Hitchhiking: Rio de Janeiro to Ilha Grande

The original plan had been to go straight back to São Paulo from Rio de Janeiro, but our last hosts in Rio kept talking and talking about how we should stay there forever.  And they also kept talking about Cabo Frio, Região dos Lagos, and how they had a house there we could visit in summer.  In short, we decided to make a pitstop another location they were also hyping up and one of Brazil’s most pristine islands, Ilha Grande…

The Plan

Goal: Reach Angra dos Reis before the last boat leaves for the island

Distance: approximately 154 km

Intended Route: Take a bus to Itaguai and continue hitching along BR-101 towards Angra dos Reis, once there see if there’s a boat heading to the island before nightfall.

The Journey

Hitchhiking out of a city is always difficult and Rio de Janeiro is no different.  There’s so much sprawl and suburbs you can hardly tell where the city begins and ends, but we had our couchsurfing hosts to help us out.  Since we were staying in the Guadalupe neighborhood we were already pretty far north in the city and Avenida Brasil, which eventually turns into the BR-101 that runs along the coast, was close at hand.  On our hosts’ suggestion we grabbed one of the buses here that was leaving for Itaguai, though I think any bus heading along the road in the general direction would work.  The bus was 6 reais so we got well out of the city.  We had to tell the driver what we were doing though so he could make sure to drop us off on the road before heading to the rodoviaria in Itaguai.   Even so we had to walk a little bit to find a spot that seemed suitable.

There weren’t any gas stations around so we settled for an area a little bit past the highway police.  I wasn’t very hopeful that we would get a ride in time to catch a boat in Angra dos Reis that evening and I’m still not sure that the spot was any good for hitchhiking.  But after about 40 minutes of trying two people walked up behind me and asked where we were going.  A man and a blonde haired woman who, as luck would have it, happened to live in Angra dos Reis and said we could actually get a boat to Ilha Grande today.

man woman driving car

So it was that we had just about the most tranquil and uneventful episode of hitchhiking to date on this trip.  It is a rare and happy occurrence to catch one ride, though I guess since we were going little more than 100km it wasn’t so surprising.  Here’s the journey in photos… it was almost like having tour guides along the coastal highway — which, by the way, is much better experience than the faster interior road (similar to the 5 vs the PCH on a trip from LA to SF).   In the golden afternoon the world was all rolling green hills, mountains covered in rainforest, sparkling seaside dotted with islands, and colorfully painted towns creeping up along the banks of the shore.  The couple stops they took were either to pick up fresh cheese at a farm or take photos.  Not half bad for an activity that’s supposed to be so dangerous;)  That track of highway would be enough to make anyone fall in love with Brazil.

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To finish off, they brought us right to the dock.  Here we should have been more careful and maybe even tried to hitch a ride with a fishing boat as I think our Portuguese is sufficient.  We were, however, under the impression the last boat was leaving at 4pm so we paid for two return tickets, paying around 30 more reais than necessary.  FYI there’s a big boat–Cais da Lapa–that costs 5 reis/person each way to Ilha Grande…

Regardless, the trip actually ended with us sailing off into the sunset, which is good ending, none the worse for the wear as Bilbo would say.  (There’s always another reason I could beat Stephen Colbert at LOTR trivia).


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