Iron Macho Challenge – The “Iron Man of the Seas” – 400 km KiteSurfing Expedition across 3 Brazilian States

After a nice warmup a month prior, KiteSurfing 350 km from Fortaleza to Camocim with the Lagartixa expedition, this was the ultimate challenge: KiteSurfing more than 400km from Jericoacoara (known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world) to Atins in the desert of the Lençóis Maranhenses; an intense 5 day challenge in a true paradise on earth. A once in a lifetime journey which I will never forget…

The Iron Macho kitesurfing trip

As described in my previous post The “Marathon of the Seas” Expedition: KiteSurfing 350 km of Ocean Stretch Off the Brazilian Coast, I had previously taken part in an amazing KiteSurf expedition from Fortaleza to Camocim, surfing a total of 350km back in August 2020. The amount of hours spent on the oceans had been an incredibly good training for the ultimate adventure I had signed up for with Iron Macho. And I came up ready for the challenge which started at the end of September 2020.

Inspired by the Iron Man Competition, the name Iron Macho is actually a local expression in Ceara where “macho” is used as a familiarity term such as “man” or “dude”. As much as it sounds overly masculine, it has more to do with the traditional term than the masculine word of “macho” we use in English, as even women were welcomed to take part in the Expedition (actually 1 out of about 50 participants in the 2020 edition).

The Iron Macho Itinerary

Being just a little bit longer than the Lagartixa trip, The iron macho expedition had the ability to bring me to deserted areas of northern Brazil that I always wanted to visit through the states of Ceara, Piauí and Maranhão. The area is hard to access even by road, making this even more attractive to see the incredible beauty of the region, from the oceans! The two highlights were the Delta of Parnaíba, and one of my top five most beautiful natural site in the world I have seen across all my adventures: the Lençóis Maranhenses.

The trip actually starts in the state of Rio Grande do Norte and participants could join and leave at different parts of the trip. Since I had already traveled from Fortaleza to Camocim with the Lagartixa kitetrip, I decided to start in Jericoacoara and continue the journey all the way to Atins in 5 days, at the foot of the Lencois. Our first stop after Jericoacoara was Camocim, where I had finished the previous trip. I didn’t mind redoing this 60km stretch again since it was definitely one of my favorite KiteSurf Downwind area of the whole Brazilian Coast. Think flat sandy beaches with small waves to jump the whole way down, with the strongest winds in Brazil. Just perfect! We actually officially got the strongest winds ever registered since the beginning of this expedition, with over 40 knots of winds gushing to over 45 knots… Definitely not usual. (You can see by yourself at the end of the video #1 in the section below to see what 40 knots of wind looks like, with sand blasting across the beach)

The second night was spent in Barra Grande in the state of Piaui, a Mecca of KiteSurf in Brazil where I had also planned to come back to spend a few weeks later on. We then continued to Ponta do Sal for the third night and Tutoia in the state of Maranhão for the fourth night before reaching Atins.

Reaching the end of all roads

The Delta of Parnaíba is actually the third largest delta in the world, and KiteSurfing it’s beautiful coast was absolutely breathtaking. So much wildlife, and scenery only seen in dreams. This is what it felt. Not to mention the absolutely perfect conditions to KiteSurf anywhere on earth. Long stretches of shallow beaches, constant winds all day long of about 20 to 30 knots, warm waters of over 28 degrees Celsius in the ocean as well as fresh water lagoons; once a KiteSurf experiences these conditions, it is hard to justify returning to home conditions after experience this.

The Lencois Maranhences is an amazing dessert that is filled with lagoons of fresh water, making it an incredible place to explore with “out of this world” scenery. Finishing the trip in this little Paradise and getting to KiteSurf it’s fresh crystal blue waters was a dream of mine becoming true, and was the cherry on the Sunday to reward myself for accomplishing the iron macho challenge.

Delta do Parnaiba

Another means of travel during pandemic times

As the pandemic had brought my travels to a halt for a few months, I researched how I could take advantage of this time off from crossing borders and focus on local travel in what I consider one of the most diverse country in the world. The idea was to use KiteSurfing to explore the north eastern states of the country, only truly explorable by the ocean. The roads are so scarce that once there is an access to a part of the coast, it is usually only reachable by 4×4 as most roads are made of sand and sometimes even soft sand. This leaves thousands of kilometers of deserted and incredibly beautiful beaches explorable from the seas, on a surfboard! This is the magic of downwind adventures in Brazil!

Finish line and Medals

Crossing the finish line safe and sound was incredibly satisfying. 400 kilometers of pure beauty and connecting with nature at it’s finest. Memories I can only hope will stay as fresh as possible in my mind as long as possible.

We were awarded medals at the end of the journey with a ceremony marking the end of a successful expedition.

Would I do it again? Certainly! The event is usually hosted yearly and anybody with a few seasons of KiteSurfing experience can attend. I will definitely join again in the future, and wouldn’t mind redoing the same stretch as it was “only filet mignon” as they say in northern Brazil!

Receiving my Iron Macho medal from Marques the Iron Macho President

Traveling with a Nobile Splitboard

Im a fervent admire of the Split-board concept! Kitesurfing is a sport of travel, with surfers needing to reach the few ideal wind/condition spots around the world! And the airline industry is there to slap us on the wrist with their scrupulous fees for sports equipment. This is where the split board come in! Many company’s make them, Flysurfer, Concept, Nobile, RRD Fifty Fifty. I have chosen a Nobile NHP Split for this trip, and enjoyed being able to pack it up in a duffle bag along with 2 kites and all the rest of my equipment, and travel around northern Brasil from spot to spot after iron macho. Even on public transport. Everything was enjoyable until the board broke, but that’s another story. Overall I absolutely loved it, it attracted so much attention anywhere I would go. I actually think it should be an essential piece of equipment for any kiteboarder. I will be looking to try another board for my 2021 trip to northern Brazil again.

The Iron Macho episode showcased in my Best Selling Book

The experience with Iron Macho has been show-cased in my current Best-Selling Book called Globetrotter, in my Chapter called “The end of the world”. I recall how reaching the Lencois Maranhenses in Atins during the Pandemlc was a dramatic moment, avoiding lockdowned states by crossing them by the ocean by kitesurf, being tracked by health official on arrival villages, crossing over 800 km from Cumbuco to Atins, etc… The book is available in paperback and ebook at amazon here and in several other stores.

Video Summary of the five days

The official photographers and Cameraman of Iron Macho did a great job in creating some amazing videos summarizing the whole experience, day by day. Well worth checking them out!

Day One: Jericoacoara to Camocim
Day Two: Camocim to Barra grande
Day Three: Barra Grande to Ponta do Sal
Day Four: Ponta do Sal to Tutoia
Day Five: Tutoia to Atins

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