Natal – A Charming Place With A Perfect Blend Of Sand And Shores

Natal, is the capital city of Rio Grande Do Norte state in Brazil.
Known for its shores and the dunes, the city is a charming blend of historical masterpieces, set amidst the modern structures and is a paradisiacal beach retreat for the travelers as the city offers innumerable sandy shores.

Getting there

Natal is easily accessible by all modes of travel. The domestic and International Airports are located close to the city limits. The Highway is the vein of the city as it connects Natal to the rest of Brazil. Bus and taxis are available in plenty. Buggy is most relied upon for beach transport.

Places of Interest

1. Dunas Park
Dunas Park

It is an 11.7 million square meters, urban nature reserve that houses several animal and vegetable species, particular to Atlantic forest.  The park has a jogging park and a recreational centre called Bosque Dos Namorados.

2. Forte Dos Reis Magos
This is a medieval star shaped fortress facing the river Potenji and has historical significance as it was built in the 16th century to protect the coast from French pirates, which later became Brazil’s defence barriers, then as a prison and later as administrative offices under the Dutch rule. It is accessible using a pedestrian path.

3. Ponte Newton Navarro
Ponte Newton Navarro

Also called as Ponte de Todos, this place is the connecting bridge between the North and the East parts of the city and is the vein of the city. Built across the Potenji River, it offers a magnificent view and a great spectacle.

4. Historic Centre
Natal’s Historic centre is located in the Alta e Ribeira and has several monuments of historical significance which was why it was declared as a national Heritage site in 2010. Constructed in different styles including colonial, neo-classical and medieval, some of the places of interest here are the Memorial Camara Cascudo, Igreja de Santa Antonio, which is a museum with tower.

5. Alberto Maranhao Theatre
Alberto Maranhao Theatre

This theatre is located in the Historical centre which is a fine example of French architectural marvels, and is also the oldest and the biggest museums in the city.

6. Beaches of Natal
The city offers innumerable beaches from pristine white sand to the dark sand beaches. Ponta Negra is the favorite among tourists. Via Costeria, Praia da Mero and Praia da Forte are some of the easy accessible beaches and the popular beach destination.

While at Natal, do not forget to get a ride on the buggy and travel across the coast, as it offers a rare view and a great combination of dunes, natural vegetation, and sandstone cliffs all amidst the well preserved history and modernity.

Gateway To The Dunes Of Sahara Merzouga

The quaint little town of Merzouga in the South West of Morocco is located near the large sand dunes of Erg Chebbi bordering the Sahara desert.
Sahara Merzouga
Travelers come here to experience the vast expanse of the sand dunes and enjoy camel rides on the desert stay in the Berber tents and experience the Berber life and cuisine like authentic Tagline. Merzouga is otherwise an outlying town having very few residents, fewer numbers of shops, and cafe.

Getting here

Getting to Merzouga can be a tedious task as two of is neighboring towns are accessible by road. Flights fly twice a week to Ouarzazate, (which is about 7 hrs) and to Er Rachicia (about 2 hrs from Merzouga). This place is not accessible by train.

Things to do

1. Camel Ride and Camp
Camel Ride and Camp

Camel ride and a night under the stars are both ‘must experience’ for the tourist. Most of the tours have options of staying in the Berber tents and experiencing African Village life in a remote corner which can be a very fulfilling and filled with tranquility. Negotiating with the Camel riders can get you a good bargain for the camel rides which typically last up to 2 hours. A plenty of tour operators offer guided tours from Marakkech and Fez which is the safest and best possible option to explore the desert and the nearby villages. A two day trip to Merzouga is a good enough experience as the time spent in the desert is simply spectacular as you can do a couple of other activities as well.

2. Other activities include the quad biking, hot air balloon, bird watching and Sand hiking.
hot air balloon
Children can experience the thrill of quad biking in the desert as it is child –friendly.

Best time to visit

The Best time to Visit Merzouga is from October to February. The summer months from April to September can get brutally hot, and can get very dry, you may need a jacket during the night especially if you are sweltering during the day. During the months of March and April one can experience the sand storms as the sirocco whips up during these months.

Auberge Kasbah Tombouctou

Stay options in Merzouga include locally run hotels namely Guest House Merzouga and Auberge Takojt.  Riad Nehza and Kasbah Mohayut are good value options that let you dine as well as have swimming pool. Auberge Kasbah Tombouctou is a luxury option. 
All these places offer guided tours to the sand dunes and lets you experience the wonders of the Gateway to the Sahara.