BRAZIL – practical info

In Brazil, we hitchhiked through 6 states, a total of 5750 km. Some states we only passed, in others we stayed for longer. The diversity of this country is really surprising – both in terms of landscape and people. Here you will find a handful of practical information that we have collected during a two-month stay in this country.

Our route: Rio de Janeiro – Foz do Iguacu

What to see?

Here we could write a book, and yet we saw only a piece of Brazil. We will try to briefly describe what we think is worth seeing.

Rio de Janeiro (22°57’22.1″S 43°10’38.7″W)

Panoramic view from Corcovado hill

Rio doesn’t need advertising, it’s an amazing city full of life. We had the opportunity to visit it during the carnival, walking the streets full of of dressed up people. There are many guides on the internet what to do in Rio, so not to rewrite what is already written, we will only say that:

  • It is worth entering the Corcovado hill under the statue of Jesus. Yes, it’s touristy, packed with people, not cheap, but the views are breathtaking.
  • It is worth to see the sunset from Pedra do Arpoador with a view of Ipanema
  • It’s worth seeing a favela up close. Of course, it’s best in the company of the locals, not waving the camera on the right and left, and to choose a calmer one.
  • You can read more about Rio de Janeiro in our posts here and here.

Itacaré (14°16’40.2″S 38°59’18.6″W)

Relaxing on the beach in Itacaré

A perfect choice when it comes to sunbathing. The whole coast between Porto Seguro and Salvador is famous for its beautiful beaches. We chose Itacaré for a few days and it was a bullseye. It’s a small, hippie town, surrounded by 3 lovely beaches known for great surfing conditions, and a little further going through the forest one more. In addition, out of the peak season, you can find a very decent and inexpensive hostel (we paid about 25 PLN per person), cheaply eat and enjoy the beach in peace, because compared to the city’s beaches in Rio, in Itacaré was just a few people. We wrote about Itacaré here.

Salvador (12°58’18.9″S 38°30’32.5″W)

Lembranças do Bahia at Bonfim cathedral

Our favorite Brazilian city. Full of colors, music, chaos. The most different from what we know every day. Just like with Rio, we won’t repeat ourselves, but in short we can recommend:

  • Pelourinho – old town. Standard, we know, but we absolutely loved it
  • Igreja do Nosso Senhor do Bonfim – church in which both Catholic and Candomblé ceremonies take place. Apparently beautiful at sunset, we unfortunately arrived late 🙁
  • Sunset on Farol da Barra – not only a beautiful spectacle, but often accompanied by street musicians
  • Eat a lot of fruit, drink coconut water, eat geladinho (homemade ice cream from fruit juices sold on the street) – generally in all of Bahia these delicacies are the most easily available, and their prices are the lowest.
  • DO NOT take the Lembrança do Bahia ribbons from nice gentlemen, who distribute them on the street for free and tie them on your wrists. The entire Salvador is strewn with them, and they look really nice, but we learned that this free handing out serves to mark tourists, so later they are easily recocnisable by robbers
  • You can find our relation from Salvador here.

Chapada Diamantina (12°36’16.0″S 41°26’43.3″W)

Chapada Diamantina

Despite our adventure with the waterfall, we highly recommend Chapada Diamantina National Park. Rock formations and waterfalls make a huge impression. The main two starting points for trekking are the towns of Lençóis (cheaper) and Caete-Açu (more expensive). However, there are many more attractions, but without a car it is difficult to travel between distant points.

Ouro Preto (20°23’06.5″S 43°30’15.9″W)

Panoramic view from… student dorm

Very nice located town, plenty of viewpoints. More about Ouro Preto and nearby Mariana, equally nice, we wrote here.

Foz do Iguaçu (25°32’00.2″S 54°34’32.9″W)

Brazilians have built a bridge, with which the waterfalls can be approached really close

Seeing the Iguaçu Falls was on our dream list. In our opinion, this is definitely a mandatory point. An interesting object is also the Itaipu dam, which can be visited from Foz. You can read more about this here.

Where to sleep?

One of our “capmings” on a gas station

We, traveling low-budget, always look for the cheapest solutions. When in cities we couldn’t find Couchsurfing host, we were looking for the cheapest hostels. For a bed in a dormitory we paid 20 BRL per person (Salvador), for a private accommodation 30 BRL per person (Lençois). When prices in Caete-Açu were higher, we found a campsite for 20 BRL per person. On the way you can easily sleep at gas stations. They are open round the clock, so always someone will keep an eye on your tent, almost always at the station is an inexpensive restaurant, there are always bathrooms with showers (sometimes the showers were paid, about 5 BRL).

How much does it cost?

After drinking coconut water, you can ask for cutting it and eat the pulp

Prices in Brazil are very pleasant, more or less like in Poland. Of course, some products are more expensive, others cheaper. But generally, we didn’t deny ourselves pleasures without spending too much money. Sample prices:

The average Brazilian real rate during our stay was 1 BRL = 1,03 PLN

  • mineral water (1,5l): 2,5 – 3,5 BRL
  • bread roll: 0,25 BRL
  • lunch: 10 -15 BRL*
  • coconut water (1 coconut is about 0,5 litre of liquid): 1 (Salvador) – 6 (Rio) BRL
  • geladinho: 1 BRL
  • mango: 3 – 5 BRL/kg
  • pineaple: 2,5 – 5 BRL/szt.
  • small yoghurt: 2,5 BRL
  • beer in a pub (1l): 8 -10 BRL
  • beer in a shop (0,5l): 3 – 4 BRL

* In restaurants in cities, dishes from the menu were much more expensive, from 30 up to 50 BRL. However, in most restaurants you can eat ‘prato feito’, which means a prepared dish. Usually a piece of meat (beef, chicken or sausage), pasta, rice, feijao (bean sauce) and salad. Decent portion. Most of the restaurants at gas stations are a self-service buffet, you eat as much as you like, also at these prices.

Delicious ‘self-service’ for 15 BRL!

Hitchhiking

And sometimes you hitchhike in such picturesque places!

It works very differently, but generally quite well. We have had difficult days, when we dragged 200 km all day long by buses (especially on the island of Itaprica!), there were also days when we quickly got a ride for long distances. The average waiting time can be estimated at about 1 hour. Truck drivers have a ban on hitchhikers, but many times we were picked up by the truck, only one of us had to hide behind the curtain when we passed police patrols.

Phone, mobile internet

In such places you won’t find any coverage…

We used the TIM network paying 10 BRL per week and got 1 GB of internet for it (WhatsApp was for free if the account was valid). Using the telephone is not so easy, because each number must be registered using the CPF – the Brazilian ID number. We registered the number on our friend, because registering on the foreigner and its document number isn’t possible. In addition, registration must take place personally in the TIM showroom. It’s also worth mentioning that when traveling between distant cities, you often pass only fields and forests for many hours. There is no coverage in such places anyway.

Tips

Geladinho, mango and carambolas and a coconut warehouse!
  • When it comes to cash withdrawals at ATMs, only Bradesco (for free) and Banco 24h (24 BRL commission, no thanks 🙂) worked for us. In many places you can pay by card, but not in all of them is wise to do so 🙂
  • Bottled water is quite expensive. Tap water is safe to drink (in the north only the one from taps with filters!), but nasty in taste. We usually squeezed into a 1.5-liter bottle juice from 1 lime, it was tastier and healthier :)
  • Eat a lot of local fruit! The taste is incomparable to those imported to Europe, besides we had the opportunity to try many completely new flavors (goyaba, jaca, carambola).
  • Don’t flare up with the equipment, don’t walk with the camera on top, don’t use the phone on the street for a long time. Rather, take out the camera, take a picture quickly and put it in a backpack. All the locals were advising us so, and we were sticking to it. Nothing happened to us.
  • Maybe it is a trifle, but for us – allergy sufferers – it was a significant problem. There are virtually no tissues in Brazil! Toilet paper is of a poor quality, napkins are more paper than ‘wipes’. Wiping your nose a dozen or so times a day resulted in irritation, so if you go to Brazil – take a supply of tissues from Poland;)
  • Put the toilet paper in the waste bin!

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