See Brazil By Bike!
Motorcycle tour leaders Kevin and Julia Sanders from GlobeBusters recently added Brazil to the list of destinations they offer. Here, they tell Group Travel World what to see and where to go in this vast country…
Brazil, famous for the Amazon rainforest, Copacabana beach and Pelé, is now on the motorcycling map thanks to another footballing legend. In 2014, David Beckham rode a Triumph Bonneville through Brazil for the BBC documentary Into the Unknown.
It might be on the other side of the world, but Sao Paulo is less than 12 hours’ flying time from London and, with the ninth largest economy in the world, Brazil has a fast-developing biking scene. This means it’s possible to hire proper adventure bikes, like the Triumph Tiger 800 or Explorer 1200, making a ‘fly-ride’ touring holiday achievable.
Brazil occupies almost half of South America, so to make the most of any biking, advance planning is essential. You could easily spend months riding around the country, but for groups with limited time, we’ve mapped out a 2,000-mile route from Sao Paulo to Campo Grande that could be comfortably covered in a fortnight.
Highlights include the pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters of Florianopolis Island; the twisting mountain roads of Santa Catarina; the Foz do Iguaçu waterfall, which straddles the border with Argentina, and the breathtaking lakes, stalactite formations, waterfalls and rivers of the Bonito Caves.
How do I get my group to Brazil?
A direct flight from London will take just under 12 hours, and you could save a chunk of money if you go via a European hub, like Amsterdam, and don’t mind a little extra travelling time. If you want to ride your own bikes, you could have them delivered by a shipping company (we use Moto Freight, who specialise in bikes and handle all the paperwork). Alternatively, you could hire a bike in Brazil. We have an arrangement with Triumph Brazil, but most other major manufacturers are represented in the big cities.
What’s the weather like?
Most of Brazil is sandwiched between the Equator and the Tropic of Capricorn, which makes it sound even more exotic. The route we propose is mainly in the temperate zones in the south of the country, where seasonal changes are more pronounced. We’d recommend visiting before summer (which can be very wet), so late August to early October is the ideal window. Expect temperatures around a balmy 21°C.
How much experience will my group need?
If they’re confident road riders, with previous experience of touring, they should be fine. Once outside Brazilian cities, the main roads are quieter, but slow trucks on the twisty routes present a challenge, so you need to ensure your overtakes are safe and progressive if you want to avoid disaster. If you’re the adventurous type, there are some unpaved sections of road, which you can follow off the beaten track.
What about currency and paperwork?
The Brazilian Real (R$) is relatively stable, but you need to remember that Brazilians use commas and full stops differently to us when it comes to numbers. So, for example, 1,500 Real and 50 centavos is written R$ 1.000,50 (not R$ 1,000.50).
The good news is that British tourists can normally enter Brazil without a visa, but you will need to satisfy the Federal Police that you have enough money for the duration of your stay, and provide details of your accommodation and evidence of return travel. Your passport should be valid for a minimum of six months from the date of entry into Brazil.
What should I see and do?
- Ride the Trail of the Serpent between Capão Bonito and Apiai – not a straight bit of road in sight!
- Florianopolis Island, with its pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. Wild nature, lively nightlife and eco friendly credentials, all in one place.
- The fabulous roads in the mountains of Santa Catarina, around Urubici. At 915m it’s one of the highest cities in Brazil.
- Foz do Iguaçu, one of the world’s largest waterfalls and three times higher than Niagara Falls. Straddling the border with Argentina, it comprises hundreds of cascades and is truly breathtaking.
- The bends of the Serra do Rio Rastro mountains, 1,460 above sea level, and the throat of the ‘White Crow’, with its huge walls of stone and stunning visuals.
- Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetlands – home to 480 reptile species and rare animals like the Giant Otter, Maned Wolf and Giant Tapir.
- The Bonito caves, containing lakes and amazing stalactite formations, beautiful waterfalls and incredibly clear rivers, surrounded by lush forest.
- To round off your visit, try a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça, sugar and lime (also widely used as a remedy for the common cold).