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Kind of travel:
Me and my girlfriend Elisa in an independent travel
28th May - 11th June 2011
Do I need a visa:
no, just the passport to get a medium size dull stamp back
How many km:
How I moved:
on a 3 deck boat from Manaus to Belem sleeping on hammocks,
then comfortable night bus till Sao Luis, then so many bumpy
jeep rides on sandy roads. The jeep having benches mounted in
the back are used as public transport
Freezing or baking:
awfully hot and damp; I've never suffered as much as I did in
particular in Manaus and Belem. Fortaleza and Jeri gets more
bearable since windier rasil chiller and rainy (we snorkelled
but with the swimming suite), the only unpleasant temperature
was in Kassala since hot and humid.
on the boat in Rio Amazonas our hammocks were our bedroom, then
medium range hotel or guesthouses (called posadas) in Belem,
Sao Luis and Jeri. A/C in Manaus and Belem for us was not an
the Lencois Maranhenses (km's of white sandy dunes dotted by
emerald ponds), snoozing the whole day on the hammock on the
boat sailing the Amazon River and paddling over the flooded
beach called 'Alter do Chao' on the world widest river
What I disliked:
the damp hotness, the unforecast cost of accommodation/ transport
and the last but not the least the feeling of insecurity characterizing
the main cities
the daily budget turned out more than 70€/day pp. Transport
and accommodation play the major role (12h by bus 50€pp,
a double room in Manaus 45€) and the quality/ cost ratio
hassles: walking around in cities like Manaus and Belem
on Sunday, when towns are ghostly will make you feel uncomfortable.
As usual the most dangerous animals of the whole Amazonas are
the human beings
you do need:
a lot depend on you mother tongue but studying Portuguese really
helps. Having a glance to the boat schedule will avoid you waiting
IMPRESSIONS OF BRASIL
It was few years were longing for a travel in
Brazil, and in fact we even studied Portuguese for some months.
Then finally we decided Brazil would have been our honeymoon
destination. and, once having exchanged the rings, we flew there.
We had our piece of adventure in Amazonas without major issues
(even if having the luggage lost hasn't been the best it could
happen...) covering 3000km, hence I feelwe had quite a meaningful
insight of the NordEste.
However something didn't click on! Nothing about the spotless
kindness of the people, but I didnt feel Brazil excting
me as other travels did.
For sure it hasn't been due to the fact Brazil being a major
touristic destination, on the opposite we found much fewer tourists
than supposed (in the whole Amazonas we met 3 foreigners)
First of all the insecurity we breathed in many areas contributed
a lot to our uneasiness; it hasn't been just a feeling since
we lived some episode due to the social tension (I hate when
I cannot walk where I want when I want!).
On top of it I expected a much more lively atmosphere, expectation
driven by the stereotype of being a country where people enjoy
the life ... but we didn't find anything with such vibe. (Once
some guys were dancing capoeira, but to gather tourists)
The last but not the least the damp hotness was unbearable!
I'm not discouraging anybody from going there (wildlife is amazing
indeed) but set your right level of expectations.
Alter do Chao
do Chao- Santarem
I As promising starting point when we landed in Manaus from
Lisbon (stopping over in Sao Paulo), our luggage got lost (read
the TIPS), and we retrieved only days later (one even in
We spent two days in Manaus at the Hotel Brasil (45€ bleak
double room with A/C) visiting the Bosque de Ciencia (Wood of
Science) (don't expect too much), hanging around the town and
shuttling back and forth from the airport to claim for our back
Then we did the necessary for the boat travel to Santarem: we
bought the ticket (Manaus- Santarem, 30hours, 50€ per hammock
(100R$),) some food and two hammock ((read
In the afternoon we rented a boat (12 seat boat just for us
= 90€ for 4h!) for a tour on Rio Amazonas to see the 'Encontro
de Agua' (where two rivers with two different colors meet without
blending for several km's),a floating village with exotic animals
kept as pets (anaconda, baby crock, cloth,...) and entering
the hardly accessable flooded part of the Forest (since the
water is at his highest).
What a luck that in the evening by chance we attended the Lyric
Festival played outside the Amazonas theatre with an awesome
choreography and outstanding performance: it has been our highlight
of Manaus even because the town itself isn't that charming.
The boat to Santarem set out on Tuesday at 12.30 pm but we hang
our hammocks several hours beforehand: we called in Santarem
in the late afternoon the following day. It has been a pleasant
trip, mainly because being fresh (due to the open deck letting
the air to flow while the boat is moving) and mosquito free
(since downstream ward the boats sail in the middle on the Amazon
River). Besides there's a 'restaurant', namely a woman cooking
some meat with rise (not bad though) \and on the upper deck
a bar (lanchonete) where you can enjoy beers and snacks.
Santarem is definitely more pleasant than Manaus (even much
smaller). We settled down at the Hotel GranRios (double room
24€) staying in the town one full day. The spare day we
had there we bought the ticket to Belem (40h, 120R$ for hammock)
and by bus (1h) we reached the popular beach called ' Alter
Unfortunately June is the end of the wet season so the white
sand beach is covered by 3m of water. Not too bad since renting
two kayaks let us to paddle over the beach anyway.
Anyway our best memory of Santarem is the moment we finally
retrieved our backbag lost by the air carrier on the way from
Lisbon to Manaus!!
The Santarem- Belem leg on the boat has been more interesting
that the previous one; in particular the second day of the trip
when the boat leaves the Amazon River to enter a narrow channel
leading to Belem. Here it passes near several small villages
of few wooden houses and typically an evangelic church just
perched on the river bank connected to the rest of the world
only by hundreds of km of water. What turned out to be impressive
has been the countless number of canoes on which typically the
mother with her children were paddling like hell towards our
boat to collect the the plastic bags filled with food thrown
by the most generous passangers.
Even more striking it has been to see few canoe daring to harpoon
the boat (while it's moving) with some steel hooks and then
climbing it up to sell their shrimps.
Belem isn't the place where you might want to stay more than
you need; we arrived on Sunday in the early morning and the
town was ghostly apart of two guys punching each other on the
faces right outside the docks. We jumped on a bus to reach the
bus station where we bought a ticket for the night bus to Sao
Luis (55€!, 12h leaving at 8.00pm). We stored our luggage
there and we dedicated the day to town. Nobody stole us anything
but few times I felt we weren't that far... half day has been
enough to visit the highlights, mall included!
We pulled in Sao Luis at 7.00 am, settled down at Hotel Lord
(double room 35€) and had a stroll around.
Sao Luis is very typical with his tiled facades in line to the
Portuguese style, even the traffic lights have a tile-like appearance.
It's the town where you can take your time enjoying in a typical
restaurant the Brazilian cousin or shopping in the endless number
of souvenir shops.
At 6.00 am we took the first bus to the town called Barreirinhas,
the base to explore the famous Lencois Maranhenses (literally
the white sheets of the Maranhao Region). It's a 4.5h bus trip
so you will pull in the town at 11.00am; once dropped off the
bus it won't be that effort to find a tour, since they find
you. We bought a 44 euro tour to the 'Laguna Bonita' (beautifull
lagoon) leaving at 2.00pm and returning at 7.00pm in a 12 people
group by jeep (with seats mounted on the back) (read
the TIPS)). We stayed at the Posada Tia Cota for day, quite
expensive (double room 44€), but I enjoyed the tiny swimming
pool as I never did in my life.
To reach the lagoon it's one bumpy hour up and down sandy hills
and crossing ponds; you will be surprised by how wild is that
area. Once reached the limit of the Lencois, you climb a 50m
high sand hill and you enjoy the jaw dropping view of km's of
white sand and blue ponds. We walked around, took some baths
(the water is sweet and swallow) and finally we enjoyed the
sunset. I can really recommend the Lencois being the top highlight
of the whole travel.
Given the lack of a direct public mean of transport from Barreirinhas
to Jericoacoara it will be a looong adventure taking one day
A jeep departs every day at 8.30 am from Barreirinhas to Paulino
Neves,where you will wait for another vehicle to Tutoya, then
another to Parnaiba an finally another to Camoncin where you'll
stay overnight. The following day by a jeep you'll get to Jeri
at 1.30 pm ((read
Jericoacoara is indeed far from the Brazil we have travelled
through so far, being a touristy place but pleasant enough to
recall the idea of a remote fishing village it was thanks to
his sandy streets, separated by the world by a long dirty road,
few jeeps going around, no big concrete buildings built. It
must be said we were there in the off season, so no clue how
it may be once crowded by the masses; anyway it's the right
place to relax few days enjoying mohitoes on the beach after
a long sweaty travel in Amazonas!
And finally the last part of the trip reaching Fortaleza: 6
hours travel whose the first 2h by a truck bumping on a dirty
road, while the remaining ones on a super comfort bus.
We poked around the city center but we didn't fall in love with
the city due to the dodgy atmosphere we perceived. The following
night we were on the flight on the way to Lisbon