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Driving from Recife to Fortaleza

Driving from Recife to Fortaleza

Old Feb 12, 14, 12:35 pm
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Driving from Recife to Fortaleza

I am thinking of renting a car and driving from Recife to Fortaleza instead of flying. Anyone attempted this? It would be during the day and I have a stop or two to make on the way. Any insight would be appreciated.
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Old Feb 12, 14, 5:31 pm
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Originally Posted by sr_tipitinas View Post
I am thinking of renting a car and driving from Recife to Fortaleza instead of flying. Anyone attempted this? It would be during the day and I have a stop or two to make on the way. Any insight would be appreciated.
What is your driving experience in third world countries? Are you accustomed to conditions (drivers, road conditions, safety/crime) you might encounter? Do you speak fluent Portuguese in case anything happens?
I recommend that anyone not very familiar with Brazil fly between destinations or use the convenient, comfortable bus system.
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Old Feb 12, 14, 6:04 pm
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this is a 800-km trip mostly on Highways BR-101 and BR-304. Doable in a couple days. Natal and Joao Pessoa are good choices for stopping or spending the night, and definately some very nice beaches between these cities. It would be good to check road conditions before you go.
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Old Feb 12, 14, 9:53 pm
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I lived in Costa Rica for a year in the 90's and have driven in Chile, Arg., México and Honduras so I think I can handle the roads. I'll be spending 2 nights on the road. I can speak Spanish but no Portuguese. I heard the roads aren't too bad. It would be next week.
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Old Feb 12, 14, 9:54 pm
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How is Canoa Quebrada?
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Old Feb 13, 14, 6:33 am
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Accessible by bus.


(btw, a one way rental usually incurs a R$1-R$1.50 per km drop off fee)
Can you handle a carjack?

Last edited by VidaNaPraia; Feb 13, 14 at 6:38 am
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Old Feb 13, 14, 8:54 am
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Dealing with the roads is one thing, dealing with the drivers another, but maybe it won't come as a shock, compared to where else you've driven. Brazilians, known not being in a rush or short-tempered, change when they drive. Learning some Portuguese phrases in case of an emergency, or even just getting lost, would be helpful. Makesure you have adequate auto and health insurance. I'm sure you know fuel prices are high. I can't imagine what the price would be for such a one-way rental.

Small thing: in the city of Fortaleza, if you have an accident, even a minor one, you're supposed to keep your car where it is-- even if it blocks traffic-- until traffic authorities arrive. Only city with this law that I'm aware of.

Good idea to be planning on driving only during daylight hours, due to safety concerns (accidents and robberies). A few years ago, we drove from Fortaleza to Natal and back, and survived.

Boa sorte!
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Old Feb 13, 14, 9:16 am
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Originally Posted by SoCal View Post
...we drove .....and survived.

Boa sorte!
That sums up driving in Brazil pretty well, according to more post-trip reports than just yours SoCal.
"We survived. Best of luck to you trying to do the same." :-)

I mostly equate a first-timer driving in Brazil to the sight-impaired Mr. Magoo of the cartoons stumbling through dangers he isn't even aware of, and emerging at the end unscathed but still not understanding the perils he avoided.
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Old Feb 13, 14, 10:19 am
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Thanks for the heads up. This is for business so I'm not as concerned about costs. It's about the same or cheaper than flying and stopping 3 times. According to the rental, there is no km fee but I will verify with the agency beforehand. It costs $1000 which is not bad. I have someone with me so it's a team effort. I've traveled enough in the wilder places in L.A. so this does not scare me. Costa Rica in the 90's prepared me well. Besides, a good carjacking (with a rental) is on the bucketlist. Haha.
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Old Feb 13, 14, 11:37 am
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Just be aware at all times. This is the northeast, where the memory of Lampiao is not gone or forgotten.
Understand that it may not be safe to simply pull over to consult a map or get something out of the trunk, even on the interstate (in this case, the BR-101), as you might not think twice about doing in L.A. Review with your partner exactly how to act/what to do if you are caught up in an assault. (Even my Brazilian friends go over this with family members every time they get in the car.) Know the signs leading up to a two-car carjack stop. Be alert for unsigned speed bumps when passing through built-up areas. Steel yourself for some one-lane-each-way roads on which drivers coming in the opposite direction (and the four cars behind them) will occupy your lane while trying to pass someone in theirs until the last second. Keep all belongings out of sight in the trunk at all times. Carry enough water (and snacks) to endure a lengthy stop in extreme heat for unexpected road construction. Fill the tank whenever possible; gas stations can be few and far between in some areas. Be sure you have tire changing tools and know how to use them, or when it may be safer to keep driving on a rim than to stop. Have enough Portuguese to report an accident and get yourself a mechanic. Make sure you are off the road before dusk. It is common for cars not to stop at red lights after dark, and to keep windows up and doors locked at all times in built up areas.
(Lest you think I am being fanciful, this has all been learned through hard experience in the northeast.)
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Old Feb 13, 14, 12:18 pm
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Thank you very much for the advice. We have the itineray laid out where we will not have to drive at night and my associate can speak some Portugese. We will be visiting various factories along the way so they will inform us of any potential problems. I certainly know about the trick of debris in the road to get cars to stop. I'll report back on how the trip went.
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Old Feb 13, 14, 1:01 pm
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And be aware of the Lei Seca (Dry Law). Any alcohol in your system when driving, and you've violated the law. There can be random checkpoints to check this and inspect documents (not to ask for gratuities, of course). There is also a very high rate of vehicle accidents due to alcohol. Make sure your car has air bags. Above all, have fun.
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Old Feb 13, 14, 2:22 pm
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Originally Posted by sr_tipitinas View Post
I'll report back on how the trip went.
That would be nice, but any future/further readers should understand clearly that your personal experience, good or bad, is simply that, and would not apply to any other person, location, situation, or time in Brazil (just as you yourself wouldn't credit that my experience might have anything to do with yours).
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Old Feb 13, 14, 4:22 pm
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Originally Posted by SoCal View Post
Above all, have fun.
Well put. I'm glad someone here said that. I must have driven with friends on various trips between all all of the states here over the years. Absolutely priceless, in terms of adventure and life experiences. Yes, you need to exercise common sense, and some caution, as in most countries, including third world countries, but don't let the doomsday sayers get you down. If we followed all of their (I'm sure well-meaning) advice we would never venture forth from hotel rooms. Enjoy!
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Old Feb 13, 14, 7:20 pm
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Marcos, you seem to be Brazilian, correct?

There is a lot of difference in what sense is "common" among Brazilians vs. among those used to conditions in the US, Canada, etc. For instance, as I mentioned, most people accustomed to driving in the US would think nothing of casually pulling over to stop on the side of the road to check a map or get something out of the trunk. No one would think of this as dangerous (unless you were not far enough off the road). But I learned not to do this (in the northeast of Brazil at least) in Brazil when friends sharing a trip went ballistic with fear of armed robbery. Also, US drivers may remind their passengers to buckle their seat belts, but few think it neccessary to remind their families each time what to do if someone with a gun approaches the car. This is simply not "common".

I am faaaaaar from recommending anyone not venture out of their hotel room, but it takes some time for someone new to Brazil to alter their mindset and begin being vigilant in the same manner and with the same awareness of conditions as the Brazilians around them who have been doing it so long it has become second nature and is almost undetectable.
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