Driving in Brazil – 2014 World Cup
As anyone in the world with an internet connection, TV or radio will know by now, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Finals will be held in June 2014 in the country which many consider to be the spiritual home of football –Brazil.
Thousands of fans from across the globe will head to the vast South American nation to watch their national team, or take in some games as a casual observer. The games will be held in 12 host Cities, with all teams having to play in at least two different stadiums, with the follow up knock out stage games being held in 8 of the Cities.There will therefore be an element of travelling involved for all supporters wanting to watch the games, and an opportunity to experience different regions of the country.International football tournaments are seen by most fans as a chance to combine watching their favourite sport with a travel experience in a part of the world they may otherwise not choose to visit. Travel by road, in hired buses or by self drive car is often the preferred method of moving between sites.
However, the size of Brazil presents logistical challenges, which make travel by road between many host cities, unappealing or even virtually impossible! For instance, supporters of Group A side Cameroon would be faced with a journey of almost 6000 KM after the game with Mexico in Natal to the next fixture against Croatia in Manaus. Were they to decide that a road trip was the best way to undertake the journey it would probably take 3 days and nights of solid driving. They’d probably have to depart straight after the game on 13 June to arrive for the second tie on the 18th!
Therefore for many fixtures, internal flights will be the only option. Though the fact that the country’s passenger rail system is virtually non existent may force some fans to consider road travel as a last option if flights are booked up.
That’s not to say that a roadtrip is out of the question for all supporters though. The cluster of Host Cities in the North East – Natal, Fortaleza, Recife and possibly Salvador are driveable for teams in Groups A,D,C and G. Italian Supporters have a relatively short drive of 284 KM between Recife and Natal for their games against Costa Rica and Uruguay.
Other host cities which are driveable are –
Belo Horizonte,Rio, Sao Paolo and Porto Alegre (games in Group B,C,F,H)
Belo Horizonte and Brasilia (games in Group C)
Porto Alegre and Curitiba (Group E)
There is definitely scope therefore for the fans of certain nations to take to Brazil’s roads in order to get off the beaten track between games and experience what this amazing country has to offer.
So what should self drivers expect?
As with most countries in the developing world, the most stressful situations will arise in Cities (and I speak from experience of driving in Brazilian Cities!). Traffic is often horrendous, local drivers, particularly taxis and buses will drive ultra-aggressively and at break neck speed (traffic flow allowing) and City centre roads will be confusing and not well signposted. Added to that is the potential to stray into a dangerous part of town as Brazil’s favelas are often right next to tourist areas.
Once out of City centres, and certainly away from the roads linking main urban centres, traffic will be lighter and driving can actually start to become a pleasure. The standards of major routes across the country varies from well maintained highways of US or European standard, to roads with some pot holes and other deterioration, especially after rain, to unpaved roads. Brazilian roads can also be very dangerous with the number of motorbikes increasing from 5m to 16m in the past 10 years and the number of cars rising from 23m to 41m, in the same period. This has led to more crowded roads and a lot of inexperienced drivers. Brazil had a ratio of 54.8 fatal victims for each 1bn kms travelled in 2010. In the UK, the total was 3.6. Its not unusual for cars to drive without lights at night and fly up behind you, then giving you a nasty surprise with a flash of full beam headlights. Avoid driving after dark if you can. Another hazard at night is the prevalence of unmarked speed bumps which are often large but hard to spot and can do some serious damage to your car.
Visiting drivers need to forget how they would drive in Europe, Australia or USA and adopt a style more appropriate to a developing nation.Drive confidently, don’t be bullied but also be ultra defensive. Eg when rounding a bend, assume that there WILL be a vehicle overtaking on the wrong side of the road hurtling towards you.
See my page on general self drive advice-
and my page covering Brazil http://www.driverabroad.com/countries/driving-in-south-america/brazil/