September 6, 2011

Fernando de Noronha – The Island Jewel of Brazil

My first time in the island paradise of Fernando de Noronha was in 2004, and since my inaugural visit I have returned time and again. It is one of Brazil’s most exclusive destinations. I fell more in love with this untouched island oasis with every day of my stay, and I am sure you will too.

The island and her surrounding territory are a protected national marine conservation park and are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The archipelago is made up of 22 incredible islands and is home to the largest concentration of tropical seabirds to be found in the Western Atlantic. Its rich waters are teeming with marine biodiversity and are vital in their production.

Tropical seabird

Sustainable tourism is a priority in this ecological sanctuary. The local government agencies only allow 460 people to visit the island at one time. A small environmental preservation tax is charged to all tourists by IBAMA (The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources). This leads to not only a pristine ambiance, but also an exclusive and romantic getaway.

There is only one paved road on the island extending for 7 kilometers. Most everything in Noronha is accessible via walking or hiking along marked trails. Or you can always take a guided horseback ride to hidden beaches.

You can easily hike from one deserted beach to the next.

I suggest you take a 4×4 island tour on your first morning in Fernando de Noronha. It gives you perspective and information regarding all of its most stunning locations from friendly local guides. My first island tour was in the back of an open air jeep, and I must admit that some of my morning was spent eating the red dust from the dirt roads. Now almost 7 years later, there are many different options from a dune buggy to luxury Land Rover to experience the islands top spots.

The island boasts endless deserted beaches and lagoons. My favorite beach is Baia do Sancho and will literally take your breath away. The sand is like suntanned powder between your toes. The various black volcanic rocks dot the edges of the horizon and link the emerald green waters with open blue sky.

Incredible view of Baia do Sancho where dolphins like to swim in the late afternoon.

I personally am a scuba diving fanatic, so I spent much of my time on the island underwater. I encountered so many types of colorful fish, manta rays, huge fluorescent moray eels, sharks, sea tortoises, and spinner dolphins galore! It is truly an aquarium for people with pristine and clear waters. Visibility can get up to 125 meters and it is a snorkelers and divers paradise.

Scuba diving with spinner dolphins is an unforgettable experience!

There are many options for activities such as horseback riding, renting a dune buggy, sailing trips, historical walking tours including a visit to the historic Fort Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, sea kayaking, or surfing.

Pristine water surrounds you on a cruise around the base of “Two Brothers” islands.

In short, Noronha is pure relaxation in a secluded vacation paradise. You can spend your days exploring deserted beaches and relishing a swim in the cool clear waters. In the evening, return to your exclusive eco-friendly hotel and watch the sunset over the ocean from the open air restaurant.

Fernando de Noronha allows you the opportunity to experience some of Brazil’s most beautiful beaches in a pristine environment. It is easy to slip into island time and find yourself not wanting to leave.

Contact Green Roots Travel to experience an exclusive island holiday in Fernando de Noronha.

August 3, 2011

Outdoor Adventure in Rio de Janeiro

Looking to combine a little outdoor fun with the big city lifestyle of Rio de Janeiro during your travels in Brazil? There are many different options for outdoor adventure in Rio, including sea kayaking, mountain climbing, biking, cascading down waterfalls, rappelling, rafting, and hiking.

Stunning views from your hike to the mountaintops in Rio de Janeiro

With the largest urban rainforest in the world, the Tijuca National Forest, right in the heart of the city, you are literally surrounded by nature.  There are many different hiking trails in the Tijuca forest.  We always recommend that you go with a knowledgeable local guide to make sure you stay on the designated paths.

Waterfalls and incredible vistas of the city abound from various points inside the rainforest.  One of my favorites is the moderate to advanced hike leading from the historical Parque Lage that takes you through lush forest to the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer statue) overlooking all of Rio.

The trailhead beginning at the historical Parque Lage winds through their gardens to the top of the Christ statue.

Rio is also a haven for the more extreme outdoor sports, such as rock climbing.  Whether you are a novice or experienced, Green Roots Travel connects you with expert local guides.  We know the best locations for climbing depending on your skill level.  Whichever peak you end up scaling, you are rewarded with sweeping views of this mountainous city and its beaches.

The mountains of Rio de Janeiro are a rock climbers playground.

Seeing Rio from the ocean offers a completely different perspective on the Cidade Maravilhosa. If you are keen on getting out on the water, then try sea kayaking, surfing, or scuba diving. Our professional guides take you to discover Rio’s incredible hidden bays, islands and beaches.

Sea kayaking below Sugarloaf Mountain
Sea kayaking below the Sugarloaf Mountain.

Rio offers not only the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, but also an entire coastline of secluded beaches.  On the outer parts of the city are Grumari and Prainha, which are popular with locals and two of my favorite stretches of sand with excellent waves.

Prainha beach outside of the bustling city of Rio has good surf and hikes into the rainforest above.

For those travelers seeking a more relaxed version of outdoor fun, you can spend an afternoon exploring Rio’s Royal Botanical Gardens.  Either take a taxi from your hotel, or be a little more adventurous and rent a bike to cruise around the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas to the gardens main entrance.

Majestic royal palms tower above you as you walk through the historical gates that were opened in 1808.  In this quiet haven, you will find a variety of Brazil’s exotic plants, including an extensive orchid garden.  After leisurely capturing photos of brightly colored flowers, you can relax with an espresso and fresh pastry at the Botanical Gardens Café.

You can rent bikes to ride around the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas to explore the Royal Botanical Gardens.

What are your favorite outdoor adventures in your home country? Which activities do you want to experience during your vacation in Brazil with Green Roots Travel?


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by Green Roots Travel

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