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North East Brazil – an overlanding journey

Posted by on June 28, 2014
Everyone likes the seaside. Even the truck loved it.

Everyone likes the seaside. Even the truck loved it.

We drove from Belem down as far as Pipa on the Atlantic coast of Brazil. After spending almost a week on the Amazon barge, we decided to take the slower but more beautiful route down the coast, following the beach towns and sandy tracks as much as we could. North East Brazil is famous for it’s beaches, and we thought we would like to take a look. In the amazon we were really hit by the heat and humidity, and were wondering what the coast would bring. We found great onshore breezes which were most welcome when camping.

 

 

We had visited Brazil very briefly once before in early 2012, when we visited Iguassu falls. But, that was a good few thousand kilometers from this part of Brazil. That’s right – Thousands of Kilometers away. Probably about 5000 by a direct route, maybe 8000 to follow the coast. This is one seriously large country!

unimog camper on bridge

Small bridges = big inspection.

 

 

Our route brought us over a few small bridges. Luckily none that even creaked or groaned, so I’d be happy to say that anyone who wanted to drive this route could do it. We’re probably just over 7 ton and were fine.

 

We were heading for the town of Barreirinhas. We had heard they had some great dunes with super clear pools for swimming in. We did find it, and while it’s a small sleepy little place, we stayed there for 2 nights. We parked up where you get the ferry to the dunes area, and we went with a 4×4 tour to the actual dunes. The camping trucks were spared this one 🙂

Not in the Mog, but a good bit of fun none the less

Not in the Mog, but a good bit of fun none the less

Footloose in the sand dunes

Footloose in the sand dunes

Sarah on the Dunes

Sarah on the Dunes

north east brazil dunes with water pools

Clear fresh water in the Sand Dunes

Storm coming to the Dunes

Storm coming to the Dunes

Photo of wind patterns on sand dunes in Brazil

The wind creates some amazing patterns on the top of the Sand Dunes

From here, we took a great wild 4×4 route to the town of Paulino Neves.  We did it this way as it was about 100km on the sand instead of 500km+ by tarmacadam. No contest!

Photograph of Unimog Camper on its way through the sand dunes in Brazil

Unimog Camper on its way through the sand dunes in Brazil

Unimogs, contrary to popular opinion, do not really love deep soft sand.

I was not digging out the Unimog, I was looking for my keys.....

I was not digging out the Unimog, I was looking for my keys…..

We did meet a little traffic on this route, a guy on a tractor towing a jeep of some kind. He was a bit surprised to see trucks out there. Once he dropped of his “client”, we followed him back to town. He gave us a tip for a space to park with just some light traffic.

The local traffic going by

The local traffic going by

Parking by a pond

Parking by a pond

Within 20 minutes wading on foot through these lagoons, we were in some wonderful wild dunes with an impromptu dune bar that arrived at the weekend! The dunes are a great hangout place for people during the day, and strangely, for goats during the night!

Beach bar

Beach bar

Friendly locals at the dune bar

Friendly locals at the dune bar

Straight ahead to the Dunes

Straight ahead to wade to the Dunes

This last light of the day looks like it might have been last light ever.

This last light of the day looks like it might have been last light ever.

 

These pink flowers came out at dawn and had disappeared 2 hours after sunrise when it got too hot for them.

These pink flowers came out at dawn and had disappeared 2 hours after sunrise when it got too hot for them.

We ended up staying there for 4 days, but that’s mainly because the next bridge on our route was closed for repair! This is a small fishing and farming community, and tourism is a pretty new thing for them. Well worth a stop if you have our own facilities. Once the bridge was fixed we were off again.

Small Ferry could not take us, so we had to detour

Small Ferry in Camocim could not take us, so we had to detour by road

Dad teaching his son how to fly a kite

Dad teaching his son how to fly a kite in Jeri

Jumping wild

Jumping wild

Dune buggy ride

Dune buggy ride

Dune buggy ferry - definitly not unimog sized

Dune buggy ferry – definitely not unimog sized

In the town of Jericoacoara , or simply Jeri, we got directed to the short route back to the coast, and we took it. It was fine, but as we discovered later it is not allowed to take that road in a truck in case they get stuck! No signs, no warnings – nothing. When we arrived at the coastal town of Jeri (yes, the same name – a bit confusing), the car park attendants told us the police wanted to see us for driving that route. We waited for them for a while, but they never showed up. We are suspicious they got stuck on the road we had just traveled, and never had the nerve to tell us we might have gotten stuck 🙂

Jeri was a nice spot to stay, we camped in the car park as no cars were allowed into town, just beach buggies. At night the atmosphere was superb, live music, great shopping and cool spots just to hang out and have a beer. The central streets are still just sand, even some shops and pubs. They got it right!

 

Ferry helper

Ferry helper

no idea.

no idea.

Dune buggy about to cross 4 inch deep water....

Dune buggy about to cross 4 inch deep water….

Oyster time

Oyster time

Ever eat fish in a restaurant, while other fish nibbled your toes?

Ever eat fish in a restaurant, while other fish nibbled your toes?

Grilled red Snapper. Best we ever had - big enough for 4.

Grilled red Snapper. Best we ever had – big enough for 4.

Good times

Good times

We moved on from Jeri along the coast to Pipa, stopping off here and there.  Some of the little spots did not have vehicle access, you had to take a bus, hike, horse and cart or even a boat in the case of  Galinhos. You do not see to many foreign tourists in a lot of these places. Definitly they get Brazian visitors, but they are not on the main backpackers or “must do” circuits. That made them nice, and they were all very welcoming to us. All along here we were made to feel very welcome, and very safe.

Fishermans boat

Fishermans boat

Wild beach camp, we stayed for 2 nights

Wild beach camp, we stayed for 2 nights

End of a days work

End of a days work

After some rains, the route got interesting.

After some rains, the route got interesting.

This route brought us all the way to Pipa, a really cool surfers town, and a great place to watch the World Cup! More next time!

 

 

 

 

 

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