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Adventure Travel Magazine

Larry Larsen's Media

Sun-Drenched Sauipe Destined for Stardom

By Larry Larsen (c)

Sauipe Marriott Resort - Larsen's Adventure Travel magazineBrazil's new Costa do Sauipe resort area has it all: golf, beach, saunas, water sports complex, tennis, security, great resorts, restaurants, nearby activities such as jeep tours, whitewater rafting and turtle farm attraction, and of course, sun. They call it the "Active Coast" of Bahia, a State on the eastern coastline of Brazil. They are right. There is not enough time in three days to experience all of the destination's amenities, but I tried.

The whitewater rafting does not offer dangerous class V-plus rapids and falls, but the adventure does provide plenty of exercise, thrills and wet fun. The drops and rapids seldom reach class III, but a couple of 5-foot falls and another four very turbulent, dropping rapids in the Rio Sauipe do get your adrenaline going. In fact, my inflatable, two-man canoe almost turned over in one of the milder rapids.

Brazil Rafting - Larsen's Adventure Travel magazineMy partner, Chris Seegerer, and our Indian guide sitting on the stern of the self-bailing "duck" type canoe became wedged against a large boulder. The waters dumped the guide overboard and pushed the canoe's stern up on another large, flat rock. The bow was twisted under the current and the front of the inflatable boat filled with water. I hung on as my partner, on her first rafting trip, laughed loudly from a safe perch on the flat rock. The guide walked back up the small rapids and pushed our raft off the rock and the water drained quickly as we floated on through the remaining rapids.

There is a lot to see along the 5 miles of waterway twisting through the Atlantic Rainforest. An iguana crawled on a limb above us as we floated around our first bend, and several papagallo (green parrots) and smaller parakeets looked us over from the skies. Some of the largest termite nests clung to sturdy trees along the primitive, forest-lined bank. Backwaters harbor bird life including ducks, kingfishers, woodpeckers, hawks and herons. Occasional sightings of caiman, river otter, bush fox, marmosets (small monkeys) and snakes occur along the isolated Sauipe, usually more often during low-water times.

We noticed only one farmhouse and another structure on the entire length of our scenic float, so this is a place to escape. Solitude between the rapids that often change the direction of the float, reins. The Sucuri rapid is the one that demands the majority of your attention early in the trip, and the Cachoeirinha rapid lies about a mile downstream. It's a big one. Toward the end of the float is the Labyrinth with many channels and boulders. All are classed at II under low water and perhaps III at midlevels. After paddling a couple of miles, everyone feels like a pro.

Ativa Rafters - Larsen's Adventure Travel magazineThe naturally-fed river has many boulders and stones, and depths vary from 2 to 10 feet, depending on seasonal water levels. On my trip at the end of the May we found the waters at a mid-level stage. The waters in July may be up to 3 feet higher in the Rio Sauipe and they can be about 3 feet lower late in the dry season (March or April). While the beautiful river is a clear, tannin-stained waterway in low times, it runs turbid during the rainy months and just afterwards. For those anglers interested in wetting a line while drifting the river, there are small peacock bass or "tucunare", piranha, the brackish water snook, catfish and pacu in the waters.

The pioneer of the rafting on the active coast is Ativa Rafting and Adventures, an experienced tour operator in the southern part of the country. The outfitter provides all the equipment needed for the trip such as paddles, helmets and rafts. The trip originates in the Rio Lemon, a small, short tributary of the Rio Sauipe. The narrow, canopy-covered "creek" allows the rafters to get familiar with their strokes and the guide's commands . Lawrence, the very professional Ativa Rafting manager, is bi-lingual, but not all of his guides are.

Costa do Sauipe, located just 50 miles south of the Brazilian city of Salvador, is the first resort destination of its kind in South America. Resembling the early stages of the specifically-designed resort community of Cancun , this project has the promise of similar popularity for travelers to the northeast Atlantic coast of Brazil known for its fabulous beach buffered by white powder sand dunes and small freshwater marsh creeks.

Costa do Sauipe Water Sports - Adventure Travel magazineThe first completed phase of the mega-resort complex consists of five resort hotels with 1500 rooms, a town center "village" with restaurants, shopping and small inns. Also offered in the amenities of the five resorts, which include a Marriott and a Renaissance are a first class, shared recreational infrastructure. The resort guests are able to use the large equestrian center, one of Brazil's most beautiful 18-hole golf courses, a professional tennis center, multi-purpose courts, a water sports lake and aquatic center, and a complete spa. A free shuttle bus links all amenities together.

Already under construction are five more resort hotels in phase II that will add to the possibilities that Costa do Sauipe will ultimately become to Brazil what Cancun is to Mexico. The "gated" resort community is all new in 2001. Strict controls and a planned development of several thousand acres of isolated beachfront will assure the direction of the progress and its success.

Environmental preservation has been utmost in the minds of the developers, and much of the complex landscaping exists in its original and natural form. Streams, hills, ravines, dunes and palms lining the beach and beyond offer visitors an ambiance not heretofore found in South America. In fact, many of the offsite excursions at the hotel activities desks take advantage of the beautiful environment with various eco-tours. Ecological trails meander throughout the entire resort destination.

The Costa do Sauipe Marriott Resort has two great restaurants with international and local cuisine, two bars, air-conditioned lobby, several uniquely-designed pools and convention facilities for more than 1000 people. The adjacent Renaissance, which is also owned by Marriott International, has a very nice restaurant, two bars and even a 24-hour Delicatessen/convenience store located poolside.

The concierge at the Marriott offers several ecological excursions and fun activities. Some are on the mega -resort grounds and others are nearby. Some of the "Marriott Diversions", as they call them, Tamar beach tour, Canadian canoe tour of the Imbassai River, sailboat tour to Dos Frades Island, shopping Costa do Sauipe Brazil golfexcursions, catamaran sailing, wood canoe tour of the mangrove area at the margins of the Sauipe River, jeep tours of a castle and the Sapiranga Ecologic Reserve, bird watching boat tour, ATV dirt road and lake tour and a hunchback whale schooner sail. Capacity, season timing and age limits on some of the outdoor activities may apply.

The new Costa do Sauipe Golf Links are among the prettiest that I have seen and on a par with many of Florida top courses in design, appearance and enjoyment. And right now, a golfer pretty much has the well-manicured course to his or herself.

For those that want to spend a couple of days where nightlife never stops, Rio de Janeiro, is less than a two -hour plane flight south of Salvador. Marriott has a great new hotel located right in the middle of the famous Copacubana Beach. Take time to visit the Sugar Loaf mountain peak via two exciting monorail rides, Cristo  Redentor, the famous Christ statue that overlooks the beautiful city, and the Tijuca Forest and waterfalls that give visitors a sense of the outdoors while in such a vibrant setting.

While Costa do Sauipe may not be on the map of worldwide travelers just yet, it is destined to be a star destination worthy of anyone seeking a safe, quality, first class vacation with a variety of activities to participate in or not.

For information on the Costa do Sauipe Marriott or Renaissance, check out the website at www.marriott.com. Marriott International has 32 hotels in 18 Latin American and Caribbean countries. Varig Airline flies to nearby Salvador from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and connects internationally to Miami and other airports in major U .S. cities. For information on the rafting, check out the website address www.ativarafting.com.br/sauipe.htm. You may need to have google or some other web aid translate the page for you. For more  information on  fishing in Brazil, check out www.peacockbassassociation.com or visit our book store for special savings on four Amazon Peacock Bass books!


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