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BAHIA SPOTLIGHT: THE SMALL TOWN OF ITACARÉ


Itacaré
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Gorgeous beaches, tropical forest, waterfalls, good waves for surfing, capoeira, adventure sports... Come to Itacaré!
Itacaré is a small town in the cocoa zone of the state of Bahia, south of Salvador, with beautiful beaches, good vibes and generous nature. © itacare.com The ambiance in Itacaré is unique. Surf culture is present everywhere. The Bahians are friendly and like to party. At night there’s an air of magic in the little bars in town.

With many people from all over the world who came to live in Itacaré, the atmosphere is cosmopolite, relaxed, typically Bahian and definitely different from any other place in Brazil.
The coast of Itacaré is a succession of beaches and hills covered with palms and tropical forest. The region is a perfect setting for Adventure Sports like white-water rafting, canyoning, biking, kayaking, paragliding...

© Fábio Coppola
ATLANTIC RAINFOREST
Besides more than 20 beaches, Itacaré has rivers, waterfalls and a great Atlantic Rainforest reserve. The harmony of forests with waterfalls and beaches is one of the most exotic and beautiful ever seen in Brazil.
© Fábio Coppola
The region in the south of Bahia, more specifically the band contained the Jequitinhonha and Contas Rivers, preserve the most significant parcel of Atlantic Rainforest in the northeast of Brazil. The forests of this region are characterized by tall trees with leaves that always remain green and the abundance of epiphytes. There you'll find species threatened with extinction like the yellow-breasted twig monkey and the ring-necked sloth.

The Atlantic Rainforest is considered by the worldwide scientific community one of the richest combined ecosystems in diversity of animals and plants species in the world and the second most threatened with extinction. Because of this fact, in 1991 UNESCO elevated the Atlantic Rainforest to the category of Biosphere Reserve, being today one of the three mayor conservation priorities in the world.

© Fábio CoppolaPARKS AND RESERVES

The principal conservations areas of the region are APA of Itacaré/Serra Grande and Serra do Conduru State Park.

The Area of Environmental ProtectionAPA of Itacaré/Serra Grande – is considered as a "Heritage of Humanity". Its limits are marked in the north by the mouth of the Contas River, in the south by Sargi Creek and in the east by the Atlantic Ocean; with an area of approximately 16,000 hectares (40,000 acres) of rich fauna and flora.

The Serra do Conduru State Park has an area of approximately 9,000 hectares (22,000 acres). It covers important sections of Atlantic Rainforest which are still preserved. A survey performed there by botanists from the New York Botanical Gardens identified 456 different vegetal species in a single hectare (2.47 acres), a world record.
© Fábio Coppola 
WALKING THROUGH FORESTS AND AMONG RIVERS

Nature is the main tourist attraction of Itacaré.
There is no shortage of attraction for those who enjoy listening to birds, to be in contact with great trees and to dive into the waters of rivers and natural pools.

The Contas River enchants whoever ventures in canoe or boat. At sunset the waters reflect the colors that contrast with the living green of the forest, reminiscent of a classic oil painting. The canoe trips passing through mangroves, arriving at waterfalls are unforgettable.


THE TOWN OF ITACARÉ
Itacaré is an explosion of colors, sounds, smells, flavors and textures that elate our senses. There are only a few places in the world where nature has been so generous, offering such a diverse group of attractions concentrated in a single place.
The town's welcome appears to be one of an atmosphere of permanent festivities, and it's not a false impression. Visitors that arrive now, from all over the world, are eager to partake in a little of all they can see and feel here. By the way it looks, the origins and different characteristics of the many "tribes" that end up meeting in Itacaré don't seem compatible, but at night, fans of very diverse musical backgrounds all end up colliding. Between a forró - a bit earlier - a hip-hop dance - later in the night - everyone seems to mix and enjoy a good time alternating between a capeta (alcoholic drink with herbal energizers), a beer and a new dance step.

Today the town is made up of several neighborhoods: Pituba, Concha, Centro, Passagem, Porto de Trás... Each of them brings together people, history and traditions that are a sight apart for those who can relish in lazy conversation at the end of a pleasant afternoon that seems to slow the hands of time.

The municipality occupies an area of 730 km² (457 sq. miles) with about 25,000 residents and, approximately 50% of the population in the rural interior. During much of the time, its history and livelihood was intimately connected to cocoa. With the declining cocoa culture, the town is now turning toward tourism.

In 1998 the state government completed highway BA-001, connecting Ilhéus and Itacaré.

For that reason, Itacaré has focused on the future of Eco Adventure. Surfing was the first great attraction and it was them, the surfers, the first tourists to discover some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, hidden by difficulty of access.

With the natural beauty that existed here and easy access, success was inevitable.

Each year more and more visitors arrive in one of the most improbable places in the world to see up close what it is this little piece of Bahia has that is so special.

CULTURE AND FOLKLORE Itacaré keeps alive the cultural traditions of Bahia. A variety of folklore festivals regularly liven up the city streets. They are not spectacles for tourists. The festivals are organized by the people of Itacaré for the people of Itacaré.



The cultural roots and folklore in Bahia, in general, are intimately linked to black culture brought to this country by (African) slaves. In this sense, we have two great contributions of African origin: Capoeira and Candomblé.

CAPOEIRA (AFRO-BRAZILIAN MARTIAL ARTS)

Simultaneously martial arts and dance, capoeira is a pure expression of Afro-Brazilian culture. There are three capoeira groups in Itacaré: Luanda, Filhos de Zumbi and Tribo do Porto. All of them practice regional capoeira and organize daily training frequented by many children and young people, open to visitors, including classes.

CANDOMBLÉ (AFRO-BRAZILIAN SPIRITUALISM)

Friday is the day of "white" in Bahia. That's right, followers, or not, of Candomblé; since it's almost a tradition to wear white on Fridays in reverence to Oxalá who, in syncretism (the blending of religions), represents Jesus Christ. Independent of race or social class, this, and other customs brought by this African religion are already incorporated in the day-to-day life of Baianos.

Candomblé is an ancient cult whose purpose is the adoration of the Orixás, considered "spirits of nature" derived from the 4 elements: earth, fire, water and air.

In earliest colonial times Candomblé rituals were practiced in the slaves' quarters or in outdoor clearings on the plantation where the African slaves and their descendents worked. The oldest terreiro (outdoor place where Candomblé is practiced) in Bahia is know as Engenho Velho (Old Ingenuity) or Casa Branca (White House), active for more than 450 years, in the city of Salvador.


Each Orixá has its corresponding figure in the Catholic Church, with its own characteristics, like: day of the week, colors, clothes, salutations and foods. Sunday is the day of all Orixás. Once identified, the follower prays to him (or her), asking for protection, health and peace above all:

Exú – Messenger between humans and Orixás. Monday. Red.

Ogum – Opens paths. Tuesday. Dark blue. St. Anthony.

Oxumaré – Link between heaven and earth. Tuesday. Green and yellow.

Xangô – Represented by a double-edged ax with wings. Wednesday. Red and white. St. Jerome.

Iansã – of wind and storm. Wednesday. Red. St. Barbara.

Oxóssi – Green and blue. Wednesday.

Logun Edé – God of forests, prefers to live in the wild, a hunter. Wednesday. Blue and green. St. Michael.

Oxum – Goddess of thunder and lightning, of beauty and elegance. Saturday. Yellow and gold.

Obá - Wednesday. White and red. St. Joan of Arc.

Omolú - Monday. Red and black. St. Lazarus
.
Nanã (Nãnãn Buroko) – Oldest of the dieties of water. Tuesday. White and blue. St. Anne.
 
Loko – God of the forests and streets, protector of the poor. Tuesday. White. St. Francis.

Ossain – Divinity of medicinal plants, doctor of Candomblé. The plants exert a predominant role in the mystique of Candomblé: the plants are used in medicinal baths and Ossain is present at all ceremonies. Monday. Red and blue. St. Benedict.

Oxalá – God of creation. Supreme diety represented by Our Lord of Bonfim (Christ). Friday. White is his color. Also know as Oxalufã and Oxaguian.

Iemanjá – also know as Janaína, Siren of the Sea, Danda Lunda, Queen of the Waters. Saturday is her day. Light pink and light blue.

Ifá – God of prophecy. It is he who consults the owner of the "terreiro" and says who he has chosen as a substitute saint. Thursday. White. Holiest Sacrament.

In Itacaré some popular festivals are intimately connected with Candomblé. Such is the case with the Festival of Waters which has taken place every year since 1959 on the 2nd of February - the day of Iemanjá.

FESTIVALS OF JUNE

The Festivals of June are folklore traditions and cultural gatherings that are very strong in Itacaré, as in all of the north and northeast of Brazil. This tradition has a more remote origin, in the countries of the northern hemisphere and referred to the start of summer and consequently, the harvests. Since pagan times, the date has been commemorated with bonfires, dance, music and a lot of food.

Not until the 6th century did Catholicism decree to join the celebration with St. John's Day and in the 13th century the Portuguese included St. Peter and St. Anthony in the festivities. In Brazil, the date has been commemorated since 1583.


In Itacaré, during the entire month of June, there is a festive atmosphere in the air. Each neighborhood organizes and constructs its "arraiá" - a small ballroom made with bamboo and covered with coconut palms - where they dance a lot of forróM/i> (folk dance) and, if possible, sample of succession of delicacies like: liqueur of genipapo (berries), hominy, munguzá and so many others.

Colorful little flags border everything, decorating the streets and mixing with traditional clothing made of fabric with loud floral prints, appropriate for the square dance - usually conducted by a master of ceremonies, originally a French dance called a “quadrille”.

In short; treat yourself to one of the most delightful festivals of the year, and, since you'll be in Itacaré; don´t miss your chance to participate.

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