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January 25, 2008

Abrolhos - Bahia


Abrolhos - Bahia - Brazilian Eco Tourism

Abrolhos is a nature-gifted city in the South of Bahia. The Abrolhos Sea National Park is there; it was the first sea park created in Brazil, in 1983.


Abrolhos shelters Brazil's richest coral fauna that is one of the rarest in the world. Five volcanic islands and a group of coral reef comprise the archipelago that has one of the largest fish gathering in the globe, both in quantity and variety. You can find in Abrolhos all kinds of fish from the South Atlantic.

From August to November, Abrolhos is visited by the humpback whale, which performs through leaps and characteristic sounds. A rare mammal species, the humpback whale can measure up to 15 meters and weighs about 30 tons. A dazzling show. They say that the name, Abrolhos, has its origin in the Portuguese idiom "Abra os Olhos" ("Open Your Eyes"), an ever-present warning in ancient Portuguese nautical letters addressed to navigators in that region, because of the dangers it has due to great number of underwater reefs.

All the fauna and flora, either inside or outside the water, is under protection of the IBAMA (the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Natural Renewable Resources). That's why any kind of fishing, hunting or environment-harmful activity is forbidden in the park area. Abrolhos hides the greatest surprises underwater: pleasant temperature clear waters, shipwrecks and a great diversity of marine fauna make it one of the best places for practicing diving in the whole world.

Walking along the archipelago of Abrolhos, comprised by islands like Santa Bárbara, Guarita, Siriba, Redonda and Sueste, are a one-of-a-kind chance to behold nature in its purest form.

Santa Bárbara is the largest and the only inhabited island in the archipelago. Despite being virtually in the center of the Park, it belongs to the Brazilian Navy, and is not included in the park limits. Landing there is only allowed upon authorization by the 2nd Naval District, located in Salvador, where there are, in addition to the lighthouse, some houses that are dwelled by the military personnel's families, IBAMA employees (the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Natural Renewable Resources) and researchers.

Siriba is the only island allowing landing and visits by tourists, which are made in a scheduled and monitored way. You can walk only around the island and see the archipelago formation and several bird species that place their nests on the floor, this being one of the reasons why people are not allowed to walk inside the island's central area.

The city has greatly important historical landmarks, besides being a calm place, with a welcoming population. Several religious and folkloric feasts are still celebrated there and preserved by various traditions, such as the patron saint Santo Antônio's feast, when daily masses sung in Latin are held, musical bands, bazaar, cultural performances, processions and fireworks. The craftwork, capoeira (foot-fighting dance), maculelê (both a game and a dance style) and African dances are typical artistic expressions in the region.

Nova Viçosa
Nova Viçosa has several beaches. It is a mild and quiet city, although it is invaded by tourists (especially from Minas Gerais state) during Carnival and year-end holidays.

A great deal of the beaches has seaside bars and kiosks to serve visitors, who can enjoy tasty sea food dishes. During the main tourist holidays, beach parties happen day and night, with special programs.

In the archipelago's neighboring cities, there are ride options by boat, cart, rural canoes and horse. Barra Velha is a great place for walking. From there, you can go by boat to Cassumba island, where the untouched beach of Ponta do Catoeiro is, as well as Perobas, a riverain village with little infrastructure and sparse inhabitants. These rides are promoted by local tourist agencies.

There is not lodging in the archipelago. Tourists may lodge in neighboring cities' hotels and inns sleep in the vessel itself, depending on the kind of rides they take.

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