Today was the last full day of my Brazilian road trip since I have to return the car in Sao Paulo tomorrow by midday. Rather than rushing up from Curitiba tomorrow morning, I decided I’d end up back in Sao Paulo tonight instead. Therefore I planned a more leisurely route back which would take in more of the coast and require the whole day to drive.
The first 100 miles or so of the day were backtracking through the rainforest national park from two days ago. I then turned off, and started heading east towards the coastal town of Ilha Comprida. It was a pleasant drive on a single carriageway with forested mountains on either side, and the road was lined with locals selling bananas at small stalls or out of their cars. I don’t like bananas so didn’t purchase any, though I’m sure three large fresh bunches for £3 is a good deal. Unfortunately as I got closer to the coast, clouds started moving in, and by the time I was at a village called Iguape, the sky was completely overcast. It then turned out that to get to the beaches at Ilha Compride, you have to pay a toll to cross a bridge. Given the weather, I decided against it, and thought I would instead continue up the coast and see if the weather improved.
On my way out of Iguape I took a wrong turn, which saw me climb a steep mountain road. I wasn’t complaining though since the views were getting better and better as I got higher and higher. I therefore made no attempt to turn around, and eventually ended up having to get a dirt track for six miles back to the main road. This resulted in the car being absolutely filthy, though it was definitely worth doing. While I was on the dirt track I pulled over to stand up for a bit, and it was just me and the wild chickens. One of the cockerels did a cock-a-doodle-do, and then ran off with some hens as I took photos – not something you would see back home.
My next stop was a small town on the coastal route called Peruibe, where I got out for a snack before driving right up the beach. The beach was nothing spectacular though, with the weather still overcast and the sea looking quite dirty and unappealing. Slightly disappointed, I pulled out the map and decided my final beach attempt of the day should be at the city of Santos, around 40 miles south east of Sao Paulo. The drive was an easy one, taking me up a dual carriageway through quite a poor area. It was strange because every couple of miles or so there would be a pedestrian crossing right across the road. Signs requested drivers to slow down to about 25mph, but most just carried on at a comfortable 60.
When I got to Santos it felt like I was back in a major city, with people all over the place and heavy traffic in both directions. I later found out this was due to it being a public holiday tomorrow, so everyone was travelling away for the long weekend. Not fancying sitting in a lengthy traffic jam, and given the sun was going down soon, I decided to head back up to Sao Paulo. It turns out to get back, you have to take a motorway right through a national park, with some stunning mountain scenery as the road climbs up through the mountains and passes through a number of tunnels. Once the climb ends, you come out on a nice stretch of what I would call ‘proper motorway’, with four lanes and the fastest speed limit I’ve seen yet in Brazil. I was glad to be heading toward to the city, since on the other side there was a roughly 15 mile tailback to get to the coast – definitely the worst congestion I’ve ever seen.
Overall today was a bit of a disappointing end to the drive. Had the weather been better it would have no doubt matched up to the previous days. That’s the problem with tropical weather; it seems to alternate between warm and rainy, warm and cloudy, and hot and sunny on a daily basis.
Photos of the day: driving the dirt track, and the country road from Iguape.
Some observations about driving in Brazil: