Praia do Forte – Summary
Praia do Forte is a charming beach town with a good variety of accommodation, restaurants, boutiques and the sea turtle project Tamar, an hour North of Salvador da Bahia.
Praia do Forte is a small fishing village 50 miles north of Salvador along the coast road called Coconut Highway – so called because of the many coconut groves along the route.
The village takes its name from the castle built in 1556 by a Portuguese settler called Gárcia D’Ávila. The fortified castle was to be the headquarters of his massive farm – the first farm in Brazil. He brought the first heads of cattle to Brazil and introduced the ‘slash and burn’ technique of deforestation as he cleared the virgin Atlantic forest for pasture land. In a less destructive manner, he was also responsible for the introduction of coconut and mango trees to Brazil.
The ecological destruction of centuries gone by has given way to what is now one of the most ecologically sound resort destinations in Brazil, pioneered by the TAMAR PROJECT, set up in 1980 to preserve and protect the sea turtles that traditionally lay their eggs on the beaches.
The project is a shining success story and is one of the most respected preservation projects in Brazil, if not the world. Praia do Forte is now the headquarters of the extensive national turtle preservation project with an excellent visitors center relating the 20 year history of the project. Near the village there is a small pantanal, a wet land area that is host to some of the most abundant bird life in Bahia.
Early morning and late afternoon the pantanal resounds to the calls of snail kites, kingfishers, cormorants and chattering parakeets. Further inland from the coast there is a restinga forest. Restinga being a vegetation growing on sandy soil with a unique but very delicate ecosystem. There are many innovative ecologically focused tours available in the region, using four drive vehicles, kayaks and dug out canoes.
Most exciting though is the increasing sightings in recent years of the majestic humpback whales that have begun to return to their traditional nesting grounds after many years absent from the area. Trips to observe these wonderful animals are available in months from July to November every year.