While sailing around the world with World ARC, there are two places that have a special prominence along the way: the Caribbean and South America. These are special places because they are the only places that participants will visit twice; at the beginning and at the end of their adventure. Starting in the Caribbean they will of course come back 15 months later where it all started for the finale in Saint Lucia, but on the 1st stop of World ARC participants visited the South American port of Colombia to get a little taste of what this enormous continent has to offer to them.
Nearly 15 months later, after crossing the South Atlantic Ocean, they mark their return to South America by visiting Brazil. The biggest country in South America, Brazil covers an area the size of Europe with a population the size of the USA at 208 Million. Bustling megapolises such as Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Rio and Salvador, have hosted famous sporting events including the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games in recent years boosting infrastructure, tourism and international business.
Brazil is a fascinating country and it's growing popularity has not gone unnoticed; whilst the location of the port of Salvador provides a logical stopover after sailing more than 3610NM across the South Atlantic, the World ARC schedule allows participants to spend enough time there to explore, and to really get the feeling of Brazil's many unique qualities. The stopover is also timed to coincide with the Carnival celebrations and allows almost 4 weeks for participants to explore the country by boat and by land.
This year the first boats started to arrive beginning of February at the Terminal Turistico Nautico de Bahia in Salvador nearly a week before the official start of the Carnival.
After crews got some rest, fixed and cleaned the boat before the Carnival started, participants went off to explore the city. They took the famous “Elevador Lacerda” to access the upper part of the Salvador, walking around the old city of Pelourinho, and enjoyed some Caipirinhas at the Sao Francisco square. They also visited the museum of Misericordia as well as the famous church of Bomfim.
The city of Salvador is the 4th biggest city of Brazil with nearly 3 million people living there; there are many delightful districts to explore which avoid the troubled parts of the city regarded as unsafe for tourists. You can, for example, walk along the 2km sea front along the beach in Barra ending up in Ondina and carry on to Rio Vermelho. It was from here that participants watched the 1st official pre-carnival ceremony of Yemanja where thousands of people thank the sea goddess for looking after local navigators and wish for a good fishing season ahead by throwing flowers in the ocean, dancing and singing from sunset to sunrise. It is a colourful introduction to the emotional festivities and culture of Salvador.
The atmosphere in the build up to the start of the carnival changes the city everyday. Stages are erected overnight, wooden planks are suddenly installed to cover the buildings and essentials like toilets and more lights on the street arrive. Security and activity at the police station is increased, additional information points emerge, and there is a continuous stocking of bars and camarotes. Getting the city prepared for the biggest carnival in the world is a 24-hour job for the thousands of people. 2 Million people take part and since revellers include roughly 85% of Brazilians and only 15% of foreigners, it is considered still to be the most traditional party in the world.
To witness the festivities, several World ARC participants decided to book 1 night at a camarote, one of the 3 ways to see the Carnival in Salvador. They book the camarote with Tours Bahia to get a bus transfer to the place in Barra and receive their souvenirs T-shirts and entry pass to the party. A camarote is a temporary big balcony built only for the event where people can look over the trucks passing by meanwhile they enjoy the bar serving drinks and food inside the camarote, a good alternative to enjoy the carnival in a safe and easy way.
For those who wish to be closer to the action, with an even louder experience, another option is to book an entry with one of the famous trio-electrico. A trio-electrico is a giant truck converted into a proper stage with a wall of speakers at the back; each person buys a T-shirt to be identified as part of one of the trucks which means they can enter inside the roped area around the truck and enjoy the music with other revellers.
Finally the last option (by far the most fun and best way to get the real feeling of the carnival) is to simply wait for the truck you like the best and follow it from the beginning of Barra lighthouse to the top with the crowd, dancing and singing and repeat it again once you reach the end of Barra. There are nearly 20 trucks in total passing by in Barra starting from 1600 and finishing around midnight; you can choose to follow the famous local band from Salvador called OLODUM, Leo Santana, Timbalada or world famous artists like Bob Sinclair, and Pitbull. Once the last truck passed, it is then time to head back home taking either a taxi, or a moto-taxi which will cost you less and be much quicker.
The craziness of the carnival lasts for 5 consecutive days without stopping. During the festivities, all the shops and streets are closed leaving the city captivated by the rhythm of music and parties.
At the end of the carnival different options are available for participants to get some rest and see more of either Salvador or Brazil. For example, this year the crews of some boats decided to travel around Brazil and rented a car for the 1630km drive to Rio de Janeiro. After exploring the city, they then took a plane from Rio to visit Buenos Aires and back. Another crew chose to take a tour of Brazil for nearly 3 weeks also going to Rio then to Foz de Iguacu, and then up to the north to Belem and Manaus, while leaving the boat at the Terminal Nautico
Other boats decided to sail around the bay after they received a cruising briefing and good tips about the surrounding areas from the local sailing community. As a group, they went to visit Ilha De Mare to spend the day there and then a few days in the beautiful little fishing town in Itaparica. Finally, before starting their cruise up North for the rendez-vous in Cabedelo, the boats went 30NM south of Salvador to visit Morro de Sau Paulo spending 2-3 days there at anchor. Another “land” option in the surrounding of Bahia could be to visit the National park of Chapada Diamantina to hike hours in the jungle surrounded by waterfalls and nature.
A couple of boats used the time to sail directly from Salvador onto Fernando de Noronha. They stayed in the North West corner of the island, the only anchorage area there, and used it as a base to visit Sancho beach, rumoured to be the most beautiful beach in the world, and Leao beach known for it’s tranquillity. The highlight was then to watch the sunset from Americano Beach with the sun setting right in the middle between Dois Irmaos hill.
Towards the end of February, the boats began the cruise to Jacare Marina Village in Cabedelo arriving 1 week before the official date of the rendez-vous. During this week, crews explored by renting a car either heading up North to see the famous beach of Pipa, or staying closer to Cabedelo to visit the beach of Coquirinho. The area is popular with Brazilian tourists and participants joined them by staying in hotels alongside the pristine beaches. They also went on a tour to see the oldest city of Brazil, Olinda, close to Recife.
Coming back to the marina for the rendez-vous, boats were all cleared out rapidly, and stocked up on fuel in prevision of light wind forecast around the Equator. Their time in Jacare could not have been more different to their initial days in Salvador and after 3 relaxing and quiet days, the fleet departed full of colourful memories from Brazil