We’d originally planned to fly from Macapa in the north of Brazil to Salvador. It could be done in a day, and the flight wasn’t that expensive. Until it disappeared and was replaced with a much more expensive, time consuming, series of three connecting flights. At that point we realised we’d have to do it cross land, from Kourou all the way to Salvador.
Day One started at 5.30am with a minibus to Cayenne. (€25) From there we connected (7am) to a minibus heading to St George’s de l’Oyapock, the FG side of the border. A small boat (€5) took us across to Oiapoque where had to find the Policia Federal to check in to Brazil. This isn’t that far from the port, but we got convinced we needed a taxi, which waited for us, ignored our requests for an ATM and left us at the Rodoviária out of town where the ATM didn’t work. All for R30, 3x the original quote. Cue a taxi back to town for cash (another R20) so we could pay for the midday bus to Macapa (R92 – three daily departures, 12.00, 17.00 and 18.00). This was a ‘lovely’ 12 hour journey of which a good section was “Guyana-stylee” – unsealed roads – this time with added hills.
Day Two came as we arrived at Macapa at midnight. Our hotel of choice was full and we ended up at Hotel Amazonas, cheap at R45 for a private double with breakfast, but dire.
The sheets were old and dull, with holes and a damp feel to them. The bathroom was like a 70s throwback. Luckily we were both shattered and passed out, and retrospective knowledge tells me there were no bedbugs. We then had a day sightseeing in Macapa (a fort) before we went to the airport to sleep before our early morning flight.
Day Three found us in the airport ready for our hour flight (£34) to Belem. These two cities are on either side of the Amazonian estuary and the flight avoided another 24 hours on a boat. We’ve done our eight nights. We got a bus into town to spend the night. We’d hoped to catch a free show at the Theatro da Paz but unfortunately all the tickets had gone by the time we returned from the Rodoviária and Bosque Rodrigues Alves.
Something that must be said about Belem, sometimes we come across towns that are just easy to get around. Belem is one of them. We were quickly able to navigate its public transport, saving us money and allowing us to see more.
Day Four we finally saw the Theatro da Paz by doing a guided tour (R4) of the interior. This part of Brazil received a lot of money in the late 1800s and early 1900s due, in part, to the booming American car industry. The Amazon had the rubber trees needed for car tires, enabling the farmers to make a lot of money. This building is a fine example of “Rubber Boom architecture” which mimicked Italian, French and other European styles. We also visited Belem’s beautiful waterfront with a market and fort.
It was then we reluctantly headed to the Rodoviária for the next part of the journey. A 33 hour bus (R335) to Salvador, our destination. I was so happy Yoseph had chosen this week to add some new playlists to my Spotify, perfect timing!
Day Five was entirely spent on the bus. I couldn’t decide whether I missed the Peruvian buses which served food or welcomed the long stops three times during the day to allow us to get food. It made the journey longer but I got to stretch my legs.
So it was even Day Six when we finally made it to Salvador, a 3am arrival, 4am check in, and finally a bed! Winner.