Archive for October, 2010
Beyond a passing reference to our listing of accommodation on the Ilha do Mel we haven’t given much attention on the blog to the coastline of the state of Paraná.
The government of the state of Paraná, through the Agência de Desenvolvimento do Turismo Sustentável do Litoral do Paraná, mantains a website with information on the different towns and destinations along the coast, including Antonina, Caiobá, Guaraqueçaba, Ilha do Mel, Matinhos, Morretes, Paranaguá, Pontal de Paraná and Superagui. For each of the destinations mentioned there is a good amount of information. The website is in Portuguese only.
A further website to complement the information contained on the one above is the Paraná state’s official tourism website. Don’t be mislead by the English flag. There hasn’t been an English version of the page for quite a while.
links: Ilha do Mel
We have just completed uploading our extense Flickr album devoted to The Pantanal.
Getting up early in the Pantanal pays off.
Each season of the year brings different colours to the region. When we visited it it was time for the beautiful cambará trees.
Rivers are the core of a Pantanal experience.
Wildlife viewing is what drives tourists in their thousands to the Pantanal. Life forms abound. Reptiles (including caymans and iguanas) and fish (the notorious pirana) are on the menu (almost literally!).
The Pantanal is heaven on earth for birdwatchers.
You will find these photos and many more at our Pantanal Flickr album.
At the Pantanal handbook you will find all the travel information you need about one of the most fantastic regions of Brazil.
the Pantanal handbook
The Brazilian tourism authorities have released a series of videos with a common theme: those states that will host 2014 World Cup games. During the coming weeks we will present all those videos here in the blog. They are shortish videos, with conventional but beautiful images of the states and its main destinations.
All the info we have on Curitiba is at destination: Curitiba.
For the Iguazu Falls we have destination: Iguazu Falls.
And we gave details of a fantastic train ride at the Curitiba-Paranaguá railway journey.
destination: Iguazu Falls
map of Curitiba
Curitiba, the main sights
Linha Turismo , Curitiba’s hop-on hop-off bus
the Curitiba-Paranaguá railway journey
institutional videos: Ceará
institutional videos: São Paulo
institutional videos: Rio Grande do Norte
institutional videos: Bahia
institutional videos: Pernambuco
institutional videos: Rio Grande do Sul
institutional videos: state of Amazonas
institutional videos: Rio de Janeiro
institutional videos: Minas Gerais
The imposing building where the Bolsa Oficial do Café (the coffee stock exchange) operated in Santos, state of São Paulo, is host today to one of the most interesting museums you will visit in Brazil: the Museu do Café (coffee museum).
For decades, Santos was the HQ for the ever important coffee-producing sector of the Brazilian economy. On the first half of the XX century coffee was the main source of wealth for Brazil. Big panels at the museum show scenes from daily life at the turn of the century.
The museum is divided in two halfs. First you will visit the wonderful pregão (pit), the salon where coffee stocks where negotiated.
On the ceiling there’s an spectacular stained glass by local artist Benedito Calixto.
On an adjacent room several panels and utensils tell the story of coffee.
The second floor of the building contains panels and all sorts of tools and items related to the history of coffee in Brazil.
The Museu do Café is an unmissable Santos sight.
Address: Palácio da Bolsa Oficial de Café, Rua XV de Novembro nº 95, Santos.
Website: Museu do Café.
Visiting times: from Tuesday to Saturday, from 09:00 till 17:00. Sundays, from 10:00 till 17:00.
Entrance fee: R$ 5,00.
Guided visits are in Portuguese. Most of the panels are in Portuguese and English.
You can drive to Santos (between an hour’s drive and two hours depending on where you are in São Paulo). Alternatively, take one of the frequent buses running from the Terminal Jabaquara bus station (at the end of the blue line of São Paulo’s subway). The bus will leave you within walking distance of the centre of Santos.
1. Alter do Chão, our Amazon secret
Alter do Chão is a beautiful and to a large extent unkwon Amazon destination that reached fame not long ago thanks to an article on British newspaper The Guardian británico. It is found near Santarém, in the state of Pará and here at the Brazil Travel Blog we devoted it a destination card back in 2007 (a card we updated recently in Alter do Chão and the river Tapajós and an Amazon adventure: trips around Alter do Chão).
2. Alter do Chão´s recent claim to fame
On 15 April 2009 The Guardian published an article with the title Top 10 beaches in Brazil. It is an article that, by the look of the comments and conclusions extracted from it by the tourist trade, was read by very few. On the second paragraph of the article there is an explanation on how the beach ranking was elaborated. “we asked 10 experts to choose their favourites”. That’s all there is about the ranking. The newspaper asked 10 travel specialists to mention their favourite beach in Brazil. One beach each. The list is published in no hierarchical order. Ricardo Freire -one the specialists consulted- explained at Nasce um mito: Alter-do-Chão, “a melhor praia do Brasil segundo a imprensa inglesa” that the specialists were asked not to mention beaches chosen by any of the other 8 experts. Had it not been for this rule we could have expected a heavy Fernando de Noronha presence on the list (strangely, The Guardian lists the island of Fernando de Noronha as if it only had one beach).
Alter do Chão is on the list. Conspicuous by its absence on the description of Alter published by the newspaper is any mention to the fact that the beaches of Alter are covered by the river between January and July. Should you arrive in Alter in April you will find no beaches at all -you will agree this is no insignificant detail. We know of several frustrated tourists that chose the wrong time of the year to travel to Alter and get to know its beaches.
On the Guardian list, Alter do Chão appears listed first. We know the beaches were listed in geographical order (from north to south). But the local tourist trade chose to ignore this fact and a myth was born: Alter do Chão as the most beautiful beach in Brazil according to the Guardian newspaper. And once a myth is born it is a mean task to make people understand the mistake.
3. What are the beaches of Alter do Chão like?
Alter do Chão and the region of the river Tapajós contain the most extense collection of white sandy beaches in the Amazon region. Alter owes its fame to the Ilha do Amor beach (“Love Island”) which rather than an island it is a sand bar right in front of the village, contemplated at its best between July and December. The sand bar is bathed by the Tapajós river to one side and by the Lagoa Verde to the other. In the middle of the sand bar there is an endless series of beach huts with restaurants serving Amazon fish. But the Ilha do Amor is just one of many beaches in the region. During the dry season you can walk from Alter to Santarém through the beach following the river course.
The Ilha do Amor is a pleasant beach of fine sand and no waves. The river waters are dark, warm and transparent. To reach the beach from the village you need to enlist the services of a boatman that will take you there in no time at all.
During the weekend and the holiday season the beach is filled with tourists from the region and the cities of Belém and Manaus. The atmosphere at the beach is no different from that of any other beach in Brazil. High season means an awful lot of tourists, noise, movement, chaos, plastic chairs and tables and food and drink aplenty. Plenty of rubbish too.
During the low season, if you reach the beach during the week you will have it mostly for yourself.
We have mentioned there are many other beaches. You can hire a boatman to take you there. Most of the beaches are virgin, with no infrastructure whatsoever. Other beaches, such as the Ponta de Pedras, have restaurants.
If you don’t want to take a boat, you can reach the popular praia do Cajueiro on foot. From Alter’s main square, follow the riverfront to the left and you’ll get there in five minutes.
4. So, is it worth a trip to Alter do Chão just to see its beaches?
We feel the beaches of Alter are a plus to anyone visiting the rainforest in the region. Alter is a fantastic base for the perfect Amazon experience. So if you go to Alter after a jungle experience, there is much worse you can do than relaxing one day at its beaches.
If you are only after a beach destination for your holidays, and you like your beaches with plenty of intrastructure, we dare say Alter do Chão might not be your place. For the money you’ll pay to get to roustic Alter you can spend a week at a holiday resort.
However, if roustic is your thing and you are after a different type of beach, you might want to give Alter do Chão a try. And if you have in mind a trip combining a beach holiday with a trip to the jungle, then go ahead, Alter is your place.
destination: Alter do Chão and the river Tapajós
an Amazon adventure: trips around Alter do Chão
destination: Ilha do Marajó
the Meeting of the Waters and the Janauary Ecological Park, near Manaus
Jungle Lodges in the Amazon