Brazil travel blog by Mark Berman -
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Dominated by the powerfully spectacular sand dune known as Morro do Careca or in English 'Bald Hill'! Ponta Negra beach 14km south of central
city Natal is the best and most popular location for a stay in Natal. Ponta Negra is the 4th beach I stayed at on my travels up the coast of
Brazil between Salvador and Natal, they being Maceio, Maragogi and my favourite Pipa! I had just come from Pipa Beach which is less than 1 hour
Accommodation in Ponta Negra
Ponta Negra has many options for accommodation along the main road and also in the streets up the hill. The pousada I stayed at was $25USD and
just one street back from the main road. Being up the hill it offered awesome views from the balcony where they serve a great breakfast. Pousadas
in Brazil always include a full buffet style breakfast which I love!
Ponta Negra Beach / Morro do Careca
Ponta Negra beach is long, wide and open! The bald patch of Morro do Careca
dwarfs the buildings and people below it. It is however, forbidden for any kind of activities at this time, even walking up to the top and sliding
down, no go! This is in the name of preservation and protection of this iconic local landmark. Brazil's beaches always have food and always have
seats, tables and umbrellas. They are kept clean and free of litter too! Barracas are tents set up where they serve all kinds of food, it's big
business! Other options include the carts with names like 'Hula Hula' that sell Milho Verde (green corn), meat on a skewer, salty crepes and
sweet crepes. You can get a Pina Colada or coconut juice to go with that if you like! On the main street there is cuisine in fusion at Mestre dos
Mares Restaurant - Japan, Mexican, Thai. The menu and photos are enticing!
Natal Dunes State Park
80% of the 14kms between Ponta Negra and central Natal
is Natal Dunes State Park. The park is about 1km wide and sits at the back of the coastal highway. The park has treks around the sand dunes
with specialist guides, there are 3 treks available for beginners, intermediate and extreme. The park also has large areas of native vegetation
with flora, fauna, animals, birds, walking trails and many species of trees. Some of the tour offices in Ponta Negra take people to the dunes
for buggy rides. The park holds many more activities like workshops, exhibitions, concerts and entertainment for children! You can take a canopy
ride across the artificial lake or slide down a plastic sheet into it if you prefer! Natal Dunes State Park is a place of great education,
exploration and fun!
Natal Historic Center
Before leaving Natal I had a look around the historic center after leaving Ponta Negra by taxi. As I left the taxi with my backpacks the rain came
down in buckets! When I got the chance I walked around and saw some of the main historic buildings and churches. Firstly an old white church with
delicate blue trimmings - Igreja do Galo (Santo Antonio). Nearby a memorial of Luis da Camara Cascudo (1898-1986) standing on a large hand - Memorial
Camara Cascudo. He was born in Natal and was involved in culture and music among many other talents. Next, the yellow and white church with a
small clock on the belltower - Igreja Nuestra Senora da Apresentacao (1862). The striking pink building with palm trees and silver gates, this is
the Cultural Palace (Palacio da Cultura, 1868). It has a couple of worn stone sculptures in the gardens of an indigenous woman and a horses head.
The palace is used for music, theatre, art and performances! The eye-catching city hall - Prefeitura Municipal do Natal. It's also a palace and is
named after Antonio Filipe Camarao (1580-1648), an indigenous Brazilian born in Natal who fought against the Dutch. The green and white church
with a red-tiled roof - Igreja do Rosario. All 3 of these aforementioned churches have a very similar design: 1 tower and the same crown shape at
the front under the cross. Finally the yellow Solar Bela Vista building with a single palm tree on each side which is the center for culture and
recreation. It looks like a church from the outside.
Flight to Sao Luis
From Natal I flew to Sao Luis
but not directly, in order to get a decent price I
had to fly via Brasilia
in the south. I'm sure on a different day a direct flight would be cheaper! I plan to visit this part of Brazil again in the future to see more along this stretch of coast around Natal!