Pacatuba SE: A Gateway to Sergipano Pantanal

Church of Pacatuba SE
Church of Pacatuba SE

Pacatuba is a Brazilian municipality in the state of Sergipe. The beautiful history of the founding of the municipality of Pacatuba, 116 kilometres from Aracaju, deserves a separate study. As historians say about the land that makes up this municipality, it sits on a vast plateau.

Pacatuba is known for being the gateway to the Sergipano Pantanal, an area rich in biodiversity and with a unique ecosystem.

Pacatuba is a flood plain and has a great biodiversity. There are more than 100 catalogued species, including many fish, mammals, birds and ornamental plants.

The northeastern wetlands, or pantanal sergipano, were formed more than 12,000 years ago. The region is around 40 kilometres long and can be admired on the route that links Pacatuba to another beach on the north coast, Pirambu.

The Sergipano Pantanal is part of the Santa Isabel Biological Reserve, which protects the region’s beaches, dunes and lagoons, so it is vitally important not to leave traces and rubbish in the area.

Map of Sergipe
Map of Sergipe

The site can be reached from the BR-101 motorway via the road to Japaratuba, but to contemplate the beauty of the region you have to go or return to Pirambu via the dirt road.

The most beautiful spot is the Mirante do Robalo, where you can see all the beauties in the region.

The region on the coast of Sergipe has its own vegetation and fauna. Species have been little studied or have not yet been inventoried by science and it lies on the border with Alagoas and almost on the banks of the São Francisco river, which flows into the sea a few kilometres from the municipality.

Most of the 14,000 inhabitants make their living from fishing, coconut production and cattle breeding. The region has a unique relief, which intersperses hills and flood plains. To get to the beach you have to drive 20 kilometres along a sandy road and climb some dunes, but the effort is worth it.

In an area of just 40 square kilometres, Pacatuba has 46 freshwater lagoons. Some are permanent, others only fill up during the rainy season, which is why the place has been baptised as Sergipe’s swampland.

Pantanal Sergipano em Pacatuba SE
Pantanal Sergipano em Pacatuba SE

Pacatuba has an ecosystem of great biological importance and is very sensitive.

The formation of the lagoons is due to a mixture of factors:

  • The complex is supplied by two rivers that flow during the water season. It rains well during the summer. The type of soil in the area absorbs water. The plains in the middle of the undulating terrain act as reservoirs that store this water.
  • The water table is higher and closer to the surface. And the dunes form a natural barrier, preventing fresh water from flowing into the sea. It brings organic matter and ends up maintaining the sandbank itself, bringing a dynamic of nutrients that is important.

There is also a mixture of botanical formations. From the restinga vegetation, which appears in the dunes and on the beach strip, to the Atlantic forest, further inland.

In the lagoons there are fish and aquatic plants. They create an excellent environment for the reproduction and survival of various animal species and end up being a nursery, providing food, bringing migratory birds, among other animals.

The Tamar Project, which looks after the preservation of sea turtles all along the Brazilian coast, says that several species lay their eggs in the region: among them the endangered hawksbill turtle and the olive ridley turtle, the species that most often appears on these beaches.

Pantanal Sergipano em Pacatuba
Pantanal Sergipano em Pacatuba

Because of its importance, 5,500 hectares of this area have been transformed into a federal conservation unit: the Santa Isabel Biological Reserve. Created in 1988, it protects the beaches, dunes and lagoons.

Videos – Pacatuba and the Sergipano Pantanal

Pacatuba in Sergipe

1. Tourist Attractions

1.1. Congombéia

The Congombéia is situated on the banks of the Betume or Poxim river, where on Sundays the residents of Pacatuba and tourists are obliged to go to bathe in the waters of the last river that flows into the São Francisco before it reaches the sea. There you can enjoy a variety of drinks and dishes.

1.2. Pacatuba Dunes

The Pacatuba dunes are formed along the entire stretch between Ponta dos Mangues and Santa Izabel. They are paradisiacal dunes, very beautiful and ideal for practising extreme sports.

1.3. Santa Izabel viewpoint and dunes

The Santa Izabel viewpoint is spectacular, something out of this world. From the top, you can see the beach, the dunes and the lakes formed between the dunes. The dunes are very high and the vegetation is intact.

1.4. Prainha

Prainha is another beach in the village of Ponta dos Mangues. This beach is a stretch of mangrove forest that gives access to the São Francisco river, passing Funil Island and arriving at Cabeço.

1.5. Ponta dos Mangues and Boca da Barra beaches

Ponta dos Mangues beach is 23 kilometres from the town of Pacatuba, in the village of Ponta dos Mangues. Although it’s a deserted, calm beach, the waves can reach more than 2 metres high during storms, it’s popular with surfers and tourists seeking contact with nature.

1.6. Sergipano or Northeastern Pantanal

The Pacatuba Pantanal is less than two hours from Aracaju. It is the largest aquifer in the Northeast, where drinking water is abundant. It is 40 square kilometres interconnected by lagoons and covered in typical plants.

1.7. São Francisco River

The Velho Chico, as it is affectionately called, offers boat trips and fishing opportunities. The riverbanks offer beautiful scenery and are ideal for picnics and walks.

1.8. Mem de Sá Island

Located on the São Francisco River, this island is a great place to explore and enjoy nature. It is ideal for those who like tranquillity and natural beauty.

2. Activities and Experiences

2.1. Boat trips

Navigating the region’s rivers is an unforgettable experience. Boat trips allow you to observe the fauna and flora up close and appreciate the natural beauty of the Sergipano Pantanal.

2.2. Birdwatching

The region is a paradise for birdwatchers, with countless species to be seen. Local guides can help identify the different birds and provide information about their habits.

2.3. Sport fishing

The region’s rivers are rich in fish, making sport fishing a popular activity. It is possible to hire fishing equipment and specialised guides.

2.4. Ecological Trails

There are several trails that allow you to explore the local vegetation and observe wildlife. Hiking is an excellent way to connect with nature and learn about the local ecosystem.

3. Tips for Visiting Pacatuba and the Sergipano Pantanal

3.1. Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit is during the dry season, from May to September, when the weather is milder and outdoor activities are more enjoyable. However, each season offers a unique experience, and the rainy season can reveal lush landscapes.

3.2. Accommodation

Pacatuba offers a variety of accommodation options, from cosy pousadas to eco-resorts that provide an immersive experience in nature. Book in advance, especially during the high season.

How to get there

The town of Pacatuba is located around 70 km from the capital Aracaju and the best way to get there by car is via the BR-101 in the northern direction of the state. The road is well signposted and you won’t have any problems getting to the town of Pacatuba.

There is also a local track passing through Japaratuba, but we don’t recommend it because almost the entire route is a clay track, often with puddles and stretches that are difficult to access. It is very common for cars and even buses to get bogged down.

Tourism and Travel Guide to Sergipe and the Northeast

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