Aug 10, 2010

Atol das Rocas : untouchable hell or heaven?

by Antonella Kann

When I look at those pics, I always remember this friend of mine who was telling us about his wonderful trip to the Atol das Rocas, a small atoll stranded 81 miles away from the island of Fernando de Noronha (which belongs to the State of Pernambuco) and 144 miles from the city of Natal ( capital of the State of Rio Grande do Norte).

He described his diving and swimming in an extraordinarily transparent sea, surrounded by tens of species of fish, some of which he also targeted for dinner time.

And feasted on lobsters freshly caught. He also pointed out that there were lots of fishermen´s boats around, and the men were catching sea turtles with their nets. Oh, yes, by the way, of course this friend was also aboard, though just a sailing boat.

This story is true, but – and a BIG BUT – took place almost 35 years ago.
By this I mean that, today, these scenes would be absolutely impossible to witness, as the Atoll is now a Biological Reserve submitted to the severe rules of the IBAMA , a governmental organ which is responsible for the environment.

But, when browsing at the pictures, your first thought is that this place is absolutely stunning and could be a reflection of a perfect destination in every detail. Wildlife, an uncommon transparency of the water and white stretches of deserted sandy beaches.

Paradise? At first sight, truly saying, yes. But when you think that there´s no fresh water whatsoever and no shade ( under a year-long temperature of over 40ºC) except under a palm tree which actually has been recently “imported” from the continent to this oasis, you´ll probably believe it otherwise.

That if God had created the world to look like this Atoll, then he would have made us with wings…..

Sorry, but you won´t find a mention of the Atoll in the main guides ( though you can certainly find excellent travel and photography books on it), as nowadays it´s almost out of reach and certainly unconceivable as far as a tourist destination is concerned.

And should I add, inaccessible even if you manage to get close to it – which would be by boat, but even if you do throw your anchor one mile away ( the authorized distance) from the Atoll, and consider yourself “in loco”, you wouldn´t even be allowed to take an innocent dip in the warm pristine water.

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