Brazil: Monstrous Metropolis to Waterfall Wonder Photo Story

Text: Irene Wouters • Photography: Irene Wouters

Touring Brazil by motorcycle for nearly three months was an unforgettable experience. After visiting a variety of towns along the coast, it was time for a break in beach town Arraial do Cabo. Next on the agenda: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Curitiba. My riding partner, Lia, and I left the dusty, sandy roads behind, exchanging them for six-lane highways. With exactly 6,000 miles on the counter, we rode in to Rio and found ourselves back in modern-day Brazil. Before leaving the country we rode Southern Brazil’s stunning mountain road Serra do Rio do Rastro and traveled to Foz do Iguazu to see the waterfall wonder Iguazu Falls.

Rio My-Oh-Me-Oh

Rio has a lot to offer in sightseeing, culture, and nightlife. Of course, we visited the 124-foot-tall statue of Jesus, we attended a football match at the Maracanã Stadium (one of the largest in the world), and we walked across the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema.

The disadvantage of Brazil is that the roads are generally too good. The asphalt is perfect and you pay a toll for it. A six-lane highway is not the best way to cover distances on the KTMs, but it is the fastest. The highway section from Rio to São Paulo is overwhelmingly beautiful. Like a line of ants, we rode over high bridges and through countless tunnels in the gigantic, forested mountains.

More Metropolises

Endless skyscrapers formed the new view as we rode into São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city with some 12 million people. It reminded us of New York. Our first stop was the KTM store, where our motorcycles got their 6,000-mile checkups. A mechanic asked if we already replaced our braking pads, because they looked hardly used. I told him, “No, we just never brake!” Actually, one pannier was full of spare parts, just in case, but so far we hadn’t needed to use anything at all. Our KTMs needed only an oil change. The next day we visited some museums and a city park that looked like the jungle version of Central Park.

Curitiba was a completely different story. It is also called “rock city” of Brazil, and after doing some people-watching, the reason for the name was clear: There are many tattoos, beards, piercings, and band shirts. If you ever visit Curitiba, go to the Oscar Niemeyer Museum, an incredible building with a varied, interesting art collection. In Curitiba there was something that drew my attention: poor people from the slums who collect high stacks of waste in large carts in the city center. Men and women, young and old. I see them not as trash collectors but as “heroes of the street,” because instead of stealing or robbing like some do, they work extremely hard for very little money.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the September/October 2019 back issue.