São Francisco River

The São Francisco River, also known as the ‘Old Chico’, is one of Brazil’s most important and emblematic rivers. It runs through various regions of the country, offering a wide range of natural, cultural and historical tourist attractions. Let’s explore some of the main attractions along the river’s course in Bahia and elsewhere.

Attractions and Destinations along the São Francisco River

1. Petrolina (Pernambuco) and Juazeiro (Bahia)

  • Boat Trips: Explore the São Francisco River on boat trips that offer breathtaking views, bathing stops and wine tasting.
  • Rodeadouro Island: A river island with freshwater beaches, ideal for swimming and relaxing.
  • Wineries: The region is famous for its wine production. Visit wineries such as Miolo Wine Group and Vitivinícola Ouro Verde to learn about the production process and take part in tastings.
  • Orla de Juazeiro e Petrolina: With bars, restaurants and a panoramic view of the river.

2. Paulo Afonso (Bahia)

  • Paulo Afonso Hydroelectric Complex: Visit the impressive hydroelectric power stations and the canyon of the São Francisco River. It is possible to take guided tours to understand the economic and environmental importance of the complex.
  • Paulo Afonso Waterfall: One of the most impressive waterfalls in Brazil, especially during the rainy season.

3. Xique-Xique and Barra (Bahia)

  • Islands of the São Francisco River: Boat trips to explore the islands and enjoy a leisurely day in the midst of nature.
  • Fishing: The region is known for being a great place for sport fishing, especially for fish such as tucunaré and dourado.

4. Sobradinho (Bahia)

  • Sobradinho Lake: The largest artificial lake in Brazil, created by the construction of the Sobradinho Dam. It offers activities such as boat trips, fishing and water sports.
  • Sobradinho Dam: Guided tours to understand how the dam works and its importance for irrigation and power generation in the region.

5. Pilão Arcado and Remanso (Bahia)

  • Natural Landscapes: Regions of natural beauty, with vegetation typical of the sertão and stunning landscapes along the river.

6. Canindé de São Francisco (Sergipe)

  • Xingó Canyon: One of the largest navigable canyons in the world, it offers incredible boat trips along the green waters of the São Francisco River, with stops for snorkelling and exploring caves.
  • Grota do Angico: A historic site where the cangaceiro Lampião was killed, offering a dive into the history of the cangaço.

Activities on the São Francisco River

  • Ecotourism and Adventure: Hiking trails, boat trips, kayaking, stand-up paddling and sport fishing are some of the activities that can be enjoyed along the river.
  • Notourism: In the Petrolina and Juazeiro region, explore the wineries and take part in wine and sparkling wine tastings.
  • Culture and History: Visit museums, historical sites and take part in cultural festivals that celebrate the region’s rich cultural heritage.
  • Gastronomy: Try typical dishes such as fresh fish from the river, carne de sol, roast goat and delicacies based on regional fruits such as mango and grapes.

Travelling Tips

  • Transport: Petrolina Airport is the main entry point to the São Francisco Valley region. From there, you can hire a car or use transfer services to explore the region.
  • Best Time to Visit: From May to September, when the climate is milder and drier. During the rainy season (October to April), the river and waterfalls are fuller and the landscapes are greener.
  • Accommodation: There are a variety of accommodation options, from comfortable hotels in Petrolina and Juazeiro to rustic inns in rural areas and ecolodges along the river.

The São Francisco River offers a unique combination of natural beauty, adventure, history and culture. Make the most of your trip by exploring the wonders of this majestic river and its banks.