As Praias do Ceará

Yesterday was all about the Beaches east of Fortaleza, Brazil As Praias do Ceará . I teamed with three other like minded travellers, seeking sun and sea we shot off on a road trip down the coastline. If you want to get off the beaten track of Fortaleza - Jericoacoara - Fortaleza then this is for you!

State of Ceará, North Brazil

The coastline here is a paradise for beach goers and water sports for the adrenaline seeker. It's all about the jacuzzi warm waters, bleach white sand, rolling scrub covered dunes, lazy estuaries and other postcard cliches.

The day started off early at 7am, not quite military style but early enough to encourage an evening off the drinks and an early bedtime. Nestor a local uber driver was our guide, we paid him R350 to drive us around for the entire day. We could have rented a car, but finding some of these places is really hard!

Driving away from the crowded city of four million, we encountered sleepy fishing villages, filled with colourful pousadas, casa's and more importantly barracas perched upon the sand selling fresh Caipirihna's. While Fortaleza itself is great destination itself, and has it's own large piece of the beach vibe pie; heading out into the surrounding coastline offers a much more tranquil setting and gives you a better perspective of the North Brazilian way of life than the guide book tourist trap of Jericoacoara.

The local metro system

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Sabiaguaba - The River Delta

First stop was a river delta fairly close to Fortaleza. Flanking the river were square fisherman huts painted in bright colours topped with the orange terracotta tiled roofs that are so common here. Some fisherman were making the most of the incoming tide; plying their trade with nets in the river. The barracas were empty on this morning, staff were lazing around as if preparing themselves mentally for the inevitable stampede of visitors due for the weekend.

Out towards the ocean, where the waves were crashing into a stretch of rocks were more fisherman casting their lines out into the surf. The rock pools here hinted at signs of crabs scurrying away at our approach. Swimming along the shoreline was limited here by the shellfish scabbed rocks. I wouldn't recommend coming here if waves and swimming were what you seek. As a destination it was more of a curiosity seeing a local village in full swing. This area is a choice place to stop over on the weekend to enjoy an afternoon at one of the barracas, sampling fresh fish or swimming in the calm lazy water of the river delta.

  • A view of the river delta, fisherman in the background
  • Looking into one of the barraca
  • Marooned boat patiently waiting for the tide
  • Closer into the barraca

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Praia de Águas Belas - Beautiful Waters

After about one hours driving through the countryside, tracking down the coastal we parked the car upon the sand and walked up and over a dune. On the other side the land flattens out and I spy another river delta snaking out todays the ocean. We traced the delta eventually passing a school group playing in the calm waters of the delta. In the distance the sand dunes and beaches spread north and south further empathising the beauty of this region.

This beach tells a bit of a story and in a way, that story reflects the same problems the whole country. First thing; this is a small paradise. You could throw a resort here if it was in europe and be laughing all the way to your new super yacht. However this is Brazil, they're spoiled for choice we it comes to white sand and perfect weather. Here the the rustic reed built barracas were falling apart. The river had changed course and had swallowed up the hammocks that used to sit between two pegs just above the turquoise water. The people seemed indifferent here to the plight of their little slice of paradise, carrying on as normal without any real urgency for restoring the area to its former glory.

-The paradox of a new car under the decaying shade of this hut

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  • Me floating down the river, kite surfer roaring across the waves
  • The decaying barracas lining the riverside
  • Mangrooves
  • The river delta heading out towrds the ocean
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Morro Branco - Back on the beaten track

It was time for the touristy part of the day. The local guides and buggie drivers spotted the group of foreigners from a mile away and were quick to flock to us when we arrived in Morro Branco. We had discussed in the car earlier that a buggie ride was on the cards, so this flock wasn't an intrusion per say. The wallets were opened and a price of R50 each was agreed upon.

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Off on the buggie we went, down the cobbled streets of the village heading towards the highlight of Morro Branco - Falesias Labyrinth. Now I have a theory about the so called beaten track; each of us wonder seeking travellers, always eager to seek some undiscovered treasure on the other side of the world sometimes scoff at the concept of being hushed around with the other "normal tourist". Those family packs, the tour bus full of picture snapping Chinese or the old american couple with the guide book; you know what I'm talking about. However the thing with the beaten track, is that it's beaten for a reason. People go to that place because it's usually an incredible experience that the region has to offer. The consequence build up of tourist infrastructure around it is just the regretful by product and something you have to endure. Morro Branco was that place.

Morro Branco compared to Aguas Belas was a huge step up. Instead of nothing but a beach, there was now two shops, a restaurant and a beach! Arriving at the Falesias (i think it means canyon in English, but i always imagine a canyon to be larger) I was initially stunned at the profusion of colour and shapes exploding out of the seaside. After the initial stunning, I remember I had been here before briefly, so the stunning was replaced by recognition.

Meet the crew:

  • Our buggie driver
  • Us
  • Wee bit of a view you give a taste for the colours the area
  • Me standing where i shouldn't be

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The incredible colours and formations you're looking at are formed by thousands of years of earth stuff happening. Eventually humans will probably destroy these wonders, so it was nice to see them now. The locals here harvest the different coloured sand here and make art inside bottles, you know the ones where you can see through the glass and glimpse pictures that someone has painstaking made by pouring sand into that bottle. You can even pay them to having your name written with sand inside a bottle.

  • Our guide showing us some of the plethoria of colours within the canyons. If you pay his uncle, he will write your name in a bottle with sand

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  • Colours

  • More colours

  • Even more colours

  • And a fisherman fixing his net nearby, completely unrelated

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After exploring the canyon. The guy who showed us through put his hand out for money, apparently his 5 min walk through the canyon wasn't covered by the R200 already paid for when we rented the buggie. We paid him R20 in the end and to be honest I didn't really have any problem with this because they are just trying to make a living and the area isn't that popular anyway. The guide was paid and off we went on the buggy again.
Two in the front and three perched onto the back chassis clinging to the roll bars, we hooned up and down the sand dunes of nearby. It's a super fun experience and is purely designed to scare you and waste gasoline, highly recommended!

  • The beach near Praia das Fontes
  • Buggie Tracks
  • Atop the buggie, herding goats
  • Atop a sand dune, herding sand

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Canoa Quebrada

The buggie ride finished without incident or injury but did manage to create interesting new hairstyles for the passengers. After the adventures of Morro Branco we headed up to Canoa Quebrada for a late lunch. It is a town know for it's kite surfing competitions. Probably the most built of area that we visited. It has large Barraca hotels, colour barraca's built on stilts along the shoreline and also a sign carved into the sand. This marks the end of my trip down the coastline.

Me trying to make it look like I'm sailing, expect the boat is on sand still and the sail is down...

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Canoa Quebrada on the rock

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Barracas on the beach

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A local showing us his crab catching skills. I tried out my crab catching skills too and was consequently nipped on the finger

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Thanks for reading... or just rapidily scrolling though the pictures on your way to the comments section! I'm just starting out this blog stuff, but have been travelling for seven years on and off. I am also horrendous at proof reading, so just deal with that.

Tchau, Riche