In 1831, the young scientist Charles Darwin received an invitation that would change his life and would be definitive to reveal a little more about the fundamental questions about human beings: Who are we? Where did we come from? What do we do here?
Only 22 years, the Englishman embarked on the H.M.S. Beagle and departed towards to the Galapagos, in the extreme south of the continent. On the way, he made stops in some islands, until he arrived in Brazil, where he spent many months and began to collect and compare representatives of our flora and fauna. The research continued during the 4 years of the expedition and years later, it became the revolutionary book "The Origin of Species", in which Darwin proves that the struggle for survival makes the species evolve. The most adapted stay. The less, disappear.
This itinerary goes through places visited by scientist in the Country: Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and Cabo Frio. The routes can be done by boat, if you want to feel more the Darwin's trip atmosphere, but also by car, bus or plane. Choose your means of transport and embark on this amazing expedition towards the origins of the species.
Darwin arrived in Salvador during the summer on February 28, 1832, after visiting Cabo Verde by São Pedro islands, São Paulo and Fernando De Noronha Island. His first contact with the tropical continent was shocking after anchoring at Todos os Santos Bay. "No one would be able to imagine anything as beautiful as the old city of Bahia; it is sweetly cozy in a lush forest beautiful trees (...) The conviction of walking in the New World still is astounding to my eyes,” he wrote in one of his letters sent to each docked port.
Salvador is no longer surrounded by the forest mentioned by the scientist but keeps places where you can observe and explore the nature, as Darwin did.
Darwin noted that the American continent animals were different from the European animals. And even in the Americas species had variations depending on where they were found. In Farol da Barra and Ponta de Humaitá - two famous attractions of the city, you can experience the great marine diversity of the city coast.
Brazilian slavery also impacted the Englishman. In his notes, he reveals several comments and observations about the cruelty practice. Pelourinho, the greatest attraction in the city, is remnant of the time in which Africans were forced to serve their whites masters.
Rio de Janeiro delighted the young Charles Darwin, who was only 23 years old when he arrived the city, after leaving Salvador. The scientist spent three months in the capital of Brazil in that time. Amidst the enormous wealth of tropical nature, he did not stop making discoveries. He stayed at Botafogo neighborhood, he wrote: "Those interested in natural history have advantage in the sense that they always discover something that draws attention, but in these so fertile climate, full of animate beings, to make a characterization, new discoveries are made at every moment and are so numerous that you could only move with difficulty".
Darwin walked through several districts of the city such as Catete, Flamengo and Lagoa. He found a great and impressive biological wealth at the Botanical Gardens. The place still exists and it is one of the most interesting tours of the city. Over there, hundreds of plants and animal’s species are cataloged, at the foot of the Tijuca Forest, with a beautiful view of the Christ Redeemer, at Corcovado Hill.
Tijuca National Park is also a great place to observe the nature. Easy to access because of its location - in middle of the city, it has many trails through the woods, leading to lookouts where you will see exuberant panoramic views of the city, such as the Chinese View and the Pedra da Gávea.
The beaches of the Wonderful City, such as Ipanema and Copacabana, were studied by the scientist. Even though the advancement of the city on the coast line has removed much of the species it is possible to see some turtles, fish and dolphins.
Shortly after arriving at Rio de Janeiro, Darwin met a fellow countryman who was preparing to visit his lands, in North of Cabo Frio. Invited to join him, the scientist did not hesitate. Riding on horses, the duo crossed the Atlantic Forest for some weeks.
The intense heat and silence of the forest impressed him. As well as the variety of life found: butterflies, fireflies, fish hawks, orchids and several plant formations. He used to wake up early to explore the surroundings areas and to collect specimens which he sent to England for analysis and cataloging. Upon returning from the expedition, after 4 years of his departure, Darwin was already a renowned scientist.
Cabo Frio has grown and changed, but its nature can still be seen and discovered by anyone. Its beaches are great for marine life observation. The Conchas Beach has crystal clear water and it is perfect for diving in its natural pools. Dunas Beach is more deserted and calm. It is surrounded by native vegetation with many species inside and outside the water.
There are no records indicating whether Darwin visited the São Mateus Fort which was built to protect the city against possible invaders in the 16th century. But it is worth going up to its ruins. From above, you can watch the beautiful coast line of Cabo Frio, its turquoise blue sea, the incredible nature that seduced one of the most important scientists of all times and even helped him in his surveys that help us to understand a little more about us.