So the time had come for us to make an epic journey… we were leaving the Pantanal, and in order to get to the next interesting destination we had to cross the WHOLE OF BRAZIL! Yes, and Brazil is VERY BIG – in fact it is the 5th largest country in the whole entire world, and it’s EVEN bigger than AUSTRALIA… yes, I kid you not.
Now I know that ‘interesting’ is a subjective term, and some of you are no doubt wondering how it’s possible that there is nothing interesting across the WHOLE OF BRAZIL… well I have used a bit of poetic license in the sense that it’s quite a narrow part of Brazil we had to cross, and also that we weren’t strictly speaking starting from one extreme and going to the other… NONETHELESS – it was a very long stretch of Brazil, and according to Tripadvisor the highest rated attractions on the way were either Parks (‘a great place to escape the city’), or shopping centres (‘it had a surprisingly good selection of shops’)
So that you don’t have to refer to the Route Map, I can tell you that we needed to get from The Pantanal to Ouro Preto – this is a distance of around 1680km (1050 miles).
Now we have some guidelines in place about how we travel, which are roughly as follows:
a) try not to take flghts – they are expensive.
b) try not to go on overnight buses – we are big wimps and can’t sleep on buses, and we don’t like to be tired… 🙂
c) in Brazil, try not to arrive in places when it’s dark – walking to the accommodation can be dodgy, and taxis cost extra money.
These guidelines only really leave one option for a 1700km journey – what we like to call the ‘bus station overnighter’ method. This doesn’t mean that we sleep in the bus station – HEAVEN FORBID – that would clearly be guideline d) except it’s so obvious that we don’t even need to write it down.
No, it means that we look for cities or towns that can be reached by bus before nightfall, and that also have accommodation very close to the bus station. So we can take a 6-10 hour bus journey, then on arrival walk a few minutes to a hotel by the bus station, check in, go out and get some food, and if there’s time, have a quick look around the place.
We had a trial run of this method on the way to Campo Grande from Foz, as the only bus was overnight, so we stopped in Cascavel on the way. It was great! The hotel was opposite the bus station, it had a great restaurant, on a nice street, and we ate and drank beer, and had a lovely stroll around Cascavel.
So in fact, we were actually quite looking forward to our crossing. It took a little while to find the best stops, as not everywere has a good bus route and a hotel near the bus station, but after some internet research we settled on Araçatuba and Ribeirão Preto
Unfortunately after Cascavel, these stops were a bit of let down, with the hotels being quite crappy, and not that close to the bus station, in somewhat rough areas of town, with nowhere to eat nearby.
Yes, you get the picture – after 3 days on the buses we were RELIEVED to finally get to Ouro Preto. The ‘crossing’ was not a highlight of the trip!
Ah well, no pain, no gain as they say – but they do need to make Brazil a bit smaller…