A jaunt around Brazil wouldn’t be complete without a wander through Rio.
Rio de Janeiro – Brazil’s 2nd largest city with part of the city designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mis-named because it is not by a Rio (river), but at the mouth of a huge bay – Guanabara Bay.
We managed to squeeze in four days at the beginning of November. Carnival time might have been more fun, but we couldn’t miss the opportunity to pop in as we headed south.
We approached the city by crossing the bay along the Ponte Rio-Niterói – 16 kilometres long and impressive for seeing Rio city and waterfront. A little nervy driving in, as our understanding is, you don’t really want to end up in the wrong part of town. Anyway, we made it to our hotel having left the van with the only grumpy Brazilian (parking attendant) we'd encountered.
First port of call was Sugarloaf Mountain - Pão de Açúcar. The day started off pretty cloudy and while the sun finally came out, the clouds sitting over Christ the Redeemer, standing tall in the hills behind, only parted briefly to reveal the statue itself.
Lots of walking followed as we headed down from the first cable car and out to the promontory, then around to Urca beach and along towards Forte São José. Sadly this sits within the Brazilian military base and while you can gain access to the historical grounds, you need a little more planning than we had managed.
So Ipanema beach beckoned and we found a nice bar to enjoy a Caipirinha or two.
Day two was a whizz up to see the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado. Considering the day before the Statue had been enveloped in clouds without a break and given it was a Sunday, it was not surprising that there were thousands of people all pressing to fit a visit in.
Time for another drink so we headed for the slightly rowdier Copacabana. There was a delayed Halloween event going on somewhere, as the streets were filled with zombies – very impressive make-up and costumes. Also, you are never far from something slightly carnival and we were briefly entertained by a mixed dance troupe – very impressive, but my eyes were watering when she/he/they did a very lively splits at the end. I’m sure there were a set of squashed maracas in there somewhere.
Our final full day in Rio and we decided to head north to the central business district to see the old Port, the view across to the Disney-esque Ilha Fiscal and the bridge which we’d driven across on arrival, Ponte Rio-Niterói. We finished our visit with a flourish of churches, the world famous mosaic steps (Escadaria Selarón)and the Cathedral of Brazil – not sure if this inspired the Cathedral in Brasilia or the other way around, but both were equally impressive.
We totally loved our time in Brazil – the beaches, cities, amazing countryside and the spectacular wildlife. We camped in all sorts of places - hidden by deserted buildings, on beach fronts, on fuel station forecourts and truck stops. Invariably we found friendly people and good food and above all, felt safe.
From Rio, it is time to charge south, then east. The van has an appointment with a container in San Antonio, Chile – 4,000 kilometres away.