After a relaxing day at Ponta Negra beach, we were set for some dune riding at the Sand Dunes park near Natal. We were picked up at 8:30 am by our driver, a slightly crazy and loud Brazilian manning a low slung open buggy, with one seat down by the driver and three in the back. We headed out on the highway, the wind whipping our faces and hair into a tornado. After stopping at the Natal Aquarium, we continued into the first of a series of rolling dune parks, the Genipabu dunes. This is probably not an activity for somebody concerned about safety precautions, heights, or potentially tipping out of cars. Our buggy, along with the others in the park, raced across the flat stretches, accelerating up steep hills to make a sharp turn and scream back down. It was super fun and felt a bit like being in a racecar video game. The driver stopped at several lookouts, for us to get out and admire the amazing views down to the coast below. We headed out of Genipabu and rolled through some small towns, decorated with streamers and full of people having drinks and barbeques outside – the Monday and Tuesday of Carnival are national holidays in Brazil, so little work was being done.
To continue, our buggies were loaded onto rafts (once again, not for anyone concerned about safety or sinking rafts) and we floated across a stretch of water to speed off on the other side.
We stopped at a beach side restaurant for a coconut break, then continued through another adrenaline-inducing sand dune park before dropping down to the beach below. We drove along the beach for several kilometers, my favorite part of the day. Sand and crystal clear water as far as the eye can see, the only sound being waves crashing in.
We stopped for lunch on the beach further along the coast, before heading to a lagoon with options for ziplining and sand boarding. After a long but amazing day of sights, we arrived hot, sandy, and windblown back in town, the perfect moment for an ice cream at Dolce Latte.
That evening we headed out to see some of the Carnival festivities – stages were set up around town with live music, streets were blocked off and filled with food and drink vendors, and a parade of live musicians were marching around entertaining the crowds with lively beats.
The next morning, we recovered from the previous night’s Caipirinhas with one last round of smoothies at Astral restaurant, before some last-minute souvenir shopping and heading to the airport.
Natal was absolutely gorgeous and chock full of fun things to see and do. I can’t wait to go back to this part of the country and explore more 🙂