There are parks and parks and whilst the word may be open to interpretation there can be no doubt that João Pessoa, with more than it’s fair share of green areas, is befitting of the title of the second greenest city in the world.
There are many large squares or “Praças” in the neighbourhoods and town centre such as Praça dos Tres poderes, Praça da Independencia and the praças of Manaira and Bessa.
There are other large areas around the farol or Lighthouse where you can wander through the trees down to the beach at Ponte de Seixas.
This is one of the largest remaining areas of Atlantic Rainforest in an urban area in Brazil covering an area of 515 hectares. Open everyday in the afternoon to the public, you can walk along the footpaths accompanied by a forest ranger who will tell you about all the different trees and wildlife. Be sure to wear boots and socks, as you will not be allowed to enter wearing open footwear such as flip flops or sandals. As you enter the site, you will see a large ancient looking building to your right; this is the pump house where you can still see the original equipment. The area was the city’s first source of fresh drinking water and the River Jacaribe still runs through the forest from its source in nearby Cristo Redentor.
Located at the commercial centre of the Paraíban capital, Solon de Lucena Park, also known as “Lagoa”, is surrounded by very tall centenary Imperial palm trees, golden trumpet trees and acacias – the tree symbol of the city. In the centre of the lake area is an Illuminated fountain. The whole area was designed by the famous landscape gardener Burle Marx and includes many examples of trees from the Atlantic rain forest including Pau-d’arco. As of June 2009, the whole area is undergoing refurbishment with new lights, seating and paving. The lake itself has also been dredged. There are many coffee bars around the lake, which is also overlooked by one of the cities oldest restaurants, Cassino do Lagoa. It is very easy to get to as all the major bus routes seem to run by here.
Named after the famous Paraíban botanist, the park is also known as “Bica”, because of an old mineral water fountain. It features a zoo, botanical garden and leisure areas with children’s play areas and occasional animal rides. Look up to the treetops for monkeys and slouths. João Pessoas literary circle meet there on the first Sunday of every month in the old restaurant reflecting the peace, harmony and tranquillity of the area.
The Fountain has a charming legend about the love between a young Potiguarian Indian called Aipre, who is the daughter of the tribes Chief and a daring and valiant warrior called Tambia, who unfortunately is a member of rival tribe. Tambia is taken prisoner and executed in the forest by the Potiguarian tribe. His last words were of his love for her and she lay crying on his grave for fifty moons. Her tears were the source of the original water fountain. The Tambia farm was founded on that very spot and on 2 March 1782 a fountain was built at the water source. The park is being given a facelift at a cost of R$1 million Reais to be completed by Christmas 2009 at the latest.
Visiting hours- Daily, from 07:00 to 11:00 and from 13:00 to 17:00h. Children free, adults R$1 each
Located between the BR230 and the river near Jacare are 104 hectares of Rainforest. Accessible from the southern leg of the motorway at junction 11, you can drive in to the heart of the forest and park at the IBAMA compound. If you want to go walking in the area then closed footwear is an absolute must.
North of João Pessoa
This small island of 539 hectares can be reached from the shores of Praia do Jacare. There you can spend the day on a guided tour through the remains of the dense Atlantic Rainforest, sampling local and regional food, generally reliving the days when the whole of Brazil was like this. The island is replete with wildlife from the land and sea such as waterfowl, heron, bem-ti-vi, tico-tico, tiriri, socos and migratory birds as well as crabs and shrimp. The islands western waters are also a favourite haunt for divers looking for ancient shipwrecks.
More information can be found on www.ilhdarestinga.com.br or
e-mail: email@example.com or ring (83) 8834.0444/8839.9463
The Vale is part of an initiative to cultivate rural tourism in the area that supports the local community. Group walks are organised on a regular basis to show people the benefits of responsible tourism as well as pointing out areas of interest. People can also take part in boat rips along the River Gramame, fishing, horse riding and riding along in a horse and cart. Dishes are prepared using locally grown produce and you can take your pick of the handicrafts available. There are also festivals in the region throughout the year.