Hitchhiking in South America? Some says “why not”, some says “forget it”. Truth is, from time to time we do hitchhike in Europe, and we wanted to give it a go in this part of the world too. And we found ourselves in the first country on our South American backpacking trip and thought to have found a perfect route to stuck our thumb out. This is our adventure of hitchhiking in Brazil!
So, to start with an in medias res, we decided to hitchhike from Ouro Preto to Rio de Janeiro. We read travellers’ mixed hitchhiking experiences in Brazil on the internet, but since we had a good time hitching from Ouro Preto to Lavras Novas a few days back, we thought it could work.
Hitchhiking in Brazil: Leg 1
We got a very short distance ride to the end of the town and we waited there for about 1.5 hrs. Then a guy with a white Volkswagen camper van picked us up. He had an accent very difficult to understand, and we didn’t really get where he was going, only that he was not going to Rio, but nearby and it’s on our way. We expected to be dropped off maybe in the neighboring town from Rio but instead, this guy dropped us off at the neighboring town to Ouro Preto! So we didn’t get far.
Hitchhiking in Brazil: Leg 2
We were hitchhiking at a seemingly great place: on a sort of motorway towards Rio where there’s plenty of space for cars to stop. We were stood there for about 3 hrs and no one stopped! The car and truck drivers did engage with us: they were waving or gesticulated but not stopped! It’s quite unusual, in Europe we never experienced such a thing! We even asked a few truck drivers to give us a ride, but all refused with the reason they go another way. So after all the dust, tiredness and wasted time, we took the local bus (yes, we were lucky that a local bus stopped a few meters from us) to the nearest random town called Conselheiro Lafaiete.
How we ended our hitchhiking adventure
We bought the bus tickets to Rio for the night before splashing in the few hours waiting time. We had our big bags with us so we didn’t go on a serious exploration trip in town, but found a cute square (town center probably) with a church and a supermarket where we killed those hours with bolo (=cake in Portuguese) and beer. We also bumped into a demonstration against Bolsonaro, #EleNão, that we had no clue about at that time.
Later, as we talked with Brazilians about this experience, they all said that the people were probably scared to stop, because of the high crime rate in the country. We can’t really explain it other way either, nevertheless we didn’t try hitchhiking in Brazil any more.
Below is our route from Ouro Preto to Conselheiro Lafaiete, and then to Rio.
Have you ever hitchhiked? Where was it?
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