Last week in Brazil

Barra Grande

After the UP festival we arrived in Barra Grande with no idea where we would stay. There were a bunch of festival people on the bus / boat trip, mostly they were Brazilians, but we happened to meet an Indian couple who we teamed up with. All four of us were in the same boat, we didn’t have accommodation and we didn’t speak Portuguese.

As the 4 of us walked into the Barra Grande town center we found a buffet restaurant and decided to eat some food, drink some beer and regroup. After an amazing buffet lunch, Karan (Shaneez’s husband) and I went walking around the area to find a Pousada. We walked up and down every possible within a 1-2km radius on the west side of the island, we asked about 15 different Pousadas, but got a negative answer from all of them on availability. It was however useful to ask for prices, we found out that the going rate was between R$200 and R$350 per night for a double room.

We circled back round to where our wives were sitting at the buffet restaurant and reported back that so far there was no available accommodation anywhere. The sun was starting to set and I was getting concerned that we wouldn’t find a place to stay. Karan suggested we try walking in an Easterly direction, so we headed off down another road. This time we split the task of asking for a room, Karan worked the left side of the road and I worked the right hand side.

We found a house with a lady outside, I asked her for help and she spoke some English, what a score! She said that she had a niece who spoke much better English and that she could walk with us to help translate. Rubero walked around with us for about 20 minutes, we kept asking and we kept getting turned away, it was now almost dark, I was worried…

The last place we got to was a holiday apartment block, we walked in and spoke to the owner about possibility of a free apartment to rent… We were lucky, there was one apartment available, the cost was R$500 per night, but there were 2 bedrooms (both with their own aircon), a lounge (with aircon), a self catering kitchen and a balcony. We decided to take the apartment as we were not going to find anything else! The next few days would be spent in luxury, just what we needed after staying in a tent for 9 days.

Karan and I walked back to the girls, when we arrived back it was almost dark, but we broke the good news and all was good. It was a bit of a walk, so we got going and hiked our bags to the apartment. We were all pretty shattered, it had been a long day of traveling and all of us had partied hard for the duration of the festival, so we were more than happy to unpack and crash early.

Barbs and I intended sticking around the holiday apartment for the next few days. We intended maximizing on reading, sleep, sunsets, food and generally get some rest and recovery in after a seriously festive festival.

We woke up after a solid 12 hours sleep and decided to head down to the town square for some breakfast. We found the perfect little breakfast spot with incredible coffee, great egg/bacon/burgers and the best Sucos I had drank all holiday. This would definitely be our breakfast spot for the next few mornings in Barra Grande.

Some of our new friends, Pandelis (aka Pando) and Jill from San Fransisco, had said they would be on the island, so I contacted them and we made plans to meet up. It was another story trying to explain where we were, the streets didn’t have names and the place we were staying was new without any name. I downloaded an app to my phone and sent Pando our GPS coordinates. He responded that they would come for a visit.

The GPS coordinates worked perfectly and they found us. We all hung out for a while in the safety of our air conditioned lounge, we chatted about the good times at the festival and generally swapped stories. A little bit later we decided to grab some lunch, so I took Jill and Pando to the buffet lunch place we had found the day before, we gorged ourselves on yummy food!

Barbs and I spent the rest of the day relaxing and reading at the apartment, our Indian friends were on a mission to explore, but we had no interest in doing anything. The evening arrived and the heat had subsided somewhat, so we decided to head towards the town center for some Caiparinhas and dinner.

As we walked along the beach, we saw a small bar spot and some people called out at us, they were on the boat the day before and invited us to join them for a drink. After the drink and a nice chat with the UP festival peeps, we headed onwards down the beach. We found a small stall on the beach selling Caiparinhas, so we made another stop, after this second drink, we were both feeling mildly drunk and very merry.

We walked back through the town center looking for a suitable restaurant and spotted a quaint little Italian spot. The menu looked good, so we ordered ourselves a spaghetti bolognaise pasta dish for two and a third Caiparinha each. The Caiparinha tasted like pure alcohol, it was bound to push us over the edge to the extreme side of drunk. We watered down the drink repeatedly with ice as we waited for our food. The spagbol was probably one of the best dinners of the trip. After dinner we stumbled home to our apartment and promptly passed out.

On our 3rd day, we grabbed some breakfast with Karan and Shaneez, then the 4 of us went searching to find a travel agency that could assist us finding a boat directly to Morro de Sao Paulo. A direct boat would be in excess of R$1000, so we investigated alternative options.

With much difficulty, mainly due to the language barrier, we investigate how to get to Morro. It turned out that we had to catch a boat back to Camamue, then we would catch a bus to Valença, then a taxi to the ferry and finally a boat across to Morro de Sao Paulo. The rest of our day was spent relaxing at the apartment reading.

We decided to catch a sunset at a river mouth, so the two of us took a slow walk along the beach to a view point. Luckily there were some clouds in the sky that helped make a memorable sunset and allowed us to snap some incredible photos. This was our first sunset of the holiday due to the fact that it was raining for the early part of the holiday and the rest of the locations we were we visited caught only sunrises. After sunset we grabbed another meal at our Italian restaurant, another delicious meal, but this time we skipped the Caiparinha.

We spent one more full day at Barra Grande, as per the previous days we relaxed back at the apartment and read before heading out for another Italian dinner. We bumped into various people we had met that evening and said good bye seeing we were on our way the next morning.

We settled up with the owner of the apartment block and headed town to the pier to start our journey to Morro de Sao Paulo. After about 5 hours of traveling we reached our end point, we were lucky and managed to get to each transition point just in time to catch the next transport.

Morro de Sao Paulo

When we arrived on Morro, it was great to see familiar surroundings, I didn’t expect to be that happy to see Morro, I guess we were in a different headspace. We knew roughly where we wanted to stay, it was called Che Lagarto Hostel, they luckily had some double rooms available with aircon, a comfy bed and clean bathroom.

After settling in Barbs and I headed off to find some Lobster at a restaurant I remembered, no lobster, but opt hey did serve us one of the best deep fried Calamari dishes I have ever had. We headed back to our accommodation for some Caiparinha drinks at an amazing R$10 for 2, needless to say we took full advantage of this special offer.

The two of us were looking forward to our morning session, we got up early, had some breakfast, check out and headed off for a beach mission at our spot on Quatro beach. It was about a half hour walk to our spot, but it was worth it. We setup our hammocks in the trees in front of the ocean. I went for a run along the beach, then came back to the hammocks to relax and read with intermittent swims in the sea.

We packed up around 1pm and started the long walk back to where our favourite local restaurant was, we had our usually Carne de Sol dish. Unfortunately we had to rush a little bit to get back to Che Lagarto Hostel, where we fetched our bags and headed down to the pier. Everything on track, we caught our ferry without any issues, happy days!


We arrived in Salvador after an extremely bumpy boat trip about 2,5 hours after leave Morro. We knew exactly how to get back to Bahia Café, from the marina we walked across to the Lacerda and caught the lift up a level, then we walked a short distance to our accommodation for the night.

We had already stayed at Bahia Café twice before during our Brazil holiday, so we felt like we were in familiar suroundings. Our room was on the 3rd floor and we had a massive bed, with a super little bathroom.

After settling in and taking a refreshing shower, we headed out to grab some dinner. We felt like something different, so we found a Crepes spot and ordered something totally different. I had a Mexican crepe and barbs had a vegitarian one, we supplemented this with a couple of Caparinhas each…

We kept telling ourselves, these are the last Caiparinhas, but when we got back to Bahia Café we had another Caiparinha, so delicious and they kick your ass. The third drink always puts us down, so shortly afterwards we went to bed.

In the morning we had our last breakfast, the buffet at Bahia Café was awesome, so we took full advantage of the tasty spread of food, strong coffee and delicious fresh fruit juice. Straight after breakfast our taxi driver picked us up and transported us through to the Salvador airport where we caught a domestic flight to Sao Paulo. Before leaving the airport Barbs and I did a little shopping with our left over Reals, we specifically aimed to replace the sun glasses that were stolen at the UP festival.

Back in South Africa

Despite having an amazing time in Brazil, it was good to see the kitties, our home with garden, the big screen TV and being able to use our kitchen again to make smoothies, food and juices. Back to normality and work, traveling is wonderful, but it always seems to end so quickly.

My first sleep in my own bed was bliss, all 13 hours of it. Back to reality, but times are changing, this holiday inspired me for huge change…

Universo Parallelo 2013 / 2014

Day 1 – 27 December

A couple of days before we were due to leave Morro de Sao Paulo, we came across a travel agency / tour company with a hand written sign about a bus to the UP festival, so we bought tickets immediately. On the 27th December 2013 we started our journey to the festival. First we had to hike all our bags to the pier on Morro, then we boarded a speed boat to Valençia, after which we caught a bus to the festival.

The bus was not able to drop us off at the gates of the festival, we need to hike our bags close to a kilometer down the road. We arrived at the area where the gates were and saw a massive queue of people. First you needed to get your arm band aka festival passport, luckily foreigners who had bought their tickets online could go to a special queue, which was not hundreds of people and hours waiting. After getting our wrist bands we moved to the gate queue, which was unavoidable and pretty long.

It took us a couple of hours before we got through the gates, once we got through the gate we had our bags searched for alcohol, they didn’t try very hard and we managed to smuggle in a couple of liters of vodka and rum. We were allowed to take water into the festival, so I brought along a 10liter bottle. The drawback of bringing all this liquid was it weight a lot on top of our already heavy backpacks. So I had to carry about 30kg of weight to our campsite.

A friend of mine from South Africa had been to the festival many times before and he had suggested we try find a camping spot right next to the beach. I was determined to find a good spot, so Barbara and I kept walking, we must have walked another couple of kilometers or maybe more before we found the beach. Sadly it looked like there was no space anywhere, the front area was packed like I had never seen at any festival.

We lucked out and found a spot about 5 meters from the edge of the beach, we could feel the cool breeze off the sea and there was a lovely chill out stage about a couple hundred meters away. We had found our home for the next 9 days.

We were told that the heat during the day was almost unbearable and we should look around for guys who helped build shade structures at your tent. We found two guys wearing UP staff shirts who were building the structures. They helped put up our tent so that we could build the bamboo structure with palm leaves on top.

The festival has its own currency, so to buy food, water and bar stuff you needed to purchase tickets that you could exchange for what you needed to eat or drink. Being the start of the festival everyone was queuing for tickets, so we joined the queues… We were starting to realize that queuing patience would need to be managed carefully, no point in getting frustrated, we were on Bahia time which seemed slower than African time.

After grabbing some tickets we decided to get some food. There were queues are certain stalls, for example the pizza place, but they had an organized system for the pizza queue. We really needed to get the hang of the festival, Barbara and I were quite overwhelmed at first by the sheer number of people and the size of the festival.

We walked around for a while, but it seemed like there were no English speaking people… Then we heard some Aussies chatting to each other, so we introduced ourselves to them and they were really friendly. Great to be able to speak to people and understand what they say.

We had an early night because the day had been long.

Day 2 – 28 December

We woke up fairly early due to the heat, there was no chance you could sleep in the tent after sunrise, which was about 4:30 to 5am. Once the sun pops out it starting getting hotter and hotter, by 6am it was fairly hot and by 9am is was almost unbearable.

There was not any specific music we were keen to see on the first day, so we decided to relax next to the chill stage, which had some really interesting music playing. Luckily we bumped into the Aussies near the chill out stage and decided to spend the day with them getting drunk and talking shit. What an epic day, from swimming to relaxing in the shade, we worked our way through the day. We were extremely happy with our camping spot, it had an ocean breeze and was close to both the chill and 303 stages.

The main stage opened in the evening, but there was not too much we were keen to see.

Day 3 – 29 December

We went down to see Juno Reactor around sunrise, but it was only a DJ set and pretty crap, so we went back to the chill out floor that was playing really awesome swing music. It was quite disappointing because Juno Reactor is one of our all time favorites.

We had ear marked some music on the 30th December that we wanted to see, so we just decided to relax on the beach, we were loving the beach and the sea, the waves were so friendly and beach was a beautiful long white beach kilometers and kilometers long.

During the day there was little chance of sleeping properly due to the sun and the shade moving constantly, so by the time the evening came around we were shattered and decided to just sleep early. Barbara slept in the tent, but I decided to try out the beach, which turned out to be a fantastic idea, I slept like a baby until the sunrise around 5am.

Day 4 – 30 December

Today was the first day that Barbara and I saw music on the line up that we wanted to see, despite the main stage being open, we decided to stick to the 303 Stage, which was right next to the sea, so every half an hour we dashed over from the dance floor 50 meters to the ocean for a quick dip.

We stuck around the 303 stage for about 5 hours and caught 4 incredible sets:

  1. Solar Spectrum
  2. Flip Flop
  3. The First Stone
  4. Hujaboy

After the sun dipped down Barbara and I decided to grab dinner, then sleep on the beach. We got. Comfortable on our mattresses around 7pm and listened to Circuit Breakers, which sounded amazing. We were really enjoying the fact that we could party for few hours and walk off a short distance to our camp site to relax or sleep. We felt like we were at a beach paradise.

Day 5 – 31 December

It was strange being at a festival for 5 days already before the highlight which was change over to the new year. It didn’t feel like a new years party, it felt like a laid back festival with some activities.

We didn’t have much on the agenda for the day. We knew that the new years night would be long, so we decided to avoid the sun and sleep as much as possible before midnight. We woke up around 10pm after a fairly decent sleep and got dressed in our white clothes. In Brazil it was customary to wear white to the new years parties as a symbol of a clean or new beginning.

As we walked down to the main stage we noticed that most people were wearing white, so exciting, this is what we had been planning for so long, the moment was finally here. The main stage was closed for a break until about 11pm when Etnica in dub started playing so very chilled out beats. The main floor filled up really quickly and it was no time until the final count down…. 10, 9….. 3, 2, 1 and HAPPY NEW YEAR or Felis ano nova as the Brazilians say.

Day 6 – 1 January

At the Main Stage we stayed to watch two of our favorite acts called Atmos who played from at midnight and then Cosmosis who played a little bit later. This was the first time we had really enjoyed the music on the main floor, wow, what an experience.

We got some rest in becuase around lunch time on New Years day we went to the 303 stage to see Cosmosis again, the floor was small and not to busy so we could stand up close to the front and watch him do his thing. He played all his old school music thatwe loved so much and played a guitar with classic for at least every second track. We were hanging with the Aussies and they were also loving the music! I can say that Cosmosis played the best set I have ever seen, he engaged the audience, he even came down off the stage with his guitar and played for us on the dance floor, incredible!!!!!

Rinkadink played an old school set after Cosmosis and he is a South African living abroad, so I went up and introduced myself to him, he sounded just like a saffa. Once Rinkadink started playing we decided to take a break and go for a swim. The Aussies were sitting in the shade, so we joined then for some much needed sitting time.

I saw Cosmosis walking down to the beach, so Barbs and I decided to go and introduce ourselves and thank him. His name is Billy and he turned out to be super down to earth, so I took a gamble and invited him to sit in the shade with us. He joined us and sat around talking for over an hour. Then Rinkadink, whose name is Werner also joined us and the Aussies, Barbs, myself, Billy and Werner all parked off for a further hour.

Hanging with the artists really made our day! The music was incredible, what more could we have wanted. After a long afternoon Barbs and I went off to get some dinner, which was followed by bed. Luckily our neighbor had moved that morning meaning we could move our tent and sleep under our bamboo and palm leaf shelter. Not so important at night, but in the morning it would be a blessing.

As we were falling asleep we had the privilege of listening to the chill out stage where Etnica in dub was doing another set, what a lovely way to fall asleep!

Day 7 – 2 January

The day started extremely slowly, we were tired and seeing we now had space at our campsite with shade we decided to stick around the camp site and just take periodic dips in the sea to cool off. When we were hungry we would buy fruit from the stall near by and Açai from another stall, nutritious and healthy sustenance.

A friend of ours from San Francisco who is living in Cape Town introduced us online with two of her good friends from San Francisco via Facebook before the festival. When we got to the festival and saw how big it was and how many people there were we were convinced we would never find Jill and Pandelis.

Late afternoon we headed Main floor to go and watch Rinkadink, when we got to the dance floor somebody I didnt recognize walked up to me shouting ASHLEY and it was Pandelis! How awesome was that, we actually found them! We then met Jill and a bunch of their friends. We all ended up having a phat boogie to Rinkadink’s new music and then after that Burn in Noise.

We said good night to our new friends and headed back to our campsite to go and sleep, tomorrow was another day!

Day 8 – 3 January

The 3rd of January signified our last day of music, so we decided to make the most of the our time with our new friends from Sweden, US, Australia and many other countries. We went down to the main dance floor after a hearty lunch. We specifically went to see the following acts:

  1. Shiva Shandra
  2. Headroom
  3. Ital

What an amazing way to end off the festivities, when the sun dipped down and dark was upon us we said good bye to our new friends, then i took Barbara to go and sleep. That evening after Barbs went to sleep I walked to the band stage to watch a Brazilian band, they were incredible.

My last stop was to watch D-Nox at UP Club Stage, which was pumping, he played an awesome set. What a way to end my festival!!!!!

Day 9 – 4 January

We decided to wake up early and pack the tent before the sun started scorching us. We needed to catch a bus at around 9 to 9:30am. We grabbed our last festival pizza and açai as breakfast before boarding the bus. The bus drove us out of the festival and then dropped us off, just outside the festival gates, we were confused as to why we were stopping, well it seemed we needed to disembark.

We boarded another 3 busses and packed on then unpacked our bags, not quite sure why because the entire discussion was happening in Portuguese, this was highly frustrating. We eventually got on a bus that drove us to Camamue. Next we boarded a slow boat that was took us to our final destination which was Barra Grande.

When we arrived at the Barra Grande pier we were told the area was quite fully booked up with holiday makers and festival people. Barbs and I met an Indian couple Karan and Shaneez who also needed to find accommodation, so we teamed up. First things first, we grabbed a bite to eat where we could leave our women and then go hunting for a Pousada.

Karan and I walked around the entire area, we must have asked over 25 places if they had accommodation, but we got the same answer from all of them = NO! The sun was started to go down and we were loosing faith, but then we met a young woman who spoke English and offered to help us find a place.

The wonderfully helpful woman walked around with us for almost half an hour before we found an apartment that was available. The apartment was huge, it had a living area, big balcony, 2 bed rooms each with their own bathrooms, 3 airconditioners and a self catering kitchen. It was R$500 per night for the apartment, split four ways was not to expensive.

Karan and I went to fetch the women who were getting worried by this stage. We headed off to our new home for the next four days, where we could all have a decent shower and nights rest in a comfortable bed. We were all looking forward to a few days of relaxation and recovery, which was great way to end off after our incredible Universo Parallelo festival experience!

Getting into the swing of Morro de Sao Paulo

We walked from Bahia Café to the Lacerda and paid 15 cents to catch the lift down to the bottom. On the bottom floor, we exited and walked across to the marina. At 9am we caught the catamaran from Salvador to Morro de Sao Paulo, we had been warned that it could be bumpy and most people got sick, so we popped some sea sickness tablets, which was a great idea.

On arrival at Morro de Sao Paulo we were treated by wheel burrow taxis, this was because there are no vehicles allowed due to the streets being too small and narrow. We paid a fee of R$15 each to enter the island and another R$15 to the wheel burrow taxi guy who helped us transport our gear to the nearest camping site.

We had decided to camp for the first night, because that is what we had planned in South Africa. What we didn’t realize that the combination of the rain, the heat and our tent would make for a sweat factory inside the tent. During the day we walked around the island, because we couldn’t bare the thought of sitting in the tent.

The rain came and went, while walking along a path it start pouring down, we were invited into a house that sold food and beer aka cerveja. The lady running the restaurant didn’t speak a word of English, so we used the phrases in the back of the Brazil Lonely Planet book to piece together some dialogue. We ordered a meet dish and about 4 big beers while waiting for the rain to die down. A local guy popped in called Luiz, he spoke some English. Luiz explained that we had walked through the non tourist part of the island and that we had picked a local restaurant. Barbs and I prefer experiencing the local vibes, so it was a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

We walked down towards the beach after lunch to do some more exploration and grab a coffee. The rain started up again and we were forced to buy an umbrella for the journey back to the campsite. It was still raining when we got back to the tent, so we waited for the rain to subside inside our hot tent.

We didn’t last too long in the tent before heading out for some dinner at a local tourist restaurant. We had yet another incredible steak dish, the meat in Brazil was mind blowing! With full bellies and a cloudy night sky above we decided to go and sleep before going out to Toca night club. The club only opened at 12am that night, so we decided to get 4 hours sleeps before going out.

Toca seemed to be the only night club open in Morro de Sao Paulo, so when we arrived we saw that most party people on the island were at Toca. The music was not to bad when we arrived, the DJ was playing bands like Killers, U2, Depeche Mode all with an electronic mix ontop. The drinks were quite pricy, so we paced ourselves.

I saw a number of people we had met on the boat over, so that made for an entertaining night. Barbs and I did some people watching, as the night progressed, the music changed, mostly it was badly mixed, but sometimes the DJ played more Brazilian style music, this meant the local people danced their style, was awesome to watch.

In the morning we went for a long walk along the beach scouting for places to go over the next few days. We found the perfect hammock and chill spot along a quiet beach with trees that provided shade, we would definitely return to this spot!

While walking back to the campsite we bumped into Luiz, who we had met the day before. He offered to help us find a Pousada called Papagai, because we couldn’t stay in the tent any longer. We found the perfect little room with aircon, shower, toilet and comfy bed, which would be our home for the next 6days. The cost for 6 nights with breakfast included was only R$585, which was only marginally higher than camping if you consider the breakfast that was included.

We could finally relax, we had a place to stay, we had scoped out the island and we had some awesome plans for the next few days of beach life.

Leaving Chapada Diamantina

We had one more night in Lençois and it happened to be the town’s birthday. We settled in again at Villa Serano and sorted our dirty washing, because everything we took was filthy from rain and mud. After a rest and some relaxation, we headed into the town of Lençois for our last evening in Chapada Diamantina.

We dropped off our laundry at the only laundry place in town, then watched two marching bands, who were there for the town’s birthday. They matched down to the main square, while drumming and trumpeting up a storm. Both marching bands had their own unique style and were highly entertaining.

Next, we met Mona and Tye at the Nas Alturas travel agency office, before heading off to have dinner together. We ended up having dinner in the same street as our first night in Lençois. Shortly after sitting down, we had a pleasant surprise, Myriam from the first 2 days of our trek found us and joined us in a festive dinner.

The 5 of us sat around drinking Caipirinhas and sharing stories. Barbs and I had a local dish called Filé Mignon, which turned out to be one of the best fillet steaks we had ever had. Loving the food, loving the vibe, loving life… After a festive evening and swapping contact details, we walked back to Villa Serano for a much deserved night of rest.

Our morning consisted of a relaxed and short walk up a nearby trail with Myriam, then we headed down into to town to fetch our laundry and grab a juice. Our flight back to Salvador was at 2pm, so we needed to be at the airport by 1pm. We arrived on time, checked in, but the plane was delayed for some 3 hrs. Nothing that we could do but make the most of the time by reading and chatting.

Our flight back to Salvador was pretty bumpy due to the storms, but we made it back fine and our driver Paulo picked us us despite the fact that we were 3 hours later than expect.

Paulo took us right back to Bahia Cafe where we had stayed the week before. We could now shower and rest. We had a fairly early start on the morning of the 20th December, we had catamaran boat tickets from Salvador to Morro de Sao Paulo. Exciting prospects, change mountain life for beach life.

Chapada Diamantina National Park and Vale de Capao & Pati

In the morning of the 13th December we were fetched by the tour company Nas Alturas, there was another lady joining us called Myriam from Brazil and then we fetched Mona who was staying down the road. We were all introduced to our guide Tye, who was a Frenchman. We were transported to a small dirt road where our trekking adventures would start at the foot of Morro do Pai Inacio, one of the flat topped chapadas in the Chapada Diamantina nation park.

We started the walk with a view of Vale do Cercado and the Tres Imaos (three brothers) mountains. The hike was largely flat and took us past Morrao, another picturesque chapada. The 5 of us stopped at the Aguas Claras swimming for a swim and some lunch. The break was cut short by rain, so we started a brisk walk.

Along the way I noticed quartz crystal and managed to find some incredible clear crystals with amazing symmetric shapes. I spent the majority of the last part of the hike looking for crystals and managed to collect quite a few little beauties! At the end of the hike we found the Nas Alturas vehicle waiting for us, Barbs, Myriam and Mona got into the vehicle while the guide Tye and I ran back to the small quiet village of Capao.

Charming Capao

We arrived in Capao and I was immediately taken by this village’s rustic nature. We were staying in a beautiful little Pousada with the most amazing garden. I took a shower and left Barbara reading while I headed into town to buy a beer and scope out something to do or a place to eat for dinner.

I found two places for dinner, the first was a pizza place that sold pizza by the slice and the second a vegetarian restaurant. I continued to explore the little village to see what else was happening. Capao is a quiet village with mostly hippy or simply alternative people living there. Shops and restaurants were very affordable and people friendly.

Barbara, Mona and I headed into town together much later after having a rest and relaxation session. We went over to the pizza joint first, they served devine pizza slices, the base was just perfect and for 6 slices we paid only R$15. Next we went for some veggie food around the corner where i proceeded to stuff down loads more yummy food.

The highest waterfall in Brazil

Our first morning in Capao we woke up around 5am, it seemed like our body clocks had still not fully adapted to the time zone. We lay in bed reading and chatting, it was so good to be on holiday. Around 8am we headed off to the breakfast table and had some interesting food for breakfast, so delicious.

The plan for the day was to hike up to the top of the Cachoeira dos Fumaça, which is the highest waterfall in Brazil. A driver picked us up from the Pousada after breakfast and shuttled us a few kilometers to the start of the trail. We checked in at an office at the bottom and we all made a donation. 20000 people per year hiked the Fumaça, each donation goes towards preserving and protecting the mountain and especially fires that break out periodically during the dry seasons.

I ran up the trail ahead of the rest of the group and it felt great to get a rush of endorphins going. I waited for the rest of the group higher up on the hiking trail and absorbed the incredible views that were in front of me. Once the group caught up, we all walked to the waterfall together.

The waterfall was so high that the water disappeared into vapour, I crawled to the edge of an overhang viewpoint and looked down to see an unnervingly high drop down to the bottom. We walked down to a nearby rock pool and had some lunch for the next hour or so. Before leaving we snapped some more photos from a different viewpoint, the spray that the waterfall produced was amazing.

After our photo session we walked back down the same route we walked up, so I ran ahead and pushed some speed on the trails, bouncing from rock to rock and splashing through the streams. We headed back to our Pousada in Capao for a rest, then went into town for pizza at a different place. OMG, some of the best pizza I have ever had. Bed time after all that food and beer.

Valley vistas of Pati valley

At breakfast we found out that Myriam would not be joining us due to an injury, so the rest of the trek was set to be just the 4 of us – Barbara, Ashley, Mona and Tye. After breakfast we were shuttled to the start of the our longest hike during the week of trekking, it would be a distance of 22km when we were done. We walked out of Vale do Capao up the Bomba trail, at the head of the valley we were presented with stunning views all the way down Vale do Capao with verdant chapadas up on either side.

After traversing the meadows of Gerais do Viera and the Rio Preto, we stopped for lunch at a rock pool. With some lunch to fuel us along the remaining hike we marched on eventually getting a good view point that looked down the Vale do Pati, giving us a glimpse of where our final destination would be for the day.

We walked down a steep rocky trail and then I ran up a steep incline on the path ahead. That was our last climb for the day, after which we headed down into the Pati Valley. We arrived at some simple local accommodation and were welcomed by the family that lived there with some wholesome delicious food and even some cold beers.

Terrenrial downpours and a day of rest

That night we heard some rain started, all was still fine, but suddenly we started hearing thunder, seeing lightening and then it started…. The rain poured down harder than it had rained in that region in many years, it rained so hard that the roof leaked a fine mist onto our beds. Barbara struggled to sleep as the frightening weather beat down on the little cottage we were sleeping in!

The next morning we found out that all the rivers had flooded and there was no chance of us walking anywhere. Our hike up to some near by caves had been cancelled, so we all sat around reading and relaxing, which was quite pleasant with the beautiful birds, kitties getting scratches and plants around where we were staying.

We packed up in the late part of the afternoon and headed to a new house about 10min walk down the path. We could move earlier in the day because all the streams had merged into a raging river, which blocked our path. The new house had panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Early to bed for everyone after a tasty dinner together.

Above the big waterfall

Barbs and I had a pretty bad night’s rest, so we woke up feeling stiff and miff… It had rained all night and the double mattress was too big for the bed frame, nothing a bit of Brazilian coffee couldn’t sort out!

We started off on our walk fairly early, first we took our bags to a new house about another 10 min walk up the path from where we were staying. On arrival, we realized the new place was a big upgrade on the previous two places. The family running the accommodation was much bigger, so there were more people to work on the buildings and garden. The garden was especially beautiful with a host of flowers, the cosmos flowers specifically made the gardens light up with incredible color.

All we did was drop our bags off at the new house, then start off on a hike up to the Cachoeira big waterfall, which was approximately a 9km walk one way and same distance back. The first part of the path was foreign to us, but then Tye said we had walked a stretch already, I didn’t recognize the path, but then I clicked, we walked the path as we entered the Pati Valley.

I took a run up ahead and chased down some mules with their owners, I love chasing down people ahead, it’s great fun. When I got on top of the chapada I waited for Mona, Barbs and Tye, then we walked the rest of the route together. After a few kilometers we headed down another path which lead us toward the forest surrounding the waterfall. The forest was incredible, it was a mash up of trees, ferns, roots and moss, making a beautiful wonderland.

We popped out of the forest a the perfect rock pool and mini waterfall where we would have lunch and take a swim. We dropped our bags and head to the big waterfall, what an incredible site, we saw what few people normally get to see and that was a raging mass of water exploding out of the rock. The waterfall was not created by a river or stream, it was pouring out of the rocks in many different locations. In some cases the water made it to the valley below, but the main waterfall disappeared into a fine mist like the Fumaça. Tye took us to one more view point to see another perspective of the raging waterfalls.

We headed back to our bags to munch some lunch and swim a little. While doing this it felt like a Steven King story as the mist started creeping through the forest around us and spreading around the area we were sitting. Next the rain started and it was kind of cold, so we packed up and headed out at a brisk pace.

I decided to run the last 7km or so, so I took off and ran like wind. The trails were sodden with water, which made running tricky, but I kept pushing. The rain had subsided a little once we got back onto the chapada, but soon it started to pour down again making the clay paths like slippery snot. I arrived back at the little cottages about 1 hour ahead of the others, so I took a shower and started reading.

That afternoon we all relaxed whiled appreciating the beautiful surroundings. Tye had suggested we watch TV, I thought this was a bit odd until I saw what he meant, there was a bench with a view of the mountains that was like a high definition infitinite sized LED TV screen. I made a new feline friend, this kitty sat on my lap and drooled on my for ages, cutest little creature.

In the evening after dinner, Tye joined the family in a music session. There were 5 men and 2 young boys all making music in harmony with one another. Barbara, Mona and I watched in awe as the 7 of them made what Tye dubbed peasant dance music, we felt quite honored that they were comfortable playing with us present. Bed time after the music session.

Out of the Pati Valley

The morning of the 18th December, we hiked out of the Pati Valley away from the beautiful chapadas we had grown accustomed to seeing for the previous few days. The hike took us back up the path we took down into the valley and up the steep rocky decent. When we had hiked into the valley, the path was not quite as damaged and wet, leaving was a different story.

As we got to the top of the chapada and walked across the Rio do Preto meadows the rain started up again. At first it was a fine drizzle, but over time this increased and so did the water flowing in the streams around us. We could not cross the river, which was normally the route, due to the river being raging torrent of water.

Luckily there was a bridge further up the trail that we could use to cross the river, this is also what the local families used when they crossed with their mules. We had lunch on the bridge, but this was cut short by a downpour, so we started hiking on the trail again.

We walked down the Morro do Beco towards a small farming town of Guine. The steep trail down had become a stream, it was great fun running down the rocky & watery decent. We had little to no visibility going down the trail due to heavy cloud, which was unfortunate because we would usually have incredible views.

Due to us pushing along quite fast, we finished the hike back in about an hour faster than expected, which meant that the driver had not arrived. We decided to into the town of Guine and find the driver there. We were lucky as we quickly found the driver, who then drove us back to Lençois. The journey back was nearly 2 hrs, so we were super happy to arrive at the Pousada we stayed in 6 days earlier called Villa Serano.

Historical mining town of Lençois

Barbs and I woke up after a solid night of sleep at Bahia Cafe, Paulo picked us up shortly after breakfast and shuttled us to the Salvador airport for our domestic flight to Lençois. The Salvador airport was much more attractive than the Sao Paulo airport that was ugly as sin. We didn’t mind hanging around the Salvador airport while waiting for our flight and managed to do a little shopping as well as grab some Bob’s burger.

We boarded the small 2 propeller plane and took of to our next destination, Lençois, all very exciting. The flight was only 45min and we travelled about 450km to a tiny little airport, by far the smallest airport I have ever seen. As we were waiting for our luggage, we met a young French woman called Mona, who was also being fetched by the same driver and it turned out she was doing the same trek as us.

Our driver was picked us up and drove us 22km from the airport to the small diamond mining town of Lençois, as we drove in we could see this town had maintained its heritage and the old architecture, this immediately caught our attention. Mona was staying in a small Pousada near to us and we were staying at Villa Serano up on a hill overlooking the town.

The weather was not very good, it was raining, which meant it was not possible to do the planned walk up to some nearby waterfalls, we were not phased as we were still jet lagged. That evening Mona, Barbara and I met up with a guide who took us on a walking tour around the town. Our guide explained the history of the town and show us all the highlights in under an hour, which illustrates how small this little town really is.

After the tour the 3 of us were free to find a restaurant for dinner, we decided on a small place that had chairs set out on the cobbled streets, in the evenings these streets were blocked off to vehicles. We tasted some local dishes, local drinks and swapped stories about France and South Africa. The 3 of us really enjoyed our evening together and felt like we had got off to a good start. Barbs and I were pretty tired still from jet lag, so we decided to head home after dinner for a much deserved sleep. We needed to prepare ourselves for the impending trek…

Salvador and the start of our Brazil 2013/2014 trip

It was Tuesday 10 December at approximately 3am and our alarm went off. We had a taxi picking us up just before 4am, so we slowly got ready. The taxi arrived and left, he didn’t see us waiting outside, so he drove off, what’s the chance we are going to wait outside on the street in Woodstock at 4am. Anyways, he came back, fetched us and took is to the Cape Town International Airport.

Our flight was only at 6am, so we arrived with plenty of time. The SAA check-in counters were not even open yet, so we queued with all the rest of the people. The first leg of our flight was to OL Thambo International Airport in Johannesburg, from there we checked our luggage through to Sao Paulo and waited for our flight to start board.

Barbara and I have a tradition of buying some goodies at duty free, we bought our usual 2 liter bottles of hard tack, 2 bottles of perfume and some M&Ms. This always signifies the start of one of our epic overseas trips, this would be a special trip as it was our first trip to Brazil and our first Universo Parralello festival.

Our flight to Sao Paulo went without a hitch, we landed and got our bags, then we headed to the domestic part of the airport to check-in for our last flight to Salvador. While we waited, we tried our first Brazilian beer and I bought some Havaianas. We had a fairly long wait before our Salvador flight and it was slightly delayed, which after a long journey felt like an eternity.

We eventually boarded the plane, it was a 2 hour flight to Salvador. The day really felt like it was lagging, but it was probably because we were tired. We had arranged for somebody to fetch us, we were concerned because our flight was late and when we walked out nobody was waiting for us… It turned out that our driver was waiting at the wrong side of the airport, so once we found him we packed our stuff into the car and headed to our hotel called Bahia Cafe. The drive from the airport was about 50 minutes, so along the way our driver Paulo filled us in about the history of Salvador and some tips on what not to do.

We only checked in around 11:30pm at Bahia Cafe, but that was no problem, we were glad to be settled. We both took a quick shower and hit the town, because Tuesday nights were party night. We took to the streets and bought a famous local drink called Caiparinha made with lime, sugar and Cachasa. We kept walking, the streets were fairly quiet, but we could hear music, so we decided to sniff out the party.

The buildings all looked so old, but had beautiful architecture. Drink number one died quickly, but around about the same time we found where the music was coming from and where to buy another Caiparinha. Feeling festive, we decided head into one of the houses where there was live music, try our hand at dancing to local tunes, at the same time we ordered our last Caiparinha, which was the cheapest and strongest drink of the night.

While tring to dance to the music, I realized I was failing badly when a local guy tried to show me the moves, it was a slow leg shaking movement, either I was too drunk or incapable of moving that way… Anyways, it was fun to watch the local people dance and have a good time. The last drink was however the nail in the coffin, Barbs and I stumbled back to the hotel with little memory of the walk back and passed out solidly.

Afro Brazilian Cultural Capital

After an incredible breakfast at Bahia Cafe and some much needed Brazilian coffee we were picked up by our driver from the night before, Paulo. He took us on a tour by car to see some of the highlights of Salvador. It was hot and humid, so we were great full to be in an air conditioned vehicle.

The tour started at the Lighthouse and the fort of the All Saints Bay, we then headed through the streets towards the market of the Lower City close to the port that brought in boats from Africa. We ascended to the Upper City and stopped at the Lecerda elevator to take in the incredible views of the bay amongst the impressive colonial structures.

Next we headed to the squares and narrow streets lined with the colorful buildings around the Pelourinho, which is considers to be the heart of Salvador and historical centre. This square still contains the whipping post where Africans were sold as slaves. Paulo filled us in with as much of the history as we could absorb. During our walk around Paulo warned us constantly not to walk down certain side alleys, actually most side alleys were a no go…

We spent the afternoon relaxing back at Bahia Cafe, our body clocks were not yet in tune with the time zone and we were extremely hungover from our Caipirinha escapades the night before. In the evening we headed out for a buffet dinner and a Capoeira show, but we faded really early and decided to sleep in preparation for our journey to Lençois the next day.