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Salvador, Chapada Diamantina and Itacare in Under Two Weeks?

Tacoma, WA
Level Contributor
9 posts
3 reviews
Salvador, Chapada Diamantina and Itacare in Under Two Weeks?

My wife, two teen-age daughters and I are planning a trip to the State of Bahia. We are interested in experiencing a wide sample of all this region has to offer in terms of culture, natural scenery, and sunny beaches. After some preliminary research Salvador, Chapada Diamantina (to stay in Lençois) and Ictare all look like great targets.

My burning question at present, is whether it is realistic for us to get to these places within a two-week trip without introducing a lot of stress. If so what's best way to travel between these locations? From the states we will fly into Salvador. After a couple day stay I'd like to rent a car and drive to Lençois to stay another couple days and then drive from there to Itacare. From Itacare my thought is to drive to Ilheus in order to fly back north to Salvador to catch our international flight home.

How reasonable is this plan? Once outside of Salvador, I'm interested in a rental car so we have so more flexibility and can reduce travel time vs. bus. I don't speak Portuguese but do have some experience driving in more challenging non-US locations, Thanks much for any advice you may be able to provide.

Salvador, BA
Level Contributor
8,202 posts
1 review
1. Re: Salvador, Chapada Diamantina and Itacare in Under Two Weeks?

That itinerary is do-able in two weeks, by bus. The overnight sleeper buses make trips like Salvador-Lencois or Salvador -Itacare very comfortable and convenient. (But take a warm sweater. The ac is very cold.)

Note: I do not ever recommend driving anywhere in Brazil for newbies with little Portuguese, despite wah you may have thought of as challenging driving experiences elsewhere.

Boa viagem.

Tacoma, WA
Level Contributor
9 posts
3 reviews
2. Re: Salvador, Chapada Diamantina and Itacare in Under Two Weeks?

Thank you, tcantarelli, for the speedy reply. Buses clearly are a viable option. I am curious, however, about the specific challenges with driving on your own, especially once outside of Salvador. Is it bad roads, lack of signage, no maps, crime, unreliable rentals cars, or all of the above? Lastly, I have read where one Lencois pousada proprietor recommended not to travel there by overnight bus - is this because of more chance of criminal activity? Thanks again.

Brasilia, DF
Level Contributor
903 posts
115 reviews
3. Re: Salvador, Chapada Diamantina and Itacare in Under Two Weeks?

DCampbell,

though I perhaps would hesitate a little in asking you to forget about the rental car, TCant has been around Salvador much longer and has driven in the direction of Chapada Diamantina and south of Salvador more than I over the last few years, so I'll side with her. Although I can say it's not a question of the rental cars themselves, at least not if you rent one by Avis or Localiza or one of the other better known rental companies, which is what I've done on my last 2 trips to Salvador (2006 and 2009). Mind you, I'm Brazilian, so I'm used to the potential challenges of the road.

The main one is that, if you are with the responsibility of the family and there is a problem, your lack of Portuguese-language will give you lots of trouble. People overall are friendly enough and will make an effort to understand you, but there are just enough of those who will take thoroughly advantage of you and rob you while you are looking them in the face, overcharging you on everything. Plus, one can absolutely never disconsider actual hold-ups. It's not endemic, but to wipe their potential under the carpet would be incorrect for us, informal consultants.

2 weeks is doable, the locations you speak of are very nice, all a bit tiring perhaps, but doable. Buses in Brazil generally are very comfortable and reasonably-priced and take away the potential worries of the road. Someone I know traveled recently by car from Brasília to Salvador and mentioned the roads are "better", which may not mean much - driving in Brazil, except perhaps São Paulo state, can not only be a bore, but lack of comfortable places to stop for long extensions can be a challenge for a family. You'll hear a lot of "are we there yet?". So, consider the bus.

Boa viagem!

Salvador, BA
Level Contributor
8,202 posts
1 review
4. Re: Salvador, Chapada Diamantina and Itacare in Under Two Weeks?

DCampbell: All of the reasons listed.

Daniel, I myself have yet to be able to get out of town easily through 7 Portas (heading around the bay and on to the south) without a local guide, so pity the first timer who tries. And the car ferry and bridge route?

Take the bus.

Itacare
Level Contributor
81 posts
1 review
5. Re: Salvador, Chapada Diamantina and Itacare in Under Two Weeks?

You do not have to get the over night bus via Ilheus to Itacare anymore get the ferrry boat http://www.travessiasonline.com.br/ and then a get bus from there, brand new road and takes 3.5 hours from Itaparica.

Tacoma, WA
Level Contributor
9 posts
3 reviews
6. Re: Salvador, Chapada Diamantina and Itacare in Under Two Weeks?

Thanks all for the good advice. I am warming up to the bus idea. If Salvador - Itacare is now 4-5 hour bus/ferry trip, maybe we originate both the Chapada Diamantina and Itacare trips out of Salvador as follows:

1) Fly in to Salvador

2) Roundtrip bus Salvador - Lencois

3) Stay a few days in Salvador

4) Roundtrip ferry/bus Salvador - Itaparica - Itacare

5) Fly out of Salvador

It is the Lencios direct to Itacare bus trip that I'd like to avoid as my guess is that it is about nine hours with connection through Ilheus, yes? Still thinking of renting a car for a few days in Itacare, however. Sound reasonable? Another option to make for more relaxing time would be to skip Chapada Diamantina altogether but it does sounds like a really intriguing place to see. Thanks again for the help.

Salvador, BA
Level Contributor
8,202 posts
1 review
7. Re: Salvador, Chapada Diamantina and Itacare in Under Two Weeks?

"the Lencios direct to Itacare bus trip" DOES NOT EXIST.

The Hague, The...
Level Contributor
6 posts
100 reviews
8. Re: Salvador, Chapada Diamantina and Itacare in Under Two Weeks?

Hi,

Do I still have time, or did you return already?

I just came back from a similar trip that I describe here:

tripadvisor.com/GoListDetail-i22153-Bahia_Br…

We rented a car from Hertz and we managed everything very well, with a simple map and my blackberry (it helped outside Feirra de Santanna). We do not speak portuguese but with some Italian, some Spanish, more French and most body language we managed.

A problem that you may encounter is that rental companies usually do not accept that you leave the car to another place. I emailed to a lot of them, it was very difficult. Finally, we did a round trip and brought the car back to the airport.

Another interesting option is that you agree with the guide that we had (Zeo-Antonio) to come and pick you up in Salvador and bring you to Chapata and back. If interested, just email me at kouzelisd@hotmail.com

Finally, read some reviews on Morro de Sao Paulo. We found it excellent and very safe. Our teenagers (boys) would go out alone or we would leave them alone at the hotel. You may swap it with Itacare.

Dimitris

Tacoma, WA
Level Contributor
9 posts
3 reviews
9. Re: Salvador, Chapada Diamantina and Itacare in Under Two Weeks?

Dimitris - Thank you for the suggestions. They are still timely as we are planning way ahead for a March 2011 trip. While there seems to be pros and cons to renting a car, our current thinking is to rely mainly on bus and perhaps look for a car rental for a few days just to explore around Itacare. Morro de Sao Paulo is a good alternative for sure but we are set to make it down to Itacare. I have heard many good things about the beautiful beaches there.

Dan

10. Re: Salvador, Chapada Diamantina and Itacare in Under Two Weeks?

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