According to the official definition, Ecotourism is "a segment of tourism that uses sustainable natural and cultural heritage, encouraging conservation and seeking the formation of an environmental conscience through the interpretation of the environment, promoting the well-being of the populations involved ".


Principles of Ecotourism

  • Conservation and sustainable use of natural and cultural resources;
  • An economic activity;
  • It has to bring benefits to the host community;
  • The community learns to appreciate the attractions it has. The greatest attraction is NATURE !;
  • Employ the local community in the ecotourism venture. Otherwise the enterprise will be doomed to failure;
  • With employment and income generation in place = acceptance of the enterprise;
  • Respect local customs;
  • Do not de-characterize the local culture;
  • Encourage craftsmanship (craftsman training);
  • Ecotourism integration and native population;
  • Promote community education programs;
  • Must involve local community;
  • Consult the community, if she really wants this development and how she would like it to be done;
  • The community has to be heard and must have decision-making power.
  • Environmental information and interpretation;
  • It is a business and must generate resources;
  • There should be a reversal of benefits for the local community and the conservation of natural and cultural resources;


Critérios do Ecoturismo
  • GREEN MANAGEMENT = Green management and administration of the enterprise;
  • Partnerships and partnerships between local, regional and national governmental and non-governmental sectors;
  • Environmental Education for tourists and the local community;
  • Inform the ecotourist about practices and behaviors harmful to cultural and natural attractions;
  • Conscious, interested and responsible guides;
  • Training of human resources;
  • Integrated planning, with preference for regionalization;
  • Promotion of unique and unforgettable experiences in an exotic destination;
  • Constant monitoring and evaluation;
  • Low impact tourism;
  • Code of Ethics for the Ecotourism Market

Source: OCE Project - Ecotourism Training Workshops, 1994

Ecotourism is an activity that, in the first place, promotes the reunion of man with nature in order to understand the ecosystems that sustain life. Activities are developed through observation.


In the tourist:

The Process assists in the development of the awareness of the existence itself in equilibrium in the nature, aiming, still, the maintenance of the quality of life of the present and future generations.

This learning allows the tourist to be able to transform and renew their daily behavior. The urban reality with which the tourist coexists routinely, is questioned generating reflections on pollution of these large centers, maintenance of green areas, waste disposal and recycling and quality of life. Thus, the incorporation and translation of these reflections in the form of behavior and postures in their environment of origin is aimed.

Ecotourism activities seek to promote serious programs and safe and professional infrastructure, offering and practicing environmental education in a multidisciplinary way with specialized guides. The development of different programs and programs for different types of environments, associated to the transmission of information and concepts, leads with relative ease to learning. But the great legacy left to the tourist is the understanding and awareness of the importance of preserving the natural environment, history and culture of places of visitation.

Ecotourism is directly related to the concept of sustainable tourism, which relates the needs of tourists and receiving regions, protecting and strengthening opportunities for the future. It addresses the management of economic and social resources and aesthetic needs while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems.

We selected, below, some options of tours in Maranhão and Piauí so that you can choose your route and make your trip an unforgettable ecological adventure. For more information, contact the agency Ilha do Caju - Travel and Tourism, with address on this home page, which can provide you with the discovery of the most beautiful and interesting places in the two States.


1. Tours in Piauí

Luís Correia

It is located 14 km from Parnaíba. It has beautiful beaches like Atalaia, which is the most sought after by vacationers. Urbanized, it has hotels, inns, bars and restaurants. July is the high season period. Access to the beach is facilitated by asphalt.


Beach of the Coqueiro

It is located in a fishing village and its beaches are formed by calm and warm waters. At low tide, the reefs form natural 'pools', which are great for bathing. The women of the village weave the braids of taboa (typical plant of the region) the most beautiful handmade carpets. access - asphalt.


Barra Grande


Sete Cidades

The Park is situated 180 km north of Teresina, and hovers the legend that the city would have been built by astronaut gods. This is because there are some inscriptions with Indian, Phoenician and even Egyptian traits in the set of rock formations. Sete Cidades is formed by a very curious rock building, distributed in seven blocks, as if it were a real city with its streets, squares and avenues.


Serra Capivara

The Capivara National Park, located in the southeast of the state of Piauí, was considered a Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco. The objective is to protect the rocky sites and the extensive areas of primary caatinga that form a valuable center of specific research. The Park also houses the richest prehistoric collection of the Americas formed by abundant fossil fauna, among mastodons, sloths, llamas and plant species of the humid tropical rainforest; showing that the region had a completely different landscape in the past. For the more adventurous the practice of ecological and cultural tourism is highly recommended as is mountaineering and free flight. Those who like lighter programs can take walks of different degrees of difficulty. The Capivara Park is the only one in Brazil's caatinga, and to visit it, IBAMA's authorization is required. In the fauna we find rodents (the most common is the mocó), mammals, several species of armadillos, marmosets, nail monkeys, guaribas, jaguars, wild cats, 208 species of birds, lizards and chameleons. The flora is composed of thorny species of vines, cacti and bromeliaceae. The structure of the Park is well developed and in it one can find airport, hotel network and several access roads.


2. Tours in Maranhão

São Luís

To get to know São Luís, it takes a lot of calm. The French influence marked the construction of the houses and the Portuguese gave a special touch with the use of tiles. The richness focuses on details and São Luís has earned the nickname "Cidade dos Azulejos". In addition to the architecture, it is possible to find a diversified handicraft and a typical cuisine that includes cuxá rice, shrimp pie and crab legs, many sweets, juices and regional fruit liqueurs such as bacuri, cupuaçu and juçara. The main means of transport of the coastal and riverine communities are the artisanal crafts of Maranhão, used for the transportation of passengers and cargo, as well as for small-scale fishing.

Besides the beaches, famous for their long stretches of sand in the low tide, you can not miss visiting the ecological areas. Like the Bacanga State Park, which shelters typical vegetation of the Amazonian forest, where are located the ruins of one of the oldest industrial poles of the country, from the 7th century: Sítio do Físico.


City that enchants!

Surrounded by rivers, deserted beaches, islands and mangroves, Alcântara is part of the Environmental Protection Area of ​​the Maranhão Reentrances and preserves ecological sanctuaries such as the Island of Cajual, a place for the discovery of prehistoric fossils and rest for migratory birds that cross the Atlantic fleeing from the cold of the Northern Hemisphere. It is in this Island, considered Ecological Station, that there is one of the greatest breeding points of the guaras, a bird threatened with extinction in other regions of the country. The city is also listed by the National Patrimony since 1948 for possessing one of the most expressive and harmonious architectural ensembles of Portuguese colonial origin.

Alcântara is on the other side of St. Mark's Bay. At the top of the hill, up the slope of Jacaré, the small village, which was the Tapupapera dos Tupinambás, is outlined in the eyes of its visitors. The historical setting, of extreme beauty, has led you to a rich, glorious past full of the origins of Portuguese colonization in Brazil.

The few more than 300 buildings, three squares, eight sleepers and ten streets, form one of the most beautiful and important historical cities in Brazil, a portrait of a time when it was the seat of the aristocracy of Maranhão and saw the plantations, the mills, the commerce flourish of slaves and the export of cotton and sugar abroad. The rapid economic development of São Luis has made ruined houses, churches and palaces. In 1948, it was listed by the National Patrimony, for its beauty and historical significance, as Monument City.

Today, Alcântara lives a future of a modern satellite launch center, through which Brazil has conquered its place in space - in the great cosmic immensity. Even so, their more traditional cultural manifestations are lived with the same devotion and love. The feast of the divine is the drum for Saint Benedict, are proof of the importance of culture in the imaginary of the people of Alcantara.



Feast of the Divine - Life at the Imperial Court

Celebrated from 13 to 23 May, the Feast of the Divine Holy Spirit is the union of the profane and the religious and presents almost no changes since colonial times, honoring the descent of the Holy Spirit in the apostles and the Portuguese crown.

In May, the "emperors" (or empress) and their court, represented in typical costumes, visit the party-dwellers' houses. The popular processions travel the streets of the city singing chants until arriving at the house where the emperor or empress, who receives the homages of the people. The "caskets" command the tributes, nifando the boxes (kind of drum), following the steps of an original dance and singing songs of praise to the Divine, always aided by the "bandeirinhas" - girls who participate in singing and dance accompanying the touch of the boxes. At the end are served drinks and sweets for all the population that participates in the party.

In Alcântara, The Feast of the Divine Holy Spirit finds the perfect scenario to happen every year. You can participate in the celebration by tasting the exquisite "sweet of the species", found only in these "stops".


Feast of Saint Benedict

The devotion to this black saint is very intense and strong, resulting from the great African presence in the composition of the history and culture of Maranhão. Particularly in São Luis and Alcântara, the procession of St. Benedict expresses all the beauty and mysteries of Catholicism.

It takes place on the second Sunday of August, with great accompaniment of faithfuls and the remarkable presence of the creole drum, also known as the "black saint dance".


Sheets Maranhenses

To understand the beauty of Lençóis Maranhenses, one must be there. They look like "immense sheets absent-mindedly abandoned by the bed." They are dunes of white sands that change in form, height and place, surrounded by the trade wind that blows from the sea. It would be a great desert. But in the region it rains 300 times more than in the Sahara and the waters that fall from the sky make the earth a great natural oasis. Countless green and blue lagoons among gigantic dunes with winding curves. At first sight, there is little life in Lençóis Maranhenses. But it is only to penetrate a little more in its labyrinths to discover a chain of vital cycles that make, at biological level, one of the most interesting ecosystems of the State. Early studies reveal the predominance of a rich microscopic fauna that plays a key role in feeding and breeding several species. For much of the year, the park's freshwater ponds are rich in fish and shrimp that migrate to rivers and lakes during the dry season. The region's fauna is made up of several invertebrate families, mammals such as foxes, deer, maracajá cats, living in surrounding vegetation, and endangered animals such as the giant sea turtle. Migratory birds also use the beaches as a foothold in their travels.

The dunes advance up to 50 km from the coast towards the mainland. The Lençóis stretch over an area of ​​155,000 hectares, from the Golfão Maranhense to the mouth of the Preguiças river and were transformed into National Park in 1987. The climate is warm semi-humid, during the dry season, which lasts between four and five months, the ponds evaporate. Within the limits of the Park, there are only two "islands" of vegetation, with characteristics of restinga, where there are two small villages of peasant families. Even so, the Park is not free from threats of environmental impact. Predatory hunting and fishing are the major problems, directly affecting the reproduction cycle of the species.

The dunes, which are always in motion, advancing on the mangrove, silting the river and bury the few houses at the same speed with which they open spaces in other areas.

Caravans of jeeps venture out on the sand, but you must seek the help of a guide, as only the locals can walk the dunes without getting lost. It is advisable to ask Ibama for permission, to carry compasses, light clothes, little luggage and lots of sun protection.


Reentrances Maranhenses

Located on the western coast of the state between the mouth of the San Marcos Bay in Alcântara to the mouth of the Gurupi River, the Maranhão Reentrances extend over 12,000 square kilometers and form an immense region interspersed with bays, coves, islands and mangroves. It was transformed into an Environmental Protection Area in 1991 and is also part of the Hemispheric Defense Network for Wading Birds because it is of fundamental importance to migratory birds. Varied attractions are offered to the more curious and spiritually adventurous tourists, such as tours of the neighboring islands of the municipality of Alcântara, or more daring sea explorations, visiting islands, deserted beaches and bays. The main tourist attraction in the region is the Island of Lençóis, on the coast of Curupuru. With an exotic beauty the place offers beaches, dunes and crystalline lagoons, it is famous for its mysteries. The almost 300 inhabitants believe that there lives an enchanted king known as Dom Sebastiao, who appears on the nights of the full moon, transformed into a giant bull. On the day that a man is brave enough to strike him in the bright star on his forehead, the enchantment falls apart, and the king and all his court will appear in all splendor. The Island is also known as "Island of the Sons of the Moon". There lived, for many years, the largest colony of albinos in the world.


Parcel by Manoel Luís

A former fisherman, named Manuel Luis, discovered the place at the end of the last century. In the early 90's, this area was transformed into the first State Marine Park in Brazil and began to be studied by researchers. Research is being done there through an agreement between the Government of Maranhão and the company Acqua Marinha. High-tech equipment is being used to study the local fauna and flora, revealing another treasure hidden in the seabed: the more than 200 ships that would have been shipwrecked on the spot since the times of the caravels. This is why it is considered one of the seven wonders of the underwater world. The Parcel of Manuel Luís, a set of submerged rock formations, spread over an area of ​​18 km in length by six in width, being considered the largest coral reef in South America. Warning to novice divers: due to the strong currents, which in the past already sank hundreds of ships in the region, diving is only recommended for experienced professionals.



Carolina was named after the first Empress of Brazil. It was a prosperous city in the Tocantins valley, but began to experience the decline with the construction of Belém-Brasilia, which passed 100 km, creating other poles of regional development. The natural beauty remained. There are dozens of waterfalls, among them the Cave of the Fallen Cave, an impressive spectacle. The waterfall is more than 50 meters and plunges between huge rock walls forming a very special hall. The municipality is 850 km from São Luís and concentrates the biggest tourist attractions of the region.

Rio Farinha cuts a rocky and rugged soil, giving rise to rapids and two great waterfalls, the one of the Silver one and the one of São Romão. It is worth visiting the Funda Passage, a small cave that sits on the slopes of one of the hills. The cave houses bats and inspires legends in the population. At 35 KM of carolina is the Fallen Stone Waterfall. Arriving in the place you are faced with stone walls that reach up to 50 meters in height. It is from here that the water falls from the waterfall, forming a lake about 1.5 meters deep, considered an aphrodisiac in the local imagination.


Lower Maranhense

The Baixada Maranhense extends for 20 thousand square kilometers, in the low courses of the rivers Mearim and Pindaré, and medium and low courses of the rivers Pericumã and Aurá, gathering one of the most beautiful sets of lakes and natural lagoons of Brazil. Despite being transformed into an Environmental Protection Area by the state government in 1991, deforestation and burning - for the implementation of dams and irrigation projects along riverbanks and the extensive creation of buffaloes in the valleys of these rivers seriously affect the environmental balance.

The Baixada still houses the largest set of lacustrine basins in the Northeast, where the Açú, Verde, Formoso, Carnaúba and Jatobá lakes stand out; extensive mangroves, babaçuais, flooded fields and gallery forests, a rich fauna and flora, with emphasis on waterfowl and endangered animals such as the manatee. The Baixada Maranhense lakes complex constitutes an ecological region of distinct importance in the State and Northeast, not only as a water potential, but also because of the socio-economic role it represents for all the riverside population. In the summer, only in Lake Açú, fish are caught up to 15 tons of fish per day and in Lake Viana annual production reaches 1000 tons. The Laboratory of Hydrobiology of the Federal University of Maranhão (UFMA) began studies on the ecology of the ecosystems characteristic of the Baixada. The main objective is to produce a scientific basis on the sustainability of the species, aiming at offering a safe orientation for regional development planning.




3. Tours in Ceará


The Jericoacoara National Park is located in the municipalities of Jijoca de Jericoacoara, Cruz and Camocim, on the west coast of the state of Ceará. It has a total area of ​​8,850 hectares. It is a Conservation Unit of Integral Protection, and its management is the responsibility of the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio).

The National Park of Jericoacoara protects very fragile ecosystems, so that within its limits it is not allowed the construction of roads, hunting and predatory fishing, or any type of pollution. New constructions are only allowed within the Jericoacoara Village area, but must obey some restrictions, such as: maintaining the existing architectural pattern, occupying a maximum of 50% of the land and having a maximum of 2 floors, among others.

Vehicle traffic is allowed only on authorized trails, such as the Preá Trail, the Lagoa Grande Trail and the Mangue Seco / Guriú Trail. All of them connect the respective entrances of the Park to the village of Jericoacoara. In the Park it is forbidden to travel with motor vehicles outside the tracks or on the moving dunes. Also prohibited is the circulation of motor vehicles on the hill known as "Serrote" (where the lighthouse is located by the Navy) and Praia da Malhada.



Camocim etymologically means a large pot of clay in which indigenous tribes put their dead: fact due to the fact that it is not an intermediary city and have only one entrance as well as exit. As part of the west coast of the west coast, this city has a mild climate with a temperature ranging from 22 ° to 33 °, has a dignified infrastructure for its visitors, and nature is surprising. In its popular festivals the carnival is the main highlight, followed by the musical festivals and the traditional party of the lobster.

Historically, Camocim has one of the oldest ports in Ceara and has reached the point of reaching 14 fish companies, which has made the city one of the largest exporter of pargos in the country. Currently sheltering a cluster of economic and cultural activities, its former railway station is the largest and most important asset.

Did nature give Camocim? Well, we start by Tatajuba, an impressive region of mobile dunes that surround the transitla waters of the Grande Lagoon, stretching from the coast line to the trails. This beach with a wide strip of sand offers a calm bath in clear and calm waters. There is located one of the highest dunes of the coast of Ceará, and is protected by the association of local residents, where it is prohibited the access of vehicles in the place. Endowed with an impetuosity of the winds - what led to the realization of an annual canoe race - Tatajuba is a virgin place, in the essence of its natural state, whose access is only possible with the ferry crossing of the river Guri. Their lodging is made in the modest houses of the fishermen, but welcoming, meaning an adventurous tourism that is worth.

Camocim still has a dry lake, which in the rainy season provides all visitors, besides an exuberant and exuberant landscape, an excellent place for water sports such as banana boats and jet-skiing. The beach of Maceió is 15km from the city, a fishing village with the same name, with beautiful coconut trees, with summer houses and an extensive amount of sand hit by the sea. The beach of the Xavier enchanting by its beauty and simplicity, with a calm sea, clear sand, and with the presence of rock formations and dunes, we can find shells in all their extension. The Barra dos Remédios, characterized by the meeting of the sea with the Sangradouro of the river of the Remedies; which received this name because it was used mainly for the transportation of medicines to the city of Barroquinha when it was still a municipality of Camocim. Besides, of course, of having a different landscape from the rest of the coast due to its great extension of mangrove. And the lagoon of the Torta, situated between two white dunes, whose daily walks of bugre have obligatory stop in its region.

Sources Governments: CE/PI/MA