Brazil

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Flag of Brazil Brazil
Information
Language: Portuguese
Capital: Brasilia
Population: 190,467,249
Currency: Real
Hitchability: <rating country='br' />
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Brazil is a country in South America. It has a border with every country on the continent except Chile and Ecuador. Brazil is a huge country and hitchhiking depends a lot on the area as to how receptive people will be and your chances in getting rides. Some Brazilians consider their country violent and dangerous, in part due to the media's love of seizing stories and exaggerating them.

Hitchhiking

In Brazil, hitchhiking is referred to as pegar uma carona, taking a ride. On roadsides, care must be taken because of the erratic ways of Brazilian motorists. Many use the slip lanes to overtake traffic or swerve to allow others past.

Tax offices

One of the best things about Brazil are the truck tax offices (Postos fiscales). These are buildings along a highway, usually in a city or town, but sometimes along the route. Truckers who use that route generally have to stop and get their papers stamped at a window. The staff are generally hitchhiker-friendly, so you can stand outside the window with a sign or ask the drivers for rides.

Gas Stations

You can get rides easily by asking drivers at Gas stations (Postos ...). Attendants are usually friendly and let you sleep behind them. In the north, they tend to have free coffee and showers too!

Regions

Brazil needs to be taken with caution but hitchhiking is doable in every area except within greater São Paulo, as you are overshadowed by the volumes of traffic.

In the south (Rio Grande Do Sul) drivers hardly stop on the roadside if you are only using your thumb (even if it seems to be a perfect hitching spot). Balazs would suggest to always use a sign on roadsides (but generally, don't hitch there, try as hard as possible to get to the petrol stations.). At the stations, he was almost always taken if the driver was going in his direction and the car was not full.

License plates

Note that vehicles license plates are different, depending on where the car was issued. It starts with the state abbreviation and follows with numbers. This way you can also somehow figure out where the vehicle is going to. Usually the name of the state is written in small letters at the top, but this is harder to see.

Abbr State Abbr State Abbr State
AC Acre MA Maranhão RJ Rio de Janeiro
AL Alagoas MG Minas Gerais RN Rio Grande do Norte
AM Amazonas MS Mato Grosso do Sul RO Rondônia
AP Amapá MT Mato Grosso RR Roraima
BA Bahia PA Pará RS Rio Grande do Sul
CE Ceará PB Paraíba SC Santa Catarina
DF Distrito Federal PE Pernambuco SE Sergipe
ES Espírito Santo PI Piauí SP São Paolo
GO Goiás PR Paraná TO Tocantins

Cities

Border Crossings

To Paraguay

User MOAH hitchhiked over the Guaíra/Salto del Guaíra border to Paraguay, but as it is a major shopping area for Brazilians to buy cheap Chinese products in the noman's land, you won't get a stamp at the actual border. Instead, you have to go to the office of the Brazilian Policia Federal in Guaíra town, at the roundabout (Address: Praça Castelo Branco, s/n - Centro, Guaíra - PR, 85980-000, Brazil. Telephone: +55 44 3642-9100), which has super irregular opening times. If you press the bell, someone might open the gate and you can start the check-out process. The people here speak good English (!!!). From there it's a short walk to the 3600m bridge crossing from Paraná state to Mato Grosso state, where there's a semi-functional police control from where one can hitch the 12km to the actual Paraguayan border. A sign saying "PY" will do the trick. The noman's land is about 6km long, but you can catch a ride in between with friendly Paraguayans to Salto del Guaíra, where you again have to find some office to get your check-in stamp. This is a tiny shitty office with a well-hidden "Migracion" sign located on Avenida Bernardino Caballero c/ La Paz, Ciudad de Salto del Guairá (Telephone: (595) 046 - 243 536) with a permanently bored employee who will ask you how long you'll stay. Again, there's very irregular opening times, so you might have to stay the night to get your stamp. Don't cross this border on a Sunday. Enjoy the amazing kebab-like streetfood (about €0.90) on the Paraguayan side!

Roadways

Backcountry

Areas like the Amazon and Pantanal backlands are much easier when asking on road sides and at petrol stations. Areas with just one national highway are much easier for reaching your destination. Put your mind to it and it's very possible to cover a little over 300 kilometer daily or more depending on area. North East may be trickier as there are less cars and peoples fear of bandidos but when you get someone they will be talkative and friendly.

The transamazonian highway (transamazônica) - a long stretch of potholes and mud through the amazon jungle - is one of the most incredible hitchhiking experiences and highly recommendable!

Highways

Hitchhiking on the interstate highway is even easier. Interstates highway have different names, depending on the state you are in. For example, if you are in the state of Santa Catarina, the interstate highways are read as SC-###. They are called "Rodovia do Estado" (state highways) in Portugese. There is less traffic on these highways, so hitchhiking is easier. You get more rides on private vehicles, rather then trucks.

The national highways are shown as BR-###. Hitchhiking here is pretty hard according to some, fairly easy according to others (guaka (talk) on BR-101 in RJ and ES). The best way to get rides, is to talk to truck drivers at the Petrol Station or the Posto BR as locals would call them.

Maps

Brazil highways.jpg

map24 was a useful online route planner for Brazil and the rest of South America. GuiaMais is another great website with maps and route planning for Brazil only. As of 2012 Google maps is pretty decent for Brazil.

Guia Quatro Rodas publishes a great road map of Brazil. Available at some gas stations for R$13.

Sleep

If you look like a foreigner you might consider going to a hostel or stay with a local host. There are lots of homeless crackheads in major cities these days. In rural areas, if you say you have nowhere to stay they will often offer you a spot in their house and good hearty Brazilian food (which is often rice, beans and corn porridge in some areas, or roasted cassava flour to eat with the beans, very energetic and delicious, and sometimes chicken or meat - if you are a vegetarian say you don't like meat, if you just say you don't want they will think you're shy and put on your plate anyways, and if you don't want the food say you are very full and they will stop insisting). Small villages are great for camping and police will rarely bother you, unless it is a touristic area. Avoid setting up a tent in big cities; if you have no money and don't know a concealed spot, sleep in bus stations or in the open air.

Gas stations can be good places to sleep. In the north, truckers usually set up their hammocks behind the station and you can sleep next to them (there are usually free showers too). Further to the south, people are not using hammocks much, and Sebastienhh and his travel companion often found themselves the only ones sleeping there, but security would ask if they intended on spending the night and then regularly come to check that they were OK.

As in many countries in Latin America, firemen (bombeiros) will often put you up on a bunk or sofa for a night if you ask nicely.

On the road you might see many signs for motels, but a motel doesn't have the same meaning as in other countries, as they are strictly used for pre-marital sex/cheating. They are rented per x hours, which is an indicator that this is a sketchy place. When you're hitchhiking alone as a woman and your driver asks you if you want to stay at a motel, he's propositioning you for sex so its better to get the hell out of there. There's also plenty of roadside hotels that function more like a regular motel and are paid per full night. If you're hitchhiking as a male-female duo, the receptionist might ask you if you two are married and if you say no they will probably push separate rooms on you, as experienced by MOAH

Personal experiences

  • Short anlyses of hitchhiking in Brazil - warmroads.
  • If you are friendly and avoid drunk drives, along with avoid showing that you have valuable things you will be fine. Once it got dark with me on the roadside with nothing close by, and people took some time to give me a ride. When the car stopped it was with 4 somewhat drunk guys with loud music. I felt it was going to be okay so I went with them (keep in mind it is a tiny city!) and nothing happened, not even sex proposals. In a couple of occasions there was unauthorized groping, but a firm yet polite response kept them from trying anything else. In some days there was a lot of sex proposals, some even offering money. They insist once or twice but when they see there is no chance they will (at least in my experience) respect you. Twice truck drivers that kept insisting heard from me a "so let me get down anywhere, I am not hitchhiking for that". Well, they said "ok, sorry, no need to get down, I am not going to insist anymore". With one of them we even changed subject and got quite a nice conversation. Most, a least for Portuguese speakers, just start talking about themselves and their personal life. One of them even let me sleep on his truck while he went home. They often offer to buy meals at barbecue diners in roadsites, with rice, bean, meat, salad and possible other options (I often just drink an orange juice, since I am a raw foodist and take food with me all the time, like nuts and specially bananas - this one is a good idea for cheap energetic food, which often you can get for free in small markets if they are overripe, if you ask the price it will often be half or free. I lived on bananas and avocados for several days once before I was raw, not very fun but with a stronger kick than fast food...). -A personal story of a Brazilian 20 year old girl hitchhiking alone
  • I was hitchhiking during 3 months in Brazil both alone and with friends, it was easy in the tourist states of Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, in Parana I never waited more than 15 min...the only time I got stuck was 40 km from Sao Paulo in not so nice area with prostitutes, it was gettting dark and the drivers scared so close to the city but finally one car brought me to the bus station in few km from where I took the bus. The people are quite friendly and helpful despite the paranoia around and the main difficulty in the beginning was my poor Portuguese and being guided many times towards the bus station instead the road I needed to hh :) - Nadita, March 2014
  • Something I learned as a woman hitchhiking through Brazil alone is that certain highways (I heard it was mostly on the BR 116, Rio-Salvador, for example) have women that are highway prostitutes that wait to be picked up on the side of the road. Traveling with truck drivers alone I also learned that many of them pick up hitchhikers that also become lovers, mostly locals from smaller towns who wait on the highways to leave town and go on an adventure. But it is usually easier to tell the difference between hitchhikers and women wanting rides for sex, and of course communication is important. I think it's important to know that these incidents are common because you understand where people are coming from when the subject arises. I never had problems with males drivers and truck drivers but I have definitely had them ask for sex, the program ("not even with a condom?" yuck...), what not. I think being clear with drivers before is important and making sure you feel safe is important too. But again, I hitched almost 5000 km alone in Brazil, no problem, it is incredibly liberating and easy! Go adventure! :) -Yaya

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