Early carnival and Brazilian beaches

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February 2nd 2016
Published: February 6th 2016
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After all the rain in various party of Brazil it was time to enjoy Brazil's sunny beaches a bit more. From Salvador we flew to Recife to explore the northeast coast and all its beautiful beaches. As we wanted to see as many (deserted and hard to get to) beaches as possible we rented a car for a road trip from Recife to Natal and back. Our first stop was Olinda, which is more or less a suburb of Recife. Olinda is a UNESCO heritage site and the old town is indeed beautiful. However, apparently carnival start a couple of weeks early in Olinda, so both days we were there the streets were filled with drumbands and drunk people practicing for the real party. At first we thought it was because it was Saturday night, but on Sunday there were even more bands and more people on the street. All people we talked to in Brazil were very surprised (and slightly offended) when we told then we would be in Colombia for carnival, so at least our stay in Olinda made up for that a little bit.

Next stop Pipa beach. As it is only a few hours north of Recife we thought we would stop at a few beaches on the way. The first one in Joao Passao (nice city beach) was not a problem as that is a reasonably big city, but after that it turned to be pretty complicated to get to the beaches. Our TomTom warned us we were in a area with little map coverage and when we did try to get off the main road we ended up on a dirt road with a sign that the beach was 20 km ahead. The second time we tried it seems we took a wrong road somewhere because after 30 minutes and a lot of turns we were back at the main road. Eventually we just continued to Pipa which turned out to be a good choice. Pipa is a very nice little beach town. Apparently flooded by Europeans in the fall, but this time of year there were mainly Brazilian tourists. Our lodge was very nice and the beaches beautiful and for the most part deserted. Perfect place for a few days of relaxation. After three days we continued on to Natal, only a couple of hours further north. Natal is known for the beautiful dunes just north of the city, so we headed for Genipabu in the middle of the dune area. The thing to do is to rent a beach buggy (with driver) to drive through the dunes and on the beaches. Probably not the most environmentally conscience thing to do, but a lot of fun. At first we thought we were one of the few buggies out there, but it turned out this is the favorite thing to do in Natal for vacationing Brazilians. At some point we got in a traffic jam of over 50 buggies all waiting to cross a river!
From Natal we drove back to Recife with a short stop at the Instituto Ricardo Brennand, a private museum with a quite interesting collection of art and armory.
From Recife we're off to Bogota, Colombia via Sao Paolo. Not the most logical route, but apparently the only way to get out of Brazil.
Overall, despite the rain Brazil was a pleasant surprise. Outside the cities the language was a bit a barrier and might prevent people from visiting, but we certainly thought it was worth it.

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6th February 2016

Hope to see you again in Brazil!!
Hey, glad you enjoyed the experience in Brazil. You certainly visited very good places and that testemony Brazil culture... Just missed São Paulo! :-) Best wishes for your remaining adventures until May. Regards, Andre.

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