Salvador de Bahia

Enchanted by the Afro-Brazilian culture

Find out more about the must see and must eats in Salvador de Bahia.

“Better wait for the cab in the house, not at the street at night”, the colonial city Salvador de Bahia, was the capital of Brazil until 1763 and still enchants its visitors today with colourful colonial style houses in a class of their own. Every architecture fan really can’t get enough of this place, every street holds further styles and facets and details, indescribable.

In addition there are the traditionally dressed women in their huge and colorful dresses made of fine fabrics which are completed with a kind of crown made of the same fabrics on the head. Some walls are decorated with deep street arts, the word graffiti may awaken misconceptions here its more street art. On the street, young and old perform Capoeira to traditional music. The Afro Brazilian culture can be felt here as strongly as nowhere else on the journey. We notice this by the fact that we are quite noticable. On our other stops through Brazil we were not really recognized as tourists, so it was a new experience for us.

Already before the trip to Salvador we were warned by all Brazilians to watch out in that city. In certain areas of Salvador, as in many parts of Brazil, poverty exists alongside wealth, but you should be particularly attentive in the evening. We were asked obtrusively by people for money and were also held at arms, the police order is in the city center clearly higher. During the day we felt very well, Tuesdays after the holy church day we were not quite queasy in some lanes and we didn’t want to risk anything on the last day in Brazil. Nevertheless the people with whom we talked were very friendly.

What to do? What to eat?

Acareje, you can get one of the best at the Acarejé de Kira, for example. SO DELICIOUS!

You can find a beautiful beach with a lighthouse here, Porto e Farol de Barra, Av. Sete de Setembro 3713.

The Cidade Baixa, Lower City, was separated from the Cidade Alta, Upper City, by an earthquake. To reconnect the districts there is a nice old fashioned tram “Elevator Lecerda” which goes up the mountain or you can take the elevator for 0,15 Centauros per person. If you leave the elevator at the bottom and cross the street, you get to the market “Mercado Modelo” where you can buy great works of art, tobacco and the colorful Fitinhas in packs of 10 for 1 Reais.

We attach the acquired coloured ribbons to the gates of the Basilica do Senhor do Bonfirm on “blessed Tuesday”. They should bring luck, if you believe in it. The ribbons can be seen here decorating all doorways, wrists and car mirrors. And now our backpacks also have a little colourful touch.

The best and biggest (we can confirm this) ice cream of the city can be found in the Sorveteria de Ribeira. There are apparently more than 100? Varieties, perfect if you already can’ t decide at 20. You can also try them, because then you have to finish 0,5kg (exaggerated) of your chosen flavor. The selected varieties taste very good but also very sweet. The balls are so big that the waffle gives way underneath and collapses after some time, you just have to be fast enough 😉 or take a cup.

The sunset can be watched wonderfully near the Museum of Modern Art. There is often live music.

As already mentioned, the best way to celebrate blessed Tuesday is in Pelo, either in front of the Curch of São Francisco in a restaurant with live music or further down in the alleys of Pelhourino. Here you should simply bring an extra portion of caution with you.

Live Musik – Pelo by night

No city for one day

There are so many other things to discover. Unfortunately we had no time for a walking tour or further museum visit.

Ilha de Boipeba

Vale la pena

Find out more about our absolute highlight on our Brazil trip – to us one of the best places to visit in Brazil.

“I think the woman next to me thinks I have yellow fever…” our adventurous way on the dreamlike really DREAMlike island Ilha de Boipeba took 17 hours, nevertheless Vale la Pena. Unfortunately one of us caught quite a cold, which makes the odyssey even more unbearable.

Our day starts at 2:30 am from Cuiabá to Saõ Paulo. Then from Saõ Paulo to Salvador. From the airport we go to the port to take the ferry for 5 Reais pP to Bom Despacho. Once there you can buy a bus ticket for 26 Reais pP to Valenca, the journey takes about 2 1/2 hours. Once you arrive in Valenca at the bus terminal, it is best to take an overpriced taxi for a total of 20 Reais to the port. There you buy a ticket for a boat to Ilha de Boipeba for 45 Reais pP. The last stage is the approx. 1 hour boat trip on which I can finally breathe through my nose again.

To get to the Pousadas, take the road that leads slightly to the left directly into the city, up the hill to a large square and from there straight on into the small streets. Fortunately, our check-in is super fast and we are happy that it is not so humid. The small room will be our home for the next two weeks.

The way to accommodation – a little shaky sorry

Hippie Island

With the last energy we explore the fishing hippie village. The houses have a maximum of two floors, are colourful and life takes place mainly on the street. There is no lack of small supermarkets, restaurants or drugstores. So on the first evening we end up in an Italian restaurant because we are extremely craving Pizza Margherita. The dough is crispy, thin in combination with the hot cheese and tomato sauce exactly what we needed after such a long day. The pizza is 48 Reais and you can easily share one.

On the large square in the middle of the village you can order freshly made Tapiocas filled sweet or spicy. In the evening there is a stand from the bakery, which sells freshly baked Acarajé on the street. The fried bean dough rolls are the traditional snack dish in the Bahia region. The roll is fried in palm oil and filled with tomatoes, onions, puree and shrimps according to taste. Nevertheless, the puree is actually much too complex to be prepared to simply gobble it up. The puree is called Vatapá which is traditionally made from fish, nut kernels, dried crabs, soaked bread, dendê oil, coconut milk and spices (coriander, parsley, ginger and more). A must for us when visiting Bahia, in Salvador there are probably the best but here on Boipeba they also taste delicious. Another tip about food: On Sundays you can buy fresh Pollo Assados for 30 reais at a fruit and vegetable shop.

Tranquillo Lifestyle

The next morning all our spirits are awakened by a loud “Bom Dia” of the always smiling employees in the breakfast area. Our host Henrique was probably right that the people here on the island have an incredibly loud organ. We greet back as loud as possible and already have a good laugh – simply because we have a wonderful day ahead of us. The breakfast is rich; fresh juices from fruits that we partly never tasted before, scrambled eggs, breads, fruits and freshly baked chocolate cake with coconut flakes. We stock up with water and some food that we store in the small fridge in our room. Fortunately we are allowed to use the kitchen from 3 p.m. and we can also wash our clothes for free once as we ask politely.

So we make our way through the village to the beach. The 20-minute way leads mostly over sand so beware of wearing flip flops, it can get hot. First of all we are speechless … this beach … bright fine sand surrounded by 100ths of palm trees decorated with small wooden stalls and the beach as far as the eye can see. We would have also taken 24 hours journey on us to arrive here. The attitude to life on the island is obviously very different than in the city. You feel safe, greet each other and start with an extra portion of “tranquillo” into the day.

First we explore the beach before we sit down. We walk to the left around the top of the island to find another beach section that is at least as beautiful. So we turn around again towards Guidos, a fish restaurant which is thanks to Google and Co super hip and popular with the Brazilians, but we don’t like the atmosphere also the prices are a little bit adjusted. You will certainly find extremely tasty lobsters here. We are drawn to the first stand where we were friendly approached – Barraca de Paúca. Paúca has this “barrack” (this is the name of all the small restaurants which are not barracks at all) on the beach here already for some years and prepares us ingenious Caipirinhas. We chat for a while in Spanish and are happy that we did not go to Guidos. His nice wife creates the most delicious dishes in the small beach kitchen, we tried Pulvo (approx. 70 Reais) and Lobster (approx. 100 Reais) during our time in Boipeba and were thrilled. So you sit on the chairs directly at the beach, the sun shines, the fresh sea air washes through all airways and the mild water rolls under our feet. Aaaachhh you don’t want to leave this place anymore!!!!

Billard Bar

A walk along the beach to the right to the end of the section leads to a river that flows into the sea. You can’t see the sunset from this side, but we manage to get home after dark anyway. During a round of UNO near the billiard table in the pousada we get to know some local people, as it turns out our host is having a little spontaneous party today – such a luck that we stumbled into it. We get to know his local friends and a Japanese couple from Saõ Paulo which Henrique has known since childhood. A mixture of English, Spanish and Portuguese takes us through the night. Later we find out that the Japanese Brazilians in their 60s are not even together anymore, they just spend their holidays here together and share a room – oh well, you can do that ^^ an old buddy of Henrique serves his wife fresh cheese slices, salami and wine, a few other locals play billiards (allegedly the first billiard table there was here on the island), a few more relaxed smokes and we get fresh mussels served – we have to try them out. After some Caipis and many beers we fall knocked out to bed.

Moreré – Praia de Bainema

We have made some excursions on foot, some relaxing some very exhausting. The trip to Moreré and to the beach “Praia de Bainema” was rather exhausting; up to two hours through the heat in the sand, followed by a walk on the beach of one hour up to a restaurant as we ran out of water. We needed a quad back home because we were so busted. Of course, you can also take a quad up to Morere and then stroll relaxed along the beach.

The way is our goal – from Cairu to Praia de Bainema
Hardly any other person around, just a few fishermen – Praia de Bainema

Fauna & Flora

The variety of plants in our pousada alone is amazing; from the flower of the passion fruit (the queen among the flowers) to special climbing plants, there is already a lot to be found here. The hummingbirds fly from one naktar place to the next and also there are also some “hanging leg flies” like on Ilha Grande. We only saw wasps once and they were really only looking for sweet things, so they were not after our meat and everything like in Germany.

There are many dogs around on the island, some have a owner, some are simply part of the island community. So we also get to know “Sandy” our island dog. We don’t know how she manages but she has been waiting for us in the village every day that we go to the beach to walk with us to the seaside. When she arrived there she took some bites from the restaurants here and there during the day, went for an evening walk with us at the beach and then went home with us. We only gave her some water as we didn’t had proper dog food with us, because it was so unbearably hot.

Not only the dogs run free on the beach, one day Sandy ran off with some other dogs as if bitten – the free running horse had left his meadow and seems to have the nerve to ride ALONE on the beach territory of the dogs. A big sensation, all the dogs after him, the horse gallops and everyone has to laugh. Where have we landed here?! What a dream.

The Pousada Garden <3

Party like it’s hot

The visit to the church on Tuesdays usually ends with a small party on the street. A few men grab drums, rattles and guitar and sing to the music. The adults and children dance to it on the street or sit at the edge and talk. Shortly before we want to go to bed, as we have to leave the next day, our host stumbles across our terrace and asks if we don’t want to go to a party in the village centre. We are curious and immediately agree, our neighbours from Saõ Paulo also come with us and so we set off together.

As the island is usually flooded with fresh rainwater early in the morning or at night, we stomp through the unasphalted mud to the small village “Diskothek”. The music clatters enormously loud from the little house that is covered with palm leaves. First we stop in front of the little house and chat a bit before we go in. The first drunk ones are dragged home by friends in tow. Our host doesn’t want to go in yet, it’s too loud for him, so the two of us go in.

The whole house is shaking, nobody’s standing still. Only one girl at the bar who has thrown herself into a pink dress and is not particularly enthusiastic about the “dance attempts” of her admirers. She seeks refuge with us and does not leave our side. A group of stylish queens with make-up is dancing in front of the boxes. They put their finest dance moves on the sand parquet and are also happy that we keep the somewhat annoying older gentleman away from them. After two weeks on the island we already know some of the people and are greeted heartwarmingly and we talk with hands and feet, it is much too loud to understand each other anyway. From very small to very old all inhabitants are represented here, probably our host is right, that the kids are exposed to such a loud sound already at a young age, that one just permanently speaks a louder tone.

The next day we tow our backpacks to the harbour, slightly hungover, and leave this little paradise. Hopefully we will have the chance to come here again sometime.

P.s.: unfortunately one of us sprained his foot during our time on Boipeba therefore we have spent some days simply in the room, otherwise we possibly would have made a boat trip.

Cuiabá and the Pantanal

From Cuiabá into the Pantanal

Find out more about our trip to the Pantanal, the large tropical wetland area that stretches across Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil. A wonderful not so crowded alternative to Amazonia.

From Floripa we go straight out of the forest, into the taxi, into the plane, change once in Saõ Paulo and we arrive in the hot and tropical area of Mato Grosso. We arrive in Cuiabá in the afternoon, the exit is decorated with large statues of jaguars, birds of prey and lizards. We must be in the right place.

We take an Uber into the city and check into our first hotel in Brazil. We booked it for 30€ incl. breakfast via Expedia. Hardly arrived we go to the next supermarket and stock up with water and mosquito spray. Unfortunately the area is not so beautiful and as it gets dark we decide to stay in the hotel and try to order something via Uber Eats. It’s similar to other food deliveries. A short detour to the probably best Barber in Town is also part of our stay (thanks to Buenohair oficial). Since we don’t know exactly how to get to the Pantanal yet and what we want to do, we ask the reception and get some contacts. In the end we decided to go to the Pantanal on our own and book direct through a Poussada. Most organized agencies/guides only bring the guests to the accommodations, who then organize the tours on site. This way we could save 1.000 Reais compared to the cheapest tour provider.

How do you get to the Pantanal?

We decide on the Pousada Rio Claro, which is about 2 1/2 hours away from Cuiabá, on a river in the middle of the Pantanal area. The Pousada made us two offers, we choose the “cheaper” one. Unfortunately the offers are not really cheap, but our offer includes all inclusive, one tour (horse riding, boat trip, kayak or jeep) per day and one hiking tour per day. This sounds just right for 3 nights.

How do you get to the Pantanal? We first travel to Poconé, a small village near the Transpantaneira M60 Road. It connects Poconé with Porto Jofre.

It is best to stock up with drinking water in Poconé, as it can get a little expensive in the Pantanal. We already learned from our mistakes on the Ilha Grande. We ask our driver to make a stop at a supermarket and buy 2x 6L water canisters and two small bottles for a total of 20 Reais. If you compare a 0.5 liter bottle costs 4 Reais in the accommodation.

The Transpantaneira Road is a sand / stone road with many bridges leading through the Pantanal. From our point of view it is not necessary to have a 4×4 vehicle, but it is an advantage, because there are frequently deep holes in the road and you would be faster. But if you drive carefully, you can certainly make it with a normal small car. But please double check with the accommodation during rainy seasons.

Once on this road we continue for about 40 minutes until we arrive at our accommodation. On the way we already see many big birds, two crocodiles on the side of the road as well as a capybara which disappears fast into the water as it sees us. Everything is under water left and right from us. This is how we had imagined the the world’s largest tropical wetland area in the size of Germany.

Río Claro – Mato Grosso

At the accommodation we see some new animals; small monkeys and different birds, hardly one is like the other. One bird in particular is very possessive and makes a real third when we get close to HIS waterhole. The little and loud birds live on the water lilies and protect their offspring. We arrive on time for lunch, which consists of a daily fresh buffet (fish, meat, chicken, beans, salads, dessert).

Calm down pawl – we get it those are YOUR water lilies

We apply insect spray for a second time (NoBite has really performed wonders) and go straight on the first tour. We take a boat trip and see birds of prey and many other small birds as well as some curious crocodiles. Our colleague Zip (crocodile) lives right in front of our pier and apparently gets on the boats at night and makes himself comfortable there. A horde of capybaras is also romping around at the Pousada pier. About 10 pigs wallow in a water hole and let themselves float relaxed in the mud. Two little babies stand close to their mother and drink some milk. Our guide speaks only Portuguese, a reason for the low price, we think it’s great so we can learn something new again and the tours are mainly about seeing something, it’s good to keep quiet not to scare of some animals. But we immediately understand the story he tells us about the capybaras. A few days ago a leopard tore two capybaras at around 5 o’clock in the morning – there was a huge scream from the other capybaras. A shiver runs down our spines. These shouldn’t be the only traces of the local leopards we encounter during our stay in the Pantanal.

Schlammpool Party

By Boat, on Foot, on Horseback, by Safari Van

We sign up for a horseback tour the next morning around 8am. Our local guide is Jaque, he comes from Poconé and has been working here in the Pantanal for over 20 years.

The horses are saddled during our breakfast and we leave immediately afterwards. I can already tick off something from my bucket list. There are three of us together with our guide and we ride slowly and properly out of the pousada. Shortly after we pass a few skeletons of animals, the leopard has probably struck again and the vultures have picked the bones neatly. We ride through water, mud and grass, termite heaps which are bigger than we are on the horses, past cattle, cows and other free running horses. At the end we speed up and see some birds and are back at the pousada after 90 minutes. What a trip!

The whole day lies ahead of us, we arrange to meet Jaque in the evening for a hike.

After a few hours rest and an extensive lunch we go on a hike through the Pantanal. Again there are three of us. This time Jaque comes, who is usually dressed in relaxed casual clothes, with a thick jacket, long pants with a machete and boots. He laughs and says, I hope you guys put a good amount of Mosquito Spray on. We are glad that we brought it with us as it must be serious as Jaque mentioned it to us.

About 5 minutes drive by car and we are in the middle of nowhere, noticing the 500 mosquitoes behind each of us in the humid and burning heat. Was this a good idea?

We walk over trees and dense paths, always followed by mosquitoes. Jaque is on the lookout for animals, but they probably don’t want to feed all the mosquitoes. After a good 30 minutes we discover a tortoise which leisurely walks through the tropical forest, we ask ourselves how it manages to survive here. Apart from birds this remains our only bigger animal we discover.

After about 90 minutes we are back exhausted and glad that we only got a few stitches. A few dead ticks hang from our underwear and T-shirts, the spray really knocks over the last tick.

On the following days we enjoy the delicious pousada food and marvel at the many animals that romp on or around the site. We do some more tours on the boat and enjoy the nature as well as the silence which is only interrupted by animal sounds. A wonderful and exciting excursion, we are glad not to have seen a jaguar or leopard and get back on our way to Cuiabá happy and bitten. From there we will travel to Salvador de Bahia to spend two weeks on the Ilha de Boipeba.