The Jequitinhonha Valley is located in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais and is home to the Jequitinhonha river. The valley is one of the poorest regions of Brazil and has an approximate population of one million people, distributed into about 80 municipalities.

It is a region of stark contrasts.The poverty, a result of the persistent droughts and lack of jobs, coexists with a rich culture and strong social capital. It is a region where men spend most of their time away from home, in the big cities, where they work in civil construction, and where women are left to raise their children, take care of the elderly and maintain their households while also generating income through subsistence farming, handicrafts and most recently through community-based tourism.

Known for its inventive and unique artistic spirit, the Jequitinhonha Valley is home to a variety of beautiful and creative manifestations, which include: leatherwork, embroidery, weaving, drawing, music, wood sculptures, basketry, painting and ceramic crafts. This all began back in the day when women, who used to be called “paneleiras” (pan makers), started to work the clay that is commonly found in the region for utilitarian purposes. 

The tradition was maintained and passed down from generation to generation, from great-grandparents to grandmothers, mothers and daughters.

These utilitarian pieces rank as some of the most creative works of Brazilian popular art, today. The famous “dolls” from that region are in fact pitchers for holding fresh water, thus losing this function and becoming decorative objects.

Embark with us on, not only ceramic arts immersion, but also a journey of genuine and loving camaraderie with these female artisans of clay and life!


See what you find in this destination:

Rural community

mouseover or click to enlarge

The community

photo: © Vivejar Archives

The communities we visit in the Jequitinhonha Valley are part of the Turmalina municipality, which suffers from drought and scarce rainfall. As a result of this, the men have migrated to the big cities, leaving their women behind who are known as the drought widows.

Nowadays, the women from Coqueiro Campo and Campo Alegre communities live from their handicraft, which is passed down from generation to generation, and was previously only used by kids as toys. Today, the clay handicraft has evolved into an opportunity to help increase the family income and improve the living conditions.

Throughout the years, women have decided to gather together in groups and dedicate more time to this activity, sharing ideas and experiences and enhancing their art at the same time. By upholding these bonds, this special ceramics handcraft, which has since also been supported by different initiatives and projects funded by the government as well as the third sector, has developed into an incredibly creative work of Brazilian popular art.

The Jequitinhonha Valley is a peculiarly inventive and artistic place, home to beautiful and creative artworks like leather, embroidery, weaving, drawing, music, wood sculptures, basketry, painting and ceramics. Join us as we dive into the world of ceramics while enjoying genuine and loving cohabitation with these artisans of clay and life!

Next departures


click to enlarge

Testimonials from those who have experienced this tour

photo: © André Dib

Vivejar's impact in this community

The community-based tourism in the Jequitinhonha Valley is considered to be the pilot project. Vivejar was inspired by the experiences created through Raízes Sustainable Development, a tourism consulting comapny. We started working with groups back in 2012, and have been collecting positive feedback from both communities and tourists ever since.

Vivejar fosters the direct generation of income for the artisans and families involved in the tourist activity through very peculiar aspects of the tours such as family accommodation, meals provided by and enjoyed with communitarians, as well the activities offered and conducted by community members.

In addition, the local economy is supported through the sale of pieces of handicraft of others artisans, as well the selling of products produced by other members of the community and offered to the guests.

The trips are a major factor that contributes to the preservation of the local cultural patrimony, both tangible and intangible. In particular, they enable local female artisans to bring to life their artistic manifestations and pass their cultural heritage to the coming generations.

Women play the leading role in the ceramics’ production in the region as well as having the leading role in the different associations of artisans. Moreover they are the contact point for the organization of the tourist activities. That’s why the presence of visitors stimulates in a very important way their self-esteem and through it the empowerment of women in the communities.

Vivejar is working on developing a new methodology of impact measurement, inspired by its theory of change,  translated in the real connection between travellers and communities, empowering both of them. For the communities it happens through the generation of income, cultural and environmental recognition and appreciation, as well as the cultivation of their self-esteem. For travellers the experience provides them a different perspective and world vision.

See below an infographic that summarizes the positive impact we have generated throughout the last 4 years of activity.

photo: © Vivejar archive

visitors in 9 groups
volunteer groups
reals generated by the travellers
families involved so far
artisans selling their handcrafts
people indirectly benefitted



preservation of local culture


fostering community entrepreneurship


fostering women's empowerment: women are the protagonists!

photo: © André Dib

Want to learn more about this specific destination?

Talk to our team and get to know how to embark on this experience!