As the rest of the world limps through the recession, Brazil is booming, its $1.6 trillion economy growing, and its currency, the real, rising 34 percent against the dollar in 2009. Works by Brazilian artists like Adriana Varejão and Tunga command high prices at international auctions, and conceptual artist Cildo Meireles showed at London’s Tate Modern last year. The country increasingly exports its architecture, too: Bernardes Jacobsen Arquitetura, the firm Triptyque, and Pritzker Prize–winner Paulo Mendes da Rocha have projects in China, Spain, and the Middle East. And, of course, Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics, two years after Brazil holds soccer’s World Cup.
Not that there isn’t still a dark side here. Gangs and gun crime remain problems in the big cities. But the hope is that the country’s prosperity will bring the political will to resolve them so travelers will brave Brazil and discover the new restaurants, hotels, shops, and cultural happenings that make Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, and São Paulo top destinations for the months ahead.
Rio De Janeiro
Santa Teresa continues its ascent as one of Rio’s hottest neighborhoods, its cobblestoned streets and grand colonial houses sitting on a steep hill overlooking the city center. There are places to stay here, but the neighborhood is a 20-minute drive from the beach, so most visitors will come more for the restaurants, bars, and galleries.
The neighborhood has long been home to artists, many of whom have opened their studios as private galleries in recent years. The most notable is Carlos Vergara, whose political paintings, photography, and graphic arts are also on view at Rio’s Museu de Arte Moderna through mid-March.
Santa Teresa’s best restaurants are Espírito Santa (Amazon-style cooking heavy on fish and exotic fruits and vegetables) and Aprazível (Brazilian regional cuisine and stunning views). But the restaurant and bar at the 44-room Hotel Santa Teresa, which opened in a renovated colonial mansion in 2008, are providing competition. At Térèze, chef Damien Montecer (voted New Chef of the Year for 2010 by the Rio critic Danusia Barbara) serves Franco-Brazilian fusion dishes and haute comfort food like steak burgers stuffed with foie gras, and the intimate Bar dos Descasados does great cocktails (regulars know to ask for the off-menu ginger caipirinhas).
Just down the hill, back toward the city center, is Lapa, another rising creative neighborhood. Once known as the Montmarte of South America, Lapa began to deteriorate in the forties, but in recent decades it’s become a music destination, with rows of bopping little samba and jazz clubs and dance hall bars hidden behind balconied façades. Today the still-edgy area offers the city’s most vibrant nightlife. The pioneering club Semente gets a full revamp in July, doubling its size. When done, it’ll be Lapa’s Blue Note, with a focus on the next wave of popular instrumental Brazilian jazz.
A ten-minute walk away, chef Natacha Fink runs the kitchen at the new restaurant, bar, and sometimes-club Espírito Santa Empório, serving Rio comfort food like fillet steaks with farofa (a ground yucca mixture) and tapas-style snacks called petiscos. Fink is also the culinary force behind the recently unveiled bar-restaurant Abençoado. Perched atop the 700-foot granite and quartz monolith known as Morro da Urca, Abençoado is reached by cable car and has views from the Christ the Redeemer statue to the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. The chic Rio street snacks here put gourmet twists on bites like angú (a polenta equivalent) with prawns, mushrooms, shrimp, or lamb, and escondidinho (a Brazilian take on shepherd’s pie). The blended-fruit batidas are the best in Rio, and the caipirinha aroeira—pineapple and chile pepper shaken with cachaça—is tops.
Back at sea level, in the waterfront neighborhood of Botafogo, is the ten-month-old Oui Oui. This is where designer-dressed, thirtysomething Cariocas and in-the-know Americans pause on their way to the clubs in Lapa, lingering over cocktails and snacking on the small plates that are surprisingly modest in price.
Next to Botafogo, behind Ipanema, are Lagoa and Jardim Botânico, the fine-dining neighborhoods for Rio’s establishment set. The modern Brazilian restaurant Roberta Sudbrack and the traditional French spot 66 Bistrô made Jardim Botânico a culinary destination when they opened a few years back, but most exciting now is Quadrifoglio. It’s been around for 25 years but relaunched last spring with a new menu and a team that once worked for the Fasano group, Brazil’s top hotel and restaurant brand. Rio’s answer to New York’s Sette Mezzo, the restaurant serves pan-Italian dishes like pheasant ravioli with black truffle sauce.
Some of Rio’s best local-fashion shopping, meanwhile, is near the city’s best beaches, with a flagship store from Brazil’s premier swimwear designer, Lenny Niemeyer, and the surf-lifestyle label Osklen, both in Ipanema. Osklen also has a boutique alongside other major Brazilian labels like Blue Man (bikinis for toned twentysomethings), Ellus (jeans), Maria Bonita Extra (silk and satin summer dresses), and Carlos Miele (dresses in sexy cuts and bold colors) at Shopping Leblon, the city’s most fashionable new mall.
Three miles northeast, on Rio’s other big-name beach, Copacabana, the Bar do Copa, a long, low-lit cocktail lounge next to the pool at the Copacabana Palace hotel, opened last March and has become a show ground for young Carioca playboys and their model consorts. But it has no views, long lines, and nothing new to offer anyone who’s been to Miami. The Fasano Rio de Janeiro’s rooftop pool bar, on the other hand, displays one of the finest cityscapes in the world—along Ipanema and Leblon, to the Dois Irmãos mountain. Even three years after opening, it’s still the place in Rio for cocktails. The differences between the two bars reflects the contrast between the two hotels. The carpets, chandeliers, and suited concierges at the Copacabana Palace are old-fashioned and old-world, while the Fasano, with its billowing Philippe Starck drapes and Tropicália colors, scream youth and modern Carioca verve, even as it hearkens back to Rio’s mid-20th-century golden years.
Copacabana Palace From $860. 1702 Av. Atlântica; copacabanapalace.com
Fasano Rio de Janeiro From $620. 80 Av. Vieira Souto; fasano.com.br
66 Bistrô Dinner, $60. 66 Rua Alexandre Ferreira; 55-21/2266-0838
Abençoado $ Dinner, $30. Morro da Urca, 520 Av. Pasteur
Aprazível Dinner, $55. 62 Rua Aprazível; 55-21/2508-9174
Espírito Santa Dinner, $45. 264 Rua Almirante Alexandrino; espiritosanta.com.br
Espírito Santa Empório Dinner, $40. 34 Rua do Lavrádio; 55-21/3970-0836
Oui Oui Dinner, $40. 85 Rua Conde de Irajá; 55-21/2527-3539
Quadrifoglio Dinner, $50. 19 Rua J.J. Seabra; 55-21/2294-1433
Roberta Sudbrack $ Dinner, from $40. 916 Rua Lineu de Paula Machado; 55-21/3874-0139
Térèze Dinner, $70. Hotel Santa Teresa, 660 Rua Almirante Alexandrino; santateresahotel.com
Lenny 149 Rua Garcia D’Avila; lenny.com.br
Osklen 85 Rua Maria Quitéria; osklen.com
Shopping Leblon 290 Av. Afrânio de Melo Franco; 55-21/3138-8000
Arts & Culture
Carlos Vergara 70 Rua Progresso; carlosvergara.art.br
Museu de Arte Moderna 85 Av. Infante Dom Henrique; 55-21/2240-4944
Bar do Copa Copacabana Palace; copacabanapalace.com
Bar dos Descasados Hotel Santa Teresa, 660 Rua Almirante Alexandrino; santateresahotel.com
Semente 138 Rua Joaquim Silva; 55-21/9781-2451
$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.
The stark, modernist seat of Brazil’s national government—which will celebrate its 50th birthday this year—sits awkwardly in cowboy country, giving the city a split personality. It is both the center of things and in the middle of nowhere. Architect Oscar Niemeyer, urban planner Lúcio Costa, and landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx designed and built the city in just five years in the late fifties, creating a government complex of concrete and glass buildings as well as a Corbusier-inspired urban plan. Niemeyer’s extraordinary original buildings sit along the Eixo Monumental, the five-mile central boulevard crowned by his Congresso Nacional, with its iconic saucer-shaped senate and domed congress chambers.
The 102-year-old architect—who still goes to the office and pursues new commissions—hardly finished 50 years ago, however. Since 2006, two new Niemeyer buildings have opened on the south side of the Eixo Monumental. The Museu Nacional is a brilliant white 150-foot-high hemisphere with a curving cantilevered balcony partially encircling it, and a long, grand ramp leading to its gaping entrance. In contrast to those sweeping forms, the adjacent Biblioteca Nacional de Brasília is a 390-foot-long wedge faced with intricate concrete screening. Again in gleaming white, it watches over a series of inky pools.
With these landmarks’ arrival have come restaurant news and openings, the first flurry of chic boutique shopping, and an overall sense of the city as a destination for adventures beyond the political. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Patú Anú’s kitchen, which Argentinean chef Lucas Fernandes Arteaga took over last April, transforming the restaurant from a favorite lunch spot for staid diplomats into the fine-dining location in Brasília. Arteaga once worked at the Michelin three-star Martín Berasategui, outside San Sebastián, Spain, and his degustation menu fuses molecular gastronomy with Latin panache. The sauce he serves with the roast duck literally tingles on the tongue. The restaurant itself, a 30-person aerie decorated in riotous Tropicália, is hidden away in a forest on the city’s eastern outskirts, and the glass-sided dining room looks out over the distant city, whose reflection twinkles in Lake Paranoá.
A few doors down is Aquavit, which opened five years ago in another glass-walled dining room, this one set in a tropical garden. Here Danish architect-turned-chef Simon Lau Cederholm combines Scandinavian and French techniques with Brazilian ingredients in dishes like grilled foie gras with caramelized pineapple, sugarcane juice sorbet, and corn brioche.
The six-year-old Brazilian Slow Food spot Zuu a.Z d.Z is the restaurant of choice for society couples, while the three-year-old Alice Brasserie offers more conservative French home cooking.
In their plan for Brasília, Costa and Niemeyer divided the city into a series of zones, separating the commercial, administrative, and residential areas. Brasília’s only art gallery of note, Espaço Cultural Contemporâneo, is tucked away close to the hotel zone, just north of the Eixo Monumental. It’s one of the main venues for the country’s premier photography festival, Foto Arte Brasília, whose next run will be from mid-October through December.
The city’s fashion boutiques, meanwhile, lie south of Lake Paranoá, a 20-minute drive from the Eixo. The wicker, leather, and cowhide bags sold at designer Ana Paula Avila e Silva’s Confraria have become popular with politician’s wives, and Magrella, a miniature version of São Paulo’s Daslu emporium, is dominated by high-fashion Brazilian women’s labels like Adriana Degreas, Raia de Goeye, and Gloria Coelho.
Accommodations in Brasília lack the panache of those in Rio or São Paulo and are limited to a choice of towers and blocks, the best of which is architect Ruy Ohtake’s vast 395-room, red horseshoe-shaped Royal Tulip Brasília Alvorada, which opened in 2001. It caters largely to visiting businessmen and politicians, which is what most visitors to the city are. (Despite its rising profile, Brasília’s leisure tourism market is still nascent.) The rooms to book are the standard suites, which were freshened up with Niemeyer sketches and new carpets and bedding earlier this year. The restaurant is best avoided, but the large free-form pool, which wends its way across the hotel’s courtyard patio, provides long views over Lake Paranoá.
Royal Tulip Brasília Alvorada From $125. SHTN, Trecho 1, Cj. 1B, Bl. C; royaltulipbrasiliaalvorada.com
Alice Brasserie Dinner, $60. SHIS, Q. 1, Comércio Local 17, Lj. 201-204, Ed Fashion Park, Lago Sul; 55-61/3248-7743
Aquavit $ Dinner, $80. SMLN, Trecho 12, Cj. 1, Cs. 5; 55-61/9167-0000
Patú Anú Dinner, $85. SMLN Trecho 12, Cj. 1, Cs. 7; 55-61/3369-2788
Zuu a.Z d.Z Dinner, $70. SCLS, Q. 210, Bl. A, Lj. 38; 55-61/3244-1039
Confraria SHIS, Q1 9, Bl.A, Lj. 6, Lago Sul; confrariastudio.com.br
Magrella SHIS, Comércio Local 3, Bl. F, Lago Sul; 55-61/3364-4977
Arts & Culture
Biblioteca Nacional de Brasília SCS, Lt. 2, Esplanada dos Ministérios; 55-61/3325-6257
Espaço Cultural Contemporâneo SCN, Q. 3, Bl. C, Lj. 5; 55-61/3327-2027
Museu Nacional SCS, Lt. 2, Esplanada dos Ministérios; 55-61/3325-5220
São Paulo is the engine that drives Brazil’s burgeoning economy. The business districts of Avenida Paulista, Brigadeiro Faria Lima, and Engenheiro Luís Carlos Berrini are lined with multinational office towers, the suburbs ringed with industry. With no beaches and little green space, the city has its fun indoors, and the biggest debuts here have been restaurants and nightclubs.
Chef Alex Atala’s D.O.M. has been one of São Paulo’s top restaurants since it opened, in 1999, in Jardins—a cluster of leafy streets lined with boutiques, cafés, and restaurants, just south of the old city center—but the nearby 15-month-old Dalva e Dito is the spot he always dreamed about. Focusing on straightforward Brazilian family food, Atala creates excellent (and great-value) renditions of roast pork with puréed potato, and catfish with aromatic grass from the Brazilian plains. A long open kitchen cuts through the bright dining room, and a blue-and-white mosaic—the last installation by artist Athos Bulcão, who worked with Niemeyer on his Brasília buildings—covers a 25-foot-high wall at one end.
A few streets away at the northern edge of Jardins is Dui Restaurante, helmed by São Paulo’s other chef of the moment, Bel Coelho. She debuted this tapas bar and casual-dining spot in July, taking inspiration from her time in Spain, where she trained at the Michelin three-star El Celler de Can Roca, in Girona.
Other top openings include O Pote do Rei, about a mile west of Dui, for light Mediterranean fusion cooking, and L’Entrecôte de ma Tante—which is always heaving with conservative São Paulo society—for steak frites (the only entrée on the menu), served with a sauce made according to the specifications of the expat French chef Olivier Anquier’s Gallic aunt.
More and more Americans are discovering that São Paulo has the most sophisticated and glamorous nightlife in all Brazil. Right now it’s best experienced at the Jardins branch of the hip Miami club Mokai, a long concrete rectangle lit by a twinkling 550-square-foot LED ceiling. A mile and a half away, in the heart of São Paulo’s up-and-coming Consolação neighborhood, Sonique is another neon-lit cavern of a room. It gets a younger but no less glamorous set of Americans and Paulistanos. Princess Paola Maria de Bourbon de Orleans e Bragança Sapieha, a 26-year-old model and scion of Polish and Portuguese royalty, DJs there regularly. (Door policies are strict, but a good hotel concierge can secure entry into either club.)
Four miles west, in the hilly, boutique-and bar-lined streets of Vila Madalena, a more refined type of moneyed Paulistano drinks caipirinhas at the cocktail bar Sub Astor. Eventually they’ll get into cabs and head south to clubs like 3P4, where furniture by Philippe Starck and images by Brazilian Vogue photographer André Schiliró set the mood. It’s nominally a restaurant, offering light Asian-Mediterranean cooking, but the dressed-up fashion crowd really comes to dance.
As for hotels, the Fasano group hails from São Paulo, and its flagship Jardins spot has been the hotel to book since it opened, in 2003. A deluxe room, with an extra 100 square feet of space and a deep soaking tub, is worth the $150 upgrade, and the best suites are the top-floor, two-bedroom ones, particularly no. 191, which has a balcony.
Two other hotels in Jardins, both by star architects, also warrant mention. At the Arthur Casas-designed Emiliano, the spa is being redone and the rooms touched up. And designer Ruy Ohtake’s battleship-gray, half-moon-shaped Hotel Unique, with its curving corridors and cool bar, remains a favorite in a city where tastes change quickly.
São Paulo is rich with design emporiums on Alameda Gabriel Monteiro da Silva, just south of Jardins, and the city has smart shops for jewelry, shoes, menswear, and kids’ toys. But the latest openings are all in women’s fashion. In September 2008 swimwear designer Adriana Degreas, São Paulo’s answer to Rio’s Lenny Niemeyer, opened a boutique in the Daslu fashion mall, and five months ago rising star Carina Duek set up shop in a Jardins store designed by Fasano architect Isay Weinfeld, selling the simple, light summer dresses and miniskirts that garnered the attention of Brazilian Vogue. And finally there’s the new Adriana Barra store that opened in Jardins in September. Known for her long dresses and bell-sleeved tunics in silk and jersey, Barra now offers bedspreads, sofas, and other homewares, all emblazoned with her brightly colored signature Belle Epoque French–meets–seventies Tropicália prints.
In São Paulo...
Emiliano From $650. 384 Rua Oscar Freire; emiliano.com.br
Fasano São Paulo From $660. 88 Rua Vittorio Fasano; fasano.com.br
Hotel Unique From $630. 4700 Av. Brigadeiro Luís Antônio; hotelunique.com.br
Dalva e Dito Dinner, $60. 1115 Rua Padre João Manuel; 55-11/3064-6183
D.O.M. Dinner, $100. 549 Rua Barão de Capanema; domrestaurante.com.br
Dui Restaurante Dinner, $50. 1590 Alameda Franca; 55-11/2649-7952
L’Entrecôte de ma Tante Dinner, $40. 17 Rua Dr. Mário Ferraz; 55-11/3034-5324
O Pote do Rei Dinner, $45. 224 Rua Joaquim Antunes; 55-11/3068-9888
Adriana Barra 1243 Alameda Franca; adrianabarra.com.br
Adriana Degreas 734 Rua Dr. Melo Alves; adrianadegreas.com.br
Carina Duek 736 Rua Oscar Freire; carinaduek.com.br
3P4 676 Rua Bandeira Paulista; 3p4.com.br
B360 1713 Av. Brigadeiro Faria Lima; b360travel.com
Mokai 2805 Rua Augusta; 55-11/3081-3103
Sonique 461 Rua Bela Cintra; 55-11/2628-8707
Sub Astor 163 Rua Delfina; 55-11/3815-1364
Buzzworthy Beaches: Buzios
Buzios has been known as South America’s St.-Tropez since the sixties, when Brigitte Bardot discovered the tiny fishing village, two and a half hours by car from Rio. Cruise ships now bring visitors by the thousands, but this peninsula, rimmed by 23 beaches (or praias, as they’re called here) remains a fashionable weekend retreat for wealthy Cariocas—and those of us who like to live like them.
For years, the iconic, Mediterranean-style Casas Brancas (from $200; casasbrancas.com.br) reigned as the top hotel. But now there’s the stylish, two-year-old Insólito Boutique Hotel (from $520; hotelinsolito.com), perched on a ridge above Praia Ferradura and developed by Frenchwoman Emanuelle Meeus de Clermont-Tonnerre, whose collection of Brazilian furniture, art, and objects decorates its 11 rooms and suites, French-tinged restaurant, and two pool decks. The extra-wide chaises, set up at the hotel’s sexy, just-opened beach lounge—housed in an adjacent villa—have become the hot spot amid the palms.
Rocka Beach Lounge & Restaurant (dinner, $60; 55-22/2623-6159) opened in November on the surfing beach Praia Brava. Its barefoot-chic, beach-shack aesthetic jibes well with the low-key menu of fresh local fish—chefs plan their specials by yelling to local fishermen from the shore—and the mountain and ocean views make sunset cocktails here key.
On Praia de Manguinhos, the calm, five-mile-long beach popular for sailing and windsurfing, Quintal ($ dinner, $100; 55-22/2623-1934) isn’t new, but it remains a semisecret restaurant. Owner and chef Nelson Ramos Filho discreetly runs the show in a beautiful clay tile-roofed mansion, creating globally influenced contemporary Brazilian dishes for a dedicated group of friends, locals, and in-the-know visitors. His Gnocchi Presidente, developed over years of serving the country’s commanders-in-chief in Brasília, shouldn’t be missed. —Scott Mitchem
It’s best to make the trip from Rio to Buzios by taxi ($250) or a livery cab like Norbert Car Service ($450; 55-21/9987-4294). Only private planes can fly into Buzios’s airport, with domestic commercial carriers landing in Cabo Frio, a 16-mile, $25 taxi ride away. Chicest of all: a plane chartered with JetSet Brasil Táxi Aéreo (55-21/7826-6822) from Rio ($2,350 for up to six people) or São Paulo ($5,500).
Buzzworthy Beaches: Paraty
Enchantingly situated on the Ilha Grande bay, surrounded by the lush Serra do Mar, the once-forgotten port of Paraty became a popular beach spot starting in the seventies, when roads linking it to Rio and São Paulo were completed. But recent changes to this town of pristine beaches, perfectly preserved colonial buildings, and cobblestoned streets have raised its profile among wealthy Brazilians and international travelers—aided by the Paraty International Literary Festival (flip.org.br), which brings in big-name writers each August. Nowhere is Paraty’s new sophistication more evident than at the nine-room pousada Casa Turquesa (from $450; casaturquesa.com.br), which opened its signature turquoise doors two years ago and quickly became the best stay in town, offering a quality of English-speaking service not always found here. Located near the water in the Centro Histórico, the hotel was built on the foundation of an 18th-century house, but its sensibility is decidedly contemporary.There’s plenty of blue and lots of white (soft Trussardi linens, inviting lounge cushions by the courtyard pool). Owner Tetê Etrusco and her charming manager, Francisco Baenninger, assist in arranging boat trips (a must), scuba dives, and hikes to forest waterfalls. They’ll suggest shops like Armazem (55-24/3371-2082), one of Paraty’s latest additions, for jewelry and crafts from native Brazilian communities, and direct you to restaurants such as Santa Trindade (dinner, $17; 55-24/3371-1445), a smart new spot for cocktails, wine, live music, dancing, and tapas-like petiscos. —Stephen Wallis
Car service to Paraty is best booked through your hotel—from Rio (four hours) it’s $320, and from São Paulo (five hours), $350. DS Táxi Aéreo offers helicopter service from Rio ($2,310 for up to four people; 55-21/9982-1410), and Helimarte Táxi Aéreo, from São Paulo ($2,425 for up to three people; helimarte.com.br).
Buzzworthy Beaches: Trancoso
Trancoso’s Quadrado, or town square, is its heart. Everyone gathers there: French and Italians who come year-round to this small but chic village about 60 minutes south of Bahia’s Porto Seguro; São Paulo socialites who come for the holidays; Americans who come after doing business down south, having heard about it from fashion-world friends. The locals get together here, too. Fishermen wander through, kids practice capoeira moves, and pick-up soccer games begin as dusk falls.
For years, unless one owned one of the brightly painted homes lining the square, it was hard to get a feel for these rhythms. (The Hotel da Praça was an exception, but it hasn’t been the same since it underwent a less-than-tasteful Tropicalismo redo in 2006.)
Recently, however, two small hotels opened on opposite sides of the square. One is Jacaré do Brasil Casas ($ from $290; jacaredobrasilcasas.com.br), on a cliff overlooking the beach, with cool, modern interiors—a mix of Eames classics and local pieces—by society architect Sig Bergamin, and gorgeous views of the ocean from its pool.
But it’s Uxua Casa Hotel (from $600; uxua.com) that is our favorite. Owner Wilbert Das, a former creative director of the fashion label Diesel, captured Trancoso’s laid-back hippie charm in the eight casas (and one tree house) on the 1.7-acre compound, layering southeast Asian, modern Brazilian, and, especially, rustic Bahian touches. Green aventurine stones beloved by local healers line the pool; massive trunks of fallen trees served as the raw materials for the furniture at the poolside bar and restaurant. Some of the showers are made from trees found in the garden, the water falling from branches overhead.
Uxua combines the services of a hotel and the privacy of a villa (Das originally intended it to be a vacation home). Each casa has its own garden and a kitchen where a chef can prepare dinner ($200 for two), or guests can cook themselves, using the spectacular produce sold near the Quadrado.
A ten-minute walk from the casas is Uxua’s beachfront bar and restaurant at Barra do Rio Trancoso, the smallest beach in town and the closest to the Quadrado. Built from the remains of an old fishing boat and a retrofitted fisherman’s kitchen, it’s open to all, but the hotel will reserve shaded oceanside couches for guests. The food is simple but excellent—ceviche, salads, and the Bahian black-eyed pea fritters known as acarajé—and the soundtrack is a mix of local music.
Even with these new outposts, a fish lunch at Restaurante da Silvinha’s ($ dinner, $40; 55-73/9985-4157) is still worth the 18-mile drive to the gorgeous Praia do Espelho. (It can take 45 minutes to two hours, depending on how muddy the roads are.) Seating here has just increased by 50 percent—where once there were two tables, now there are three. —Mark van de Walle
Getting to Trancoso is daunting. It’s only about an hour’s drive from the airport in Porto Seguro, but there are no direct flights from Rio or from São Paulo (and certainly not from the States). It’s best to let an in-country travel agent deal with it, an outfit like São Paulo’s Matueté (866-709-5952; matuete.com).