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.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Beautiful colonial Olinda - a gem in the northeast of Brazil

The most pictures here from google

It is a city in the north-eastern Brazilian state of Pernambuco. It's set around a tree-covered hill 6km north of Recife.

Olinda features a number of major tourist attractions, such as a historic downtown area (World Heritage Site), churches, and the Carnival of Olinda, a popular street party, very similar to traditional Portuguese carnivals, with the addition of African influenced dances. In Olinda, admission to Carnival is free. All the festivities are celebrated on the streets, and there are no bleachers or roping. 

There are hundreds of small musical groups (sometimes featuring a single performer) in many genres.
The main outlook of the city is the Alto da Sé where you can admire the historic buildings and the ocean. Located here is the Seminary, with its Brazilian Jesuit architecture whilst nearby are the Palace of the Governors, the Contemporary Art Museum and the Eufrasio Barbosa Market.

Besides its natural beauty, Olinda is also one of Brazil's main cultural centers. Declared in 1982 a Historical and Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by the UNESCO, Olinda relives the magnificence of the past every year during the Rio-style Carnival, on the rhythms of frevo, maracatu and others rhythms.
Frevo dancers


The main economic activities in Olinda are based in tourism, commerce, transportation industry and artcraft. The tourist sector has a boom every Carnival when thousands of people are in the old historic town center. (wikipedia).

With twisting streets of colorful old houses and gorgeous vistas over tree tops, church towers and red-tile roofs, this is one of the best-preserved and prettiest colonial towns in Brazil. 

Walking around the cobbled streets, stopping in front of each beautifully colored house, snapping pictures at every corner is very pleasant. Olinda is photographic heaven.

The impressive historical buildings pair well with the cultural diversity of the town which can be seen everywhere, whilst the fabulous lookouts onto the ocean, the handicraft markets and its rich cuisine will delight visitors.

For arts and crafts, Olinda is considered an open air museum bringing together an historic site with more than 80 artists’ studios of national and international reputation whilst throughout the Cidade Alta there are numerous stalls of local artisans selling carvings, sculptures and embroideries.

If you are visiting the north-east of Brazil on holiday then Olinda is a must see.

Photo by Flickr MCM Photography