Brazilian journalist Christine Engelberg joined us on our famous Everglades Backwater Tour in the fall of 2012. The article she wrote about her experience was published in the March issue of TOP Magazine; click on the photo below and zoom in to read “Miami through Clyde Butcher’s Lenses.” For all non-Portuguese speakers, here is a little summary: As she asks in her article, “How about getting to know Miami from a different perspective than do most of the tourists who visit the city?” Engelberg agrees with Condé Nast Traveler and National Geographic when they recommend the Everglades Backwater Tour as one of the most interesting eco tours available. She considers it an excellent option if you want to learn about the biodiversity of this wild ecosystem. The cypress trees and wild birds made Engelberg feel in touch with nature while trekking through the swamp. Impressed by the beauty of Clyde Butcher’s photography, which she viewed in the Big Cypress Gallery as part of the tour, she chose one of his images to illustrate the article.
We arrived in the town of Brasilia (not to be confused with the capital of Brazil), which accounts for one of three villages on the island. The “roads” in the towns of Ilha do Mel were paths that allowed access to the small stores, village homes, posadas, and restaurants by foot or bicycle. The combination of the quaint posadas, the humble ambiance of the villages, and the easygoing attitude of the locals is like a scene out of a Hemingway novel. This was so infectious that not even an hour into our arrival we all started to slow down and talk about foregoing our tight posada inspection time frame. If it had not been for the persistence of our guide Tatiana, we might all still be in Ilha do Mel living a Jimmy Buffet song.
The dragonfly took the lead, then trailed, but often was content in hovering within the confines of the speeding boat. This exhilarating one hour speed boat journey through the Baia Paranagua into the mouth of the Nhundiaquara River was the final thrill of a 5 day adventure into the last remaining stretch of Atlantic Rainforest (Mata Atlântica) left on this planet. As my gaze shifted from the agile dragonfly to the healthy mangroves that framed this journey, I caught glimpses of the faces of my companions who had shared this journey with me. Their expressions were triumphant but in reserved contemplation, much like the faces you see on a metro on a Monday morning after a fabulous weekend. More than likely all, as myself, were still in awe of this magical corner of Brazil.
The invitation from ABETA (Brazilian Eco-tourism and Adventure Travel Trade Association) offered a familiarization trip to one of the most unexplored regions in Brazil, and one of the places on my travel wish list. Our small group included travel industry influencers from the USA, Germany, New Zealand, UK and the Netherlands. We all went with great expectations and came away very pleased.