Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Oct 11, 2013 - National Geographic Explorer

Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
Unknown species of forest gecko in Saparinga Reserve.
Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
Young percussions rehearsing in OId Town Salvador.
Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
Unknown species of forest gecko in Saparinga Reserve.

After two full days at sea navigating from the remote archipelago of Fernando de Naronha, our expedition made sight of land yesterday afternoon and today we’re spending the full day exploring much of what this large city and the outlying area has to offer.

Morning outings set out to experience some of cultural and historic sights of Salvador, making stops at local markets and visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Town which today contains the largest assemblage of colonial architecture in South America.

As a naturalist, I am often on excursions that take us away from the bustle of the city and out to the neighboring natural areas. Today was no exception as we made our way to the Saparinga Reserve and later in the day to Praia do Forte and the coastal community where the Tamar Conservation project is headquartered. The Saparinga Reserve is a large protected area of Atlantic Forest, considered one of the most threatened forest biomes on the planet and certainly in South America. Despite over 90% of the Atlantic Forest’s destruction having occurred since 1500, the remaining 7% still harbors a rich assortment of life. Over 35% of all life here is endemic, occurring nowhere else on the planet.

Our hike was mostly through secondary growth and through thick bromeliad-laden forests. Occasional showers sprinkled us as we experienced the rain forest environment. Bird watching in the dense forest is difficult but we did manage to see several species of forest birds, including the endemic and rare golden-capped parakeet.

After an incredible lunch for our small group in Praia do Forte we strolled the streets of this lovely coastal tourist town and made way to the Tamar Conservation Headquarters. Tamar focuses primarily on preservation, protection and conservation of marine life. The five species of sea turtle that occur along the coasts and beaches of Brazil are a major emphasis. Getting a chance to see these incredible animals firsthand really helped people to realize how unique and threatened these giants of the sea are.

A very special evening performance was arranged at Teatro San Miguel by the world renowned dance group, Balé Folclórico da Bahia. The performance was energetic, to say the least, and covered the rich and diverse blend of Afro/Indian culture of this region. The dances and costuming told the story of this diversity and captivated each and every member of the audience.

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About the Author

Doug Gualtieri


Doug’s passion for the natural world started at an early age in his home state of Michigan. He received two biology degrees from Central Michigan University, and later went on to get a master’s degree in conservation biology. His education led him to study a diverse range of natural sciences, with an emphasis on ecology, animal behavior, and migratory birds. Shortly after leaving the academic world, Doug migrated north to Alaska with his trusty Siberian husky, Koda. He began working as a naturalist in Denali National Park in 1999. For over seven years he has shared his love of Alaska and Denali’s six million acres with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic guests, as trip leader for the Denali Land Extension based at the North Face Lodge deep within the park.

About the Videographer

Rodrigo Moterani

Video Chronicler

Rodrigo Moterani was born in Brazil in 1976. After spending his teen years playing with camcorders and VCRs, Rodrigo ended up working in the field of television journalism and video production in his home country. He graduated with a degree in communications in 1997.

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