Vitoria, ES to Caravelas, BA by Bike

Aug 13-20 2019

435km, 7 cycle days, 1 day just to return to Rio de Janeiro. 

This is my 7th multi-day trip along the Brazilian coast in my quest to cycle all of it (and perhaps beyond?). 

Previous trips were:

Rio to Ubatuba (Southbound) Jan. 2014, 6 days, 342.77km

Rio to Rio das Ostras (Northbound) April 2014, 4 days, 242.69km

Rio das Ostras to Farol de São Thomé (Northbound) Nov. 2017 4 days

Vitória to Farol de São thomé (southbound) April 2018, 5 days

Curitiba – Iguape (Northbound) Sept. 2018. 5 days, 250km

Ubatuba to Peruíbe (Southbound) March/April 2019, 5 days, 300km

Upon completion I have now cycled between Carvelas, in Bahia state, and Paranaguá, in Paraná state, approximately 2000km.

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Overall this is a great ride. Mostly flat along the highways of the coastal plain of Espirito Santo and Bahia states.  About 80% of it is on dirt roads. The northern part of the Espirito Santo state and some of Bahis state is dominated by the Cellulose (paper) industry, so even though the roads are dirt, they are decent enough, to allow access to and from the miles and miles of Eucalyptus tree plantations .I nicknamed the region “Eucalyptolandia.” 

To get past the several river deltas I had to depend on local fishermen and in some locations, regular (small) boat service. 

I camped every night except the last, which was in a cheap hotel, and almost like camping anyway. I only paid for 2 overnights: at 1 campground and the hotel, for a total of 60BRL. The other nights people didn’t charge me, or I simply “stealth” camped 2 nights at beach restaurants/bars which were closed due to the low season.

The weather was quite good overall 26-27C by day and maybe 18-20C at night. August is winter in Brazil and this is a good time of year for this part of the country, which can get quite hot during Summer. Southern Brazil in August can be downright cold! Day 2 and 3 had extremely high winds, luckily from behind. It rained 2 nights but it had stopped by daybreak.

I had no mechanical issues with the bike, except for some dirty chain issues, which I resolved with a rag and oil. The cones on the front wheel had loosened up a bit but I only noticed that at the end, so I didn’t bother adjusting it. I’ll do that at home. After reading some good reviews, I had installed some 26×1.75 Schwalbe Marathon tour plus tires a few months back and they did a very good job. No flats!

My camp setup was a 10x12ft tarp, a hammock and a mosquito net. It was cold enough at night to use a sleeping bag so mosquitoes were not really a problem. Some nights l slept in the hamock, others on the ground, on a mattress under the tarp, or under a roof. I took a wood-fuel “rocket” stove which performed quite well for making my morning coffee and oatmeal. I also had a large bag of GORP and always had a few oranges, which can withstand the trip, with me. Just in case I also had a tin of tuna and a canned feijoada. For lunch I tried to make it to a town and eat home-style food at a restaurant.

My bike in the luggage compartment of the bus

One of Brazil’s best-kept cycling secrets is that you can take your bike, unboxed, aboard long distance busses! Depending on the baggage compartment, sometimes I turn the handlebars sideways and lower the seat, or even remove the front wheel. Most of the time It fits standing upright, and I secure it in place with bungee cords. 

To start the trip I took an 8 hour, overnight bus from Rio to Vitoria for on Aguia Branca bus lines, for 130BRL. https://www.aguiabranca.com.br/

I kept an expense log: 982 Reais (Meals, lodging and busses/boats). 

Sunrise in Vitória

I arrived at at 530am. At 6am I was already cycling, enjoying the beautiful sunrise.

Route Map: https://drive.google.com/open?id=13X3loiniZEaoSSVkE2mYmtCONpBwM8ta&usp=sharing

Photo Album: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Y5fZ5pAXhxGCJRLx6

If you want to know the day by day and some useful information, read on.

Day 1 Vitória – Itaparica, Aracruz. 62.5km 

Cycle lanes in Vitória
The “Third Bridge” in Vitória in front of the Forte São Francisco Xavier da Barra

Leaving Vitoria, the large capital city of Espirito Santo state, was much easier than expected – there are cycle lanes along the picturesque shoreline, passing the port area and posh neighborhoods, almost the whole way until beyond of the urban area. After that there were some sidewalks to ride on, low traffic roads and alternatives to the main paved road.

Suburbs of Vitória
Jacaraipe Beach

Then the road is a highway with a decent shoulder, not much traffic, passing some beautiful beaches. I arrived at the Marine biological station around 2pm and inquired about camping and Gabriel Ruschi said no problem, and that there was no charge. There’s no restaurants nearby so I went to a nearby beach, took a swim, then fired up my wood stove to make an instant soup I had in my gear. I acquired the wood stove, a “rocket” stove a few months back and ended up using it a few times on the trip. It takes some getting used to but it works great (requiring constant minding, and feeding with fuel), boiling water in about 10 minutes.

Campsite at the Biological Station

Back at the station at 430pm I set up my hammock, mosquito net and tarp. Then went to bed at dark. It rained a bit overnight, but I slept soundly, glad to know I was in a nice location.

I stayed at the Estação Biologia Marinha Augusto Ruschi – This place is really cool. Food preparation and toilet facilities there, but I used my camp stove.

https://www.facebook.com/EBMARUSCHI

http://www.ebmar.com.br/

Gabriel Ruschi, +5527981199292

Other options in the area

Camping Guruçá Enseada das Garças, Fundão – ES, 29185-000 www.facebook.com +55 27 99927-8042

Camping Club of Brazil Rua Projetada, s/n – Putiri, Aracruz – ES, 29190-000 www.campingclube.com.br +55 27 3250-7050. These are throughout brazil and tend to be quite expensive if you are not a member.

Day 2 Itaparica, Aracruz – Regência, Linhares. 67.9km 

Piraquê-Açu River

By 730am I was on the road, passing a small fishing village of Sant Cruz at the mouth if the Piraqué-Açu river. Then across the beautiful river on a bridge and up the coast, following the shoreline, passing some coconut plantations. Then I passed the massive Suzano Celulose plant then onto Barra do Riacho, where I stopped for a coffee and sandwich.

Long, straight road through eucalyptus trees

After Barra do Riacho (about 70km into the trip) I didn’t see many paved roads for the rest of the trip.It was 36km more to Regência, through Eucalyptus plantations on a VERY straight dirt road. The wind was very strong at this point, but lucky from behind, pushing me most of the way, until the road turned right (east) for about 5km and it was quite a struggle to keep moving! Finally the road turned northwards again, at the TAMAR sea turtle station where I stopped for a rest, and checked out the turtles in the tanks.

Sea Turtle at TAMAR

Regência is at the mouth of the Rio Doce, or Sweet River, which was contaminated a few years ago by the rupture of a mine tailing resevoir dam. The town which normally lived off of tourism was devastated economically. I was perhaps the only tourist in town. The sky grey and high winds made for a eerie feeling. I checked into a campground and set up, then went out for a beer and food. This time I set up the tarp over top of my upside-down bike, making a decent tent. It got quite cold and rained a lot overnight, but I was dry and warm in the tent, mattress and sleeping bag. By morning the rain had passed.

Bike as tent support

Stayed at Camping da praia (27) 99981-3381. Adriano. 30Reais.

Other sleeping options in Regência 

Hostel Aloha http://www.hostelaloha.com.br/

https://www.facebook.com/hostelaloharegencia/

(27) 99688-2040

aloharegencia@gmail.com

https://suapousadaemregencia.com.br/

https://www.facebook.com/pousadaarana Reservas: 27-9.9839-5227

https://www.pousadaarana.com/ 

Surfhouse and camping , Robson e Aline 27-998339898 pontinhasurfhouse@regenciasurf.com.br pontasurf@ig.com.br

Camping Sítio Belas Ondas – about 7km from Regência 

http://www.sitiobelasondas.com.br

(27) 9.9931-3358, (27) 9.9873-3373, (27) 9.9984-0570, (27) 3372-2768

Nativo Hospedagens – Kitnets +5527999823179  +5527999195295 junior

Day 3 Regência, Linhares – Pontal do Ipiranga, Linhares. 55km

just after crossing the Rio Doce

I went to the small port which was completely empty, hoping for someone to appear with a a boat because there is no apparent regular service across the river. Nor is there a bridge. After about 15 minutes a small motorboat passed to which I waved at, and the man asked if I wanted a “travesia” (crossing). Yes, I said and he pulled up, loaded the bike and we were on the way. He was with 2 other people and they let me out at a completely deserted beach on the other side. From there he said to walk until I found a road.  I walked on the beach for about 30 minutes until I came to a small ranch and road. The ranch is also a camping, it turns out. 

“Restinga”

One on the road, dirt again, I was on my way, passing through “restinga” vegetation, Then through the village of Povoação which didn’t seem to be interesting. Probably why they named it that – Povoação roughly means “Settlement”.

Beautiful Lagoon

Then a beautiful lagoon, then on bigger dirt roads which lead to a massive Natural Gas treatment facility. Passing that then more vegetation. Rest stop at a bus stop, and arrived in Pontal about 130pm. I had a good home style meal at a typical “Kilo” restaurant. I spend the rest of the day lounging in my hammock at some closed beach kiosks, enjoying the sunset. I decided to stay the night at one, which I did. Before that a hamburger at a trailer.

Hamburger Trailer

Other Sleeping options 

Barra Seca

https://www.facebook.com/pousadaparaisopontaldoipiranga

(27) 99966-1253 / 3274-5146

Camping Pontal do Ipiranga http://www.campingpontaldoipiranga.com.br/

+5527999150355  +5527999798095 campingpipiranga@hotmail.com

Camping e Pousada pontal ipiranga +55 27 99824-1672

Pousada vila do sossego +552799974 6969

Pousada recanto do ipiranga – +5527998011987

Pousada Recanto do Sol – +5521997258644

Day 4 Pontal do Ipiranga, Linhares – Meleiras, Conceição da Barra. 73.9km 

Campsite

Up with the sun and also, weirdly to orchestral versions of some classic rock songs, including Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen, and Hey You by Pink Floyd. Turns out there was some kind of event being set up on the beach nearby, with massive speakers! I decided to vacate my campsite as quickly as possible to not draw attention, so I didnt bother cooking. I found a bakery for a coffee and a Mixto Quente (grilled ham and cheese) sandwich. I was also able to charge up my phone.

Bath Stop

About 13km I came to Urussuquara, a beautiful location but a not very interesting village. I had quick swim in the lagoon, brushed my teeth then went on my way.

Interesting rock formations in Barra Nova
Crossing the river in Barra Nova

Arrived at Barra nova around 1030am and rang a taxi boat who took me across the river for  10reais. The area has some interesting rock formations along the beach.

Riverside beach

After Barra Nova its about XXkm to Guriri, but along the route the river gets very close to the road, where I spotted a beautiful riverside beach bar. I could not resist. It wasn’t open but a man was there making repairs and said I could hang out with no problem. I took a swim, snacks and relaxed.

Praia do Bosque

I arrived in Guriri around 1pm. There’s a nice beach which would make a good campsite called “Praia do Bosque.” But it was too early to camp, and I went to the town center for another “Kilo” meal and to charge the phone. Still to early to camp I moved on until another river crossing where I would look for a place to stay.

Road to Meleiras

I attempted at “Ze Elefante” but no one there seemed interested or could authorize it. I moved on and a few km away came across a small house with a beautiful view of the river. I asked information on how to cross and if they knew a place I could set up a tent. Ademar said I could set up at his place no problem, for free. I did. He and his mother were super nice and after only an hour or so they went back to Guriri where they live and left me alone there, with access to a bathroom and filtered water and an outlet to charge the phone. This was by far the best campsite of the trip.

Campsite in Meleiras

Ademar said “Gambá” (Possum), the caretaker would be able to take me across the river the next day.

Ademar Nascimento: +55 27 99939 1616 (whatsapp)

Other Sleeping options

Pousada Girassol (Guriri) 99487703  37611777

LeBaron da Praia https://www.facebook.com/lebarondapraia

Solumar https://www.facebook.com/Pousada-Solumar227932391109811/

(27) 3761-2245 (27) 99843-1364

Pousada/Restaurante Mare Cheia 3761 2525

Pousada Ilha Bela 260R on booking.com

Costa Marlin hotel – 180R on Expedia

Guriri Marlin Hotel

Bar/Pousada Via do Sol (27) 99826-2332

Apart Hotel Vale do Amazonas 37611047

Snob Motel (27) 99656-3413

Ibis Sao Mateus

Pousada Lorenise  http://www.pousadalorenise.com.br/ Pousada@pousadalorenise.com.br 37611571

Pousada e Camping Guedes (barra nova) Av. Principal, S/N – Balneário de Barra Nova, São Mateus – ES, 29944-415 www.campingguedes.com.br +55 27 99832-3609

Day 5 Meleiras, Conceição da Barra – Riacho Doce, 65km 

Morning view if the Cricaré River

Woke at dawn, packed up and waited for Gambá to finish his chores around the house. Then around 930am his brother brought a motor for a boat that was there and he took me down river for about 45 minutes, around a bend, to Conceição da Barra.

Conceição is a cute town with a picturesque port with colorful boats. I cruised around a bit, taking photos and enjoying the views before heading off toward Itaúnas. Following a GPX route I had made before travel, I came to a sandy path. Wondering if it was the correct way, I asked some people nearby and they confirmed it was. I had to walk, pushing the bike quite a bit, trying to keep on track.

Port area of Conceição da Barra
Path to Itaúnas

Eventually it was rideable, on a narrow track through coastal forest. I was REALLY hoping it was the correct route when I came upon an older man. We chatted for quite a while, which was a great rest stop and also some good info. Yes it was the correct path. 

Continuing on I made a rest stop on the riverside and watched a river snake zig-zag past, in the river. Moving on I arrived in Itaúnas around 2pm. It is a very cute town, one of the nicest I passed through. I was originally planning on staying the night there but after lunch it was still early enough to get in some more km before sunset, so I headed for Riacho Doce, another beach. Celsão pousada, basically a small ranch with all kinds of animals (turkeys, geese, peacock, cattle, dog and others) is at Riacho doce. Celsão is from Niteroi, RJ and has been at the location for about 20 years. Super nice and quite a character, he said I could set up a tent anywhere on the grounds for no charge. I went to check out the beach then came back to set up camp. They had soup and a bonfire, with a full moon shining brightly. It was magical. Overnight the temperature dropped quite a bit.

Bonfire and a full moon

Pousada do Celsão (27) 99281-2832 https://goo.gl/maps/5yagNBedw8saggha9

Itaúnas sleeping options

A Nave – Camping e Pousada julio.nave@hotmail.com +552737625102 (Fixo) | +5527999888484 (Vivo) | +5527981813551 (Tim) http://www.anave.tur.br/

Day 6 Riacho Doce – Muciri 55.8km 

Awoke with the sun, made coffee and oatmeal with my wood stove, then slowly packed. The cold night produced quite a bit of dew on the tarp so I set it out in the sun to dry. I also set out my swimming shorts and ended up forgetting them there.

Celsão hand-drew a map for a shortcut which would save me some 10km on the way to Costa Dourada in Bahis state. He also gave me a cycling medal which was hanging on the wall, left over from a cycling event! Costa Dourada was about 23km away and I made it there in about 2 hours, passing more eucalyptus, on a road which heads inland from the coast, then back out to the coast. I hardly saw any cars. Perhaps 8 at most.

Costa Dourada is a nice beach and simple village, so I stopped for an hour to rest, with a view of the beach from a high bluff. By this time it was about noon and quite hot, but I headed off on more dirt roads to Mucuri.

The dirt road became a path and passed through some ranches, and  I had to pass through some “porteiras” (cattle gates). Wondering If I was on the right path, a man passed on his bike and he confirmed that it was. At the end of the road, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, was a small covered waiting area for the taxi boat to Muciri. Thinking all day that I would have to stay the night there, several people were waiting for the taxi boat, and a boat was just pulling up. I quicky went to board to take advantage of it!

Muciri isn’t very spectacular, but I had a good lunch and charged the phone. I pondered my sleeping options and set out to find a beach “cabana” to stay in, like in Pontal do Ipiranga. There were several possibilities, but the wind was still high and I imagined it would be cold, so I moved on after buying some oatmeal for the next day’s breakfast. It was getting late and the next town was still another 25km away, when I spotted what looked to be a closed restaurant, or ranch, between the road and the beach. I stopped, yelled to see if anyone was there, then went in only to find it completely abandoned. It had a nice covered porch area, hidden from the road so I decided to make it my campsite. Only problem was no water, and no real access to the beach. I had enough water to make it through the night though. I hung up my hammock and listened to some podcasts. At dark, I had a nice bonfire of dried out coconuts, and watched the moonrise. Coconuts burn very well.

Campsite

Day 7 Muciri – Caravelas 55km

Port of Nova Viçosa

I made a coffee and oatmeal then was on the road at 7am. A few km on, I passed another abandoned place, this time which appeared to be a hotel, with access to the beach. I went in and had a refreshing swin, brushed my teeth and changed my clothes then was on the long, straight, paved road to Nova Viçosa.

I arrived in Nova Viçosa, Bahia about 9am. And slowly cycled around town, checking it out. The town is separated from Caravelas, my final destination, by a huge coastal environmental reserve of mangroves. There is no regular boat service connecting the 2 towns. 

Boat operators at the port of Nova Viçosa wanted quite a bit of money to get to caravelas (400BRL) or to esporabas (?) Island (120BRL), which they said had a road on it leading to a ferry “station” on a smaller river just across from Caravelas. Due to the high prices I considered ending the journey there, and inquired at the bus station for busses out. Knowing Portuguese really helped when I chatted with some locals who said there is a daily weekday school boat which would be taking students home at 11am (it was 930am). So I waited around and sure enough it exists! I was able to board that one and gave the young boat captain 50BRL upon landing, about 1 hour later. He was VERY pleased. 

It turns out he does the trip twice a day, leaving Nova Viçosa at 4 am, empty, to go pick up students, back to Nova Viçosa at 530am with students, then 11 am departing Nova Viçosa with student once again and returning empty around 1230pm. His name is Rafael, his phone/whatsapp is +55 (73) 99986-3499

Rafael, boat captain

Three teen-aged, uniformed school girls were on board and another person, a local, was coincidentally also taking his bike to Caravelas the same way. Although he had done it before, he had never landed at the point where we did.  It took about 2 hours to cross the ilha NAME, about 14km. MUCH of it was walking through the cattle pastures, through the low lying waters and fluffy sand. About halfway through cycling was easy enough, but slow.

“Road” to Caravelas

There is a boat station on the other side of the island, directly across from Caravelas but the boat would only leave in another 2 hours, at 5pm. Uanderson, my companion for the day went to the only house nearby and came back with a man in a small canoe powered by a “Rabeta” engine. It’s basically a lawn mower style motor, with a long shaft and propellor at the end of it. We loaded up the bikes and made it across in about 15 minutes.

Caravelas is a cute little town with a small historic center. Images of the Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s fictional Macondo came to mind. Unaderson recommended a place to camp and a small hotel, which I went for. It was only 30BRL and basically like camping in a building. No AC, No fan, no screens on the window. I Set the mattress on the ground with a chair at either end to support my mosquito net over it. It was a success! I immediately took a shower and washed out my shirt and underwear while in there, set them to dry then headed out to see the sunset which was spectacular over the mangrove. I walked around, made photos, then went for some soup and beer. A high school marching band came out, practicing for the upcoming independence day, Sept. 7. Then I went to bed.

Sunset in Caravelas

Day 8 Caravelas to Texeiras de Freitas by bus then overnight bus to Rio

I woke with the sun, as was normal on this trip, and made oatmeal and coffee with my camp stove in the aprtment, on the veranda! Then I set about packing my gear in bus mode – I pannier to take aboard while the rest goes underneath. For the Onboard pannier I packed layers of clothes, a neck pillor, GORP, phone, Podcasts, water etc. 

Bus from Caravelas to Teixeira de Freitas

Caravelas, Bahia state. Its a sleepy little town with only 4 busses per day to the larger regional city, Texeira de Freitas, about 100km away. I took The Brasileiro bus lines 11am deaprture for 21BRL, arrived at 130pm, then had to wait around for the 9pm, 14 hour, overnight bus to Rio in the Gontijo lines (www.gontijo.com.br).

I was actually to be on an earlier bus but it didn’t arrive due to a bridge issue (the bus does not originate in Texiera, it was arriving from Ilheus). I was bumped to the Porto Seguro – Rio bus. That ticket was 220BRL.  All in all it took about 25 hours to get from Caravelas back to Rio!

Arrival back in Rio.