Travel with Hafeez to Brazil

Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish novelist, poet and travel writer.
Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish novelist, poet and travel writer.

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – said Robert Louis Stevenson.

As old age is creeping on me, I am hurrying to see as much part of the planet as I can. I follow no-frill, do-it-yourself approach. Usually, I travel in July to a new country. In 2005, I set my mind on Brazil. I did not write a travel tale sooner as I had a horrible experience which I would narrate at the end of this tale.

I left Karachi, Pakistan on 22nd June 05 and returned back on 31st July 05. During this time of 40 days, I covered South-Eastern Part of Brazil visiting 9 cities by traveling over 7,000 km by buses or tourist trains. To me this was not a big deal as I had traveled in Australia for 12,900 km. Of course, there is a price to pay: neck stiffens, back aches and bottom burns. But sitting by a window, one is fully absorbed in concentrating on the terrain outside and realizes the pains only on reaching the destination. “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang, a Chinese writer and inventor

Brazilians are very friendly people. When I got out of the Sao Paulo Airport, (Guarulhos), an elderly couple asked me where the bus station was? When I told them I was a new arrival, I was advised not to go to Sampa, nickname for Sao Paulo, but straight to Curitiba which was a dream city. Since they were themselves heading that way, I had no hesitation to join them. Together, we boarded an airport bus for Rodoviaria Tiete, a bus station, which incidentally was as big as the bus terminal of Big Apple (New York). Rodoviaria Tiete served directly 600 localities and four countries (Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina and Chile). In about one hour, we boarded a bus for Curitiba about 410 km away) and reached there in nearly 6 hours.

Curitiba

CURITIBA

We found a nice hotel just at a walking distance from the Rodoferroviária, a combined station for bus & train. It was Hotel Condor, (Av. Sete de Setembro, 1866, Curitiba - www.condorhotel.com.br). The charges were modest at US$ 31 per night with breakfast and free tea or coffee all the time. Having come a long way by air and bus, I was tired and went to sleep.

The green house in the botanical garden of Curitiba, Paran, Brazil.      http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcdemoura/846709717/
The green house in the botanical garden of Curitiba, Paran, Brazil. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcdemoura/846709717/

Jardim Botanico Garden

The next day, I explored the city with the help of a map. First was Jardim Botanico Garden. It was surprising to see a two-floor greenhouse with a modern metallic structure, resembling the 19th century Crystal Palace in London. It was shaped like a castle and contained exotic plants.

The garden itself was lush green studded with colorful mysterious plants, small lakes and wooden bridges. It reminded me of Majorelle Garden, Marrakesh, Morocco which was designed by a French painter, Jacques Majorelle. The Curitiba garden was also in the same style with extensive gardens in the midst of fountains, waterfalls and lakes. A stroll in the area was very refreshing.

Crossing a wooden bridge, I entered the Botanical museum. A guide took me around for free. According to him, it was fourth largest herbarium of the country. There was a pond with turtle, carp, teal and herons. In fact, it was a complex containing a lake, a library, an exposition area, auditorium a theatre, cycle track and tennis courts.

Serra Verde Express - courtesy Brazil Tours
Serra Verde Express - courtesy Brazil Tours

Serra Verde Express

BARREADO

Serra Verde Express

Best part of my stay in Curitiba was a ride on a narrow-gauge train. It started at the heights of the Paraná plateau and went down to the picturesque colonial town of Morretes, Paranagua. It was a wonderful 100-km ride though expensive at 62 Brazil Reais, about $35 one-way.

The train ride was a breathtaking journey of three hours, passing under 13 tunnels and over 67 bridges. Along the way, there were streams, waterfalls, and vibrant vegetation. The track traversed numerous canyons winding through mountains. The ride's engineering highlight was the São João Bridge, which hugged the mountains at a towering 180 feet. Indeed, it was a fantastic historical railroad snaking through the Serra do Mar, a scenic mountain range covered by Atlantic Rainforest.

The train reached at about midday. Incidentally, the Brazilian couple were also on the same train and we joined together to have a lunch in one of the typical restaurants lining the river that ran through the town. We gobbled a traditional local dish, “Barreado” containing beef stewed in a sealed clay pot for 24 hours.

We returned by bus.

On way to Foz do Iguacu

I took a night bus from Curitiba and headed towards Foz de Iguacu 535 km away on a 10-hour bus journey. I had a “Leito” ticket which means fully reclining seats with leg rests. It made the travel very comfortable. The ride was smooth on the well-maintained 4-lane toll-way. Bottled water, juices, biscuits and tissues were provided by the bus company at the start. It was already 22:00 hours and I went to sleep.

After quite some time, I woke up and learnt that we were passing through Irati, a small town meaning “river of honey”. Next notable stop was Guarapuava meaning “brave wolf”, about 258 Km away from Curitiba. The area became scenic as the bus passed through a valley. A fellow passenger praised the place for its spa, hot-water pools and good walking trails.

The dawn was breaking, the stars were dimming while bus was going at a steady pace. At one point, a person sitting next to me to said, “rattle-snake” which sent shivers down my spine. Later, I had a good laugh when I was told that ‘rattlesnake’ was nick-name of the city, Cascavel. It was a fertile area with lot of crops, hatcheries and ranchos – cattle breeding farms. By now, the road became congested with a lot of traffic as we were nearing Foz do Iguacu which means “big water”.

The down town - Foz do Iguacu

At about 8 am, the bus reached the international bus station. I got down and was happy to see a hotel just across the road. It was a blessing, a hotel at the doorsteps. Its name was Luz Hotel and address as Av. Gustavo Dobrandino da Silva, 145, 86863-370 Foz do Iguaçu. I got a room with a view for only US$30 and decided to call it a home for the next three days. I rested in the room for about 4 hours to straighten my back and then headed for the downtown area about 3 km away on a very cheap and frequent public bus.

The famous street of the area was Avenida Brasil (Brazil Avenue). It was lined with stores and restaurants. There were wide footpaths assuring convenience and safety. While walking around, I ran into a Arabic café and enjoyed Couscous, Falafel with laban and Halva. No meal is complete without a sip of kawa which I enjoyed very much after a belly full.

I returned by the evening and went to sleep.

Foz de Iguacu

The Falls of Foz do Iguacu

It was 28th of June 2005, the 7thday of my travel. I started with a rich breakfast buffet with a lot of fresh fruits and juices. With so much food, the dish-plates were rather small and one was obliged to go back and forth to have more toasts, cakes, pastries, cereals, yoghurts, cheese and cold cuts. After having a sumptuous breakfast, I braced myself for a daylong tour of the falls.

First, I went to the visitors centre and bought a ticket for about ten US dollars. Second, I boarded a bus to the start of a trail leading to the falls. Strolling along a series of walkways and stairs, I had a glimpse of the fall. Initially, it did not impress me but the way was very scenic with overhung tree branches, chirping of colorful birds in the backdrop of deafening roar of the falls. The walkways were wet with water and I moved rather slowly. Many visitors thought I had some problem and offered help. I waved them off with a thankful smile. At the bottom of the steps, another walkway led towards draw card of Brazil. Called Gargantua do Diablo or Devil’s Gorge or Devil’s throat, it was a horseshoe-shaped canyon hurling enormous quantity of water off the top of the fall. The river was about 3km wide at that point, and the falls dropped about 80 meters. Hence they are “higher than Niagara and wider than Victoria”, as the travel guides say. It created rainbows and mist in the air cooling off the visitors with its spray.

Depending on the season, the number of falls on the Iguacu River could range from 250 to 300. Considered the eighth wonder of the natural, the falls were declared a natural heritage site by UNESCO in 1986.

Itaipu Dam

Itaipu Dam

On my last day, I visited Itaipu Dam, about 10 km from the downtown. Built in the Parana River, on the frontier between Brazil and Paraguay, the dam generated 14,000 MW of electricity. It used to be the world largest hydroelectric dam until taken over by Three Gorges Dam of China. I have seen it too in 2007 and it was awesome.

The information available in the Itaipu Tourist Complex were staggering. The construction involved shifting the course of Parana River, the seventh largest in the world. Fifty million tons of earth and rock were removed to dig a two-km bypass. High as 65-story building, the dam was said to be composed of hollow concrete segments, while the flanking wings were earth- and rock-filled. The quantity of iron and steel used could be enough to make 380 Eiffel Tower, while concrete used could turn out 15 Channel Tunnels like the one between France and England.

La Triple Frontera
La Triple Frontera

Three Frontiers

In the late afternoon, I visited a landmark called La Triple Frontera, a tri-border area along the junction of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil.

At night, I went for dinner to Rafain Cataratas, a typical 'churrascaria' restaurant specializing in meat cuts. It had very large buffet dining area with a great selection of items to choose from. For twenty dollars per person, one can eat large varieties of meat plus a variety show of dances of almost all countries of South America.

Next Stop

This concludes part I of my Brazil tour. My next destination would be Campo Grande, the gateway to Pantanal, a bird sanctuary. But first, I needed to get some sleep.

NEXT - Travel with Hafeez II

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Comments 38 comments

Fahad_Khan profile image

Fahad_Khan 6 years ago from Karachi

It feels as if I am traveling in Brazil, waiting for the second part. Nice work as always, Mr. Hafeez!


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thank Fahad. You always have very encourging remarks.


Sana Rao 6 years ago

Nice to see al these, You have a fantastic lifestyle always ruming around the world..May your all dreams come true.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Sana Rao for continuing reading my travel tale even after leaving Bahria. That is incredible.


Rao 6 years ago

Hafeez is a roamer and narrator


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thank Rao for your comments.


Kashan Pirzada 6 years ago

Thanks for sending us this wonderfull trip. Sir your style of delivering the practicle experience to us is amazing.

Thanks & Take Care

Your Student

Kashan Pirzada


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

What a delightful trip! Thanks for sharing it with us.

Travel is indeed its own reward.

Love and peace

Tony


Curious Jen profile image

Curious Jen 6 years ago from Canada/Nicaragua

Great article and very helpful. I am a traveler myself. Originally from Canada, I now live in Nicaragua and have visited every continent aside from Africa. The more you travel the more you realize how much there is to see.

Keep writing of your fabulous travels.

Maybe I will start to write about some of my travels in an effort to help people plan itineraries and travel budgets.


probyte2u profile image

probyte2u 6 years ago from Part Buntar, Malaysia

Great hub Mr Hafeez, looking forward to read your next travel log.


Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia

Nice hub Hafeez. If I had the cash I would be off tomorrow.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Peter. I really feel elevated by your comments.


Rufi Shahzada profile image

Rufi Shahzada 6 years ago from Karachi

Dear Sir,

That is such a glorious TRAVEL TALE. That's my dream too, to explore each and every Country of the world before I die.

Great work and so interesting!

Thanks!

RUFI SHAHZADA


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Rufi, you are young and you have a lot of time. Just start in small step. Go to a nearby country to start with if you have not already. Take a big in your mid-career. Wish you a good luck.


Rufi Shahzada profile image

Rufi Shahzada 6 years ago from Karachi

Dear Sir,

Thanks a lot!

Rufi Shahzada


Mike Schmidt 6 years ago

A great story of a beautiful part of the world. I especially enjoyed reading about the Foz. This waterfall... or series of waterfalls... is truly deserving of the title, "the 8th wonder of the world." Hafeez's story vividly brought back my fond memories!


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Mike.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Occasionally, I found restaurants operated by Muslims mainly from Lebanon. But vegetarian foods and seafood were abundantly available. If one is going on a safari, one can request the tour company to take care of its food requirements.


khalid 6 years ago

it is an amazng amazng amazng journey .... i njyd study n watching all the pix ..great ...u r great


Emran Ali profile image

Emran Ali 6 years ago from karachi

Absolute amusement one can feel after reading such an informative and adventurous journey to Brazil . It has certainly exhilarated me which in turn developed strong desire if i could ever get a chance to visit Brazil .

Breath taking ride of train at Serra Verde Express simply puts thrill on this article . Three frontiers picture is such a beautiful scenery . I really enjoyed reading this article . Thanks for sharing !!

Best regards

Imran Ali


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Imran for your comments. I think it is time that you go for a little safari somewhere. You know I started going out of the country when I was hardly 25 years old.


Syed Kabeer Ehsan profile image

Syed Kabeer Ehsan 6 years ago

Respected Teacher, Wonderfull hub page.. .

i must say Sir, you most inspiring person to me, an Excellent person sir 'GOD BLESS YOU'

with best best warm wishes to you,

Kabeer


Emran Ali profile image

Emran Ali 6 years ago from karachi

I would surely go as soon as my bank balance allows me . i would be glad to know how many countries you had visited up till now ?

por último mas não menos , viajar tem sido a sua paixão e simplesmente inspira cada camarada !!

Obrigado novamente para a partilha

Best regards

IMRAN ALI


Bbudoyono profile image

Bbudoyono 6 years ago

Excellent hub. I can see Brazil with your words and pictures. Thanks for sharing it.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

@Emran Ali, looks like you know Spanish. It would help you a lot in many countries.

I have seen nearly 70 countries.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

@Bbudoyono

Thanks for your comments.


Salman Khan 6 years ago

Dear Sir:

I think after reading your tale, atleast I don't have to visit Brazil. Not because it is not interesting, but because you have detailed your adventure so well, that one can just read and almost visit that place. Off you go the rare traveler from a third world country like Pakistan.....


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Wow! I feel as if I took a journey from my computer chair! I've always wanted to see Rio. I enjoyed the trip, and I loved the beautiful pics!


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Habee for your comments.


Hannah Ministries profile image

Hannah Ministries 6 years ago

I love you hubs, feels like I'm in South America too! Thanks again.


Hannah Ministries profile image

Hannah Ministries 6 years ago

I love you hubs, feels like I'm in South America too! Thanks again.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

very nice experience I feel I want to go there now, I want to go to Brazil, it seems like a very lively place, Thank you, Maita


NNazir profile image

NNazir 6 years ago from Pakistan

The view behind Serra Varde Express is simply beautiful


Leandraluv profile image

Leandraluv 6 years ago from Macae, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Hey hafeezrm I am finally getting around to reading about your adventures in Brazil. We have a good friend here who is from Curitiba and well we will like to visit there sometime soon. I will definitely be writing down where to go - based on what you have in this hub. Well written! One question though - you did not mention here your experience with the language. How did you deal with the Portuguese or do you speak Portuguese? Also, it seems like you did not book any hotels before you trip - very adventurous indeed. I like to book ahead - to know I have somewhere to sleep but then I can't do like you and just pick up and go! Okay now on to part 2!


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks @Leandraluv for your comments. I do not know a word of Portuguese or Spanish but I had no problem in communication through body language. People were very friendly and honest and it was easy to get along.

I did not book any hotel in advance as I consider it a fun to get a hotel by a little effort.


Samantha32Chase 6 years ago

I had got a desire to start my firm, nevertheless I didn't have got enough amount of cash to do this. Thank goodness my close fellow recommended to use the credit loans. Thence I used the car loan and realized my old dream.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi :)

I'm glad I found this ~ as late as I am joining the journey!

Very enjoyable ~ and very well written. I was there with you!!


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks @Trish_M for your nice words. I see you are traveler too. I shall read your articles in a few days time.

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