How to get to the Jureia Itatins
Unless you are one of the intrepid travelers who make their way through South America overland, you will almost certainly arrive in Brazil at one of the big international airports, the most important of which is called Cumbica , or Guarulhos, after the municipality nearby, in the city of São Paulo.
There are international airports in Rio, Brasilia, Manaus, Salvador , Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre and mainly international charter flights to Recife and Fortaleza in the far north. Otherwise, air-passengers arrive in Rio or Sao Paulo and then take domestic link flights to their destination.
If you are coming overland, you will probably know where you are heading, and if you are coming by sea, you could arrive almost anywhere along the huge Brazilian coastline, but the main cruise-line ports are Rio and Santos, which is only 100 km away from the Jureia.
Flights to Sao Paulo are numerous. Cumbica airport lies to the north east of the city and has both international and domestic flights, while in the south , close to the city centre, is Congonhas which deals exclusively with domestic flights. Brazil has many small airports serving even the less important cities and towns in the more remote areas, so if speed is your priority, you will find a wide variety of flights to choose from. I would recommend using the internet to search for and to buy flights. Most of the large Brazilian airports have their own sites with useful information about the airlines that operate there.
Arrival at Cumbica is not particularly complicated, but it can be slow to pass through arrival formalities, particularly at busy times of year and early in the morning, which is when the majority of international flights arrive. There is a well stocked duty free shop for international arrivals, but unless you have pre-purchased over the internet, queues are very long. Once in the arrivals lounge you have all of the usual modern facilities and your choice of travel to your destination can include;-
Air Taxi, by light plane, or helicopter. Taxi. Hire car, or bus.
Be sure to understand costs and details before you undertake your journey.
Unless I am collecting someone, or being collected by car, I usually take the bus, since taxis are expensive and helicopters are for millionaires, of which I am not one!
Buses are the normal method of transport in Brazil, unless you are going by car. There is a shuttle bus service into Sao Paulo city where there are several big bus stations serving regional areas.
If you are coming our way, down to the Sao Paulo coastal region, there is a bus service from Cumbica to Santos which leaves every few hours and takes about 2 hours for the trip, depending on traffic.
This service is currently, (2013), run by ‘Cometa’ and tickets are sold just outside of the arrivals hall on the ground floor of Terminal ‘A’.
At Santos you will be able to buy onward journeys to any of the cities and towns in the coastal region, including those in the Jureia.
Services are frequent and served by two different classes of vehicle.
The service usually taken for longer journeys is ‘Metroplitano’, Rodoviaria, or ‘Executivo’ . These are huge modern air-conditioned vehicles with reclining seats, foot-rests and luggage space below, (for which you should always receive a receipt). On many routes they will be equipped with on board WC, video films and even coffee service. Tickets are usually bought in the bus stations where you will find rows of small offices boasting company names, routes served and timetables.
‘Suburbano’, ‘Comum’, or ‘Convencional’ services are very different. They stop on demand, offer no on board facilities, luggage space is very restricted and journey times are longer, but they are cheap and there is no better way to experience the ordinary Brazilian way of life. I use them all the time. Tickets are bought from the driver as you board. Be sure to have loose change and small notes. They are unlikely to give change for more than a ten real note. Be sure to avoid occupying seats marked for pensioners, mothers with children and those with disabilities. If you are young and fit it is polite to offer your seat to older folk or mothers with children, as these buses are often very crowded.
In addition to these services, which are provided by big Commercial bus companies in the different regions of Brazil, there are also very local bus services provided by local authorities for school children that also take fare paying passengers. These services are called ESCOLAR and the vehicles providing them are marked accordingly. These buses are particularly important in rural areas, where communities of many hundreds of people live far from the centre of the metropolitan areas served by bus companies and who often have no other form of transport. Unless you are able to speak the language, or have assistance, it is probably wise to take in some of the local wisdom before using this type of service, since timetables may be somewhat vague and routes can be quite ‘complicado’ as they say in Brazil! Once your feet are firmly under the table however, I would highly recommend using the ‘Escolar’ rather than going by taxi in rural areas, since you will be highly entertained every jolt and judder of the way! Fares are usually flat rate, typically 2 real.
In urban areas there is yet another type of service called ‘Van’. This is commercial and usually run in mini-buses that stop on demand and charge a flat rate, which is often 2 real. The route often varies according to demand and again, I would not recommend using this service until you find your feet as it were, but for city travel on short journeys they can be very useful.
For all types of service you will need to ask for the number of the embarkation slot at the bus station for your bus, as the area is usually large, often very busy and buses do not always display all of their destinations. Usually only the head stop will be displayed, but on ‘Suburbano’ routes sometimes the display may not be working. So always check with the driver!
Words of Warning
• Never leave your luggage unattended or with anyone that you do not trust implicitly.
• Bus stations and airports are targeted by opportunistic thieves and conmen.
• Never wear expensive jewelry, wrist watches, or carry expensive cameras, computer equipment or other flashy stuff in public areas where it can be seen, particularly in bus stations.
• Be especially wary when you go to the toilet.
• Never open your purse or wallet where it can be seen by others or snatched from you, even if it is on a strap. Keep some loose change and small notes separately in your pocket.
• Try to keep in the vicinity of groups of other people rather than standing alone.
• Do not travel at night except as part of long journeys, when there will be scheduled stops at rest areas.
• If in doubt, or in need of assistance ask your bus driver or at one of the information desks or kiosks serving the area.
• Avoid soliciting help from ‘friendly’ strangers.
• Police officers do not normally offer information and advice. Respect their authority and orders at all times.
• Brazilians are very helpful and keen to help foreigners, especially if you speak at least some Portuguese or are carrying a phrase book or dictionary. They may giggle at your attempts to speak their language, but they will normally be sympathetic.
• Brazil is a fascinating country filled with wonderful people, but it has vast social divisions and high crime rates compared to some other countries. If you are to enjoy your visit here to the full, it is important to do some preparation, particularly in learning some of the language, as most Brazilians do not often come into contact with foreigners, and therefore find other languages mainly incomprehensible, no matter how loud you speak!
• Your pronunciation of Portuguese words may not be spot on and difficult for Brazilians to understand. Taking the time to do some on-line translation of your travel route details and printing them onto small sheets of paper will be useful at the bus station and airport, and taxi drivers will recognize an address or hotel name much more easily that way.
© 2013 Alastair Kinghorn