The state of Bahía has a distinct African culture (the population is largely descended from plantation slaves and is like a country within a country, with its own tradition of music and dance. Here you’ll discover not only one of the country’s most intriguing cities, but also some of the most beautiful wilderness scenery in the interior, and an example of the glorious beaches for which the state is justly famous.
Fly to Salvador, a tropical melting pot of Afro-Brazilian culture and one of Brazil’s finest colonial cities. You’ll have a walking tour of the atmospheric historic core. This multi-coloured Portuguese colonial heart of Brazil’s most exotic city throbs with drum and dance – this is the home of capoeira.
Next, you’ll drive inland to the forested Chapada Diamantina, a national park studded with table-top mountains and run through with crystalline rivers: at its heart is the laid-back little town of Lençois. It is magnificent walking country and you’ll be able to explore its caves, waterfalls and rocky hills.
Bahia’s coconut coast is lined with golden beaches backed by lofty palms. Just an hour north of Salvador is Praia do Forte, a low-key and low-rise resort which is also a protected haven for sea turtles. Beyond its car-free main strip, lined with small bars, shops and restaurants, are miles of beaches and natural pools which offer a warm bath at low tide. You have two full days of leisure here: swing in a hammock, fruity cocktail in hand, or dip your toes in the ocean.
|Day 1:||Arrive in Salvador. Transfer to hotel in the colonial centre. Transfer to your guesthouse close to the Pelourinho in the historic colonial centre.|
|Day 2:||Half day walking tour of historic Salvador da Bahía. The city of Salvador is the most exotic in the country, where the influence of Portuguese colonial architecture and culture blends with the African traditions imported by the slaves brought in to work on the plantations. The compact historic core has recently been renovated and is crammed full of colourful colonial mansions, churches and museums, all clustered around a large open space known as the pelourinho, which is the heart of the city. You’ll have a private guided walking tour of this quarter, best discovered on foot. The area is enlivened with bars, shops and restaurants, and you can expect spontaneous eruptions of music at every turn. The local cuisine is very much a product of the region and its cultural mélange: you can try out any number of dishes at the many eateries in town.|
|Day 3:||At leisure in Salvador After yesterday’s orientation walk, today is free to explore and absorb the magnetic vibe of Salvador. Optional trips we can arrange with advance notice include a Bahian cooking-themed tour or a visit to the Lower City (Cidade Baixa) and the Itapagipe Peninsula, visiting the Igreja de Bomfim. This church is a magnet for pilgrims. If you fancy a trip further afield, Cachoeira is a colonial town and national historic monument that in its heyday was a thriving river port, but is now a sleepy and unpretentious place full of atmospheric, crumbling colonial buildings and a photogenic delight.|
|Day 4:||Public coach to Lençois in the Chapada Diamantina Transfer to the bus station for a modern public coach journey (6-7hrs) to Lençois in the Chapada Diamantina, 420km from Salvador. The pretty, colonial town of Lençois is set in the heart of the Chapada Diamantina. It is a well-watered land of densely vegetated beauty set close to the dusty Sertão desert. The national park’s most distinctive features are the table-like mountains which define its topography. It has a hot climate all year around, which makes visiting its natural pools, rivers and delightful waterfalls an even more welcoming attraction. Lençois was the centre of a diamond rush in the 19th century but since the 1980s the accent has been on ecotourism. Your hotel is convenient for visits to the many gift shops, family-style restaurants and bars in this friendly low-key little town, until recently the preserve of hippies and New Age aficionados.|
|Day 5:||Full day tour of Chapada Diamantina After breakfast there’s a full day tour of the Chapada Diamantina. Drive from Lencois to the Mucugezinho river, and trek to the black lake of Poço do Diabo. From here there’s a chance to visit Lapa Doce cave, which involves about an hour’s walking underground. You’ll also visit Pratinha Cave, a beautiful subterranean river and lake. Later, drive to Pai Inacio plateau and walk the last 300m (20mins) for today’s grand finale: perhaps the most amazing view in Bahia.|
|Day 6:||Hike to the Fumaça Falls in the Capao Valley. Begin with 2-hour transfer from Lençois to the remote community of Capão which sits withing the heart of the stunning tablelands of the Chapada Diamantina. From here, there’s a 12 km walk (2 hours each way) to the top of the steaming Cachoeira da Fumaça (waterfall of smoke). At 340m this is the second highest waterfall in Brazil and the only way it can be viewed in its entirety is to lie horizontal and peer down into the canyon! A picnic lunch is included at the top of the waterfall, before the hike down – which offers more magnificent views over the Capão valley. Return to Capão for a visit to the village and, on the drive back to Lençois, maybe stop at Riachinho for a swim. This hike is classed as moderate.|
|Day 7:||Transfer to Praia do Forte Take the coach back to Salvador and transfer to Praia do Forte. Thanks to its carefully managed conservation projects, Praia do Forte has developed over the decades into an established family-orientated resort without losing its Bahian character. Salvador’s most convenient beach escape, it’s lively at weekends and holidays but miles of palm-lined sands mean there’s room for everyone. Our clients have been enjoying holidays here for over 30 years.|
|Day 8-9:||At leisure in Praia do Forte Days in Praia do Forte can be as relaxed as you wish, although there’s plenty to fill your time whether its beach-combing before breakfast, a visit the Projeto Tamar turtle sanctuary, ecological reserve or nearby fortress. Nights are generally low-key here, busier on weekends and holidays but the main strip has plenty of eating options and there’s a family-orientated atmosphere. Optional whale-watching activities take place at Praia do Forte between August and October.|
|Day 10:||Transfer to airport in Salvador for international flight home .|