BRAZIL BY BIKE: Our First Long-Haul Adventure

If you know me at all, you know I adore road trips. There is something extremely liberating about hitting the open highway, and seeing all the oddities along the way. This is even more acute from the back of a motorcycle, where you can smell the rain coming before you feel the first drop.

Full disclosure: I was nervous for this trip. I had never been on the back of the bike for such a long stretch, and let’s face it: My body isn’t as young as it used to be, and we do not have a luxury moto. But Rodrigo made some adjustments to my seat and our “luggage rack,” and we agreed to stop every hour or so for a few minutes. And you know what? It turned out just fine. It just goes to show you that facing your fears can often surprise you.

Here are some stats from our trip, and a rundown of the three cities we visited on this trip. Enjoy!

TOTAL DISTANCE:         1876 Kilometers / 1165 Miles (with city driving, it’s 2,000 km)
TOTAL DAYS:                  12
TOTAL DAYS ON BIKE:    6
TYPE OF BIKE:               2003 Suzuki Intruder 800cc
ROAD TYPES:                 3-lane and dual carriage highways; curvy mountain roads, lots of                                            cobblestone, a few dirt roads

Faux-biker gal

WORST THING ABOUT BEING ON THE BIKE:
Extreme weather (ie: boiling hot, windy, pouring rain)

BEST THING ABOUT BEING ON THE BIKE:
Feeling the wind in your face; smelling the outside; having time to zone out and relax your brain, roadside oddities

One of the thousands of 80s memorabilia collected by a guy for his growing, roadside showcase

LANDSCAPES:
-Cerrado: This is the name for the rolling, green hills that stretch                                             across the state of Minas Gerias (where we live), and are dotted                                             with gigantic cattle ranches.
-Serra do Espinhaco mountains
-Atlantic Rainforest
-Costa Verde (Green Coast) – which is an extension of the Atlantic                                        Rainforest where the juggle tumbles down to the ocean.

DAILY BREAKDOWN:
DAY 1: Uberaba to Para de Minas (400 Km / 248 miles)
DAY 2: Para to Ouro Preto (175 km / 109 miles)
DAY 3: Ouro Preto
DAY 4: Mariana
DAY 5: Ouro Preto to Três Rios (283 km / 176 miles)
DAY 6: Tres Rios to Paraty. (265 km / 165 miles)
DAY 7-8: Paraty
DAY 9-11: Paraty to Sape Beach/Ubatuba (98 km / 61 miles)
DAY 11: Sape Beach to Leme: (359km / 223 miles)
DAY 12: Leme to Uberaba (296km /183)

# OF HOTELS:                 6
# OF GAS STOPS:         18
TOTAL SPENT:               R$ 3.300 (including all hotels, gas, food, tourist activities)

Jungle tunnel, complete with exposed, dripping rock ceiling

BIGGEST TRAVEL HACK:  When Rodrigo used my computer case as a seat cushion

BIGGEST BUMMER:           When my bra broke and there were no adequate stores to                                                      replace it

VEHICLE ACCIDENTS:       Just one, which is amazing in Brazil

Riding through the damp Atlantic Rainforest

Cruising through the clouds in Costa Verde

BIGGEST SHOCK:              Seeing a dead horse laying on the side of a road in a town, not                                              even on a rural road! It haunted me the rest of the day.

ROADKILL:                          Just the horse. We didn’t see any other wildlife, cats, dogs.

WILDLIFE SEEN
:                 Vultures, family of monkeys with babies, tropical fish

BIGGEST PET PEEVE
:      Gas station attendants who can’t give directions

NICEST SURPRISE:           The stranger who drove us to the correct highway

Selling all things corn


FAVORITE NEW 
PORTUGUESE WORDS LEARNED:
-Faixa vs. Pista (Lane vs. Highway)
-Nublosa vs. Nublando (foggy vs. cloudy)
-Sob nublosa (low fog)

BIGGEST REGRET:
Going to Ubatuba and overpaying for a “resort” that wasn’t a resort at all

IF I HAD TO DO IT OVER:
The only thing I would change about this trip is I would have either stayed in Paraty and done day-trips to beaches nearby OR traveled to a beach far away from Ubatuba.

FAVORITE PART(s):
Being on the bike (Surprisingly!), Ouro Preto, roadside oddities, day-trip from Paraty by boat to secluded beaches and islands.

Some thoughts: I have a dodgy back, which partially led to my fear of being on the bike for such a long period of time. Rodrigo had an extra cushion made for my seat, which didn’t seem like it would help much, but surprisingly did (as did stopping frequently.)

I loved Ouro Preto! I wish we had stayed an extra day here, so we had time to do some hiking in the surrounding area. The city itself can be done in two full days, but you can easily spend four days wandering around it’s twisty, cobblestone streets. We found OP to be surprisingly cheap for a Brazilian tourist town, as Brazil loves to overcharge for these types of places. Of all our stops, this town had the most delicious food, with many different price points.

Main square in Ouro Preto

One of Ouro Preto’s many colonial, Baroque churches

Secret hideaway?

On the historic, scenic train to Mariana

Lush vistas everywhere you look from the train

Paraty was also lovely. You can do the historic center easily in one day. But there are day-trip options such as boat trips, hiking, and beaches here that can easily extend your trip. Food is overpriced here, and mostly average, unless you’re in the mood to pony up for a high-end meal.

Every door and window is unique, vibrant and a photo-op in Paraty

Cobblestone streets and perfectly preserved architecture in Paraty

Boating to various remote island beaches around Paraty

Ubatuba: As I said above, I wish we hadn’t come here. We knew going in that it would rain.
However, as it was our last stop, we wanted to splurge on a nice hotel. But the only thing about our “resort” was the price. While it was located directly on a beautiful beach, the constant rain meant we spent long periods of time inside the hotel, which had no leisure facilities, no working wifi, overpriced and limited food options, and no adequate place to dry our growing pile of wet clothes.

Our three-seconds of non-rain at Sape Beach in Ubatuba

Stay tuned for more in-depth information about our time in Ouro Preto and Paraty!


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