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HOME > Brasil


14 days,  Jun '11



INTRO brasil

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
3100 km

How I moved
1500km 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

Where I slept:
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 option.

What I liked:
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

How much daily:
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 isn't justif

Dangers/ 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

What 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 for days.


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 didn’t 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.



Day Transport Price Duration
2 Manaus- Santarem Boat 43€ 1day
4 Santarem- Alter do Chao Bus   2h
4 Alter do Chao- Santarem Bus   2h
5 Santarem- Belem Boat 55€ 2days
7 Belem- Sao Luis Night Bus 50€ 10h
8 Sao Luis- Barrerinhas Bus   4.5h
8 Barrerinhas-Barrerinhas (Lencois) Jeep (tour) 40€ pp 5h
9 Barrerinhas- Paulino Neves Jeep (pubblic) 9€ 2h
9 Paulino Neves- Tutoya Jeep (pubblic) 2€ 1h
9 Tutoya- Parnaiba Bus 4€ 3h
9 Parnaiba- Camoncin Bus 7€ 3h
10 Camoncin- Jeri Jeep (pubblic) 15€ 3.5h
13 Jeri- Fortaleza Bus   7h


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 Santarem).
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 bags.
Then we did the necessary for the boat travel to Santarem: we bought the ticket (Manaus- Santarem, 30hours, 50€ per hammock (100R$),) some food and two hammock ((read the TIPS))
In the afternoon we rented a boat (12 seat boat just for us = 90€ for 4h!) for a tour on Rio Amazonas to see the 'Encontro de Agua' (where two rivers with two different colors meet without blending for several km's),a floating village with exotic animals kept as pets (anaconda, baby crock, cloth,...) and entering the hardly accessable flooded part of the Forest (since the water is at his highest).
What a luck that in the evening by chance we attended the Lyric Festival played outside the Amazonas theatre with an awesome choreography and outstanding performance: it has been our highlight of Manaus even because the town itself isn't that charming.
The boat to Santarem set out on Tuesday at 12.30 pm but we hang our hammocks several hours beforehand: we called in Santarem in the late afternoon the following day. It has been a pleasant trip, mainly because being fresh (due to the open deck letting the air to flow while the boat is moving) and mosquito free (since downstream ward the boats sail in the middle on the Amazon River). Besides there's a 'restaurant', namely a woman cooking some meat with rise (not bad though) \and on the upper deck a bar (lanchonete) where you can enjoy beers and snacks.
Santarem is definitely more pleasant than Manaus (even much smaller). We settled down at the Hotel GranRios (double room 24€) staying in the town one full day. The spare day we had there we bought the ticket to Belem (40h, 120R$ for hammock) and by bus (1h) we reached the popular beach called ' Alter do Chao'.
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 and half.
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 the TIPS)).
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


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