Highways in Brazil began to be built in the 1920’s and with the arrival of Brasília, the government also incentivized big name automakers to set up shop in the country. With a road network of over one million miles, you can pretty much hop a bus in Brazil to get anywhere from anywhere.
In the US, I had taken Greyhound on several occasions from San Francisco to San Diego and, frankly, it was nothing to write home about. Maybe it was because I had already driven from Northern to Southern California countless times before. Maybe it was the fact that my bus trips were overnight and rather uncomfortable. Either way, I wasn’t too excited about interstate bus travel in Brazil.
I’ve heard stories of buses that break down frequently or are sometimes held up by highway robbers. What I didn’t hear was the scenery is beautiful, the seats are comfortable and the buses are air-conditioned and modern. An added benefit was the fact that the buses I took were only half full, increasing the peace and quiet. After closing my curtain and reclining my chair, there was ample time for a nice nap.
The trip I took a few months ago between Natal and João Pessoa lasted a mere 2.5 to 3 hours. Even if I had chosen Recife or Fortaleza as my destination, which are 6-8 hours away, I’m almost positive I would have enjoyed my traveling experience just as much (in fact, I’ve since taken a 7 hour trip by bus and enjoyed it just as much). The Brazilian countryside really is something to marvel at. Whether it’s farms, small towns or vast expanses into the unknown, there’s always something to be in awe of.
My travels were full of nothing but greenery and being a passenger instead of the driver left me tons of time for appreciating the views and reflecting about life. Add a notebook, a novel, an mp3 player and a snack and I was set. While my round-trip left me 50 reals poorer, I felt much richer for the experience.
If you’re looking to plan a trip of your own, I’d start with Busca Onibus (in PT).