TYT Original Reporting
By Stewart Mandy
Our reporter Stewart Mandy recently spent a few weeks in Brazil – you can read his report on Carnival in Salvador here. Following is his second report from the country.
SALVADOR DA BAHIA, BRAZIL – Following my arrival in Brazil, and before moving on to Salvador to enjoy a week at the world’s largest carnival, I was invited to spend a few days ‘off the grid’ at Lagoa Aruá, a fresh water lake some 70km up the coast to the north of the city.
After arriving at Salvador’s airport, it was a drive of about an hour to this hidden paradise. If you want to get away from it all, without straying too far from civilization, Lagoa Aruá could be your place; a surprisingly large fresh water lake, just a few kilometers from the coast, surrounded discretely by houses of varying sizes and a couple of small pousadas. There’s not much to do here, so relaxing in a hammock by the lake with a book and a drink while enjoying the views is sure to be at the top of most people’s lists. For the more energetic, a swim in the warm lake water is always an option, as is the fast growing sport of standup paddleboarding (SUP), for which the lake with its calm waters and gentle breezes is an ideal location. It was my first attempt, and after a few minutes of instruction, I found it remarkably easy to do; other than a sense of balance, and strength in the arms, there are no other physical requirements; the sport however proves to be an excellent workout for muscles throughout the body.
If the solitude gets too much, or if you fancy a meal in a restaurant or a swim in the sea rather than the lake, it’s only about a 15 – 20 minute drive from Lagoa Aruá to the resort village of Praia do Forte. While being very tourist oriented, Praia do Forte is classy and low-key; in fact it reminded me of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, in the days before the vast hordes of tourists and associated hawkers and scammers descended. The main street in the village is pedestrianized, making for a pleasant stroll from the entrance all the way to the beach. The village’s tiny yet picturesque church sits by the sea at the bottom of the main drag. Other than the beach, plenty of shops, restaurants, coffee shops and bars, the village’s main attraction is Projecto Tamar. TAMAR stands for Tartarugas Marinhas (Sea Turtles). The project is a non-profit organization with its main objective being to protect sea turtles from extinction on the Brazilian coastline. Praia do Forte is one of 22 bases of the project along the Brazilian coast, which together have now released over 20 million baby turtles into the Atlantic.
It would be a shame to visit Salvador without taking a few days to explore up the coast; Praia do Forte and Lagoa Aruá are well worth including in your plans if you are heading to the Bahian capital.
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