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Relax and enjoy the cool lifestyle of Bahia in Brazil

My guest post today takes us to the Bahia region of Brazil, which offers a relaxed way of life, stunning beaches, wildlife and national parks and is bigger than most European countries – lucky we have my guest writer Modi to guide us.

Bahia is one Brazil’s most colourful regions and definitely the one that strikes westerners more than any other part of the country when it comes to cultural diversity. Brazil’s immense size, which is a bit smaller than the US and bigger than Europe (excluding Russia), makes it obligatory to plan your trip carefully well in advance, unless you have a few years available to travel in that beautiful country.

Bahian woman selling Acaraje, Bahian sea food

Bahian woman selling Acaraje, Bahian sea food

With an area of 564 square kilometres and a population of almost 14m people, Bahia is greater than Spain in size and twice bigger than Great Britain. For the European standards that feels like visiting another country. And when it comes to culture, tradition, history and nature Bahia really stands out from the rest of the country. It was there that the Portuguese “discovered” Brazil in 1500 and made it part of the Portuguese empire. However, the Dutch took over for a short period of time and it was there that a vast number of African slaves were sold as cheap labour to work in the plantations all around the country.

After slavery was abolished and it wasn’t profitable anymore for the Portuguese to carry on with the coffee plantations, they left all those millions of slaves on their own destiny. This is why Bahia, is until today the most colourful part of the country and where people of European descent are a small minority. For the same reasons it is one of Brazil’s poorest parts and unemployment soars, especially in the capital city of Salvador.

Caravelas in Bahia, Brazil

Places of interest vary from stunning national parks and scenic valleys, to pristine beaches and a few magnificent islands. The biggest and most well-known national park is that of Chapada Diamantina which is a plateau of steep cliffs and incredible wildlife which includes snakes, large mammals, birds, insects etc. Another interesting destination is the beautiful beaches around the touristic town of Porto Seguro, such as Trancoso , Caraiva (a remote sea-side village built on the sand where still there’s no electricity other than that produced by petrol generators), Itacare (where the Brazilian surfing championship takes place once a year).

Caravelas, a sleepy village located between a river bank and the sea is another great place to experience proper Bahian life and culture as it is a place that doesn’t attract tourists, apart from Brazilians. Another great reason to visit it is because from there you can get a boat to Abrolhos National Marine Park, where Charles Darwin made a stop over to do some research in that group of remote islands. Scuba diving, snorkelling and the like is possible in the transparent water full of the most colourful and exotic fish you can imagine.

Relaxing on the beach in Bahia, Brazil

Bahianos (Bahian people) are different to all other Brazilians in a sense that they are very friendly, simple and open. They are what we would call in Europe or the US “cool” people as they don’t seem to know what stress is about, they are always up for a laugh, a dance or a chat and they seem to enjoy their time. So much they envy them, the more posh and rich southern Brazilians, that the main stereotype of any Bahiano is that he’s lazy and never works. Bahia is also recommended for anyone who wants to learn Portuguese as the people there speak in a quite slowly and in a relaxed manner and they are very patient with “gringos” (foreigners of any occidental country).

The best part of Bahia though, is daily life which still has a very strong African impact in all aspects. From food (mainly seafood) to music (axe, forro) and from religion (the Yoruba derived system of Candomblé) to martial arts (Capoeira). There’s no need to mention a visit to the Salvador – Bahia’s capital, as it is impossible not to pass through it if you’re travelling in Bahia.

Typical Bahian Beach (Photo by Modi)

Typical Bahian Beach in Brazil

Although many tourist guides claim that Bahia is a dangerous place, if you avoid the big cities and do not try to show off by walking around with your mp3 player, mobile phone and digital camera, wearing that expensive watch and sunglasses you shouldn’t have any problem. Showing a bit of respect to all those people who don’t have as much as you do is not such a big deal and it will make your life easier too. Especially in the small places there’s nothing to fear about and you will feel that straight way. Common sense is all you need to have and a little bit of insight into people’s problems.

Many Thanks for this guest post to Modi Sodek, who  is is a keen internet marketer who loves travelling and currently works for a company that organises river cruises

Photo Credits: all photos copyright Modek Sodek

Continue your travels in South America

Historic cities, natural beauty and a warm welcome in Colombia
A grown-up backpacker at Machu Picchu – in Peru
Warm baths and waterfalls at Baños – in Ecuador

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Melvin
    May 21, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Does Recife/Olinda belong to Bahia? I’m pretty sure as it describes just the amtosphere I had as well! 🙂

    Nice read & beautiful photos!

    I really have to go there again… just went there for a very short visit of a week. But I really loved it & I’ll be back to explore more!
    .-= Melvin´s last blog ..A Day in St. Lucia – Northern Island Tour Itinerary for $6.75 =-.

  • Reply
    Keith
    May 21, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Excellent post Heather. Sure brought back lots of memories. I visited Bahia in 2000 (gosh, that’s 10 years ago!) and experienced its culture and stunning natural beauty. It was like a completely different world compared with Rio. I was lucky to catch the huge celebrations marking Brazil’s 400th anniversary in Salvador. The samba bands, floats and huge dancing crowds were spectacular. Absolutely loved the Pelourinho neighbourhood.
    Thanks for this fab post!
    .-= Keith´s last blog ..A stroll through Palma de Mallorca =-.

  • Reply
    Mark H
    May 22, 2010 at 12:14 am

    The mix of African heritage in South America sounds a superb combination for colour, great food and overflowing happiness. Lovely review.
    .-= Mark H´s last blog ..Look No Further Than the Cote d’Azur (France) =-.

  • Reply
    Modi
    May 23, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Recife and Olina doesn’t belong to Bahia but it’s in a nearby district called Pernambuco. I haven’t been there but I definitely need to go there too.

    About the African heritage in South America I would say that it is very strong in Brazil but almost non existent in other countries, apart from Colombia.

  • Reply
    Donna Hull
    June 3, 2010 at 1:38 am

    Great guest post, Heather. We often forget how large Brazil is and how many different aspects there are to the country. As long as a visitor uses caution, Bahia sounds like a charming place to visit.
    .-= Donna Hull´s last blog ..And the Winner of the WikiReader is… =-.

  • Reply
    South America Backpacking with Indie Travel Podcast | Heather on her travels
    July 25, 2010 at 2:45 am

    […] Relax and enjoy the cool lifestyle of Bahia in Brazil Historic cities, natural beauty and a warm welcome in Colombia 03 Ecuador and the Amazon Rainforest – Podcast Episode 3 […]

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    September 22, 2010 at 12:14 am

    […] Past guest posts: Things to do in Bahia, Brazil […]

  • Reply
    pickel
    June 7, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    It’s laborious to seek out knowledgeable folks on this matter, however you sound like you realize what you’re talking about! Thanks

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