Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Piauí State

Sete Cidades National Park - Photo: sitesgoogle
The state of Piauí is almost completely situated in the Parnaíba Basin. The northern part of the state is low and marshy, while the south (which is inland) gradually becomes a high plateau. The main rivers and waterways that feed this plateau include the Poti, the Longa, and the Canindé. Between river valleys are flat-topped highlands called chapadas. The marshy areas of the south are low in nutrients, yielding low evergreen forests that can handle such compromised conditions. 

Piauí has the shortest coastline of any coastal Brazilian state at 66 km (41 mi), and the capital, Teresina, is the only state capital in the northeast to be located inland. The reason for this is, unlike the rest of the area, Piauí was first colonized inland and slowly expanded towards the ocean, rather than the other way around. 

In terms of its economy, Piauí is one of the poorest states in the country. The services sector, industrial sector and agricultural sector makes up the state’s major GDP contributions in descending order.

Its exports play a major role in the economy, and include essential oils, soybeans, cotton, cashew nuts, certain seafood and leather.

A need to concentrate on tourism has been identified in an effort to attract visitors to the country, which is so rich in cultural and historical heritage.

The state has many notable archaeological sites, including Serra de Capivara National Park and Sete Cidades National Park, which are rich in remains of prehistoric Paleo-Indian and sedentary-based Indigenous Brazilian complex cultures. the National Park of Serra da Capivara is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park has more than 400 archaeological sites and the largest concentration of rock paintings in the world, in a landscape dominated by canyons and caatinga.

The state of Piauí (pronounced Pea-ow-ee) is one of Brazil's best-kept secrets. It is difficult to get there, but the visitor is rewarded with perhaps the most untouristed place they will ever see. Piauí is the only Brazilian state to have three National Parks, and it borders two more. 

Piauí suffers an image problem in Brazil. It is seen as the stereotypical hot, poor northeastern state. Many guidebooks are infected with this prejudice. The good news is that this keeps the tourist hordes away. Piauí is the traditional Brazil. A land of cowboys, religious pilgrimages and unspoilt nature. The state is poor, but the crime rate here is a fraction of that in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Most people have never spoken to a foreigner.

The early Portuguese settlers refered to Piauí as "Beyond Nowhere". A 1760 map of "Piauhy" by Henriques Antonio Gallucio reports much of the state as being "land which hasn't yet been explored". This was about two hundred and fifty years after Portuguese colonization. Famously, the Brazilian government once omitted the state from the official national map. It is a place for travellers, not tourists.

The northern coast has a large river deltas, a haven for birds and manatees. This coastline is starting to be discovered by kiteboarders and surfers. The National Parks - home of jaguars, anteaters and giant armadillos - contain incredible cave paintings and perhaps the earliest evidence of human habitation in the Americas. Cashew nuts are believed to originate in Piauí, and even today the state is a massive producer.

Parnaiba river. Photo: wikipedia

Pedra Furada, Serra da Capivara. Photo wikipedia

Serra da Canastra. Photo Pinterest

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Welcome to crystal-clear waters, rich marine life - Fernando de Noronha
Cachorro Beach. Photo by EduardoMurici
Fernando de Noronha is, strictly speaking, an archipelago made up of one 11-square-mile chunk of volcanic rock and 20 smaller islands, three degrees south of the equator, 354 km (220 mi) offshore from the Brazilian north-eastern coast, in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Noronha's natural beauty holds its own against any tropical locale in the world. With crystal-clear waters, rich marine life – including the highest known concentration of resident dolphins in the world – and spectacular tropical landscapes, it’s in a Brazilian class all of its own.

Sighted for the first time between 1500 and 1502, it has its discovery attributed to an expedition commanded by the Portuguese merchant Fernão de Loronha (then that's the reason of the archipelago's name), although there are controversies; but it is certain that the first to describe it was Americo Vespucci, in an expedition carried out between 1503 and 1504.

Administratively, the islands are a unique case in Brazil of a special "state district" that is not part of any municipality and is administered directly by the government of the state of Pernambuco(despite being closer to the state of Rio Grande do Norte).

In 2001 UNESCO designated it as a World Heritage Site because of the importance of its environment. Its time zone is UTC−02:00 all year round. The local population and travelers can get to Noronha by plane from Recife or Natal. 

An "environmental preservation" daily fee is charged from tourists upon arrival by Pernambuco State administration, while another fee is paid once to have access to the National Park attractions. (wikipedia).

The Two Brothers Rock. Photo via wikimedia

Forte dos Remédios. Photo via wikimedia

Ponta da Sapata. Photo via wikimedia

Sunset. Photo via wikimedia

Aerial View of Sancho Beach. Photo via wikimedia

Dolphin Bay. Photo via wikimedia

Two Brothers Rock aerial view. Photo by wikimedia

Give yourself plenty of time because Noronha is addictive. It’s a wonderful place for doing things both on water (diving, surfing and snorkeling) and on land (hiking and touring), and the average stay is four or five nights. Thanks in large part to the Parque Nacional Marinho de Fernando de Noronha and conservation projects based here, the marine and coastal environment is tightly regulated: locals joke that it’s the island of ‘No’ – no, you can’t do this; no, you can’t do that, etc.

With only between 270 and 400 plane seats normally available per day to Noronha, tourism doesn't overwhelm the islands, and it’s rarely a problem to find an isolated patch of sand on a dreamy beach, even in high season. However, it’s advisable to reserve accommodations and flights well ahead for December, January, February, July and August. The week or so either side of New Year can get booked up six months or more in advance.

Paradise comes at a premium: due to the cost of transporting goods from the mainland, prices are surreal and rooms cost about double what you'd pay on the mainland. But as a guaranteed highlight of any trip to South America, Fernando de Noronha is well worth the expense. (lonelyplanet)

Photo Gallery credit by LuMa Lima

People watching sunset

Cacimba do Padre, in the Two Brothers Rock

The spectacular extinct volcanic cone Morro do Pico is the highest point, 323m above sea level – and more than 4300m above the ocean floor. No, you cannot climb it.