloured houses, some with creative murals. Just gorgeous!
Playing with SUPs and balls in the river, and strolling the beaches were an easy relaxed way to spend a couple of days.
One of our favourite excursions was the exciting buggy ride we took, on the beach road, to the totally unspoilt village of Corumbau.
When we arrived, we had to take a little fishing boat across the river.
Corumbau Point was the most pristine and undeveloped part of the Brazilian coast that we found on this trip. Golden sands and clear waters, backed by Atlantic rainforest, gorgeous.
We loved the vibrant fuscia of this house, it reminded us of our lovely friends, the Spandlers, back home, because their front door is this colour!
Whilst in Caraíva, we were debating whether to head southward to Rio de Janeiro via Caravelas (the gateway to the Aprolhos Archipelago, where it’s possible to sight whales) or travel back to Porto Seguro and fly down to Rio. I’m sure we’ve mentioned how difficult, expensive and time-consuming it is to travel in Brazil, so we were struggling to work out how to go via Caravelas in the time we had.
When lovely Lena offered for us to stay in a little cottage she knew in Arraial d’Ajuda, our mind was made up. We would travel there en route to Porto Seguro, and take the plane to Rio.
Backpacks on again, we’re sorry to leave Natacha’s heavenly haven. Ciao Caraíva!
4. Arraial D’Ajuda
Initally, we’d overlooked this town in favour of Trancoso and Caraíva, thinking it would be too touristy and overdeveloped. How wrong we were!
Lena’s friend’s house was set on a hill, in Atlantic rainforest overlooking the ocean, just a few steps from the historic centre.
On our arrival, we spotted a toucan outside the house!!! Sorry, no photos as it was gone before we grabbed the camera!
Another day, we were beyond excited to have our first sloth sighting in the garden! We all adore their cuteness, and watched, fascinated, over a couple of hours, as it made its way to higher and higher branches, and then back down again. All in slow motion! Video footage is on our Instagram page (travellingtamlyns).
Albie is our resident sloth expert, having undertaken a fair amount of research, so please direct any questions about this creature to him!
Arraial D’Ajuda has a number of beautiful beaches to choose from, all walkable from the town.
All with açai carts!
With lovely Lena by our side, we discovered the almost secret and much quieter beach of Praia Pitinga, which is hugged by red-striped sandstone cliffs.
From the historic centre, where the church peers down to the ocean over a fence of Bahian ribbons, the views are stunning.
In one of the many Açai Points, so typical of Brazil we’ve been quick to learn, we ate the biggest bowl of Açai of our trip so far, a whopping 1kg!
We also tried a new-to-us fruit: Cacau. Sucking off the sweet pulp – called Baba de Cacau – reveals a brown chunky seed or bean that is used to make chocolate!
Like the other Bahian beach towns, Arraial D’Ajuda is a mix of historic colourful houses, and cute little bars, restaurants and shops. There’s none of the obvious wealth wandering Trancoso’s Quadrado, whilst the cool calm of Caraíva chills on every corner.
On our last evening, we laughed with Lena at a street-side cafe…
…celebrated the 14th (!!) wedding anniversary of Jake and Tash…
(Photo credit to Lola for the above!!).
So sad to say goodbye to the very special state of Bahia, the lovely people we met and the gorgeous weather we’ve had (after a few months of feeling cold in South America’s winter!!).
A boat to Porto Seguro…
A flight to Rio…
We’re ready for the last adventure of this year-long trip….Amazon, here we come!!!!!!! Sooooo excited!!!!