O Sertão, the Brazilian Outback on Horseback, Brazil
07 days - 06 nights - 6 days on horseback
a 7-day equestrian adventure following the footsteps of Lampião; the Brazilian equivalent of Jesse James or Pancho Villa.
(+ you can extend this trip with 4 extra riding days on the stunning palm beaches of northeast Brazil.)
Many are surprised when they learn that Brazil is bigger than Australia and is about the same size as the USA and that Brazil's attractions are a lot more than the Amazon, Carnival and Brazilian soccer. One of the world's most captivating places lies in the northeast of the country; the Sertão or the Brazilian Outback. Sung by poets, the Sertão covers eight Brazilian states and although battered by drought, it is one of Brazil’s culturally richest areas. From frozen-in-time colonial towns to otherworldly landscapes of red-rock canyons, rolling plains of caatinga to the mighty São Francisco River. It is the land of the brave northeastern Vaqueiros/cowboys. Dressed from head to toe in leather, to protect themselves against the thorns of the acacia bushes they have a totally different look than any other cowboy you have ever seen. (also, their horses are protected with leather chest and head pieces).
And in a harsh landscape where life is tough, controversial historical characters always emerge. At the beginning of the last century, the Brazilian outback was ravaged by a bandolero on horseback called Lampião. He was the most famous bandit leader of the Cangaço. Cangaço was a form of banditry endemic to the Brazilian Northeast; it had origins in the late 19th century but was particularly prevalent in the 1920s and 1930s. Lampião led a band of up to 100 Cangaceiros, who consistently took over small towns and who fought several successful actions against paramilitary police. Lampião's exploits and reputation turned him into a folk hero, the Brazilian equivalent of Jesse James or Pancho Villa. Lampião and 9 of his companions were killed in an ambush on 28 July 1938. The heads of those killed were cut off and put on public exhibition in the town of Piranhas. Until this day, Lampião is so culturally present in the region that we cannot do anything else then dedicate our trail ride to this Brazilian feared outlaw.
We will saddle the Mangalarga Marchador horse for you, an authentic Brazilian breed, which is a great forward going horse at a very comfortable pace and follow the footsteps of Lampião. The horses are used to the tropical climate and are just the most fun horses you can imagine. A horse-riding trip of 7 days crossing the outback from colonial town to colonial town. Red soil, crazy rock formations, cactus-strewn landscapes, and the ever-present San Francisco river with its impressive canyons form the backdrop for our equestrian adventure.
On average, you will be 5 hours a day in the saddle. You will spend the night in comfy and colorful posadas and country houses while your luggage will be taken by a back-up vehicle to the next accommodation.You will enjoy breathtaking views, see ancient rock paintings, ride on the banks of the San Francisco river, go for a boat ride on the river, and also swim in it. The Canyons will make you feel small, and the hospitality of the locals in each town will melt your hearts.
And last but not least, just like in the old days. We will tie up our horses in front of the old train station in the village of Piranhas, and visit the Cangaço Museum, where we will learn all about Lampião and his gang. Ready for the great Brazilian Outback experience?!
Day by day
day 1: Arrival in Maceió ( Capital City of the State Alagoas )
Late afternoon Meet & Greet at the hotel in Maceió to brief the riding group about the coming days. Dinner and overnight at a comfortable hotel in Maceió.
day 2: Maceió – Entremontes - Remanso
(3 hours in the saddle)
We will depart from the hotel right after breakfast, leave the coastal city of Maceió, and head to the region where our horseback riding tour will start. The road will take us from the Atlantic coast to the backcountry full of crazy stories and legends. Through the windows of the car, we will be able to witness the dramatic change in vegetation and topography. We will know we are on the right track as soon as we see the San Francisco River. Lunch will be at the place where we will meet the horses. We will start our journey under the afternoon sun, follow ancient tracks till reaching the Village of Entremontes and the bank of the San Francisco River, where we will be lodged in a cozy farmhouse. Breathtaking views await us. (Farmhouse - Remanso) (Breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner).
day 3: Entremontes Remanso Farm – Piranhas
(3,1/2 hours in the saddle)
The São Francisco river will greet us when we wake up for a new day of horseback riding. Throughout the trail ride, we will have the mighty river within sight. A hearty breakfast will precede our boat ride to Angicos, in the state of Sergipe, where Lampião and part of his gang were ambushed, captured, and killed and beheaded (1938).
We will return to the farmhouse, go for a refreshing swim in the river and have lunch. The ride to Piranhas will be full of magnificent views and charm. Tropeiros used to drive herds along this path, sell animals and food, and peddle other goods. The pearl of the Outback will come into view with its remarkably well-preserved old houses and historic government buildings.
Just like in the early days, we will tie up our horses in front of the old station, where today stands the Cangaço Museum, and dive into the history of the place. After a drink, we will find our Pousada, where we will spend the night. (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner), but before going to bed, we should enjoy a bit of the lively night scene downtown.
day 4: Piranhas – Olho d´Água do Casado
(4 hours in the saddle)
Along the ride, we will learn about the history and development of Piranhas and the region. The railroad was part of that story, and we are constantly reminded of it by the well-preserved station building and remains of old rails that crossed the outback.
We will ride follow the old railroad till reaching the river cliffs and see the huge dam of the Xingó hydroelectric power plant. We continue the ride following the canyons and slopes. We will be lodged in a farmhouse style hotel right by the dam. (Breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner).
day 5: Olho d´Água do Casado – Talhado - Canyons
(5 hours in the saddle)
Today day we will get very close to what life was and is like in this region. The Caatinga, rock paintings, toil in the fields, slopes, rock formations, and canyons. They are all beautiful, impressive, unique, and unusual! And the San Francisco River keeps flowing, proving that, given time, water does indeed shape the earth! In this particular case, water sculpts, embellishes, and refreshes!
We will arrive at an oasis in the middle of the Caatinga, near the edge of the Talhado (slope) and the São Francisco river canyons. The view of the sunset from this spot is magical. (Breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner).
day 6: Talhado – Povoado do Lamarão - Talhado
(5 hours in the saddle)
Today, we will leave our Green Oasis in the middle of the caatinga towards Lamarão. We ride following old trails through properties in the middle of the caatinga, sometimes bordering the river and river cliffs until we reach our lunch spot near the village at the river shores. The lunch will be served by members of the community that are known for having a self-sustaining tourism project around rock archaeological sites.
After lunch, we will attend to the traditional PEGA DE BOI. Which is the origin of the Vaquejada*, practiced as a sport, but still widely used in daily dealing with the first cattle in the area. Finish the event; we return to sleep at Pousada Verde, our Oasis, in the outback. (Breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner).
*The vaquejada is a sport typical to the Northeast region of Brazil. (also practiced in some other Latin American countries). In which two cowboys ("vaqueiros") on horseback pursue a bull, seeking to pin it between the two horses and direct it to a goal (often consisting of chalk marks), where the animal is then knocked over.
day 7: Talhado – Maceió
(2 hour in the saddle)
Our last morning of adventure! We start with a short riding going down the canyon to the platform where our chartered boat will be waiting for us. These will the time to say farewell to the horses. We will navigate through the canyons that were partly filled with water after the construction of the dam for the Xingó hydroelectric power plant. We will explore the canyons on the river. There will be enough time to go for a swim and take pictures of this unforgettable moment. The horses will be ready when we reach the shore again, and we will ride them to the spot where lunch will be served.
We will celebrate a memorable trip with the new friends made along the ride. We will then head back to the coastal city of Maceió. End of the itinerary. (Breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner).
END OF THE TRIP.
ATTENTION > You can extend this trip with 4 extra riding days along the stunning palm beaches of northeast Brazil.
OPTIONAL EXTENSION : “THE PALMBEACH RUN OF THE NORTHEAST”
4 days galloping along endless palm beaches and crossing huge dunes
Brazil is all about tropical heat and amazing nature. But when we're talking about beaches, the northeast part of Brazil comes into the spotlight. And that’s exactly where we will be taking you to; to the beaches of the Northeastern State of Alagoas, where you will canter the endless beaches still untouched by civilization. From the saddle, you will drink fresh coconut water and discover some of the most beautiful tropical places you have ever been. You will be riding and swimming with great Mangalarga Marchador horses,visit typical fishing villages and overnight in cozy beach houses and pousadas. Those 4 additional days of fun in the sun is really an added value, trotting the Outback & galloping the Palm Beaches Coast in the same trip is just the perfect riding holiday.
day 1: Pontal do Coruripe
After the 7 days in the Brazilian Outback we will take you to Pontal do Coruripe, a small fishing village where you will be lodge in a nice pousada with a great view to at the Atlantic Ocean. Our horses will be arriving here today as well. (dinner)
day 2: Pontal do Coruripe - Feliz Deserto
(5 hours in the saddle)
We will depart on the beach towards the south in direction to Feliz Deserto. Feliz Deserto means Happy Desert. Shortly after taking the trail to the sea, we will find the mouth of the river Coruripe that gives the name to the location. Ready for some adventure? We will cross the river with horses. Soon after the river crossing, we will stop to refresh ourselves in the sea and meet our back up team waiting for us with coconut water and tropical fruits.
We continue along deserted beaches, here and there we will ride along a beach village and see artisanal fishers. Just before we reach our overnight spot, we find at the beach the Swiss Cargo shipwreck "The Stockholm". Our exclusive Beach House awaits us in Feliz Deserto. Overnight at the Beach House. (Coffea, lunch, snack, and dinner ).
day 3: Feliz Deserto – Coconut Farm - Pontal do Peba
(5 hours in the saddle)
Today we will have time to enjoy the best of the region, deserted beaches, a coconut farm, small fishing village. Also, we will have time to bathe in the sea and enjoy the local cuisine with excellent fresh seafood arriving all the time in small boats that dot the coast. Our foot in the sand hostel has a privileged location. Overnight a the beachfront Pousada. (Coffee, Lunch, Snack, and dinner)
day 4: Beach– Dunes – Mouth of the São Francisco River – Maceio (4 hours in the saddle)
After a good breakfast, we mount our horses to start our last riding day. We ride through a coconut forest until we find the vast dune complex we cross the dunes, and before reaching the mouth of the São Francisco River, we will ride along with the quilombola community of Pixaim. (a quilombo is a town of escaped slaves) In Foz, we will enjoy the river swim to refresh ourselves. We will drink from a fresh coconut and eat some snacks. We will leave the horses behind, and hop on a boat to sail the mighty river until arriving at the banks of the river where we will have lunch. Typical seafood of the region will be served in the shade. We will arrive at the end of the afternoon in Maceio.End of the trip (Coffee, lunch, and snack)
Good to know before you go:
TRAVEL Insurance & TRIP Cancellation Insurance are MANDATORY.
There are no vaccinations required/compulsory and there is no malaria in this part of Brazil.
Recommended vaccinations, however, are Yellow Fever & Hepatitis B
Check with the Embassy of Brazil in your country.( North American Citizens, US - CAN require a visa to travel to Brazil)
It is recommended to change money or take out the ATM in the main city Maceio, if you want to have cash during the ride.
There is no internet access during the ride.
There is no telephone signal during the ride.
The maximum weight of the rider must be 100 kilos.
Minimum age is 12 years, only allowed if accompanied by an adult.
The ride is available all year round, being the best months from April to August.
The average temperature during the tour is 28 degrees.
Suitable for intermediate to experienced riders.
The average daily horse ride is 15 to 30 kilometers per day.
Airport: the arrival airport is Maceió (MCZ).
Valid international passport
Pocket money (you can change money on arrival at the airport)
A sweater and a jacket
4 to 5 T-shirts or shirts. The long-sleeved shirt is best. (Make sure you take at least three shirts with long sleeves!)
Riding pants or jeans
Boots/riding shoes, with mini-chaps or long chaps.
Second pair of shoes for the evening
Comfortable summer clothing
Anti-mosquito spray / lotion
* It is recommended to put your luggage in a travel bag instead of a hard suitcase. Ten bags are easier to get in the backup vehicle than ten suitcases. (thanks!).
Dates & Prices
O Sertão, the Brazilian Outback on Horseback
7 days / 6 nights / 6 days riding
Price per person 2.590 USD
Optional extensión of 4 days Beach Riding:
Price per person 1.110 USD
(+ Beach extension from 21 to 27 May) Guided by Jacira )
(+ Beach extensión from 24 to 27 August) Guided by Paul & Jacira)
minimum 07 riders
maximum 10 riders
Authentic and comfortable accommodation
Meals: full board, except on day 1 and 7
Guides: Highly trained bilingual guides throughout the trip
Backup Vehicle: for brings your luggage to the daily overnight place/pousada.
Horses & tack, including saddlebags
Transfer from and to Maceio
during the 4 day extension
Accommodation: nights in authentic & comfortable pousadas, hotels, and beach houses based on double & triple-rooms
Meals: full board, except on day 1 and 4
Guides: Highly trained bilingual guides throughout the trip
Backup Vehicle: brings your luggage to the daily overnight place/pousada.
Horses & tack, including saddlebags
Transfer from the Outback and to Maceio
Insurance: We REQUEST you to take a TRAVEL and TRIP Cancellation Insurance . Ask your local insurance company or travel agent about it. You will not be allowed to participate in the “ALATCE” riding holiday program without having these insurances.
Flight: international and local flights are NOT included. Gateway is Maceió (MCZ)
Alcoholic beverages & soft drinks: (cheap)
Single Supplement: only possible if we have a single room available
Dinner on day 1 & 7
Booking Sales Tax: USD 33,00 per person per payment
Overnight stay in comfortable country houses, hotels and posadas based on double rooms. For Single rooms you have to pay a surcharge. In some country houses and posadas not always possible. But possible in the hotel in Maceio.
The Brazilian cuisine is very good, varied and serves many naturally made dishes. The main dishes are mostly rice and beans (Feijão) and sauces, with lots of meat or fish and salads. From region to region one has its own traditional dishes. Along the coast you will find more fish and shrimp dishes. Very popular is the Churrasco = Brazilian BBQ.
Depending on the chosen travel date, one of the guides below will be your tour leader on the trip. (sometimes both):
If anyone can say "been there, done that" then it’s Paul Coudenys! Paul, born in Flanders Belgium, was once in his previous life a farrier. At age 21, he travelled backpacking around the globe, 3 years later and with a luggage full of travel and riding experiences he returned to Belgium. During his "long journey", he worked as a blacksmith shoeing horses at the polo club in Singapore, as a blacksmith and cowboy at a cattle station in Australia, as a gaucho in South America and as a rider in too many places and countries to mention.
In 1996 he founded “Hippo-Trek” and became one of the pioneers of worldwide riding holidays in Europe. Paul rode horses in 53 different countries and is perhaps one of the most experienced trail riders in the world. Loving the great horse culture and hospitality in Latin America Paul decided to move to Brazil in 2010. He lives in the southern state of Santa Catarina, home of the South American gaucho (cowboy). After years of experience in organizing and guiding equestrian holidays and riding expeditions around the world, he now only concentrates on trail rides and equestrian tourism in Latin America. He is guiding all the riding trips himself and assures you participating at the best horse treks in Latin America. He now runs Entre Orejas & Gaucho do Brasil Riding Holidays.
Paul is also co-founder and president of ALATCE; Asociación Latinoamericana de Turismo y Cultura Ecuestre. (Latin American Association of Equestrian Tourism and Culture).
He speaks 6 languages, loves humor and life, is a very social person and knows like no other how to take you on a ride on the wild side!
Jacira is genuine horse rider born and raised in Northeast Brazil. She’s been in the saddle from an early age. Horses and traveling has been her passion for many years. In addition to many trips in Brazil, Jacira has also traveled abroad several times. This experience made her the ideal local equestrian guide. She is very committed to local culture and likes to share it with those who visit her.