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Salvador da Bahia, Brazil - Watching The City Warm Into Full Carnival Mode

Brazil travel blog by Mark Berman - February 2017   » View Photoset (95 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for 10yrs!
The thunderous sound of rumbling drums bouncing off stone facades and cobblestone streets echo out into the night as the historic center of Pelourinho
Brazil Photo - Historical buildings in Pelourinho, Salvador, streets getting ready for carnival.
Historical buildings in Pelourinho, Salvador, streets getting ready for carnival.
gears up for carnival. The streets are alive with the music and culture of Salvador, this is the African heart of Brazil! I spent several days watching and enjoying the city warm into full carnival mode without the crowds and costs associated with the main event, simple street parades and fun each night. I arrived in Salvador from Brasilia after midnight and was lucky to find budget accommodation in the center of town, everywhere was getting very booked-up. I hadn't just come to Salvador to see the carnival. I was also interested in getting to know the city as well. I didn't even know the dates of carnival when I planned this trip to Brazil!

Street, Camarote, Bloco or Grandstand

I was presented with a number of options for the main
Brazil Photo - The African culture in Salvador is evident, woman in yellow and a painting also.
The African culture in Salvador is evident, woman in yellow and a painting also.
carnival day(s). I had been told it would be too dangerous to be out on the streets with my camera - I would get robbed! One option is a thing called a 'Camarote' which is basically you pay a fee to enter someones house and watch the carnival pass from the balcony. Camarote's can include food and drink as well. Another option is to pay to be part of a 'Bloco' which is you are part of an actual group that is passing through the streets, this is for people who want to party! The other option is to book a seat in a grandstand well in advance, like at least a year! I thought long and hard about it, it was too late for a seat in a grandstand and to be honest I didn't fancy watching from a great distance. I didn't
Brazil Photo - A pair of drummers practice a rhythm in preparation for carnival in Salvador.
A pair of drummers practice a rhythm in preparation for carnival in Salvador.
fancy the Bloco either because I wouldn't see anything apart from my group all day. The Camarote sounded good but I just wasn't convinced the offers I was hearing about were in good locations and I didn't want to be zooming my camera down from far and above!

I Wanted to be Amongst It!

I wanted to be amongst it, on the street, close-up! So, I decided to enjoy the carnival warm-ups in the afternoons and evenings before the big weekend, this way I could
Brazil Photo - Small beach, boat marina and the wide open sea in Salvador da Bahia!
Small beach, boat marina and the wide open sea in Salvador da Bahia!
enjoy it without being swamped in the craziness!

Pelourinho Historic Center

Pelourinho - the historic center, is where I spent a lot of my time. It's in a fantastic position perched on top of the cliffs with views looking down to the harbour and sea. The architecture in this area is amazing, the plaza surrounded by 4 or 5 17th and 18th century churches and palaces! Cobblestone streets lined with cafes, bars and shops featuring African arts and crafts. Street drum parties that create a huge adrenaline rush for everyone around and beyond!

Down the Elevator to the Beach

From Pelourinho on the hilltop you can get down to the beaches and sea by walking of course, but easier still is the elevator called Elevador Lacerda located in the Municipal Plaza beside Rio Branco Palace!
Brazil Photo - Rio Branco Palace in Salvador (1549), one of the oldest palaces in the country.
Rio Branco Palace in Salvador (1549), one of the oldest palaces in the country.
It's quite a nice waterfront area with boats, monuments, old buildings, the market and much street activity.

Various Museums

Salvador has a whole bunch of museums covering art, slavery, culture and archeology.

Imagining

I imagine if one was to visit Salvador not during carnival time it would be a totally different experience with more focus on enjoying the whole city and surrounding areas. In a way, it being carnival time, limited my imagination, but it was still of course very enjoyable! For more information on the Salvador Carnival, see this guide!

Bus to Aracaju, then Penedo

It was time now for me to hit the road, heading north overland by bus, 5hrs to Aracaju for the night then continuing to Penedo the next day, 3hrs 30mins.

     

View all photos in the Salvador da Bahia Photoset


Itineraries / Routes: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008



Distances & times (if available) from Salvador da Bahia (Brazil) to:


Map location: Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. The thunderous sound of rumbling drums bouncing off stone facades and cobblestone streets echo in the night, the historic center of Pelourinho is gearing up for carnival, the streets are alive with the music and culture of Salvador, this is the African heart of Brazil!
 A : Penedo and Neopolis - Brazil 362 kms 362 kms straight distance
 B : Maceio and Maragogi - Brazil 473 kms 473 kms straight distance
 C : Recife - Brazil 660 kms 660 kms straight distance
 D : Joao Pessoa - Brazil 751 kms 751 kms straight distance
 E : Olinda - Brazil 675 kms 675 kms straight distance
 F : Pipa Beach - Brazil 833 kms 833 kms straight distance
 G : Ponta Negra Beach / Natal - Brazil 867 kms 867 kms straight distance
 H : Belo Horizonte - Brazil 977 kms 977 kms straight distance
 I : Rio de Janeiro - Brazil 1239 kms 1239 kms straight distance
 J : Brasilia - Brazil 1072 kms 1072 kms straight distance
 K : Ouro Preto - Brazil 985 kms 985 kms straight distance
 L : Sao Luis - Brazil 1313 kms 1313 kms straight distance
 M : Sao Paulo - Brazil 1484 kms 1484 kms straight distance
 N : Belem - Brazil 1678 kms 1678 kms straight distance
 O : Belem to Macapa (Amazon River) - Brazil 1811 kms 1811 kms straight distance
Driving times are accurate but approximate and are listed in the order of driving distance! Drive times are always affected by weather conditions, the terrain, time of day, altitude, dinner and bathroom stops, animals on the road, protests, a fast or slow bus driver, police checkpoints, border and river crossings, dropping off and picking up passengers etc. These drive times are obtained from Google Maps and are meant as a guide. Note however, times quoted in the main text of this page are exactly as the author experienced it.


My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Salvador da Bahia, Brazil:

Love Do Pelo, Salvador, Brazil - Large Photo
Love Do Pelo, Salvador, Brazil (February 2017 - 5 nights) - I was in Salvador during carnival, one hostel I enquired at wanted $130 Reals for a dorm bed, no way I was going to do that! So I stayed at a rent by the hour hotel in the middle of town, great location! $50 Reals for the 1st night, $80 for the 2nd and 3rd, $120 reals for the 4th and 5th (prices rising for carnival). I was comfortable here on the top floor for 5 nights, whatever went on downstairs didn't affect me. Room with bathroom, aircon and tv. Great!

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Salvador da Bahia, Brazil - Watching The City Warm Into Full Carnival Mode. The thunderous sound of rumbling drums bouncing off stone facades and cobblestone streets echo in the night, the historic center of Pelourinho is gearing up for carnival, the streets are alive with the music and culture of Salvador, this is the African heart of Brazil!

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