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 Natal: the Enchanting City of the Sun

World Cup Brazil 2014

 A Host City of World Cup Brazil 2014

 

Genibapu Beach

 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Photos:

 Brazil Travelnet

 

Genipabu Beach   

 
 

Natal is called Cidade do Sol, City of the Sun. I bet you already have a guess why, but I am going to tell you anyway. The sun shines in Natal for more than 300 days a year. Even when it rains, the sun comes out right after the rain, if not during it, always illuminating this wonderful place.

Natal is the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte and one of Brazil’s oldest cities, founded on December 25, 1599. Yes, Christmas Day. Natal means Christmas, in Portuguese. 

According to NASA, the second purest air in the world is found in Natal. And talking about NASA, the City of the Sun is home to the first rocket base in South America. It was also an important military base during the Second World War, due to its geographical position: the easternmost point in South America.  

Blessed by nature, it has a great variety of natural beauties such as lagoons, dunes, hills and amazingly green ocean. It is a tropical Shangri-la and a top Brazil travel destination for sports lovers.

That said, let’s get down to business: the attractions. 

The Dunes 

To enjoy the Dunes of Genipabu, you have to Sand Duneshire a professional driver with a dune buggy. The area is protected, hence only authorized drivers are allowed there. There are dozens of “bugueiros” (buggy drivers) in Natal. Make sure you hire somebody credentialed and licensed with the City. After that, it is only fun!

This tour takes you to Lagoa de Pitangui (Pitangui Lagoon). It is a lagoon but completely surrounded by sand. There is a restaurant where you can order an appetizer and a drink while you sit at one to the tables in the water, with your chair and hence your feet soaking in the water also. This really is the “good” life! The water is wonderful!  

After that you go the Dunes of Genipabu. The bugueiro is going to ask you if you want to see the dunes with emotion (com emocao) or without emotion (sem emocao). With emotion you go fast, the buggy flies on the big dunes and it is certainly fun if you don’t have small kids and aren’t afraid of speed. Otherwise, go without emotion and enjoy the beautiful views at a slower pace. Camels in Natal

At Genipabu, in the middle of all that sand, you can ride a dromedary. You kind of feel that you are on the other side of the world since dromedaries are not native to Brazil. But they sure go well with the landscape.  

After that there is the “esquibunda”.  EsquibundaEsquibunda in Natal

But the “aerobunda” is the THING. Zip Line in NatalZip Lines

With your bugueiro friend, by this time he is already your friend, you will also see Barra do Rio, Jacuma, Pitangui and Muriu.  

The Beaches 

There are five beaches in the city: Areia Preta, Praia dos Artistas, do Meio, do Forte and Ponta Negra beach where the “action” is. This is the place to see and be seen.

  Ponta Negra in Natal   Ponta Negra Beach   A view of Ponta  Negra Beach

Praia de Ponta Negra is the “point” in Natal. There is an array of choices in bars, pousadas, hotels and restaurants such as Barraca do Caranguejo (The Crab Place). If you eat there, you can enjoy a very good folklore floor show for free. Ask at your hotel desk about the shows schedule.

But besides all the night action, Ponta Negra is a beautiful beach and one of Natal’s postcards, Morro do Careca, is in Ponta Negra.

Shopping in Natal: a must!

Handcraft in Natal is beautiful and inexpensive. The best place to find a large variety is in Centro de Turismo (Rua Aderbaldo Figueredo 980, Petropolis), which used to be a prison. The stores are in the old cells and carry everything from statues to bikinis. On the second floor, there is an art gallery with old and contemporary pieces.  

On Thursday evenings, Centro de Turismo also hosts a dance “Forro com Turista”, which is really fun. From there, you have a panoramic view of the city and of the Rio Potengui. They also have a nice restaurant there, so if hunger strikes, you are all set.  

Attractions 

There is a lot to see and do in Natal. As we always say, it’s all up to you. It depends on your time and likes. Below is a list of the main attractions. Check it out and off you go.

Reis Magos Fort

Forte dos Reis Magos (Wise Man Fortress) – is an old fortress, one of the first built by the Portuguese to protect they new land from invasion. It was founded in 1599 and is part of Brazil’s Historical Heritage.

The Largest Cashew Tree in the World – in Pirangi Beach. The roots of the tree are unbelievably huge. All the Cashews are given to the visitors or donated to local small business. After that go to… 

Praia de Pitangui (Pirangi Beach)– Beautiful palm trees frame this beach. They also have a boat tour there. Check with the restaurants on the beach, for details.

Parque das Dunas (Dunes Park) – the second largest urban Park in Brazil. Perfect for hiking, it is a treat for adults and children. It has very good infrastructure with an environmental education school, museums, restaurants and leisure areas.

Maracajau – 60 km away from Natal, this beautiful beach has natural swimming pools with stunning coral reefs 7 km off the beach. There is a boat service that will take you there. They have a representative at the restaurants on the beach, and that is where you pay for the tour and get your life vest, snorkel, fins and mask.

They also have scuba tanks to rent.   

The restaurants have good infrastructure with showers and an excellent meat and seafood menu, like everywhere on the Rio Grande do Norte’s coast. Just to let you know, in case you want to spend the day there.  

And in case you don’t want to drive, the local travel agencies in Natal offer tours to Maracajau. Just ask at your hotel desk.  

Praia da Pipa (Pipa Beach) – 86 km away from Natal, Pipa will take your breath away. Some years ago, it was just a small fishing village. But people discovered this natural beauty and Pipa is growing into a charming beach resort.  

Distances

João Pessoa 186 km, Recife 299 km, Fortaleza 538 km, Maceió 570, Salvador 1126 km.

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