Many people are not aware of this fact, not even among Brazilians, but the fact is that Brazil does still have some passenger train services in operation. Train trips are more common in the South, Southeast and Midwest of the country and are focused on tourism rather than on transporting the population on a daily basis. What Brazilian passenger train services have in common is breathtaking scenery and the charm of steam trains which turn trips almost into a trip down memory lane. Check out two Brazilian train rides that are worth including in your next travel itinerary.
The Serra do Mar Mountain Range
First opened back in 1885, the rail link connects the cities of Curitiba and Morretes, both in the Brazilian State of Paraná. The 110-km trip is framed by the spectacular Atlantic Rainforest, amidst a mountain range including the Marumbi Peak and the Serra da Graciosa subrange. The train passes over bridges, through tunnels and around curves, while snaking its way past old mansion houses and impressive waterfalls. In all, the trip takes three hours, and has been considered as one of the most spectacular unsung train trips in the world, by the British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ in 2015.
The trip also includes a tour of the city of Morretes itself, with access to paths through the mountains, visits to historic buildings, and the opportunity to savour the local cuisine, especially barreado, a dish made essentially from meat and flour. Apart from the economy options, with daily departures from Curitiba’s train station at 8.15 a.m., it is also possible to check out special packages such as the Sunset Train (Pôr do Sol), in which the passenger can gaze in awe at the landscape under the orange-hued five o’clock sky; or the Luxury Train, inspired by the Orient Express, with carpets, silk curtains, upholstered seats, pictures, bars and panoramic windows.
Prices: economy coach (without a snack or a guide): outward journey* for BRL 85 (USD 27.25) and inward journey BRL 65 (USD 20.80); tourist coach (with snack and Brazilian guide): outward journey for BRL 108 (USD 34.60) and inward journey for BRL 90 (USD 28.80); executive coach (with snack, as many soft drinks and as much beer as you want, and bilingual guide),outward journey for BRL 158 (USD 50.60) and inward journey for USD 115 (USD 36.85); box with 4 seats, outward journey for BRL 484 (USD 155.10) and inward journey for BRL 352 (USD 112.80); box with 8 seats, outward journey BRL 968 (USD 310.15) and inward journey for BRL 704 (USD 225.55). Sunset Train, between BRL 150 and BRL 212 (USD 48.05 to USD 67.90), depending on the package; Luxury Train, BRL 365 (USD 116.95) or BRL 386 (USD 123.70) depending on the package. For further information, please contact Serra Verde Express at + (55) 41 3888 3488, or by e-mail at [email protected] or on the Internet at: http://serraverdeexpress.com.br.
(* Outward journey is Curitiba to Morretes)
Those who like historical cities shall just love this train ride between the cities of Ouro Preto and Mariana, in the state of Minas Gerais, which have kept much of the architecture of colonial Brazil. The trip along railways built in the 19th Century lasts one hour and takes in rivers, waterfalls and canyons. Operated by the Vale mining company, this train has six carriages holding a total of 292 passengers. The carriages have been restored while maintaining their original characteristics, with a wooden interior. Here we highlight the panoramic carriage with transparent structure.
Prices: regular carriage for BRL 40 single (USD 12.80) or BRL 56 return (USD 17.95); panoramic carriage for BRL 60 single (USD 19.20) or BRL 80 return (USD 25.65). Both services offer half-price tickets for students and senior citizens. Children aged up to 5 years old travel free. The trips are scheduled for every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, at 10 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. (out of Ouro Preto) and 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. (out of Mariana). Further information: in Mariana on + 55 (31) 3557-3844, and in Ouro Preto on + 55 (31) 3551-7705. Ticket bookings may be made by e-mail at [email protected] or www.tremdavale.org.