Start: Rio de Janeiro / Finish: Salvador da Bahia
Category: Small Group
Join us for an unforgettable road trip from Rio de Janeiro to Salvador da Bahia!
On this 11-day road trip, discover all the hidden gems between Rio and Salvador, from historic colonial towns to beautiful wonders of nature; wild surf beaches, nature reserves, sand-dunes, and jungles. Travel to Arraial do Cabo, the “Caribbean of Brazil”, and go on a relaxing cruise around the surrounding lagoons, islands and “Blue Cave”- ideal spot for snorkeling. Spend a free day in the hip beach town of Buzios before heading to Vitoria and enjoying a typical “churrasco”, a Brazilian-style BBQ. In Itaunas, a colourful little town famous for its great sand dunes, get the opportunity to learn the popular forro dance moves as well as to master caipirinha cocktail making. Spend some time in the neighbouring ecological reserve and choose between 2 activities; horseback riding along endless, wild beaches or kayaking down the river spotting wildlife along the way. Walk along the beach from Arraial d’Ajuda to the historic little town of Trancoso. Trek through the jungle to the stunning Prainha beach and learn capoeira on a beach in Itacare.
*Option of ending trip in Morro de Sao Paulo Island OR in Salvador da Bahia.
Day by Day Itinerary:
Day 1: Rio de Janeiro – Arraial do Cabo – Buzios
You will be picked up from your accommodation in Rio around 8:00 am for the 2hr drive to Arraial do Cabo, where our boat will be waiting to take us on a relaxing cruise around the surrounding lagoons, islands and ‘’Blue Cave’’. Described as the Caribbean of Brazil, you’ll be dazzled by pearl-white beaches, crystal clear waters and abundant sea-life. We often spot penguins, turtles and even whales. This is an included half-day trip with food and drinks offered on-board. Plenty of swimming, snorkelling (Snorkelling equipment available for an extra $15 USD upon arrival.) and sun-bathing, with three beach stops in total. It’s then only a 40 minute drive from Arraial do Cabo to Buzios where we stay for 2 nights.
Buzios was once a quiet fishing village until French movie star Brigitte Bardot turned up in the 1960s. It wasn’t long before Mick Jagger, Madonna and all of Rio’s ‘beautiful people’ followed and nowadays Buzios is considered one of the coolest, hippest and most sophisticated beach towns this side of the equator.
INCLUDED: Arraial do Cabo boat trip + unlimited soft-drinks & mineral water. Bring your own spending money for beer and lunch (various food options available). Snorkelling equipment available for an extra $15 USD upon arrival.
Day 2: Free Day in Buzios (B)
Today is a free day to explore the surrounding beaches. Hiring a beach buggy is a good way to do this. You may also want to check out some of the many chic, boutique shops (open til late) or fancy bars and nightclubs. Note to girls: Buzios is the best place in Brazil to buy bikinis!
Day 3: Buzios – Vitoria (B/D)
Today will be the longest travel day of the trip (about 7hrs). We spend one night in Vitoria, capital of Espirito Santo state. Founded in 1551 and built on the largest island of an archipelago of 33 islets joined by landfills and bridges, the city itself consists of colonial buildings, ports, beaches, tree-lined streets and a fine seafront promenade six kilometres long - perfect for jogging, biking or walking.
Tonight we’ll take you to Vitoria’s most lively restaurant to taste a typical 'churrasco' (Brazilian BBQ) and then to the nightlife area for a night on the town Brazilian-style… you’ll be pushed to see any other gringos here!
INCLUDED: Brazilian BBQ (churrasco) dinner.
Day 4: Vitoria - Itaunas (B)
This morning you’ll have some free time to enjoy a morning stroll around Vitoria or perhaps visit the impressive Penha Convent located in Vila Velha high up on a hill, offering great views over the entire archipelago.
From Vitoria it’s a nice short drive, only about 4.5 hours, to Itaunas; a colourful little town located on the banks of the Itaunas River. If you walk over the bridge to the other side of the river you’ll find yourself inside a huge ecological reserve made up of sand-dunes up to 30m high, wild ocean beaches, mangroves, flooded forests and a huge variety of flora and fauna. They say the old town (which apparently existed sometime before the 1950s) was located 1km closer to the ocean, but is now completely covered by sand. See if you can spot the old church tower poking out above the dunes.
Itaunas also happens to be a huge centre for forro music, which is probably the most popular and easy-to-learn dances of Brazil – yes, even more than samba! The National Festival of Forro is held here every year, attracting thousands of Brazilians.
This evening you will be shown how to make the perfect Brazilian caipirinha cocktail, along with some serious taste-testing. Take your pick: mango, pineapple, passion-fruit, or the most popular and traditional of all; lime. We’ll also offer you a Brazilian forro dance class with the locals - if you’re up for it! After this we spend the night partying on the dunes under the star-filled skies of Itaunas…..
INCLUDED: Caipirinha cocktail making and tasting class & Forro dance class (if you choose to take it).
Day 5: Activity Day around Itaunas (B)
Loads of activities on offer, most of them inside the ecological reserve. We recommend horse-riding along the endless, wild beaches all the way to the border of Espirito Santo and Bahia - where the mouth of the river divides the 2 states. Other cool activities include; mountain bike-riding, hiking, sand-buggying, canoeing & kayaking down the river spotting wildlife along the way. Chances to see capivaras, otters, turtles, monkeys, sloths, lizards, lots of birds and perhaps a jaguatirica cat if very lucky!
INCLUDED: Half day trip (Choose between horse-riding on the beach or river kayaking or shared canoe)
Day 6: Itaunas – Arraial d’Ajuda (B)
Today we cross into Bahia - land of palm trees, paradise and so much more! It’s about 6 hrs drive. Where we’re headed to tonight is only a short distance away from the exact place where Brazil was first ‘discovered’ back in 1500, where the very first indigenous people were encountered and where Brazil’s fascinating history all began… It all started here. Tonight we’ll introduce you to some of Bahia’s best street food! And street cocktails…..
Day 7: Day trip to Trancoso (B)
For those keen, we will walk for 3-4 hours all the way along the beach to the quaint little town of Trancoso. The timing of this walk will depend on the tides, but we’ll try to arrive in time for lunch. Since the establishment of Trancoso in the 16th Century hardly anything has changed. The town has a beautiful ‘Quadrado’, a long grassy square with a little white-washed church at the far end overlooking the dramatic coastline below. Lining the quadrado are colourful little Portuguese houses. A photographer’s dream! Later, we return by bus to Arraial and go out for another night on the town!
INCLUDED: Half day beach walk to Trancoso & surrounding beaches.
Day 8: Arraial d’Ajuda - Itacare (B)
Back on the road, we continue our travels north up the coast. It’s an easy 5.5 hour drive to Itacare (beautiful scenery), with plenty of time to visit the Ilheus chocolate factory along the way and still make it to Itacare in time for sunset and cocktails on the beach! Itacare has always been popular with Brazilians, but the word is only just getting out internationally. There are only a few places in the world where nature has been so generous, offering such diverse attractions in one single place. Coconut-fringed beaches, tropical rainforest, waterfalls, adventure sports and some of THE best surfing and caipoeira in the world! You won’t be disappointed in the nightlife here either… Itacare is known for it’s live reggae music and nightly parties.
INCLUDED: Visit to chocolate factory on-route.
Day 9: Activity Day around Itacare (B)
Today you will be taken on an included excursion to what is known as the ‘lost’ or ‘hidden’ beach. To get to the stunning beach of Prainha we must hike through the rainforest for 40mins… passing by various cascades and streams. On the way back, if you’re feeling adventurous, you’ll have the option to go on a jungle (zip-line) canopy tour. Nb. Surfers should bring their boards today. Prainha has great waves!
Later on, we will offer you a free capoeira lesson on the beach closest to the town centre. Your instructor, Jamaica, is not only known throughout Bahia, but all over the world as one of the most respected capoeiristas and teachers of this Afro-Brazilian martial arts, now embraced as a national sport and practiced by over 60 million Brazilians – young and old.
INCLUDED: Guided jungle trek to Prainha Beach & Capoeira class (all levels) with Mestre Jamaica.
Day 10: Free Day in Itacare (B)
Free day! Loads of options on offer. You could go white-water rafting, parasailing or go for a surf (rent a board or take a lesson). For those who’d prefer something more low-key there are nature walks, canoe trips and of course many beautiful beaches and waterfalls to choose from… Or maybe you’ll just want to swing in a hammock with a good book and while the day away?
We highly recommend that you try moqueca for dinner - a delicious coconut/dende oil dish of African heritage. Choose from fish, shrimp or crab, or everything together! You’ll be in seafood heaven. And don’t forget to also try the famous Acai drink. Actually it’s more of a slushy, made from a deep purple Amazonian berry mixed with guarana syrup and topped with sliced banana and granola. Jam-packed full of energy!
Day 11: Itacare – Morro de Sao Paulo Island OR Salvador da Bahia (B)
Today’s drive first takes us 2.5 hours to the small town of Valenca, from where you can take a boat over to Morro de Sao Paulo Island. Morro is a place where there’s not a care in the world. The only thing you’ll have to think about here is which drink to order at the beach cocktail stands.
If, however, you’re on a bit of a time-limit, you might prefer to continue another couple of hours straight up to Salvador. You will be taken to the accommodation of your choice and the trip will end this evening.
A briefing will be given on Morro, Salvador and the Salvador area and your guide will be ready to give you all the tips and advice you need if you’re lucky enough to be continuing your travels or staying longer in Bahia!
We may be faced with unexpected circumstances at times, for example bad weather, changes to Carnival schedules, demonstrations/strikes, inconveniences caused by local operators and authorities, and other circumstances beyond our control. Changes in the program may be required to make the best of the situations that we encounter.
Want to start in Salvador instead? Check out the following trip:
During low season, refer to this trip:
You are a traveler, not a tourist. We want you to be able to explore the world exactly as you have always dreamed it. You are free to travel at your own pace with no tour leaders or set schedules.
Depart any day you want, 365 days a year whether you are traveling on your own or in a group.
UNLIMITED SCHEDULE CHANGES
We make it easy for you to be spontaneous! Enjoy the freedom of making an unlimited amount of changes to your schedule before and during your trip. Your pass is valid for 12 months so you can take all the time you need to enjoy your journey!
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