Hitchhiking: Manaus to Boa Vista
Of all the hitchhiking trips I’ve done, this was the most beautiful. I’ll call it the Best Road Trip You’ll Probably Never Take because it goes straight through the Amazon, but the only way to get a car to Manaus is by boat or drive through Venezuela; I guess you could rent it. That being said, it was also incredibly easy to get a ride going straight from Manaus to Boa Vista because there’s absolutely nothing and nowhere else to go so if you wanted to see the road, hitching is the easiest option!
Goal: Manaus, Amazonas to Boa Vista, Roraima
Distance: approximately 750km
Intended Route: Bus out of city (from terminal 1 take 330, 321, 305), head up the 174…
After being dissuaded by the thunderstorm of the previous morning, Phyllis and I were determined to hit the road Tuesday morning, despite our few hours of sleep. We were at the bust stop by 6am. There’s a few buses that go to the first couple kilometers of BR-174, heading straight north from Manaus, all heading out of terminal 1. Unfortunately, we had to go first to terminal 2, take the Integração to terminal 1, and from there catch a bus that only ran at 7am and 10am so we’d already been up and about for four hours by the the time we got out to the road. Surprise, surprise… slow, semi-dysfunctional public transport in Brazil.
But we got pick up almost immediately by two police detectives from the tiny gas station we were at and went with them for about ten minutes to where the freeway began. Here we waited maybe fifteen minutes before a very enthusiastic truck driver picked us up, yelling at us that we were in a bad place and indicating for us to chase after his truck through the left turn about a 100 meters up.
The road through the Amazonas section was entirely jungle and looking to either side we’d see trees popping out of pools or glass-like reflective water. Every so often we’d hit patches of pouring rain only to emerge into the afternoon glow of a sinking sun. Most of the road was paved, but we ran into plenty of holes and a few kilometers worth of totally destroyed road (apparently the indians don’t allow the government to come and fill in the potholes — good for them, kind of annoying for us).
Our truck driver took us all the way up to Boa Vista, stopping at a little town to have lunch, playing tour guide for us, and even stopping so we could take photos on some bridge where we met some of the indians whose reserve the road runs through. Once the sun had gone down he started singing loudly along to the music, all a mix of old Brazilian hits.
What we hadn’t foreseen was arriving so late with no way to communicate with our CS host so we held up for 3 hours at a 24 hour gas station that ended up being a forty minute walk from his house. We undertook the trek shortly after the sun was up and by some miraculous stroke of fortune found it, despite the failings of our iphone GPS blue dots to pinpoint the exact location.
If you ever have the chance, please go down this road… and if you think you can take the bus forget it! All the buses drive along the road at night, with the passengers fast asleep, not realizing they are driving through some of the most precious and beautiful scenery we have in the world.