Hit the best seaside towns of northeastern Brazil on a journey along the spectacular Atlantic coast

There are few better ways to tackle Brazil’s far-flung northeastern states than in an overland truck, and this 17-day jaunt covers some of the best spots along the Atlantic coast. Starting in vibrant Salvador da Bahia, make tracks north for the coastal gems that many visitors to Brazil don’t see: Aracaju, Olinda, and the chilled-out hippie haven of of Canoa Quebrada. Jump in a 4WD for an off-the-beaten-track adventure to Jericoacoara, a stunning, secluded nature haven whose inaccessibility (let’s be honest) is a blessing. Make tracks for the dunes and lagoons of Lencois Maranhenses National Park; explore the reggae culture, museums and colonial architecture of Sao Luis; and finish in Belem, where the mighty Amazon River meets the ocean.


Start
Salvador, Brazil
Finish
Belem, Brazil
Country
Brazil
Style
Basix
Theme
Overland
Code
GDVB
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 4, Max 22

Why we love this trip

  • Escape the tourist trails by visiting Aracaju, a hit among local beachgoers, and Jericoacoara, a captivating oasis accessible only by 4WD tracks

  • From the Afro-influenced Candomble religion of Salvador, to the prominent folkloric and musical activity of Olinda and Sao Luis, there are many chances to break up the beach time with cultural discovery

  • Spend time in Canoa Quebrada and Lencois Maranhenses National Park, both stunning examples of Brazil’s dune-laden coastal scenery

  • Finish in seaside Belem, where the superbly located Mercado Ver-o-Peso brims with fresh seafood, aromatic herbs and bizarre local artifacts

Is this trip right for you?

  • Be prepared for some long drives on this itinerary. Brazil is a big country, and some days there’s quite a bit of ground to cover between destinations.

Itinerary

Welcome to Salvador! If you are starting in Salvador, enter Brazil at Deputado Luis Eduardo Magalhaes International Airport. The adventure begins with an important group meeting at 6 pm – please meet at the hotel reception. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy Salvador. If you arrive early, take a stroll and get a feel for the pusling Afro-Brazilian atmosphere of the town. Definitely try to get to a 'Candomble' evening while you are here. Candomble is a popular religious cult in the region, and the ceremonies offer a fascinating insight into the culture of this area. For panoramic views of the city, head to Forte Santo Antonioa da Barra, Brazil's oldest lighthouse. There are also some excellent local beaches to visit.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Head north up the coast of Bahia, into the state of Sergipe. Along the way, you'll make a stop at the Projeto Tamar, a research station involved in the protection of Brazil's fives species of turtle. The best time to visit is between September and March, when the spawning occurs. Afterwards continue north to Aracaju, a popular beach getaway for Brazilians (though often overlooked by tourists). It's a great place to chill out in a seafront eatery, listen to some traditional forro music, and enjoy some fresh local crab.

Today's approximate driving time is 7 hours.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Settle in for a full day's drive to the stunning colonial gem of Olinda, where you'll spend the next two nights in a historic pousada (local hotel). This town is considered one of Brazil’s most important historic sites. It was one of the old capital cities of Brazil and has quite a few historic buildings dating mainly from around the mid-1600's, many of which have been restored. It is a culturally important city, home to many artists and musicians.

Today's approximate driving time is 9 hours.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Explore the beautiful town of Olinda, which was once known as 'small Lisbon' and used to be the richest town in Brazil. Enjoy wandering the cobblestone streets and checking out some of the exquisite churches. A good spot to have lunch and take in Olinda is the Alto de Se, the highest square in the town, where the cathedral is. It has stunning views of the skyscrapers of Recife shimmering away in the distance. Another great option is to take a Capoeira class, an opportunity to try a unique fusion of martial arts, dance, music and acrobatics. 
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend the day travelling to the seaside town of Canoa Quebrada. Canoa's air of liberty and tolerance can be traced back to the 1970s, when it became popular with hippies. The village is now one of the best known and most visited beaches in Ceara, with dunes and falesias (with heights of up to 30 metres) which have served as the stage for several movies of Brazilian cinema and television. Stretch your legs after the drive with a beach walk before retiring to your local pousada.

Today's approximate driving time is 10 hours.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
In free time today, consider a buggy tour over the sand dunes along the beach and red cliffs, a refreshing dive in the calm blue-green ocean, a long walk through the fishing villages or ecological trails, or an evening horse ride along the beach. Adventurous types might like to try a little kite surfing or cliff gliding. When the sun begins to set, run to the top of the dunes to catch one of the most spectacular sights in the northeast.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
An all-day drive leads to the laidback beach town of Jericoacoara, or 'Jeri' as it's affectionately known. Access to Jericoacoara is only by 4x4 vehicle, through unpaved tracks through the dunes. The town is known for responsible tourism, with development severely restricted and building only allowed in the nearby fishing village. Its hard-to-reach location means the number of visitors is minimal. There's loads to see and do in this remarkably beautiful place, with vast fields of sand dunes and turquoise seas to enjoy. Nature lovers will enjoy the hikes and trails, which can be accessed on foot or by horse.

Today's approximate driving time is 8 hours.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take two days to wander the sandy lanes; enjoy the sunset with a refreshing caipirinha (a lime-infused Brazilian cocktail) on the dunes while the locals practise their Capoeira; head out on a quad bike adventure to remote lagoons where you can take a dip; laze in a hammock; or perhaps enjoy a long lunch of fresh seafood. Jeri is also one of the prime spots for surfing, windsurfing and kite surfing, so if you're feeling like taking the physical activity to the next level out on the water, this is a good place for it. Lessons are readily available. Otherwise, kick back, relax and perhaps treat yourself to a massage.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Make the relatively short drive to the town of Parnaiba, the gateway to the Parnaiba delta and the Lencois Maranhenses National Park. Stay the night again in a local pousada.

Today's approximate driving time is 3 hours.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Head out in motor boats through the Preguica River, to the protected area of Pequeneos Lencois. Along the way, a stop will be made at a small fishing village. Here you can take a short walk to the lighthouse to enjoy views of the dunes and the Preguicas River. Retire to a Pousada in Barreirinhas tonight.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Climb aboard a 4WD vehicle and head out among the lagoons. Enjoy a swim and explore the dunes before heading back to the truck to continue the journey. The next stop is beautiful town of Sao Luis. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed town is a the capital of Maranhao, situated in the Bay of San Marcos on the northeastern coast of Brazil south of the Amazon Delta. The old city is steeped in an almost tangible history and has strong traditional folklore. There are excellent museums; the Catedral da Se, built in 1726 by the Jesuits and a large Frenchbuilt fortress now called the Palácio dos Leoes. Today the city is just as famous for its music, and is the centre of reggae culture in Northeast Brazil. Perhaps get a taste of the excellent nightlife in the evening.

Today's approximate driving time is 4 hours.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Explore Sao Luis as you please today. The city is full of interesting museums, and the historic centre houses grand, pastel-coloured colonial houses. The Centro Perquisa de Historia Natural is a place to learn about Maranhoas indigenous cultures, while exhibits of Sao Luis festivals – Carnaval, Bumba, Meu Boi and Divino Espirito Santo Free – are set within an opulent mansion. For a change of pace, perhaps take a boat trip to the more laidback town of Alcantara; you may spot scarlet guara birds along the way. Tonight's accommodation is a local guesthouse.

Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
The final drive of the journey brings you to Belem, where the mighty Amazon River meets the Atlantic Ocean. Belem holds a strategic place on the mouth of the Amazon River, which is why it grew to be such as large and important port. Be sure to try out one of the city's excellent fish restaurants before you leave. Retire to a local hotel at the day's end.

Today's approximate travel time is 11 hours (including a ferry trip).
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is yours to enjoy the port town of Belem, one of the first Portuguese settlements. Explore the historic centre which houses various museums and cathedrals; the Cidade Velha is home to most of Belem's museums, with four plazas and a beautiful riverside location. Also be sure to visit the Ver-o-Peso Market, which is considered the largest in South America. Its stalls scattered with Amazonian fish, baskets of Acai, herbs and crafts, and the building in which it's housed is an icon of colonial architecture, striking a beautiful pose by the sea.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
The trip comes to an end in Belem today. If you are leaving Belem, you will most likely exit Brazil at Val de Cans–Julio Cezar Ribeiro International Airport. If you're staying longer, please contact your sales agent if you would like to book additional nights in the hotel. If returning to Boa Vista, you'll depart early this morning on a passenger boat to Macapa.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Overland expedition vehicle, 4x4, Public bus, Boat, Canoe

Accommodation

Bush camp (no facilities) (1 night), Camping (with facilities) (13 nights), Hotel (2 nights)

Dates & availability

Trip search is unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Salvador Da Bahia to Belem trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

Jump to a departure month
Travel lightly with Intrepid. We’ve offset the main sources of carbon emissions from this trip on your behalf, including transport, accommodation & waste. Read more

Important notes

1. This trip is run by our experienced overland partner Dragoman.
2. Please note that this trip requires minimum numbers to depart, and may be cancelled up until 56 days prior to departure. The places showing on the dates and availability page are an indication only so please contact Intrepid to check if your preferred date will depart before making any final arrangements, such as booking non-changeable flights.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.