Follow the road less traveled on this 16-day tour to some of Brazil's hidden gems, starting in Belém, where you'll explore the city and meet locals in the Amazon region. Next, fly to Santarem to witness the Meeting of the Waters before transferring to the picturesque Alter de Chao to discover flooded forests and a turtle nesting ground. You'll then immerse yourself in the vibrant Afro-Brazilian culture in Salvador before ending on the beaches of bohemian Trancoso, dubbed the "Tulum of Brazil."


  • Discover how cacao is processed on a coffee plantation on Ilha do Combu
  • Cruise to the village of Urucurea to meet locals and learn about their way of life
  • Watch a captivating performance by the Bahia Folklore Company in Salvador
  • Settle into your pousada and explore the UNESCO-listed Quadrado Square

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Belém, Explore the City Belém
Day 2 Full-Day City Tour of Belém Belém
Day 3 Meet the Ribeirinhos in Baixo Acara Belém
Day 4 Visit Ilha do Combu, Fly to Santarem Santarém
Day 5 City Tour, Boat to the Meeting of the Waters, Transfer to Alter do Chao Alter do Chão
Day 6 Visit Lago Verde & Cruise to the Surrounding Flooded Forests Alter do Chão
Day 7 Visit Urucurea, Ponta Grande Beach, Carocas & Tucuma Alter do Chão
Day 8 Fly to Salvador, Join a Bahian Percussion Workshop Salvador
Day 9 Full-Day City Tour, Enjoy a Performance by the Bahia Folklore Company Salvador
Day 10 Visit the Sao Joaquim Fair, Fundacao Casa de Jorge Amado & Sao Diogo Fort Salvador
Day 11 Full-Day Cultural Tour of Cachoeira Salvador
Day 12 Cruise to Ilha dos Frades & Ilha de Itaparica Salvador
Day 13 Fly to Trancoso in Porto Seguro Trancoso
Day 14 Enjoy a Free Day on Praia dos Coqueiros Trancoso
Day 15 Relax on the Sands of Praia do Espelho Trancoso
Day 16 Depart Transcoso  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Belém, Explore the City

Hit the streets of Belém, starting at the Basílica de Nossa Senhora de Nazaré 

Welcome to Brazil and the charming city of Belém, nestled at the mouth of the Rio Amazonas (Amazon River). Meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to your hotel, where you can stay in to relax and fight off your jet lag or venture out to explore the city on your own. Head to the Basílica de Nossa Senhora de Nazaré, renowned for hosting one of the largest religious festivals in the country, the Círio de Nazaré pilgrimage. Admire the intricate neo-Gothic architecture, then enter to discover the ornate interior and the revered image of Our Lady of Nazareth.

Continue to Fortaleza do Castelo, a well-preserved fortress perched on the banks of Guajará Bay. Built in the 17th century to defend the region against invasions, the fort now serves as a museum so visitors can step back in time and learn about Brazil's colonial history. Wander around the fort to see its well-preserved architecture and cannons, then browse the museum's artifacts, weaponry, and exhibits narrating stories of past battles and conquests. Climb to the top of the fort for panoramic views of the city and the bay to end your self-guided tour. 

Day 2: Full-Day City Tour of Belém 

Enjoy views of Guajará Bay while sipping an Amazonian beer at Estação das Docas

Save your appetite this morning because your first stop of the day is Mercado Ver-o-Peso, one of the largest open-air markets in the world. Enter and immerse yourself in the vibrant colors, aromas, and flavors of the Amazon. Sample exotic fruits, spices, and local delicacies before continuing to Espaço São José Liberto, a cultural center housed in a beautifully restored 19th-century building. Browse the stalls full of Amazonian jewelry, Pará handicrafts, and Marajoara ceramics and learn about the cultural significance behind these intricate creations. 

Before you leave, visit the Museu das Gemas to admire the exhibits showcasing an array of locally sourced gemstones, such as topazes, tourmalines, and amethysts. End your tour of the city at Estação das Docas, an old warehouse turned into a cultural and entertainment center. Wander around the waterfront complex situated on the banks of Guajará Bay to discover the restaurants, shops, bars, and cultural event spaces within. Grab an Amazonian craft beer and something to eat, then sit down to enjoy a view of the bay to end your day.

Day 3: Meet the Ribeirinhos in Baixo Acara

açaí berries
Watch the Ribeirinhos harvest açaí berries and transport them along the Rio Amazonas

Head into the Amazon this morning to visit the Ribeirinhos, also known as "river people," in Baixo Acará. Jump in a boat and cruise down the Amazon's waterways for an hour to reach the village. Meet the Ribeirinhos and witness their traditional fishing techniques, artisanal crafts, and agricultural practices that are all entwined with the surrounding rainforest.

Explore the village to see the kapok trees, Brazil nut trees, and açaí palm trees the Ribeirinhos use to create local delicacies. Sit down to enjoy some of these delicacies with the villagers and listen as they share stories about their way of life and how they earn a living selling their produce and handcrafted goods to vendors in Belém. After a full day with the Ribeirinhos, return to your hotel in the city.

Day 4: Visit Ilha do Combu, Fly to Santarem

Wander through a cacao orchard and learn how beans are turned into chocolate

After breakfast, jump in a boat to cruise across the Rio Guamá to Ilha do Combú in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. Wander around the island, looking out for tropical birds flying ahead, until you reach the Filha do Combu chocolate plantation. Witness the cultivation and harvesting of the cacao beans unique to the region and listen as your guide teaches you about the company's traditional methods of chocolate production, from fermenting and drying the beans to the meticulous process of transforming them into high-quality chocolate that's sold across the country.

After a walk through the plantation, join a workshop and learn how to prepare your own chocolate bar. Try not to let the sweet treat spoil your appetite, as you sit down for lunch next before returning to your hotel in Belém. Grab your bags and meet your driver outside to transfer to the airport for a 1.5-hour domestic flight to Santarém, a quaint town located at the confluence of the Amazon River and the Rio Tapajós. Transfer to your new hotel and refresh, then venture out to Praça do Pescado (Fisherman's Square) to dine on fresh seafood overlooking the river. 

Day 5: City Tour, Boat to the Meeting of the Waters, Transfer to Alter do Chao

Look for pink dolphins swimming alongside your boat 

After breakfast, set off on a tour of the town, starting at Orla de Santarém, a picturesque riverfront area lined with palm trees, charming cafés, and lush green spaces. Watch as boats come in from every angle, delivering agricultural products and fresh fish. Wander down the scenic promenade until you reach the observation deck offering panoramic views of the "Meeting of the Waters," the spot where the distinct colors of the Amazon and Tapajós rivers merge but don't immediately mix.

Continue to the historic center to admire centuries-old churches and colonial-era architecture, stopping at Mercado Modelo to sample local snacks, engage with friendly vendors, and take in the lively atmosphere. Return to the riverfront to board a speedboat to see the so-called Meeting of the Waters while looking for pink dolphins swimming alongside you. After witnessing this natural phenomenon, return to your hotel to grab your bags. Meet your driver outside and transfer 40 minutes to Alter do Chão, a charming village known as the "Caribbean of the Amazon."

Day 6: Visit Lago Verde & Cruise to the Surrounding Flooded Forests

Cruise through the surrounding flooded forests of Lago Verde

Spend a full day exploring Alter do Chão and its surroundings, starting at Lago Verde (Green Lake), aptly named for its vivid green hue that reflects the surrounding rainforest and blue skies. If it's the right time of year, jump in a boat and cruise to one of the surrounding flooded forests, Igapó do Macaco Basin. Traverse the waterways that only appear during the rainy season between March and August, looking out at the diverse array of flora and fauna. Continue the cruise until you reach Floresta Encantada, teeming with towering trees, vibrant flora, and the sounds of tropical birds.

Disembark to enjoy a delicious lunch, then settle in for a nap in one of the many hammocks lining the river. When you wake up, return to the boat to cruise through another flooded forest until you reach the Pindobal community. Learn about the villagers' daily lives, from fishing and farming to creating artisanal crafts, then explore the village to gain a deeper understanding of their lifestyle. Thank the Pindobal people for their time, then hop back in the boat for a final cruise to Ponta do Muretá to watch the sunset over the water. 

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Day 7: Visit Urucurea, Ponta Grande Beach, Carocas & Tucuma

Keep an eye out for turtles hatching on the sandy banks of Carocas

Enjoy another day of exploring the lush landscape around Alter do Chão, starting with a boat cruise toward the Arapiuns River to reach the village of Urucureá, renowned for its commitment to preserving the traditional ways of life. Explore the community and watch as villagers make handicrafts from locally sourced materials like straw and seeds. Participate in cultural exchanges, share stories with the villagers, and support the community's efforts toward sustainable living before continuing to Ponta Grande, a white-sand beach surrounded by lush greenery. 

Then, jump into the clear water for a refreshing swim and take in the rhythmic sounds of the jungle, creating an atmosphere of tranquility. After relaxing on the sand, continue to Carocas, a nesting ground for endangered freshwater turtles. Learn about the conservation efforts to protect these vulnerable species, and if you're lucky, you'll witness female turtles emerging to lay their eggs or the hatchlings making their way to the river. End your tour in the village of Tucumã for a short walk through the forest to learn about medicinal plants and their purpose in the community. 

Day 8: Fly to Salvador, Join a Bahian Percussion Workshop

Learn how to play the berimbau or atabaque in a Bahian percussion workshop

Return to Santarém this morning to catch a one-hour flight to Salvador, a bustling city nestled on the country's northeastern coast. Meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to your hotel, where you can stay in and relax until the afternoon's Bahian percussion workshop. Since the city is renowned for its Afro-Brazilian culture and vibrant music scene, it's the perfect place to learn the intricate beats and rhythms intrinsic to Bahian percussion.

Head to Pelourinho, the city's historic district, to meet the skilled percussionist who will teach you about each instrument, such as the berimbau or atabaque, and the cultural significance of every beat. You may not be an expert percussionist by the end of the workshop, but you're sure to have a good time connecting to Salvador's rhythmic soul. After the class, wander around the neighborhood and choose from one of the many restaurants and cafés serving local dishes and international cuisine for dinner. 

Day 9: Full-Day City Tour, Enjoy a Performance by the Bahia Folklore Company

Walk along the cobblestone streets in the UNESCO-listed neighborhood of Pelourinho

After breakfast, return to Pelourinho to tour the UNESCO-listed neighborhood, starting at Museu Afro-Brasileiro to learn about Brazil's rich African heritage. Browse the museum's vast collection of artifacts, art, and historical documents narrating the journey of African people to Brazil and their enduring influence on the country's art, music, and religion. Continue to Pelourinho Square and the 18th-century Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos to admire the church's ornate Baroque architecture.

Enter to see the intricate woodwork, sacred imagery, and religious artifacts blending Catholicism and African spiritual traditions. Then, visit another museum, the Museu da Gastronomia Baiana, to learn about the rich tapestry of Bahian cuisine, known for its vibrant flavors influenced by African, Indigenous, and Portuguese culinary traditions. View the exhibits showcasing traditional utensils, cooking techniques, and the evolution of iconic dishes, then return to the square for lunch. After eating, return to the hotel to rest before this evening's performance by the Bahia Folklore Company.

Head to the Miguel Santana Theatre in Pelourinho and sit down to watch the dancers, adorned in vibrant costumes, move to the infectious rhythms of samba, capoeira, and Candomblé. Each dance step and drumbeat tells a story, so immerse yourself in the sensory journey. After the show, stroll the cobblestone streets of the historic district to find somewhere to eat, then end the night with Brazil's national cocktail, a caipirinha, made with a sugar cane spirit, sugar, and lime. 

Day 10: Visit the Sao Joaquim Fair, Fundacao Casa de Jorge Amado & Sao Diogo Fort

Watch a local chef prepare Bahia's signature dish, moqueca

Skip breakfast this morning as today you set off on a market tour and cooking demonstration. Start at the São Joaquim Fair, one of the largest and most vibrant open-air markets in the country. As soon as you enter, you'll be surrounded by a kaleidoscope of colors, aromas, and sounds. Browse the stalls full of fresh produce, seafood, spices, and handmade crafts. Your guide will help you pick up the necessary ingredients to prepare Bahia's signature dish, moqueca, a rich seafood stew made with cilantro, lime, garlic, coconut milk, and dendê oil.

Next, head to a local restaurant to watch the chef prepare the delicious dish right in front of you. After enjoying the authentic meal, visit Fundação Casa de Jorge Amado, the former home of Jorge Amado, a beloved Brazilian writer. Enter to view Amado's personal belongings, photographs, and manuscripts to learn more about his life and work. Continue to the 17th-century São Diogo Fort to see the Argentine-Brazilian artist Carybé's paintings. End the cultural tour at Porto da Barra Beach to admire Carybé and photographer Verger's work projected on the fort's facade.

Day 11: Full-Day Cultural Tour of Cachoeira

Admire the colorful colonial-era buildings in the UNESCO-listed town of Cachoeira

Trade the coast for the valley today as you head one hour inland to the UNESCO-listed town of Cachoeira on the banks of the Rio Paraguaçu. Along the way, stop at a traditional fruit and vegetable market on the side of the highway to pick up snacks. When you arrive, follow your guide down the cobblestone streets to the historic center, where colonial-era mansions and architectural gems, like the São Bartolomeu Church, await you. Learn about the town's pivotal role in the sugar cane and tobacco industries and watch as artisans craft intricate goods on the side of the road. 

After lunch, cross the iconic Dom Pedro II Bridge, a symbol of Brazil's fight for independence, to reach the Dannemann Cigar Company in São Félix. Learn about the entire cigar production process, from the cultivation of tobacco leaves to the meticulous hand-rolling of cigars. Tour the property to see the curing barns, fermentation rooms, and aging cellars, revealing the time-honored techniques that produce Dannemann's high-quality cigars. Enjoy a tasting session to savor the flavors of these Brazilian cigars before returning to your hotel in Salvador for the night. 

Day 12: Cruise to Ilha dos Frades & Ilha de Itaparica 

Jump into a schooner and cruise to Ilha de Itaparica in All Saint's Bay

Spend your last full day in Salvador cruising to two of the nearby islands in All Saint's Bay. Transfer to the pier, jump into a typical Brazilian schooner, and enjoy a two-hour cruise to your first stop, Ponta da Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe, on Ilha dos Frades. Don your snorkeling gear and jump into the crystal-clear water to see the colorful fish and vibrant coral below the surface. Relax on the sand or climb up the nearby steps to the small chapel at the top of the hill dedicated to Nossa Senhora de Guadalupe.

Enjoy panoramic views of the water, then head back to the boat to cruise 45 minutes to the larger Ilha de Itaparica for lunch. After refueling, walk along the island's palm-fringed beach to discover hidden coves and grottoes before returning to the schooner to set sail for Salvador's eastern shore in the late afternoon. Return to the hotel to refresh, then venture back out for dinner in the beachfront neighborhood of Barra, which offers a mix of casual and more upscale restaurants.

Day 13: Fly to Trancoso in Porto Seguro

Admire the quaint São João Batista church in Quadrado Square

Say goodbye to Salvador today as you catch a one-hour flight down the coast to the charming town of Trancoso, renowned for its pristine beaches and laid-back atmosphere. Meet your driver outside the airport for a one-hour transfer into town. Settle in at your pousada (inn) in the UNESCO-listed Quadrado Square, then venture out to explore the area on your own. Pop into the artisanal shops and boutiques lining the square and take in the brightly colored facades.

Head to the end of the square to visit the Igreja de São João Batista, a small white church built in the 17th century. Enter to see the traditional religious artifacts and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere. When night falls, the square comes alive, featuring open-air cafés, live music, and the warm glove of ambient light. Stay to enjoy dinner and a drink before returning to the inn.

Day 14: Enjoy a Free Day on Praia dos Coqueiros

Relax on the white sand of Praia dos Coqueiros

The day is yours to spend as you wish, so after a delicious breakfast at the inn, you can set off to the white sands of Praia dos Coqueiros. Bask in the sun, take refreshing dips in the Atlantic Ocean, and relax under the coconut palms. If you're up for it, you can rent a kayak to paddle down the coast and explore secluded coves and grottoes. You could also rent a standup paddleboard to glide over the gentle waves. When you get hungry, visit one of the beachfront restaurants and savor fresh seafood and tropical drinks while listening to the rhythmic sounds of the waves. 

Day 15: Relax on the Sands of Praia do Espelho

Watch the sunset over the water at Praia do Espelho

Spend another day in the sun, this time at Praia do Espelho, also known as "Mirror Beach," since natural pools form when the tide is low, reflecting the blue sky. Take in the lush Atlantic rainforest and dramatic cliffs surrounding the beach before jumping into the water for a refreshing swim. If you want to unwind, visit Espelho Beach Club to lay on the plush loungers under the swaying palm trees and indulge in Bahian specialties. Stay at the beach until the sun starts to go down to watch the water transform into hues of orange, pink, and gold. 

Day 16: Depart Trancoso

Enjoy your final meal in Brazil in one of the open-air cafés in Quadrado Square

Your 16-day off-the-beaten-track adventure in Brazil comes to a close today. Spend your last few hours in Trancoso revisiting Quadrado Square for lunch or shopping in one of the boutiques. If you have time, you could pop over to the beach for some last-minute sun as well. When it's time, meet your driver back at the hotel to transfer to the airport for a flight back to Salvador. From there, you can catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Explore Brazil's Hidden Gems - 16 Days
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