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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.
In Brazil, hitchhiking is referred to as pegar uma carona, taking a ride.
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. 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.
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.
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 in portuguese as the Rodovia do Estado. There is less traffic on these highways, so hitchhiking is easier. And 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.
Note that vehicles license plates are different, depending on where the car was issued. It starts with the State abbreviation and followed with numbers. This way you can also somehow figure out where the vehicle is going to. For example:
- PR is Paraná
- SC is Santa Catarina
- RJ is Rio do Janeiro
- SP is Sao Paolo
- RS is Rio Grande Do Sul
- ES is Espírito Santo
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.
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 will often put you up on a bunk or sofa for a night if you ask nicely.
- Belo Horizonte
- Boa Vista
- Foz do Iguaçu
- Joao Pessoa
- Porto Alegre
- Rio de Janeiro
- São Luiz
- São Paulo
A personal story of a Brazilian 20 year old girl hitchhiking alone:
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...).
Hitchhiking as a woman
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
Acre • Alagoas • Amapá • Amazonas • Bahia • Ceará • Espírito Santo • Goiás • Maranhão • Mato Grosso • Mato Grosso do Sul • Minas Gerais • Pará • Paraíba • Paraná • Pernambuco • Piauí • Rio de Janeiro • Rio Grande do Norte • Rio Grande do Sul • Rondônia • Roraima • Santa Catarina • São Paulo • Sergipe • Tocantins