Prickly Heat: travels in the Brazilian outback

The Sertao is Brazil’s desert land, where donkeys and cacti proliferate. But it is also home to the continent’s finest prehistoric treasures. Sarah Barrell goes exploring

There is a place in Brazil, it is said, where nothing grows but sorrow and cacti. A place of donkeys and drought where the scalding sky shows little mercy for the creatures below. In this place, potholes are more common than people and distances between towns are measured in days rather than miles. As travel destinations go, the Sertao, Brazil’s north–east hinterland, is one of the world’s less obvious. It is also one of its most spectacular.

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