A World Away
There’s a lot more to Brazil than the beaches of Rio, the sprawl of Sao Paulo or the Amazon jungle writes Robert Manuel after a recent visit to the little known state of Piaui (pronounced Pi-aw-i) in the north east of the country.
With its varied landscapes from coastal beaches to inland opal mines and semi arid national parks in the centre, it’s an awe-inspiring destination well worth exploring. It’s also a place with a long and unique history, though not one readily embraced by modern day Brazilians. Current Government initiatives are, however, determined to change people’s perceptions and acceptance of Brazil’s fractured culture.
In an effort to promote Piaui and to revive and reinforce the importance of their cultural heritage the Brazilian Government is providing funding, a first since democracy, to promote this historically significant adventure and eco-tourism destination. Phase one is to improve infrastructure such roads, hotels, airports and training, to develop tourism as a major contributor to the state’s economy.
Being relatively unknown to foreign tourists don’t be surprised to find that Piaui is non commercial. It’s a unique raw palate that has yet to be discovered and developed. If you can withstand the potholed roads and high temperatures of the parched interior during the dry season you’ll be rewarded by its unique attractions for archaeology, history, nature, environment, sport and eco-tourism.
One of the major highlights was visiting the southern “Serra da Capivara National Park”. My first glimpse of the mysteries surrounding the last Indian tribes is this magical place where spirituality, beauty & nature meet. This archaeological reserve contains relics of prehistoric societies dating back 50,000 years. This continuous inhabitance by local indigenous Indians was, sadly, ended by physical and cultural genocide in 1889
Excluded from colonization due to its remoteness, this 130,000 hectare park was created in the 1970’s to protect the large number of sites containing the prehistoric artefacts and paintings found there. It joined the elite UNESCO list of world heritage sites in 1991.
Rock art throughout the park dates to between 6,000 and 12,000 years ago. Dating even further back - as far as an estimated 50,000 years - are remains of prehistoric animals, living alongside human groups, including sabre-toothed tigers, seven metre high ground sloths and giant armadillos the size of a car.
The Serra da Capivara National Park is located in south eastern Paiui, 530 km south of Teresina. You can fly into Petronila only 350 km away or take a regular bus services from both cities to Sao Raimundo Nonato. You will be able to fly directly into the new Sao Ramundo airport from June 2009.
The Australian representative for travel to Piaui is Globe Travel, The Brazilian Travel Centre located in Melbourne. Contact them for more information about the student exchange, travel agent enquiries or retail packages for the public.
Brazilian Travel Centre
800 Glen Huntly Road
Caulfield South VIC 3162
Phone: 1300 132 636 or +61 (03) 9523 5899