A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: macondo

Day 12 - 32

Foz do Iguacu - Maresias

Day 12 - 9.5. Fri
Puerto Iguazu - Foz do Iguacu - Medianeira

sunny, hot
37,83 km - 2'40'' - 14,26 km/h avg - 45,04 km/h max

Google Maps just doesn't work as I expected. Tried to stay away from the main highwayto Curitiba and those loonie Brazilian truck drivers, so I left Foz do Iguacu on a small side road. Everything was fine, but after 10 km it became rough cobblestone and later it wasn't any more than a muddy trail through the forest. Would have been serious fun with a MTB, but like this my rack broke after ca. 30 km.
I was incredible lucky. After 5 minutes of unsuccessful trying to improvise a fix, I heard a car coming, on that road into nowhere. Three godsent biologists from the National Park Iguacu were on their way to check if everything was ok with some farms on the edge of the park (wish I would speak more Portuguese, understood very little what they were doing but it seemed really interesting) and gave me a ride through a labyrinth of massive corn fields back to the highway. I never would have found the way out there on my own. Thanks, Ivan, you really saved my ass that day ;)
Cycled some 5 km out of Medianeira and camped in an industrial suburb.

Day 13 - 10.5 Sat
Medianeira - Cascavel

semi-overcast, mild, medium headwind
80,29 km - 4'33'' - 17,64 km/h avg - 47,57 km/h max

Until Cascavel I had no other choice than following the highway, but it turned out to be relaxed cycling. A broad, paved shoulder, lots of gas stations where I could get free water - in spite of some tough climbs and headwind I arrived without problems in Cascavel. Decided to follow this road all the way to Curitiba. The noise of the traffic is a bit annoying but hey, it's safe (relatively :P) and fast.

Looks a bit like home...

Rolling through Cascavel I met an Argentinian guy from the camping cround in Puerto Iguazu again. He recommended me a cheap place to stay where already a travel group of 2 Colombians and 2 Brazilians more were and decided to meet up later for some drinks and check out the nightlife here. Just got som food, took a shower and wanted to rest for some minutes in that comfortable bed with that fluffy pillow and...

Day 14 11.5. Sun
Cascavel - Nova Laranjeiras

semi-overcast, mild, evil headwind
119,63 km - 6'27''50 - 18,50 km/h avg - 53,86 km/h max

...and woke up at 6.30 a.m. Had a massive breakfast (in BRazilian hotels it's all-you-can-eat usually) and filled my pockets with toasted ham and cheese sandwiches when nobody was in the room ^^
That day I got the full flavor of what was expecting me all the way to Curitiba - hard climbs, mad descents, an omnipresent headwind and freezing nights. It was an quite uneventful day, but the last 20 km led through an indiginous reserve, where I had to cycle around men 7 times who passed out on the shoulder of the highway, an empty bottle next to them. I don't get it... why is it always the indigenous population? Their villages didn't look that poor actually.


Arrived in Nova Laranjeiras at dusk and slept on a construction site. Didn't get much sleep though. The mossies were a plague, the concrete was too hard and in the morning it got terribly cold.


Day 15 12.5. Mon
Nova Laranjeiras - Cantagalo

semi-overcast, mild, headwind
54,09 km - 4'04''43 - 13,26 km/h avg - 49,42 km/h max

Had to leave the construction site at 7 a.m. because the workers arrived and were looking not too friendly. Man, I felt bad. The 120 km the day before, the lack of sleep and proper food... I made it to Laranjeiras do Sul, where I got some bomb tight screws for my rack (again broken...). Also ate loads of sugar but it didn't help. 20 minutes later I bonked. Want to say, I fell asleep on the grass at the side of the road. Just as I got off the bike. Woke up three hours later and at least reached my destination for that day.

Day 16 13.5. Tue
Cantagalo - Morro Alto

semi-overcast, mild, headwind
87,99 km - 5'54''46 - 14,88 km/h avg - 47,13 km/h max

Felt a lot better and continued towards Curitiba. Nothing special happened that day. Decided to save the money for the hotel and didn't enter the bigger city of Guarapuava. Just think of all the wicked adventures I missed there :P Found a cool camping spot in an abandoned shack next to the Rio dos Mortes ('River of the Dead')


Day 17 14.5 Wed
Morro Alto - ???

sunny, mild, little headwind
65,42 km - 4'01''47 - 16,23 km/h avg - 54,37 km/h max

Once again, up and down through the mountains of Alto Paraná. At least there was a cool 7km downhill part. I wanted to reach Irati that day but found a roadside camping place with a lovely senior couple who had a store with thousands of those all-natural snacks (no real coffee though, gaaah!) and invested the 5 reales for a hot shower.


Slept with my hammock on the grass withou mosquitonet to see the stars =) Should have covered my stuff though. That night a dense fog came down and in the morning everything was wet. :/

Day 18 15.5. Thu
??? - Irati

fog, chilly, no wind o.O
32,22 km - 1'55''14 - 16,77 km/h avg - 48,02 km/h max

A day of rest in Irati, where I washed my clothes, sewed that blanket, sentr some e-mails and so on...

Coooold morning...

Day 19 16.5. Fri
Irati - Palmeiras

sunny, afternoon overcast and chilly
81,31 km - 4'38''45 - 17,49 km/h avg - 57,03 km/h max

That day was a bit boring. Nothing happened, I didn't even pass a village or anything. Originally I planned to camp near to Palmeiras, but that city - I cant tell why - had a really really dodgy atmosphere. Cycled through without stopping. It got dark and I still hadn't found a camping spot, so I checked into a small dirty roadside hotel for 10 reales. It had a hot shower and thick blankets - I was more than satisfied ;)

You can see the German and eastern European influences: Theme restaurants everywhere

Day 20 - 17.5. Sat
Palmeiras - Curitiba

overcast-sunny, mild, strong headwind
77,42 km - 4'31''40 - 17,10 km/h avg - 58,96 km/h max

To make the arrival in Curitiba a bit more rewarding, the headwind that day blew with it's full force. But eventually getting into the city was tricky - Brazilian traffic is simply madness. Three lanes, no shoulder and thousands of slip roads - no good situation if everything that's motorized just ignores you as a cyclist.
After so many nights of solitude I felt like socializing again. Bought a bottle of cachaça for some street kinds and had many new friends. :)

Day 21 - 18.5. Sun

sunny, 0 km

No way to cycle with that hangover, so I used the day for some sightseeing. Actually, I spent most of the day in the Museum Oscar Niemeyer, Brzil's freak-architect. Check those pics.

I expected Darth Vader to lurk behind the corner

Curitiba, so I read, is famous for it's transportation system and it's botanical garden. Well then, use the former to get to the latter. After 45 minutes of walking and asking around in those spacey tube-bus-stops I gave up, watched some trash on TV in my hotel room and fell asleep.

Day 22 - Day 24 - 19.5. Mon - 21.5. Wed
Curitiba - Rua Graciosa - Antonina

sunny, hot, tailwind
88,23 km - 4'52''07 - 18,12 km/h avg - 58,17 km/h max

Getting out of Curitiba wasn't more fun than getting in. Had to ask a dozen times for the way, a strap of a pannier ripped again and there was no other choice than one of Brazil's biggest highways. At least a decent shoulder and a hearty tailwind madi it quick and painful. In a small bicicletaria I saw a handlebar for 10 reales and replaced mine. Made the whole thing a lot more comfortable. After 40 km I left my route for a short excursion to the sea, before continuing on to Rio. There's a really beautiful road down from the high plain through the Serra do Mar, the Rua Graciosa. It lacks the fame, thrill and length of the Bolivian death road, but I'd say that riding this road is more enjoyable. Flowers, small idyllic bridges and viewpoints everywhere, and a long part of the road is cobblestone (poor wrists!). It was great to ride down and to see and feel how the climate changed.


On arrival in Antonina I went straight to the Tourist Information. Found out there is even a small beach where you can enter the sea (Antonina lies in a tiny bay, so most of the coast is mangrove swamp) and it's safe to camp there. And I should check out the chapel on the hill from where you have a nice view over the bay. Went there. Felt the salty breeze for the first time. Remained there just grinning for some 5 minutes. I really made it to the coast.


Áfter having a swim some 2 kms out of town I met a couple who was fishing on the rocks next to where I wanted to sling my hammock and found out that this place at night is the hangout for the local crack-community...
They offered me to find a place for the night for me, but I gotr turned down by Anderson's cousin and mom, so they took me to their home instead. They didn't want to at first, because of the poor conditions they live in, but after assuring that wasn't a problem, they took me to the slums of Antonina. With them lives Diamara's mother, so three people in a tiny abandoned house with a room to sleep in, a room for the fire (both ca. 2,5x2,5m) and a toilet. No water, no electricity. But 5 cats and a puppy made the place quite lively.
The next day we spent walking around town, introducing me to neighbours, friends, family... Everybody was curious about me =) And they organized a canoe for the next day to go fishing. The first night the gave me a mattress to sleep under their roof, but then the had so little space left that I insisted to sling my hammock outside.
We left 5 a.m., still in the dark and after an half an hour paddling in that dugout canoe through mangroves we arrived at an isle that appeared on low tide. They had no equipment to fish properly, so the made money by washing mussels. Pick a load of mussels out of the mud, drop them into a basket in the water and wash the mud off. Until 2 p.m. we filled 5 1/2 sacks and then had to return with the tide rising. but the work isn't finished, yet! You have to cook the mussels, remove the flesh, pick the remaining mud off and wash them again. Until 5 p.m. we cleaned 2 sacks. In total it seemed to be 2 whole days of work for 2 people. The can sell the mussel flesh for 50-60 reales. Think about that.
In the evening I cooked Spaghetti Bolognese for them (on log fire =), it was Anderson's birthday, too. I'll never forget the time I spent with the, They had so liitle, but gave me so much. Their hospitality was uncomparable to anything I have experienced the last 20 months.
But, one again, it makes me sad to see the reality. Bad things happen to good people.



Day 25 - 22.5. Thu
Antonina - BR116

sunny, hot
41,97 km - 3'10''15 - 13,2 km/h avg - 55,99 km/h max

It was hard to say goodbye, but the road was calling. Went back to the bighighway the same way I came down. But this time the steep climb up the Rua Graciosa wasn't as enjoyable ;) Even worse, the traffic was a nightmare. It was a holiday, that means partying Brazilians EVERYWHERE on that road.
Once again, found a construction site to sleep in. The thermometer showed 8C in the morning. No worries, I didn't lose any limbs!


Day 26+27 - 23.5. Fri, 24.5 Sat
BR116 - KM507 - SP055

sunny, hot, light tailwind
251,65 km - 11'49''58

The traffic those days was surprisingly light and an interesting landscape made the cycling quite relaxed. But I was keen on getting to the beaches, so I never stopped for long.


Day 28 - 25.5. Sun

SP 055 - Peruíbe
ca. 40 km

I was happy to get off that big highway finally, but now I had a road without shoulder in front of me. I tried riding on the asphalt until a truckl passed me speeding and some 20cm close to my shoulder and the driver shouted obscenities out of the window... So I ended up off-roading on the grass for most of the way to Peruíbe. i was a hibbling pack of nerves, but I arrived. A broad strip of white sand streched out to the horizon, the sun was shining, the wind blowing, dark women wearing no more than dental floss jumping through the waves - THIS is what I had in mind when you say Brazil, man!

And as I thought everything will be good now, that I will relax and taste paradise for the next weeks - in that moment i met Batman.


It's hard to describe that guy. I've met thousands of personalities, but he is going to win the weirdness award. He's crazy. Nuts. Loco. That was one of the first things he himself told me. He was blabbering a constant flow of madness and when he ran out of weird things for a moment, he made strange noises. He offered me a place to stay for the night, so I sticked to him, in spite of weariness, hunger and several people who warned me not to go with him. Sometimes it was quite cool and funny, I had the first caipirinha on a Brazilian beach, got some new music tips, had a spliff on the beach and got a basic introduction into Jiu-Jiutsu. The problem was: he never stopped talking. Not one second. The night wasn't so cool. I wanted to sleep and he wanted to show off with his new gringo friend (in remote places like this it's always something special). Imagine a crowd and someone shouting "Gringo Alemão! Gringo Alemão!!!". That was just too much. I had to be quite persistent to get to bed at 2 a.m.


Day 29 - 26.5. Mon
Peruíbe - Gaivotas

overcast, mild, stroing crosswind
25,96 km - 1'28''55 - 17,52 km/h avg - 31,07 km/h max

Slept until late, ate loads of choclate cake made by Ana (we slept in her house instead of Batman's) and left that crazyness.
On the way out I bought a new axle for the back wheel, the old one was making strange noises. With replacement I had to cough up 32 reales, but it was worth it. The back wheel runs perfectly smooth now - no more wobbling! Got lost on leaving Peruibe and had to find the way back with another flat tyre and no time to eat a snack because it was already getting dark. In a bicicletaria the fied it in a hurry for 2 reales and at the next possibility I went to the beach where I slept in a Quiosco (a strand bar), protected from wind and rain. Lots of mosquitoes, though.


Day 30 - 27.5. Tue
Gaivotas - Guarujá

98,61 km - 4'58''56 - 19,79 km/h avg - 33,05 km/h max

Chilled most of the day at the beach and wrote some of the stuff you just read ;)


I really underestimated the city of Santos and cycled in on late afternoon. No way for stealth camping or sleeping on the beach. but it was real fun to speed through on bicycle lanes.

Bike-mania in Santos

At the edge of Guarujá I saw a sign which said 'pousada', followed it and found: a construction site across the street :P

Day 31 - 28.5. Wed
Guarujá - Juqueí

sunny, hot, light headwind
82,36 km - 4'08''31 - 19,88 km/h avg - 50,90 km/h max

That's it! Cycling into afternoon, then chilling and sleeping at the beach! But I encountered some new problems to solve... *sigh* The gas stations here at the coast don't have unlimited filtered water for free anymore, and, I don't want to apply mossie repellent every night. Sleeping on the beach is cool, but those suckers aren't. Got to find a way to set up that mossie net without suffocating under that rain protection...

Day 32 - 29.5. Thu
Juqueí - Maresias

sunny, hot
36,41 km - 2'36''17 - 13,97 km/h avg - 74,06 km/h max

Woke up at 6.20 a.m. when the sun was rising behindthe seaside mountains, illuminating the beach with golden lighting. Another day in paradise, man. In the next small town (Boicacanga, I believe) I went to look for a welding shop, because those panniers hanging into the wheel really got on my balls by then. Took me quite some time and asking around, but that guy did a really good job. It's one tuning after another. The moment i finish my tour I'll have a bike that's appropriate ;)

Pimp my bike!

Then, I continued.
And climbed the most wicked hill until now. I pushed that bike for a freakin' 4 km!

What the fuck?

But the cool thing is: Going down was as steep, too! I speeded down for 200m until Irealized thar it's too steep for my loaden bike and, well, I haven't tuned those brakes yet :/ To not to take off into outer space I had to brake with my feet, lost balance and fell at 35-40 km/h after 2 curves. I saw it coming, covered my head and everything I got were small bruises on shoulder, elbow and knee and a bigger one on the hip. Lucky day.
But no more cycling. Chilled at the beach, wrote all that shit and ended the day in a small dirty drinking hole. It's 10 p.m. now, raining, I'm getting seriously drunk and still have no clue where I'm gonna sleep that night.

What's your adventure?

Posted by macondo 15:07 Archived in Brazil Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

Day 11 - strap that backpack back on

Bela Vista to Foz do Iguazu

past Jardim - Bela Vista

ca. 85 KM
sunny and hot, as every day
6:20 - 13:00

That night was so cold again. Couldn't even get more sleep than about 4 or 5 hours. My bike finally kicked the bucket - the fork got loose and at a certain speed the wheel blocks. Strange thing. And beyond, around 9:30 I ran out of water. It's a miracle I made it to Bela Vista.

And guess what - it isn't an international border! The brazilian guys there couldn't stamp my passport.

"I'm sorry, but you have to go back to Jardim and follow the road to Ponta Pora. From there you can cross into Paraguay. With your bike... you'll need about two days."

He said that so seriously, I couldn't tell if he was joking or not... o.O But eventually they allowed me to go there via the Paraguayan side. No way I'd go back the route I covered with my sweat... ;)
The guys at the Paraguayan immigration post were really helpful and after one hour of chatting (felt so good to speak Spanish again) and drinking terere (ice cold herbal tea) I took the bus to Pedro Juan/Ponta Pora. Got my passport stamped the next day and continued directly to Concepción.

Due to the lack of a useable map, cheap buses and lack of time I decided (not without regret) not to cycle through Paraguay. It certainly has a different feel than the other countries, I'd say. The language most used in this country eventually isn't Spanish - Paraguayans normally communicate in Guaraní, the native tongue. Only five years ago it became mandatory in the schools to teach Spanish, from what I heard. Adding the lack of tourist attractions and little economic importance caused a certain isolation... It feels like a remote place, where someone from outside still can discover and explore.

Arriving in Concepción at dusk, I checked the port to travel to Asunción on boat and found out it would leave the next morning - perfect. Someone introduced me to the local German priest, Harald, who is living already 36 years in Paraguay. He showed me around Concepción, told me all the background stories about Paraguay and we had lots of beer and BBQ ^^

The coolest priest I've ever met

A bond for life - in a romatic frenzy couples sometimes jump the 30+m from the bridge. Some of them even survive.

Made an early start and boarded the "Cacique II" at 5:30 a.m. The journey to Asunción took 22 relaxed hours. Gotta love river travelling! It wasn't as interesting as the Rio Napo adventure, but just chilling in the hammock, talking with locals and listening to Guaraní chatting while watching the landscape passing by made the ride a lot more enjoyable than an unpersonal bus...


Asunción - view from the port at dawn

In Asunción I had a hard time finding a cheap accomodation. Cycled all the way through the city at rush hour to get to the bus terminal, where I finally found a place for about 4.50$. It's an interesting city with a bit an ancient atmosphere, but not really much to do. The most interesting spot I found was the legislative palace, where you can see the riverfront slums (including pigs and horses, they're EVERYWHERE in Paraguay!) in the mirrored fassade.


Most of the time I spent optimizing my bike - got slimmer outer tyres and even a speedo.
After five days I left to Ciudad del Este, a dodgy city at the Brazilian border. I was going to visit the Itaipu Dam, worlds largest hydroelectric plant, but had to idle another day. On sundays there's never more to do than watching TV or reading a book. But got really impatient by then. ;)

Some nerdy but impressive statistics:

20 generators, 700MW each
Over 90 billion kWh per year
Provides 95% of the energy needed in Paraguay and over 25% in Brasil
Contains steel to build 380 Eifel Towers
40.000 people worked at construction at the same time


But the reason why I came here is - you guessed - the Iguazu Falls. 2 border crossings later (again at rush hour >.<;) I was in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina. Pictures just don't do the falls justice. The noise, the mist, the lighting - an amazing place.


Posted by macondo 15:03 Archived in Brazil Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

Day 10

Bonito - past Jardim

ca. 70 KM
sunny, light tailwind
8:00 - 17:30

It was a short sprint to Jardim, a light tailwind and long downhill parts made it no big deal. But right after 10 km the first insect flew into my mouth. Don't know what it was, but it had a sting =( As I was already having problems with Portuguese, that swollen tongue made it completely impossible for that day to communicate with anybody ^^
Had a long siesta in the parque of Jardim and felt so good that I decided to continue on to the Paraguayan border to take the edge off the next day.
Slang my hammock on a fazenda next to a herd of confused cows.

With that bike I _lost_ speed on that downhill part by just letting it roll...

A tarantula chilling in the last light of day.

Posted by macondo 14:56 Archived in Brazil Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

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