On our longest travel on this year we visited what many recognize as the most beautiful area of Brazil: the northeast coast.
After our visit to Chapada Diamantina and its amazing and dramatic nature, (which you can read about in our previous blog it was soon time to visit some of Brazil’s big cities. But first, after spending the weekend in Salvador, our trip continued to a place that we both ended up falling in love with; Praia do Forte.
Praia do Forte is a small, commercialized fishing village on the coast of Bahia. With its beautiful beaches that possess natural swimming pools formed by the surrounding coral reefs it is a perfect place to go snorkeling.
The manager at Albergue Praia do Forte Hostel Paulinho, is a man of the community and has done a great job making partnerships with several of the town’s restaurants for his guests to visit for a discounted meal. There are also some very important organizations working out of Praia do Forte. One of them is Projeto Baleia Jubarte which is an organization that works to preserve marine wildlife, while mainly focusing on the humpback whale. And since Praia do Forte is a sea turtle nesting hotspot it is a very important area also for the conservation of sea turtles. While visiting the seat turtle project Projeto Tamar‘, we were incredibly lucky to join in on one of their daily morning rounds to look for and map new nests as well as the newly born turtles. It was a truly amazing experience as we were able to help one of the little turtles that was still stuck in its nest, into the sea. – Hopefully to live a long life.
The sea turtles have been laying their eggs on the beaches of Praia do Forte for many, many years. They have actually been on the brink of extinction, but thanks to Projeto Tamar, they have managed to successfully recover. The project started in 1980, and naturally met a lot of challenges. The local fishermen were for example hunting the turtles and their eggs for food and artisanal products. Projeto Tamar decided to offer the fishermen jobs to help conserve the animals instead. This turned out to be a great idea, as the fishermen naturally had a lot of knowledge they could pass on to the people of Projeto Tamar. They knew where to find the nesting areas and what signs to look for when trying to map their movements.
Today the project has 22 bases in Brazil, spread along the country’s coastline that covers a range of more than 1000 kilometers. Since 1980, they have managed to protect and release well over 8 million turtles to the seas of Brazil!
After a fantastic five days in Praia do Forte we continued our trip up the coast, stopping a week in Aracaju to learn about how they managed to furnish their hostel almost entirely using recycled materials. You can read more about Aju Hostel & Pousada and their story here.
As this trip consisted mostly of bus rides and short stops at the hostels we visited, we quickly went back on the road again to visit the city of Maceió. This city is also one of Brazil’s 17 big cities that inhabits more than 1 million people, and like Aracaju and the rest of the cities we were about to visit, located right on the coast. While Maceió has a city beach, there are many incredible beaches with clear, turquoise waters located not far away, and they are easy to reach by bus. After a few days with the welcoming staff of Maceió Hostel & Pousada, we continued our trip further north to Natal and Natal Eco Hostel.
We arrived at this Hostel which was in comparison to what we have been getting accustomed to, a small hostel. However, we could quickly notice that staying sustainable was of importance to the hostel’s manager. The entrance area is furnished with really cool chairs and a table made from recycled car-tires, there is an extensive recycling station and an old refrigerator is used as a book-swapping station. It’s important to mention that they actually are in the process of moving their hostel to a bigger house just down the street where they plan to make many more measures to become as sustainable as possible.
When shown their new location, we continued to see more creative ways of reusing materials. More furniture made from tires and old mattresses, flowerpots made from old towels. – Yes, old towels! They simply dip towels in concrete, let them dry over a bucket or something that will shape them the way they want and color them in bright paint to give a green, and relaxing atmosphere to their hostel.
Back on the road once more, we reached Fortaleza. Fortaleza Hostel is located centrally in Brazil’s 5th largest city that was once an important and strategic military base with a large fortress that is most famous for being used to fight off a Dutch invasion in the 1600’s. Fortaleza is now a big city surrounded by beaches, facing towards an open, windy Atlantic Ocean. This makes it a perfect place for wind & kite surfing. Due to changing our travel schedule slightly we didn’t get more than a few days to enjoy the city before we hit the road again.
Our last stop on this trip was a sort of a bonus, as we had the pleasure to spend a weekend in one of the most unique places in Brazil. If you have never heard of it, it is time to look up some pictures from this dream place: Jericoacoara. Even to get there is an experience in itself. The normal long distance buses will take you to the nearest city that has road connection. From there, only powerful 4×4 cars can take you across the sand dunes that cover this entire region. It also is an environmentally protected area, and to get in, one needs to pay a sustainability tax. – Which we of course thought was really neat. The city itself is an old fishing village, and the infrastructure still tells that tale. The streets are just sand sloping around the old wooden houses (now mostly restaurants and different kinds of accommodation) the fishermen used to live in before the tourism arrived. Jericoacoara is also a true mecca for kite surfing, attracting kite surfers from all over the world, and it possesses some of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil.
“Pedra furada” – in English; “the pierced rock” – is the postcard image for Jeri, as the Brazilians call the village. It is easy to reach from city, as it is just a 30 minute beautiful walk through the dessert like area from the little town. With its many other magnificent locations and dramatic cliffs, you can safely say that Jericoacoara is a must see location if you ever have the opportunity.
Kaja Knutsdotter Fjørtoft and Michael Aune participate in an exchange project between HI Norway and HI Brazil. The project is funded by FK Norway.