Porto Seguro, Brazil

Porto Seguro – loosely translated as safe bay – is known as “Brazil’s birth certificate”. The port was the first place that Alavares Cabral and his crew set foot on while on their way to India in 1500. This makes the town the oldest in the country at 500 years. With three churches and around 40 buildings (both private residential houses and public institutions), restored by the state government for the 500th anniversary celebration of Brazilian discovery, Porto Seguro wears its age well.

tour 1 Pataxó Indigenous Reserve

Take a trip into the sacred lands of the Jaqueira Reserve via Porto Seguro, south of Bahia state, where areas of native Atlantic rainforest officially remain with the original owners of the land. In this region, the nature reserves are sacred areas for the Pataxó communities. Those areas work mainly as centers of cultural tradition and affirmation, sustainable tourism (there is a limit on the number of people per day allowed to visit each reserve), and the preservation of nature. Located in Santa Cruz Cabralia, near the city of Porto Seguro, Jaqueira Reserve received its name thanks to a huge trunk of Jaqueira trees that fell naturally many years ago. Today, approximately 34 families live on the reserve.

Begin your tour with a 30-minute drive through Porto Seguro with panoramic views, and continue towards the north shoreline to reach the gateway for the Indigenous reserve. Be greeted by the Indigenous Pataxó leader and invited to learn about their way of being and living. With your guide, walk to the center of the reserve, where there is a community welcome presentation at this traditional meeting place. Learn from a speech by the leadership of the village how this people have persisted with their customs and traditions throughout the centuries. The speech is followed by the ritual of the purification, using the amescar, a sacred resin, and the demonstration of face painting, made with clays taken from the cliffs of the village.

After the welcome ceremony, you have the option to participate in different activities, such as archery; light hiking on a trail for a contemplative and interpretive walk, learning about medicinal herbs and their cultivation of native plants for reforestation; seeing the popular indigenous hunting traps; or visiting the Pajé kijeme (indigenous house and its meaningful aspects). Pass by the school where children learn the patxohã (their own language), there is also time to taste tropical fruits, a fish cooked in the banana leaf, and tapioca snack. Continuing along the tour, visit the crafts tent, and finally, participate in the Awê, the Pataxó ritual of thanksgiving with singing and dancing.

On your way back, stop for some relaxation at one of the local bars that is quite popular in Porto Seguro; Taste a local drink and watch the performance of the lambada dance before returning to the ship.

tour 2 Porto Seguro Old & New

Explore the historic parts of Porto Seguro on this informative and scenic half-day tour. The upper city of Porto Seguro, or the historic town, was one of the first founded clusters of housing in all of Brazil. The upper city was also the headquarters of the captaincy of Pero Tourinho, playing an important role in the early years of the colonization of Brazil. The architecture in this part of town is dated from the 16th to the 18th century and is formed by about 40 houses, including institutions and private residences, still inhabited, distributed over three squares and little streets. The entire set of buildings is listed by IPHAN Institution, and no driving is allowed here.

Drive just 10 minutes from the pier to the historical city, enjoying a walking tour of old city highlights, including the Possession Mark monument (1503), Church of Nossa Senhora da Misericórdia (1526) - the oldest in Brazil, the Church of Nossa Senhora da Pena (1535), the Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário (1549), and the Casa de Câmara e Cadeia (1772), which is home to the Porto Seguro museum. During your visit in the uptown, walk through the ancient streets, visiting the historic monuments, and still enjoying the stunning scenery of the Bay of Porto. On this tour there is also time to shop and take photos. Stop at a local establishment to taste a traditional tropical juice and watch a local performance for Maculelê dance, a typical dance played by long knives or sticks, as the maculelê rhythm goes on the atabaque percussion, and the 2 people begin rhythmically striking the knives (honoring the traditions of sugar cane workers).

Then, continue towards the main streets of the lower city, an urban site formed by graceful buildings on the banks of the river Buranhém. Stroll the Discovery Walkway (popular for restaurants), and browse the artistically decorated tents selling tropical drinks. Stop at a local bar to taste one of the popular drinks and enjoy a Bahia appetizer. Take some free time to walk around before returning to the bus for the short ride back to the ship.

tour 3 Capoeira and Arraial D’Ajuda Village

Explore Arraial d'Ajudais, a peaceful tourist village atop a bluff overlooking an enchanting stretch of Bahia coastline. Experience the Afro-Brazilian tradition of capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. Depart from the pier by van and arrive at the local ferry station for a ten-minute transfer across the Buranhém River to the historic Arraial village. Explore the idyllic surroundings of narrow-paved roads and dusty lanes beneath large, shady trees, and the lovely pousadas (guesthouses) and open-air restaurants hidden among the greenery. Enjoy the solid, brightly painted facades that surround the plazas and the air tinged with the scent of tropical vegetation.

Next, enjoy a capoeira workshop lead by a master of the form and owner of Capoeira Sul Bahia, a cultural space to preserve Afro-Brazilian traditions and school that hosts international capoeira competitions. Learn about the rich cultural expression of this sport and philosophy that began in 16th century Brazil and is now exported world-wide. Take a short drive to embark on a walking tour and explore the curiosities of the area. Take in the popular sunset of Arraial. Stop by the tapioca snack bar for a tasting, then continue to Mucugê Street to enjoy the eateries and souvenir shops. Transfer to ferry station to return to Porto Seguro and the pier.

On to Abrolhos Archipelago, Brazil

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