If you are going to travel on the northeast coast of Brazil there is a big possibility that you'll come across common marmosets. This highly active cute little creatures, relative to other monkeys, usually live in the top of the forest trees in family groups of 3 to 8, sometimes even larger. They are easily identified by the two white tufts of hair at the sides of the head, and the white mark on the forehead. The long tail has grey-white rings. Their size ranges from 14 to 18 cm and they feed on fruit, insects, bird's eggs as well as tree gums and saps.
Fondest memory: Marmosets in Imbassaí became domesticated. It's not unusual to see them in the properties of pousadas. They run swiftly along the branches of trees and are also excellent jumpers. When I had my first breakfast in the garden of pousada I was surprised at how many they were and how close they came. I quickly got used to it and found them quite amusing :)
One reason we chose the Praia do Forte resort was its proximity to this village, only a 30 minute walk away along the beach or (slightly further) by road. We came here several times – to see the TAMAR Project and its turtles, to take photos and to relax in a friendly café as a change from the more rarefied atmosphere of the resort.
The village is home to 1,800 people, and consists of fishermen's houses, a square, and a church. It was once part of the Fazenda Praia do Forte (Praia do Forte Farm), a large concern responsible for much of the devastation of the local forests. When the farm was bought in order to develop the resort, the area taken up by the village was donated to the municipality on the condition that its inhabitants not sell their houses; they were authorized to leave them for their children only. This was designed as a strategy to maintain Praia do Forte's original ambience, as it would prevent the houses becoming second homes for city dwellers or holiday apartments.
Fondest memory: The houses still preserve some of the atmosphere of the past, although the main streets have been paved and a small commercial area developed with local crafts stores, boutiques, bars, restaurants, and guest houses. While the number of visitors increases every year, the village still retains a traditional atmosphere and feels like a place for the locals first and foremost. Local people still put their chairs on the sidewalk to chat and children play in the streets. However I sense from checks on the internet that already the village is much more touristy than it was when we visited six years ago, and I suspect the trend will continue as this area does have so much to offer for tourists. Hopefully, though, the conditions and regulations imposed on the use of the buildings will prevent the village from becoming too spoiled or over-developed. If all goes well for Praia do Forte, the delicate balance between tourist economy, improvements to the locals’ quality of life and the picturesque appearance of the village that attracts those tourists in the first place will be maintained.
The EcoResort at Praia do Forte is set on the lovely Tatuapara Bay, a long sweep of beautiful sand lined with palm trees. This isn’t one of those private beaches though, where tourists are fenced off from the real world of the area they are visiting. I loved the fact that this is a working beach as well as place for holiday-makers to relax, and the two mix happily together – you can see in my photo how some of the tourists are joining in the task of hauling in the fishermen’s nets. We didn’t swim in the sea here, as when we visited (in October) there were rather a lot of jellyfish (see photo 3) but did enjoy several good walks. On the first occasion we came on a nature hike organised and led by a resident naturalist from the hotel, which made an good introduction to the area, but on other occasions we preferred to come alone and take our time exploring and looking for good photo opportunities. One morning I got up particularly early and came down to the beach alone, where I met the little chap in photo 4.
At the far end of the bay from the hotel is the fisherman’s village, described in my next tip.
These cheeky creatures were regular visitors to the hotel’s restaurant, particularly at breakfast time. On our first morning we didn’t have our cameras, but after that every breakfast I think we spent more time watching them and taking photos than we did actually eating!
For the marmosets the biggest draw was the sugar bowl, the lid of which some of them had obviously learned to open. But if that was beyond their skill the bread rolls were not :) And many of the hotel guests were willing to indulge them and share their breakfast for the sake of a good photo, as you can see we were.
These particular marmosets are Common Marmosets, also sometimes known as Cotton Eared Marmosets (from the distinctive white tufts of hair around the ears). They range in size from 14 to 18 cm and have grey bodies and a banded tail. Their normal diet consists of insects, spiders, small vertebrates, bird eggs and tree sap – but not here in Praia do Forte! They are often domesticated, and you can see from the photos how happy they were for us to come relatively close to them. Watching their antics really did make a great way to start our days here.
Chegando na Ilha de Tinharé:
Em minha opinião, o meio mais prático de se chegar a Morro de São Paulo é de avião mesmo. E não fica tão caro ao se contabilizar todo o trâmite aeroporto/táxi/catamarã, e o melhor é que reduz o tempo de percurso drasticamente: apenas 20 minutos. E a vista é incrível. A pista de pouso fica na Terceira Praia do Morro, onde começam as melhores acomodações da ilha. Há duas empresas que operam vôos entre Salvador e Morro:
Em Morro de São Paulo
Chez Max (75.483.1103)
Terceira Praia s/n
A pousada é muito bonita. Bom café da manhã, e uma super pizza à noite. Não tem piscina, mas está na praia. Também é de muito fácil acesso à pista de pouso (cerca de 300 metros).
Não gostei de “astral” do Morro de São Paulo: muita gente, muita farofa, muita música alta, muita oferta ostensiva de drogas e sexo pago. As praias são legais, particularmente a Quarta e a Quinta, onde não há a muvuca da Primeira, Segunda, e Terceira. Ok, ok, cada um na sua. Se está lotado, é porque muita gente gosta.
Na Ilha de Tinharé, gostei realmente de Garapoá, um vilarejo mais ao sul, onde passei apenas um dia, em uma praia totalmente isolada de tudo, ao sul do vilarejo. Não sou de catar conchas, mas não resisti: caramujos e búzios de 10 cm, em perfeitas condições. Aos montes.
Outro passeio legal é ir para a Praia do Curral, em Valença, de barco. É uma praia oceânica (ou seja, mar bravo) totalmente sem estrutura.
Fondest memory: http://morrodesaopaulo.com.br/main.shtml
Getting to Itacaré is easy. If you have reservations at a lodge/hotel in Itacaré, they will probably see to your (paid) transportation from Ilhéus (nearest Airport) to Itacaré. Otherwise, you will have to either rent a car or take a cab (be sure to settle the cab fare before leaving). Renting a car is not a good idea, because you will certainly hire a Tour Operator in Itacaré, so it will be a waste of resources.
The choice of hotels is nearly endless. I stayed at Pousada Papaterra (www.papaterra.com.br, 073.251.2137) because some friends were staying there, and it was OK. Nothing spectacular, but the room was spacious, clean and fresh. Air conditioning helped a lot - it was very hot. It was conveniently located - not in the heart of the village, but within walking distance to restaurants. The restaurants we enjoyed the most were Recanto das Artes (Italian cuisine/pizza) and Dona Flor (seafood + great salads - and good salads are really hard to come across in Bahia, where salad usually means lettuce and sliced tomatoes).
Fondest memory: Be prepared to walk a lot.
The best beaches are all pretty inaccessible. Although I am not fond at all of guided tours, they proved necessary there, because it is not really possible to go hiking on your own. All the bays (every beach is a small bay) are separated by wooded hills. We hired Itacaré Ecoturismo - 073.251.2224. Everyday, a 4X4 would pick us up at the lodge and drop us off somewhere. We would usually walk a few more miles to the beach, spend the day, then walk back to the jeep, and be driven back to the lodge.
There are lots of beautiful beaches. They are very primitive, and the surf is really rough - no wonder Itacaré is known as "Surfers' Paradise" in Brazil. Therefore, not great at all for bathers. The more "urban" beaches - which are not the coolest - have bars and restaurants, the others don't. The Tour Company would pack a snack (water, a sandwich, fruit, a ceral bar), but it is always a good idea to bring whatever you want to eat/drink during the day.
In addition to the beaches, there are beautiful waterfalls to be seen. Also rafting, if you are the more "adventurous" type.
Be sure not to miss neighboring Maraú - but that deserves a page of its own!
For more information, visit http://www.itacare.com.br/