From the Pantanal we headed up into the State of Mato Grosso. We thought of seeing a few sights in Cuiabá, but as it appeared on the horizon, we realised it wasn't simply a large town - it was a towering city. We took the ring road and avoided the mayhem. Continuing on, we stopped in Chapada dos Guimarães, a handsome little town on the edge of a National Park of the same name.
Moving west, we stopped to look out over a rather foggy geodesic center of South America, a landmark, but not one that would reveal itself to us.
Heading on into the State of Goiás, and the town of the same name, we wandered the colourful streets of this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site and rather late in the day started looking for a place to camp. We thought we were heading to a park but ended up in a narrow dead-end street with steep steps to the park. There was a family relaxing outside one house, kids running all around. One of the men, Sebastian, stood up and came across to talk. At this time Portuguese is not our strong point. He babbles away, barely taking a breath and started helping us with a U turn in the narrow street. Somewhere in his friendly chatter, I managed to understand that he is or was a police officer. I replied in Spanish that I had been in the police. Well, that was it - park here, have a beer, meet the family, join us for dinner, try this rocket fuel, we'll leave the house open in case you need the toilet and use our shower in the morning. By the time we left the following morning our Portuguese hadn't improved, but we were still reeling from the hospitality.
We drove on through beautiful countryside, passing waterfalls and ended up in Pirenópolis, another handsome town, but much more touristy. We found a small camp-site with a swimming pool, where the owner was having a churrasco (bbq) with friends. We were invited to join them, more Brazilian hospitality, and ended up being stuffed with steak before wandering round the town.
Brasília was a big destination for us. Laid out in the shape of an airplane, this modern capital city, planned by Lúcio Costa after a nationwide competition for the its design, was built in the late 1950s and chosen as a UNESCO Heritage Site within 30 years of its build. With a swathe of buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer, we knew we were in for a treat.
First stop though was the VW garage for a bit of TLC for the van. We needed new shock absorbers, so our stay in town would be a little longer than expected. A few calls to the UK and the shocks were on route by DHL the next day. Two days, Teeside to Brasilia, via East Midlands, Brussels, Amsterdam, Rio de Janeiro. Impressive logistics, but guilty about that carbon footprint. Not so impressed by the 68% import tax when it arrived!
Whilst awaiting the parts, we took to our bikes and had several days cycling and exploring. It is a great way to get about and there are plenty of cycle paths and the road that forms the right wing of the airplane layout, the Eixo Rodoviário Sul, was closed to traffic all day on Sunday. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting Brasília and it deserves its Heritage status. During our stay we visited the Military, Brasília and Dom Bosco Cathedrals - all three were amazing buildings. We also had a tour of the Senate & Congress. For a bit of spectacle, we attended the monthly flag changing ceremony - I think I may have been a little too close to the field guns! It was also impressive to head out to the Super Quadras, the housing blocks specially designed for quality, high-density living for the city workers/residents.
Before long it was time to leave. With a new set of shock absorbers, we set off on our journey north, stopping to see the Valle da Lua near Alto Paraíso de Goiás and heading to Ponte Alto in the hope that we could see a little of the Jalapão State Park, in the Tocantins. Sadly the van's low clearance meant that after a small canyon and some waterfalls, we were better heading out for fear of getting stuck in the sand!
There were a few glitches along the way that I've missed out - leaving items at campsites and having to return....I was guilty on both occasions...