Leg 11, May 2021: Rio to Belem
April 30th: This will be the last day for some and the first day for others. We will be dropping off and picking up people from the airport while you can pack your bags and be ready to head out of Rio.
May 1st: Today we will drive to the beautiful old colonial mining town of Ouro Preto.
Along the way we will stop at Petropolis, the cool hill-side hideaway for local Cariocas escaping the heat of Rio. We will have 2 hours to explore the Museu Imperial, the former Imperial Palace, wander the town or visit the Palacio de Cristal, the site where the last slaves of Petropolis were released.
May 2nd: Today we can enjoy a half day guided tour of Ouro Preto, well known for its colonial architecture and the first Brazilian town to be considered a UNESCO world heritage site. In the afternoon enjoy some free time to explore the town, visit the museum or some of the stunning baroque churches. There are some fantastic cafes and restaurants in Ouro Preto. Don't forget your camera today - Ouro Preto is one of the most picturesque towns on our itinerary!
May 3rd: We have a full day drive through the Brazilian countryside. We will find a nice spot and camp for the night near Tres Marias.
May 4th: Today we arrive in the futuristic capital of Brasilia. In the morning we will enjoy a guided tour of this fascinating city, which was designed and built to be the Brazilian Government's headquarters in 1960. The city is designed to resemble a plane, and is a UNESCO heritage site, housing some incredible, futuristic style Cathedrals and Monuments.
May 5th: After our morning tour of the city, we will drive to the chilled out town of Alto Paraiso, which will be our base for exploring the Chapada dos Veadeiros. Alto Paraiso is crossed by Parallel 14 (in the same way as Machu Picchu) and is at the centre of some fantastic stories of space ships and aliens!
May 6th: Today we can explore the National Park. The Chapada dos Veadeiros is one of Brazil's hidden gems, one of the oldest and most beautiful tropical ecosystems in South America and home to incredible waterfalls, rock formations, caves and grottoes.
This morning we will try to visit to the Vale da Lua or the Valley of the Moon, so called due to the rock formations giving it an appearance similar to the moon.
This area is perfect for hiking, horse and bike riding and of course swimming in natural pools and soaking up the parks atmosphere. It is said that due to the high amount of quartz in the ground, that this Chapada is glows from space!
May 7th: Over the next days we will travel overland across the central Brazilian countryside.
May 8th: Overlanding through Central Brazil to Lencois.
May 9th: We will spend 2 full days in Lencois, the gateway to Chapada da Diamantina National Park. A former diamond-mining town in Bahia. Lencois's friendly inhabitants, great restaurants, cobbled streets and brightly coloured buildings make it a great town to explore.
May 10th: Go hiking, kayaking, riding, explore the town, or simply kick back and relax!
May 11th: We head to the coast today, to the beautiful beach town of Itacare, with its stunning Atlantic rainforest, laid back eco-friendly cafes and bars, and the opportunity to surf, relax and explore.
May 12th: Time to relax and enjoy some beach time!
May 13th: Today we have a free day to explore the area, enjoy the beach, take part in some of the many adventure activities available here, or visit the stunning Peninsula de Marau, stopping off at Praia Taipus de Fora and Lagoa Azul.
May 14th: Today we drive to the beautiful town of Salvador da Bahia. Salvador is a vibrant and exciting place to visit, with its bright colonial architecture, tasty street food scene, great music and impressive Capoeira, there's plenty to keep us busy for 2 days.
May 15th: Free time to explore the energetic and vibrant city of Salvador, known around the world for its Carnaval festivities. Salvador is home to over 300 churches, the historic centre is recognised by UNESCO and full of interesting architecture, brightly coloured buildings and cobblestone streets. It's an excellent place to witness the African culture in music and dance and enjoy some delicious street food.
May 16th: Free day in Salvador.
May 17th: Today we head north up the coast of Bahia, into the state of Sergipe. Along the way we will make a stop at the Projeto Tamar - a research station involved in the protection of Brazil's fives species of turtle, which spans 1000km and 9 of Brazil's states. The best time to visit is September to March when the spawning occurs.
Afterwards we will continue our journey north to Aracaju, where we can chill out in one of the town's seafront eateries, listen to some traditional forro music and enjoy the fresh crabs that the town is known for.
May 18th: We have a full day drive to the stunning colonial gem of Olinda, considered one of Brazil's most important historic sites.
May 19th: Explore the beautiful town of Olinda, once known as 'small Lisbon' and the richest town in Brazil. Enjoy wandering the cobblestone streets, check out some of the exquisite churches and definitely make time for lunch at Alto da Se to enjoy the views!
May 20th: Continue the journey to the cool seaside town of Praia da Pipa.
May 21st: Today we have a drive day to the pink sands of the Canoa Quebrada beaches.
May 22nd: Huge pinkish sand dunes dominate the area of Canoa Quebrada, it's a fantastic spot to kick back and relax after a week of overlanding, or for the more energetic; try your hand at kite surfing, take an evening horseback ride along the beach, head out on a beach buggy. There's a laid back small town to explore too.
May 23rd: An all day drive brings us to the laid back beach town of Jericoacoara, or 'Jeri' as it's affectionately known. Access to Jericoacoara is only by 4x4 through unpaved tracks through the dunes, making it a wonderfully hard to reach place.
May 24th: Jericoacoara is a magical place to spend some time; wander the sandy lanes, enjoy the sunset with a caipirinha on the dunes whilst the locals practise their Capoeira, head out on a quad bike adventure to remote lagoons where you can take a dip, laze in a hammock and enjoy a seafood lunch. Jeri is also one of the prime spots for surfing, windsurfing and kite surfing!
May 25th: Today we drive to the town of Barreirinhas, the gateway to the Lencois Maranhenses National Park.
May 26th: Today we adventure into the Lencois Maranhenses National Park begins.
Seen from the sky, the meeting point of the Rio Parnaiba and the Atlantic Ocean looks like a giant puzzle, made up of 85 tiny islands.
May 27th: Today we will head out to the protected area of Pequeneos Lencois, along the way, we will visit a small fishing village, take a short walk & enjoy views of the dunes and the Preguicas River.
May 28th: This morning we will continue our journey to the beautiful UNESCO town of Sao Luis.
May 29th: Today we can enjoy the UNESCO world heritage site of Sao Luis, the only city of Brazil to be founded by the French. The city is full is interesting museums and the historic centre houses beautiful, pastel coloured colonial mansions. You can take a boat trip to the more laid back town of Alcantara, you may spot the Scarlet Guara birds on your way.
May 30th: Our final drive day brings us to Belem where the mighty Amazon River meets the Atlantic.
May 31st: Today is yours to enjoy the port town of Belem, one of the first Portuguese settlements. Explore the historic centre which houses various museums and cathedrals and be sure to visit the Ver-o-Paso Market, considered the largest in South America, with its stalls scattered with Amazonian fish, baskets of Acai, herbs and crafts.