And there we go: Jericoacoacoaaaa…what!?
Yup, that one took me a while, but as most people just refer to this small fishing village as “Jeri”, you are good to go!
Jeri is located 300 kilometres north-west of Fortaleza. It lies in the middle of an environmental protection area and it cannot be entered with cars.
The only vehicles that are allowed to drive in and out are Jeeps and Buggies.
HOW I GOT THERE
I got a flight to Fortaleza, stayed two nights in a hostel and was looking for some cheap transport. There is a shuttle bus that picks you up at your hostel and brings you directly to the hostel in Jeri. The drive is around 95 REAL in low season, but there’s a way to get there cheaper: Go to the beach and ask the street vendors if they know of someone to travel there. This way we got a One-Way Ticket for 70 REAL per person. (Prices in high season differ!)
My first plan was to hire a jeep and drive there without any tour! Gosh was I looking forward to that- but nope… it’s a national park and you can’t just go in there with your car. You can actually take your car right to a parking spot in front of the national park, but if you are to rent one it would be a waste of money not being able to use it! A shuttle bus might just be the easiest.
The bus ride takes around 5-6 hours and stops at a small restaurant on the way. Busses normally leave between 4 and 9 am in the morning and will kill you with their air conditioning! Damn it’s so cold you wish for a scarf. Again: those small thin Sarongs (beach towels) come in pretty handy here, plus an extra pair of socks and there you go!
Once you get close to the National Park you change the bus for a 4×4 Jeep, where up to eight people can sit in the back. The ride to Jericoacoara takes around 35 minutes. It’s so much fun to ride along with those cars, but take some hair ties with you or you’ll end up like me with one huge Dread!
Okay, now you’re on the Jeep- say goodbye to paved roads for the next few days and enjoy a beautiful ride through sandy pathways that lead you around huge sand dunes and small water lagoons. You are about to enter a hidden hippy paradise, you might not want to leave anytime soon.
WHAT TO BRING
FLAT (!) SHOES! There are no paved roads and you will sink into your misery if you try to wear any sort of high heels.
A FLASHLIGHT. Street lights are forbidden by law and it can be quite dark at night.
HAIR TIES. Jeri is very windy and if you do not want to end up with dreads, hair ties are the basics!
CASH. There are no ATMs in Jeri and you will not get any cash anywhere. It is possible to pay by card, but most restaurants, hostels and tours will charge you up to 15% to do so.
WHAT TO DO
GO AND WATCH A SUNSET!
Jeri is one of the nicest places to watch a sunset at. Trust me- this will make you gaze in awe and you do not want to leave ever again! You have two amazing options to do so:
1. WALK UP ON THE SAND DUNES
Jericoacoara is so small, the longest distance you will ever have to have walk will be 20 minutes. The sand dunes are even closer. It takes about 10-15 minutes from the centre. As everybody does it, you just follow the masses of people. OR you are smart and leave a little bit earlier, so you don’t have to hurry up just to see the sun set for a few seconds. Keep in mind that you are really close to the equator, which makes the sun set faster! It is more like “Daaaaaaam sun WAIT!! What the fuck- its dark!”. This is why you start to walk up there at 4.30pm. This will give you enough time to get up those dunes and find a great spot to hang out at.
On your way there you might encounter some cute kids who are bringing you to the other side of the water with a little wooden ferry. They are so cute, make sure to bring some sweets for them once they help you cross the water.
When you’re on top of the dunes, there even is some dude with a wagon up there, where you can buy drinks. Nice huh? Drinks on top of the sand dunes. Poor guy! I have absolutely no idea how he gets this cart up there … anyways! The sand dunes! Amazing! Go up there! I guarantee, that you will love it.
2. GO TO A ROOFTOP BAR
There is one rooftop bar on top of a restaurant. It’s called “Café JeriRua Do Forro” and opens Wednesday until Sunday and you can see the sunset at a beach surrounded by sand dunes. There is also some great electronic music, a DJ behind a pool of water and fire dancers. People there are nicely dressed, so don’t go in there barefoot like me, because you might have lost your shoes. People do not really like sandy backpacker feet below their cocktail glasses.
GO ON A BUGGY TOUR
Get your feet sandy on a buggy instead! Oh my god! This is so much fun! You can sit on the back of the buggy and hold on to the car whilst it blasts along the beach, through water puddles and down the sand dunes. Keep in mind that your mouth will get sandy when you laugh during the whole ride, but it’s worth it!
VISIT THE LAGOONS
1. LAGUNA DO PARADISO
Uh yeah! Want some hammocks that float in the water- Laguna do Paradiso is the place to be. After walking through a restaurant that is way too expensive and serves Caipirinha without ice and fried cold fish (eww…. ) you walk down a short hill towards some tables with umbrellas that are made out of bamboo. You face the light blue water of the lagoon. Go grab a hammock and pass out in the water!
I have to admit that I have seen lagoons that were way clearer, but you can’t expect too much clearness from water above sand.
If you forgot to bring your sunglasses and are still blinded by the sand in your eyes from the buggy tour, you don’t have to worry for a long time, as the street -or let’s say- sand vendors are on their way to rescue you! You can get some proper Ray Bens for about 100 REAL, haha. With an unbearable sound they scratch the glasses in front of you, so you can see that nothing will ever harm your new Ray Ben. Sand, nails … no chance! those new sunglasses are made out of magic.
Until you drop them.
2. LAGUNA AZUL
Another nice lagoon to visit is the Laguna Azul. And this is the first lie. It’s actually not really blue, but, yeah, we are in the middle of sand dunes and we will not expect too much. Anyways, this lagoon is a bit smaller than Laguna Do Paradiso, but not less beautiful. Maybe it was the Caipirinha we had before, but I had much more fun here than I had in Laguna Paradiso.
The plastic chairs are right in the middle of the water, there are more benches in the middle of the lagoon, you can hang out at and … wait for it … watch FRENCH-FRY-eating fish!! hahahaha. Oh my god I had so much fun feeding them as they swarmed around my feet.
SLIDE DOWN THE SAND DUNES
The funny thing about a buggy ride without sunglasses is, that you never know when the next dune is about to go down. And as soon as you get some new sunglasses they might just slightly change the colour of your reality and turn everything into green. So this is how your fast ride, that now looks like you were on the moon, is about to happen:
Shaking, shaking ... more shaking, sand ... more sand ...aaaah DAMN IT!! Car goes doooooown almost vertically! Shaking, sand ...more sand... sand in mouth!
Hahaha, you get the idea! It is a LOT of fun!!
But there is one more way to slide down the sand dunes! One kind of a genius got the idea to set up a huge slide that goes down directly into the water hole … You grab a boogie board and the fun begins!!
SWING IN THE MANGROVES
The west of Jeri has a lot of white Mangroves that grow in front of a clear blue sky and are surrounded by sand dunes. Nice huh! But even better are the swings that hang down from the trees. And- oh my god- there are SO many! But how to get up on those flying wooden sticks?
- Hold on to the wood
- Pull your knees towards your chin
- Stretch out your feet above the wood
- Pull yourself up on the ropes
Yes, you can lose the nail of your toe and yes the sand does not really help with blood here, but keep in mind that you are up on a swing in the middle of a mangrove forest.
FIND SOME WILD SEAHORSES
Once you pass the river on a small boat with your buggy you can get off the car and jump into a tiny boat that is moved along the shore with a long wooden stick.
The boat drivers have huge jars of water on their boat where they occasionally fish out … wait what?…. Seahorses! <3
Don’t worry- the seahorses are to be released quickly after and as there are just SO many around, this weird experience with humans, whose faces are deformed behind the glass, will probably happen to each seahorse only once in their lives.
Besides the seahorses there are also some tiny crabs that slide along the trees. This whole experience takes only 15 to 20 minutes and a massive sunburn.
WHAT NOT TO DO
STEAL MATTRESSES TO SLIDE DOWN THE DUNES AT NIGHT
Yes it sounds pretty tempting. Or let’s say it is. Yes. it is very tempting indeed. Even more after this 5 star hotel lets you inside without even questioning whether or not you might be three pretty drunk backpackers nodding at you in the middle of the night to then sit down on your beach lies. As shameless as this sounds, I can guarantee you it was.
Sitting on those perfectly square cushions we looked at the sand dunes on our right and I would say we all had the same thought…
"We have to bring them back!" I heard in the background. "We HAVE to...". Alright. Alright. We will bring them back, that's only fair.
…and started to run.
At least we started to run, to then walk towards the dunes pretty slowly. Walking through some water we heard other splashes in the background, The dude from the hotel had been following us. I was asking myself whether he actually thought we were hotel guests or whether he knew we were just drunk. I will never find out, but what I found out is that handing back our newly won slides was replied by him saying “how dangerous” that was…
I did not think it was dangerous but was more surprised that I didn’t get into way more trouble! We apologised and found our way up on the sand dunes, where we could see bright stars above the ocean and started to laugh at the thought that we had definitely not been the first people to try and do this!
THINK YOU CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT PUTTING THE STRONGEST POISON ON YOUR SKIN
Nah this topic…! Whilst typing this article I sit on my yellow armchair and can see -let’s say- around eleven red bites on my arm … out of 189!!!
Yes I am fully aware of every single one as they keep reminding me every minute. They are in my face, on my arms and yeah- I know this is not sexy- on my legs and fuuuucking everywhere!! The hospital told me it is some kind of small tropical insect spider thing (my Portuguese was too bad to actually understand everything) that bites almost everyone, but once you’re allergic, you end up with inflamed bites all over you.
I vividly remember the walks though the mangroves, the sand, the climbing over small stones …
and though all of those pictures were worth it, somewhere I probably ended up with some tiny spiders on my clothes. Unfortunately they are so small to see that I cannot even kill them properly. And how lucky they are, because I would make them suffer! I would make them die from itching, slow and painfully.
But enough said, I am covered in poisonous clouds of DEET now and since I look like a crack addict I got just as much medication from the pharmacy to take back home.
Tu sum this up: If you are allergic to insect bites- Spray the DEET around your body as if it was Rose water!!
GO TO A DESERT LOO
Hahahaha! Oh my God! Don’t -please just don’t! As soon as you open the door your brain starts calculation how much time you will need for what and whether you run out of air or not. The imminent urge to actually use that bathroom is hence stronger until you realise you only have around 20 seconds left for washing your hands. You make it to the door and then this damn thing does not open!!
Trust me the only good part about that one was the nice lady helping me out of there!
WHERE TO STAY
There’s a nice place to stay in Fortaleza called Refugio Hostel. It’s run by a German who knows how to run it. It’s very clean and the bunk beds in the dorm are made out of proper wood. Would a drunk elephant try to climb on the top bed above you, I guarantee those beds would not move an inch! Breakfast is awesome! For someone who is Gluten and Lactose Intolerant (Yeah- Life sucks sometimes!) this breakfast nails it: Fresh fruit, Tapioca with scrambled egg and fresh Guava, Mango or Pineapple juices. For those who can eat the tasty stuff: Cheese, Ham, a sandwich maker and a lot of bread. I can only recommend that hostel, but it’s a little bit far away from the nice beaches.
Not far away from a hip party scene though!
When in Jeri you definitely have to stay in “Hostel Tirol” or “Hostel Central”. Both are right next to each other and are run by two Austrian brothers. The breakfast is as good as in the hostel mentioned above, though I have to admit that this tapioca the day before had spoiled me a bit. Hostel Central has a small pool, but you will probably not use it as the beach is only 4 minutes away. The beds are comfortable and the hammocks won’t let you go.
The hostel also organizes some Caipirinha nights or beer pong parties worth attending.
The landlord is a wise man with white hair, a white beard, a huge smile and some pretty loud meditation music. He has sent me a link on WhatsApp I do not want you to miss out on!
I am actually listening to it right now while typing and love it, haha!
If you happen to stay at this hostel, just glimpse over the fence in the far back of the hostel and maybe you’re lucky to have a conversation with him. 🙂
Goodbye Jeri. See you when I see you!