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Rio to Ilha Grande to Iguazu Falls

Rio to Ilha Grande to Iguazu Falls

Old Dec 30, 16, 3:59 am
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Rio to Ilha Grande to Iguazu Falls

Hey folks,

Will be heading to Brazil for first time in March. Going to start off in Rio but would then like to head to Ilha Grande (Lopes Mendez Beach) and then finish off in Iguazu Falls.

Anyone know what the best options are for getting to Ilha Grande from Rio. And then from Ilha Grande to Iguazu Falls?

Thanks!
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Old Dec 30, 16, 5:56 am
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Rio to Ilha Grande
You can simply take a bus from the rodoviaria (Novo Rio) to the jumping off point for the ferry to Abrao, either Conceicao de Jacarei or Angra dos Reis.
Coordinate the bus schedule with the ferry schedule.
Bus and ferry schedule here:
http://www.ilhagrande.com.br/como-chegar/
There are also transfer services that pick up at hotels. You can read reviews from people who were satisfied and those whose experience is that it made the journey much longer than the bus, contrary to their expectations.

Ilha Grande to Foz do Iguacu
You should fly, either from Rio (reversing the route above) or from São Paulo (cheaper, shorter, more frequent flights; a bit longer to get there by bus from Angra than returning to Rio.), perhaps adding a visit to Paraty on the way.
You may want to think about flying to Foz on your arrival to Rio or São Paulo, instead of later in the trip.
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Old Dec 30, 16, 5:47 pm
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Thanks Vida!
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Old Oct 13, 17, 6:26 am
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I'm looking to get to Ilha Grande from the GIG airport. I see there are some transfer services, but they're not particularly cheap and the shared ones can make you wait at the airport for pick-up. On the other hand, I see that car rentals are cheap: like US$25/day all in for a small automatic. Is there anything difficult about renting a car at GIG and driving oneself to the Ilha Grande ferry dock? From what I can tell, there seem to be secure parking lots at the docks.
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Old Oct 13, 17, 10:20 am
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I've used Hertz 4-5 times at GIG. They are located on the entrance road to the airport and inside the terminal you can locate the shuttle service. Most of the other rentals are in the same area as well. When you exit the customs baggage x-ray line you will walk thru smoked glass doors into the main terminal area.

Besides the usual taxi hawkers you will see staff with colored vests (visualize road workers) that have "Possa Ajudar" written on the back. This means can I help ? They all speak good english.

Make sure you get a GPS and do not rely on your cell phone. Always keep the tank full.

Last edited by KDS777; Oct 15, 17 at 2:51 pm
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Old Oct 13, 17, 9:45 pm
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Originally Posted by KDS777 View Post
I've used Hertz 4-5 times at GIG. They are located on the entrance road to the airport and inside the terminal you can locate the shuttle service. Most of the other rentals are in the same area as well. When you exit the customs baggage x-ray line you will walk thru smoked glass doors into the main terminal area.

Besides the usual taxi hawkers you will see staff with colored vests (visualize road workers) that have "Possa Ajudar" written on the back. This means can I help ? They all speak good english.

Make sure you get a GPS and do not rely on your cell phone. Always kept the tank full.
Thanks. So nothing particularly unusual about the drive to Ilha Grande? It doesn't seem to pass through any major urban centers, which is what I'd try to avoid. BTW, what's wrong with using google maps on your phone in Brazil? I use it constantly all over the world. I've had a few glitches, but I generally consider it to be amazingly helpful.
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Old Oct 14, 17, 5:41 am
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
Thanks. So nothing particularly unusual about the drive to Ilha Grande? It doesn't seem to pass through any major urban centers, which is what I'd try to avoid. BTW, what's wrong with using google maps on your phone in Brazil? I use it constantly all over the world. I've had a few glitches, but I generally consider it to be amazingly helpful.
Many GPS systems are known to route you straight through some dangerous favela. Maps do not show these areas as dangerous.
A non-Portuguese speaking tourist family with children got off the road not to far from the ferry stop for Ilha Grande recently, looking to buy some water. They drove into a dangerous area, did not understand when told to leave and the wife/mother was shot when the car was fired into for "incentive".
Take one of the transfer services or take the bus.

After insurance, no car is going to be $25/day in Brazil. Also, anything that happens to the car will be charged to your credit card long after you're home; your "home" insurance is not sufficient. Remeber, you can;t read the contract you sign, as it is in dense, technical Portuguese; terms of coverage may be different than elsewhere.
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Old Oct 15, 17, 2:47 pm
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I've driven that exact route you are going to take (that was 5 years ago mind you), but went to Paraty instead, which is about an hour "past" where you turn off for Ilha Grande. It's a typical Brasilian highway, so expect irregularities in road quality, but it is not unsafe to drive on, or unusual in any way at all.

If you're leaving directly from GIG the easiest way with the fewest possibilities of getting lost is to connect to LINHA AMARELA right outside the airport (it's a major highway) which will eventually hook up with AVENIDA DAS AMERICAS (another major highway) down in Barra da Tijuca in the south west zone of Rio, where you hang a right at that intersection, and then you're on your way. Driving is Brasil in an experience, there is a reason why they have a lot of Formula 1 and CART world champions. Rules, signs, and lines are merely suggestions. They do have speed cameras though, but fines are on the lower end. I got zapped in Salvador a year ago and it cost me about $42 CAD.

Cell service outside of major cities in Brasil can be sporadic. Which is why I suggested that you do not use Google Maps, but rather a satellite based GPS instead. The ones supplied by the rental companies are good, inexpensive, and have a built in warning when you approach speed cameras.

Use your AMEX for car rentals, the rental companies know they do not put up with erroneous charges or nonsense, so you are less likely to have issues should something happen, as their process is clear cut. I have never had anything charged back to my card for "questionable after the fact damage assessment" except for the one camera ticket.

*****A LOT OF PEOPLE DO NOT SPEAK ENGLISH DOWN THERE IN THE MAJOR CITIES, AND, ESPECIALLY IN RURAL AREAS*****

Last edited by KDS777; Oct 15, 17 at 4:29 pm
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Old Oct 17, 17, 12:09 pm
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Waze works very well in Brazil. I would add that soon after leaving greater Rio, the road turns into a winding single carriageway, and I wouldn't recommend driving at night for someone unfamiliar (it's possible, but will be tiring with potholes and speed bumps inside towns which you may bery well miss going at 80km/h).

If you can do a one way rental between GIG and GRU, I would recommend stopovers in Paraty, and perhaps one night in quaint Cunha.
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Old Oct 19, 17, 10:37 pm
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The preceding comments illustrate everything that's difficult about planning a trip to Brazil. One person says something is safe; another says it is not. It's really hard to know.

I've driven around a lot of developing countries, and I haven't had any real problems. But I've never driven around Brazil. I'm trying to get an idea of how likely it is to drive into a dangerous favela and "not know it." Like I've driven around South Africa a lot. There are some townships I probably wouldn't be very comfortable visiting. But it's kind of obvious I wouldn't be comfortable there, and don't drive into them. Is it like that in Brazil, or is it easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

There is little question in my mind that rent a car at GIG would save me time and trouble getting to Ilha Grande IF it is a "normal" drive. As an American with an AMEX card, it doesn't seem like I need to buy any additional insurance; CDW is covered by my card. And not having to wait for and find a driver of a group shuttle is appealing to me. That said, if this drive is dangerous, or somehow truly difficult, I'd rather spend the extra time and money on a shuttle.
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Old Oct 20, 17, 7:03 am
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
The preceding comments illustrate everything that's difficult about planning a trip to Brazil. One person says something is safe; another says it is not. It's really hard to know.

I've driven around a lot of developing countries, and I haven't had any real problems. But I've never driven around Brazil. I'm trying to get an idea of how likely it is to drive into a dangerous favela and "not know it." Like I've driven around South Africa a lot. There are some townships I probably wouldn't be very comfortable visiting. But it's kind of obvious I wouldn't be comfortable there, and don't drive into them. Is it like that in Brazil, or is it easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

There is little question in my mind that rent a car at GIG would save me time and trouble getting to Ilha Grande IF it is a "normal" drive. As an American with an AMEX card, it doesn't seem like I need to buy any additional insurance; CDW is covered by my card. And not having to wait for and find a driver of a group shuttle is appealing to me. That said, if this drive is dangerous, or somehow truly difficult, I'd rather spend the extra time and money on a shuttle.
Unfortunately, GIG (and most roads in and out of Rio) is pretty much surrounded by dangerous favelas. Yes, there have been cases of people accidentally driving into favelas and getting shot, which is unacceptable by any measure. Having said that: we're talking about 1-2 such events per year, so the vast majority of people are absolutely safe.

What I would recommend is the following:

1- Plot your route on Google Maps at home and study the first few turnoffs carefully with Streetview.
2- Preferably use Waze at all times (Waze takes high crime areas into account and will avoid these). If you don't have access to data services, pre download Google Maps on your phone for offline access (go on the area map and type "Ok Maps").
3- When in doubt, stay on the main road: people drive into favelas by taking wrong turnoffs.
4- If you are unlucky enough to have any problems. Don't panic. Drive slowly, with windows down and internal lights on (if at night). Remember, that as a foreign tourist you are not a threat to armed criminals (i.e. member of a rival gang, undercover cop, etc) so try to keep your cool and remember that unless you get very unlucky, at most you risk getting your belongings stolen.
5- Carioca drivers are some of the most aggressive/reckless around. Stick to your lane and keep a safe distance from the car in front and ignore tailgaters, compulsive lane-changers, etc.
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Old Oct 20, 17, 8:52 am
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Originally Posted by KDS777 View Post
Use your AMEX for car rentals, the rental companies know they do not put up with erroneous charges or nonsense, so you are less likely to have issues should something happen, as their process is clear cut. I have never had anything charged back to my card for "questionable after the fact damage assessment" except for the one camera ticket.
What I was referring to is damage to the car, a scrape for example, or dent, done by someone who was not seen. (This is something you would pay for in the U.S., even in 'no fault' states, up to your deductable.) So when you return the car, both you and the rental agency rep see the damage, and stipulate to it.
You go home.
The rental agency charges whatever rate they see fit to repair the damage at their shop of choice. It is charged to your credit card, the slip for which you have signed when picking up the car.
Does your credit card company know the 'average' price of said repair in another country? Do they have any rep in the country to research? Are they willing to go to the mat to prove the charges are overblown?

The big question: Can you read the detailed small print multiple pages in Portuguese that states what is and is not covered by insurance you buy/have, etc.
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Old Oct 20, 17, 8:58 am
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Originally Posted by iahphx View Post
The preceding comments illustrate everything that's difficult about planning a trip to Brazil. One person says something is safe; another says it is not. It's really hard to know.

I've driven around a lot of developing countries, and I haven't had any real problems. But I've never driven around Brazil. I'm trying to get an idea of how likely it is to drive into a dangerous favela and "not know it." Like I've driven around South Africa a lot. There are some townships I probably wouldn't be very comfortable visiting. But it's kind of obvious I wouldn't be comfortable there, and don't drive into them. Is it like that in Brazil, or is it easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

There is little question in my mind that rent a car at GIG would save me time and trouble getting to Ilha Grande IF it is a "normal" drive. As an American with an AMEX card, it doesn't seem like I need to buy any additional insurance; CDW is covered by my card. And not having to wait for and find a driver of a group shuttle is appealing to me. That said, if this drive is dangerous, or somehow truly difficult, I'd rather spend the extra time and money on a shuttle.
Drive only during the day.
Do not leave the main highway except to enter a rest stop/roadside restaurant or the sure turnoff for your destination. Take snacks and water for more time than you think you'll be on the road in the extreme heat.
Do not stop on the side of the road for any reason, even, or especially, if the highway looks deserted.
Do not expect any type of roadside assistance in case of a breakdown or even loss of a key.
Be aware of what a carjack "looks like" (maybe being alongside 2 cars that can block you in).
Be aware of persons around the car or in your area when stopped at a restaurant or such.
Keep windows up and doors locked in cities, particularly at stop lights. Cars do not stop at lights after dark in cities.
"Brazil is not for beginners." (attributed to Tom Jobim)

Last edited by VidaNaPraia; Oct 20, 17 at 9:06 am
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Old Oct 20, 17, 9:16 am
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Originally Posted by VidaNaPraia
What I was referring to is damage to the car, a scrape for example, or dent, done by someone who was not seen. (This is something you would pay for in the U.S., even in 'no fault' states, up to your deductable.) So when you return the car, both you and the rental agency rep see the damage, and stipulate to it.
You go home.
The rental agency charges whatever rate they see fit to repair the damage at their shop of choice. It is charged to your credit card, the slip for which you have signed when picking up the car.
Does your credit card company know the 'average' price of said repair in another country? Do they have any rep in the country to research? Are they willing to go to the mat to prove the charges are overblown?

The big question: Can you read the detailed small print multiple pages in Portuguese that states what is and is not covered by insurance you buy/have, etc.
Yes, that is what I was referring to as well. Every rental car I have used in Brasil has cosmetic damage on "almost" every single panel when I sign it out, and when returning them, anything minor accumulated on the trip is overlooked as well. Obviously something major is another story, but then again, it doesn't matter what country you are in at that point.

Using AMEX is the way to go. I've only disputed two charges in my 34 year membership, but both were 4 figure charges, and both went in my favor. They have more statistical experience than any of us in being able to determine who's right and who's wrong when it comes down to it. AMEX security even e-mailed me that Hertz was trying to charge the camera ticket to an expired card one year later, and that they would not process the charge to my current account number unless I authorized it.

While I have read the contract, and understood it (using the PF website when processing my VIPER was much more difficult, but it wasn't a language thing, it was their incessant bureaucracy that drove me nuts), I doubt some posters here can do the same, which is why you should use your AMEX. Now, if you are concerned in any way, just pay for all the CDW waivers you want and problem solved........expensively.

Originally Posted by iah/pdx
The preceding comments illustrate everything that's difficult about planning a trip to Brazil. One person says something is safe; another says it is not. It's really hard to know
True 'dat.........and in any country too. Right ?

I mean, try driving in LA for the first time, and being worried you'll take a wrong turn off the freeway into Compton. I sure was. Our heading to the south side of Chicago when I missed the "one" ORD turnoff coming into the city from Wisconsin, etc.

I've been to Rio 43-44 times now. Always stayed 2-3 weeks at a time, and just got back from my most recent trip Saturday. My perspective has changed dramatically in that time, as would anyone's who has participated in as many recurring visits to one place over a decade or so as I have. So what I post reflects the comfort level I currently have, and a new traveler would not.

I will say this, my first 1-2 trips I was terrified because of what I read online. I now get mistaken for a local when out on the street.

You'll notice that the others who either live there or have been there, did not refute my suggested route for you to get out of the city quickly from GIG, and with a minimum of fuss.

All megacities are dangerous and confusing the first few times you go there. Balance out your comfort level from your past trips around the world with this new one, and proceed accordingly.

Originally Posted by VidaNaPraia
Drive only during the day.
Do not leave the main highway except to enter a rest stop/roadside restaurant or the sure turnoff for your destination. (Take snacks and water for more time than you think you'll be on the road in the heat.)
Do not stop on the side of the road for any reason, even, or especially, if the highway looks deserted.
Do not expect any type of roadside assistance in case of a breakdown or even loss of a key.
For example.......I break all these suggestions all the time........this was for IAH/PDX's benefit. All car rental companies have toll free numbers for roadside assistance. Just don't expect it to be timely, or shiny, like in North America. Or expect cell service.

I am not going to say "DON'T DO IT", mainly, because I've done it, and secondly, because I don't know you personally and how comfortable and/or adventuresome you are when it comes to world travel.

Last edited by KDS777; Oct 20, 17 at 9:47 am
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Old Oct 20, 17, 10:21 am
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Originally Posted by KDS777 View Post
... what I post reflects the comfort level I currently have, and a new traveler would not.

For example.......I break all these suggestions all the time........
Are you usually driving with a Brazilian (spouse, perhaps)?
Is your own Portuguese fairly fluent?
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