The Inspiration For Our Trip To Brazil
Even though I had already been to Brazil once before, I knew that there’s still so much to explore there - the country is larger than Europe after all!
Since my boyfriend is Brazilian, he had told me about all the beautiful places and natural wonders in Brazil that are relatively little known in the international travel scene, and that’s what really sparked my interest. I was curious to discover these hidden gems and remote corners of Brazil which I knew so little about and had never seen promoted on social media or travel blogs.
How We Planned For The Trip
We booked our flights only three weeks in advance. Usually, we’d do it at least two months in advance but during these unstable times when flights often get canceled or rescheduled, we preferred to do it later. Regarding hotels, we booked them just a day or two in advance. Since there are currently so few travelers, hotels/cars/tours etc. rarely get fully booked.
I made sure to have lots of light, breathable clothing since I knew that the daytime temperature in Brazil at this time of the year often reaches 30 degrees Celsius. As we planned to spend most of our time in nature, my backpack was full of comfortable shorts, tops and bikinis. I also stocked up on insect repellent, hand sanitizer and extra face masks.
Food In Brazil Is Amazing
Ohh the food…. I don’t even know where to start! Brazilian cuisine is incredibly diverse and uses so many exciting ingredients which makes sampling local food such a fun experience. Some of my favorites include pão de queijo (cheese bread made with cassava flour), goiabada (dense marmalade made of guava fruit) and moqueca (a stew made with coconut milk and dende oil). I also recommend trying the local fruits like açaí, cupuaçu, soursop and caju.
Our Brazil Itinerary
We started our road trip by driving from São Paulo to Bonito, one of the ecotourism hubs of Brazil, close to the border with Paraguay. There we spent four full days exploring the pristine nature, snorkeling in crystalline rivers, and swimming in waterfalls. Next, we headed to Pantanal which is the world’s largest wetland and a great destination for spotting wildlife such as caimans, capybaras, ocelots and others. After two days in Pantanal, we drove south to visit the magnificent Iguazu Falls, one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. Our last destination before heading back to São Paulo was Florianópolis, which is an island in southern Brazil known for its world-class beaches, lagoons, sand dunes and surfing culture.
The length of this road trip was 20 days. This felt like the perfect amount of time since we got to see everything we wanted and didn’t have to rush from one place to another. You could also squeeze it into 15-16 days if you’re short on time but you’d just be able to visit fewer attractions.
We Were Able To Connect With Other Travelers & Locals
During our road trip, we only encountered a handful of international tourists but we did see plenty of Brazilian travelers. Although the language barrier made it difficult for me to communicate with the locals, I could tell that they were very friendly, welcoming and curious about where I’m from.
My Favorite Memory From The Trip
There were many beautiful moments where I felt incredibly lucky but one that clearly stands out from the rest is when we visited Iguazu Falls. I was standing on a viewing platform surrounded by massive waterfalls, being completely in awe of mother nature and the sheer power of water. I’ll never forget that feeling. The scale and beauty of these waterfalls left me speechless. I honestly believe it’s one of the most impressive places in the entire world!
How We Kept Our Costs Low
Our budget was about 50 euros per person per day, excluding the flights to and from Brazil.
Since we borrowed my boyfriend’s dad’s car for this road trip, that saved us a big chunk of money. Another way to keep our costs low was by staying in budget hotels which luckily were easy to find everywhere we went. Also, the majority of hotels in Brazil include a free breakfast which helped us save some money on food.
Hikes And Sights That You Can’t Miss Out On In Brazil
As I already mentioned earlier, for me the highlight of this trip was Iguazu Falls which is a place that everyone should aim to see at least once in their lifetime. Other experiences that I’d highly recommend are snorkeling in the Rio do Prata river in Bonito, doing the Boca da Onca waterfalls tour, going on a safari with San Francisco farm in Pantanal and beach-hopping in Florianopolis.
My Advice For Anyone Road Tripping Brazil For The First Time
If you’d like to do a similar trip, be prepared to drive a LOT. Distances in Brazil are huge and getting from one destination to another can mean several days of driving. Alternatively, you could take domestic flights since many towns in Brazil have their own airports but then you’d need to find a way to get around in each of the areas.
Also, if you plan to visit Bonito and Pantanal, book your tours well in advance. These are popular destinations among local tourists and once the pandemic is over, the number of visitors is likely to increase significantly so tours might get sold out.