Wanting to experience another area of Brazil, we decided to fly up to Salvador and explore the state of Bahia.
What a colourful welcome at Salvador airport!
Having heard that, unfortunately, Salvador isn’t one of the safest places to stay, we first travelled north to the coastal village of Praia do Forte, whilst we plucked up the courage and worked out a survival plan for visiting Salvador!
Famous for being a good place to see humpback whales from July to October, we were sadly slightly early! But, we’d also read there was a turtle conservation project there – The Tamar Project – plus giant turtles visible just off the shore. A good place to begin our Bahia journey!
Unluckily, Jake came down with the kind of flu that keeps you bedridden for days (not that he succumbed to that!). Luckily, we were staying in a seafront pousada with a pool, so we used his illness as an excuse to chill for a few days.
The village is just a few cobbled pedestrian-only streets, lined with happy-go-lucky shops and restaurants, and strung with the same colourful bunting that greeted us at the airport.
The sound of music filled the air and wafted out from restaurants and side streets.
In the middle of streets, groups of people played games like dominos, their laughter joining the waves of music.
A church proudly stands, watchful, over the beachfront square.
And cheeky mini monkeys watch us from their treetop vantage points!
Our first experience of Bahian cuisine was scrumptious moqueca (fish stew), served with forofar, smashed beans, salad and rice. A serving for two people, at R$60 (£12) is enough to feed the 4 of us. Totally yum!
A first taste of (just the one!) Brazilian Caipirinha wasn’t too bad either!!
Along the long stretch of beach, at low tide, clear natural pools of sea water appear, as if by magic, between the rocks.
In these, you can snorkel (or not) and see hundreds of fish darting mischievously about you.
Our playground for a few days, this stunning stretch of coast line was like a magnet no matter the time of day.
We walked and walked along the palm tree clad shoreline, finding driftwood treasures littering our path, and we stared and stared out to sea, spotting turtles, with heads the size of a child, surfacing every so often.
Back in town, the Tamar (stands for tartarugas marinhas- sea turtles) environmental project is a non-profit organisation, established to protect sea turtles from extinction along the Brazilian coastline. Praia do Forte is just one of its 22 bases along the coast, which have now released close to 10 million turtles into the Atlantic. We spent a while wandering around, learning about the efforts of the Project and meeting some turtles as well as other sea creatures, like baby sharks and manta rays.
We learnt that five of the world’s seven species of sea turtles are found in Brazil, and are distinguishable by the plates on their shells: Loggerhead, Olive Ridley, Green, Leatherback, and Hawksbill.
The Project is a little like a mini-zoo, and we debated long and hard the pros and cons of keeping creatures like this. Ultimately, we decided the Project plays a crucial role in conserving a species faced with extinction, so a visitor centre helps raise the profile of this important issue.
With Lola fast becoming our little marine specialist, she was happy to up-level her knowledge!
So, Jake’s feeling a bit better and we’re excited about seeing more of beautiful Bahia…we’re off to brave Salvador!