Logistics & addresses

part of birding trip report SE Brazil Oct/Nov 2001 at  www.jvanderw.nl
 John van der Woude

See also the Introduction. Also note that these remarks refer to the southeastern part of Brazil only.

The international airport of Rio de Janeiro has three floors, each with a function you may need. After collecting our luggage we went to the third floor for collecting Brazilian money (Real) from the ATM's (money machines). To find these walk left (as seen from the elevators) as far as possible past the shops. There are a dozen ATMs or so, but only a few accept international credit cards (Visa at least) and one or two even Cirrus (for the ordinary bank cards; a better exchange rate than Visa and less costs too). We had also brought cash US-dollars but spent none of these on our trip, and it won't be easy to spend them in normal situations. Most hotels accept credit cards (often only Visa), and we took additional money from ATM's in Linhares and Ubatuba (see details in the section Birding sites). Finding the ATM in Linhares was not so easy and we better had taken more money from the ATM in Rio airport already.

In the same corner as the ATMs is a normal bank office (where we changed reales back to dollars before flying home), and also a post office. We bought stamps for postcards which we would buy later on, but we hardly could find cards, as we mostly were in small towns only. The latter was also the reason why we saw no internet cafés, although we did not always ask for it. On the other hand, there are very many phone boots allover the country, and mostly we had no trouble phoning abroad, except in the most remote villages. International phone calls are cheap here.

On the second floor (Departures) of Rio Airport, somewhere in the middle,  is a good bookshop and here we bought the indispensable road maps, which are hard to get in your home country. These are the road atlas Guia Rodoviario (with e.g. detailed maps in order to find your way around Rio and Belo), and the hotel guide Guia Quatro Rodas with a good road map of the whole of Brazil. The latter guide is yearly issued. We bought both, and used them both a lot. (There is a smaller bookshop on the third floor but they didn't have the road atlas.)

On the first floor (Arrivals) are the car rental offices (Budget, Avis and two others), also somewhere in the middle. We had pre-booked at Avis via the internet for a good rate (in reales), two months ahead. In the meantime the rate had risen but we got our originally booked rate, 1780 reales (758 euro then) for 23 days for a small car with airco and all insurances covered and unlimited mileage. The car, a Fiat Palio with normal power, was fine but more power would have been a bit better for faster overtaking of trucks.

Roads are good in SE Brazil, but beware of making 'shortcuts' on unpaved roads. These unpaved roads are generally also good, but can get worse and are winding so much that your 'shortcut' will probably be as long as the paved route. (We met birders who had had a delay of nearly a whole day when taking an unpaved shortcut to Sao Roque, Canastra NP - so please do take the road via Piumhi!)
Some major roads are actually splendid highways where you can make fast progress in this enormous country.
Two-lane roads mostly have a broad paved shoulder, and you are expected to use this shoulder to let others pass, at least when you can look ahead far enough. Don't  hurry, they won't hoot or so, this is a friendly and relaxed people. Again, always beware of overtaking cars from the opposite direction.
Some unpaved roads, especially in nature reserves, can force you to drive very slowly, but we never had to turn back. A 4WD car would have been useful on some moments in a few areas only (like Canastra NP), but it is by no means necessary (also not for Canastra). This may be somewhat different in the rainy season (starting in Nov./Dec.).

There is an abundance of hotels, in all sorts. We never had problems in finding a good room for a reasonable price, varying from around 20 US$ in the more rural areas to 50 US$ in the most touristy areas. We rarely used their copious breakfast as such, but asked for a box breakfast to have out in the field (fruits, juice, sandwiches).

Evening meals are good, varied, sumptuous and cheap, and served from 7 p.m. In a restaurant a menu entry is often meant for two people, in hotels they mostly serve buffet-style. For lunch we often had rolls etc. from the bakeries (open till late at night) with some bananas, or box lunches from the hotel.

Portuguese is difficult to understand and we often thought that we heard Russian! Reading Portuguese is much easier, at least if you have some knowledge of a Latin-based language like Spanish. We persistently talked our basic Spanish and this helped a bit. This friendly people won't easily let you down because of the language problem. English is rarely spoken, the most notable exception being the most remote place we stayed (Sao Roque de Minas near Canastra NP), and the lady of our hotel in Ubatuba had been to school in the USA. A bad example of the reverse was the expensive and posh Linhares lodge where the staff only spoke Portuguese.

For the rest, there are the usual general precautions for health, safety and other stuff listed in the travel guides. See also the Introduction of this report. Anyway, we found it an easy country.

Useful addresses

www.arthurgrosset.com - detailed notes about the birding sites, by Jeremy Minns, and  meant as updates to Bruce Forrester's Birding Brazil (1990).

Ibama permits for Sooretama and Augusto Rushi reserves: 
Jose Olimpio Vargas -
olimpio@es.ibama.gov.br (ES is for the state Espiritu Santo, this is the ES branch)

Bookshop at Rio Airport: see General logistics

Teresopolis (for Serra dos Orgaos National Park): Villa Nova Parque Hotel, Rua Armando Fajardo 173, tel. 021 2642 2930, e-mail
hotelvilanova@uol.com.br (good, quiet and yet central location). About 100 reales per room. Many other hotels, e.g. recommended by other birders but far outside city: Pousada da Posse tel. 021 2641 8995.

Caparaó Parque Hotel at base of Caparaó National Park: tel. 032 3747 2559, fax 032 3747 2530. Good. 144 reales per room, incl. meals.

Santa Teresa (for Augusto Rushi / Nova Lombardia reserve): hotel Solar dos Colibris, fax 027 3259 2200. Nice, and quiet location. About 60 reales per room. No restaurant.

Linhares (for Sooretama and Linhares reserves): most birders stay(ed) at hotel Linhatur in Linhares itself, fax 027 3373 7000 (61 rooms, 75 reales per room). We were (see report about mixed feelings) in the expensive lodge of Linhares reserve, fax 027 3273 1277, or try e-mail (in English) to Valeria rnvvisitas@cvrd.com.br or linhares@cvrd.com.br at reserve office.

Serra do Cipó: Pousada Chão da Serra (prop.: Eustaquio Miranda), tel. 031 3718 7040 , reservations also at 031 3681 3945, web site http://chaodaserra.hpg.com.br . Nice place, and Eustaquio understands birders very well. At farthest end of the village, and immediately below the start of the Cipó birding road. Not expensive.

Serra da Canastra National Park: Chapadão da Canastra, tel. 037 3433 1267, 037 3433 1226, mail to hotelchapadão2003@yahoo.com.br (prop. Renilda Dupin). Recommended, new, good, and Renilda is very helpful. Not expensive. Good restaurant nearby. Photos and more info at www.serracanastra.com.br

Ubatuba: Hotel Solar das Aguas Cantantes, in Lazaro quarter (farthest West in Ubatuba), tel. 012 442 0178, fax 012 442 0288, e-mail aguascan@iconet.com.br, www.ubatuba2000.com.br/solar . Nice, quiet, with very good restaurant. The lady (Sonali) speaks English. 65 reales per room plus breakfast.

Itatiaia National Park: hotel Simon, tel. 024 3352 1122 (English was possible between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.), fax 024 3352 1230, reservations also at tel. 021 2240 4508; http://hotelsimon.com.br . Good and large hotel, good restaurant, good location for trails. Feeder at owner's house left of hotel. 500 reales for 4 nights, per room/couple, incl. all meals. However, one year later friends of us had a bad experience at Simon and they
preferred hotel do Ype, which was very good and only a little more expensive.