Known as the end of Brazil, Acre is a seldom visited state in the far west of this giant country. South of Amazonas State, Acre also borders Peru and Bolivia. From Puerto Maldonado, Peru, in late September 2016 Rocío and I decided to visit Rio Branco, Acre’s capital and largest city. We knew little about the city or state but thought a visit to Brazil would be fun since we were nearby.
In Puerto Maldonado we took a van 171 kilometres along the Interoceanic Highway to Iñapari, the Peruvian town on the Peru-Brazil-Bolivia tri-border. The road passes papaya and banana plantations and has over 200 speed humps. The humps were installed after speeding drivers caused many crashes on this straight, flat road.
The Migraciones office in Iñapari town manages Peru migration control. Entering Peru from Bolivia I thought I had 90 days. However, the scribble on my entry stamp officially noted 60. I had overstayed my visa. No problem. I could receive my exit stamp upon submission of a receipt for USD$23 (USD$1 for every day over) of Peruvian soles deposited at the town’s Banco de la Nación branch.
Entering Brazil wasn’t an issue as I already had a Brazilian visa (Australians require visas in advance). However, the official did ask us if we were travelling together and, if so, why we requested different durations.
In the Brazilian border town Assis Brasil (yes, that is its name) we waited for a shared taxi to Brasiléia. No, not the federal capital, that’s Brasília. The Assis Brasil taxi driver association’s name Sindicato Dos Taxistas De Assis Brasil abbreviates to S.T.A.B. Táxi. Do they know the English connotation?
We caught a S.T.A.B. Táxi from Assis Brasil to Brasiléia
Further into Brazil federal police stopped the vehicle and searched our bags. I hypothesise they were looking for illicit materials smuggled from Peru or Bolivia as they gave us more attention than the Brazilian passengers.
Unfortunately the passing Amazonian countryside was largely cleared and primarily consisted of cattle farms with most fields only having an odd tree remaining.
Arrival to Brasiléia interrupted my sleep and I groggily exited the car, forgetting my phone. Thankfully, the driver stopped after hearing Rocío and others whistling and yelling, allowing the Galaxy S3’s return.
From Brasiléia we took another shared taxi to Rio Branco. Arriving at night, the driver helpfully called our accommodation, Viver Apart Hotel, and dropped us off at the door. Another long travel day completed.
Suburban Viver Apart Hotel with its serviced apartments and breakfast delivered each morning was a great place to relax. We made full use of our unit’s kitchen.
Avocado, Rocío’s Japanese-style omelette and Esquilaya coffee
Although sharing borders with Peru, Brazil is quite different. It has a coffee-drinking culture, açaí is widely available, agriculture more industrialised and its language is weird. Despite written Portuguese and Spanish appearing similar, spoken Brazilian Portuguese is quite distinct, providing communications challenges for us.
Surrounding houses as viewed from the upper level of the Viver Apart Hotel
From Rio Branco we decided to pass through Bolivia back to Puerto Maldonado. Via a food stop in Capixaba, the taxi driver drove us to the federal police in Epitaciolândia for a Brazil exit stamp and then to the Bolivian migration office on the Cobija side of the border bridge.
I received my Bolivia entry stamp without dramas. However, they wouldn’t let Rocío in because she didn’t have proof of yellow fever vaccination. When asked why I didn’t require proof of vaccination, the official told her I would have shown it when I applied for my original Bolivian visa (which was not true). Our Bolivian dreams were dashed!
After some discussion we agreed to return back the way we came after staying a night in the adjacent Brazilian border town of Epitaciolândia. First, I needed to stamp out of Bolivia and go back to the police building for another Brazil entry stamp.
Coming from Bolivia, a sign in Epitaciolândia welcomes people in Portuguese, Spanish and English to Acre State, Brazil
After immigration formalities, we enjoyed some açaí and found a hotel for the night. The evening was notable for two reasons: it provided a beautiful sunset and, later at a bar, Rocío ate her first ever cashew!
The front of this Epitaciolândia Baptist church resembles a stylised fort and reminds me of Castle Lego I used to play with as a child
The sun setting beautifully over Bolivia from our hotel in Epitaciolândia, Brazil
The next morning we walked to the Acre River which separates the Brasiléia and Epitaciolândia municipalities. There, motor canoes were laden with watermelon, banana and pumpkin.
Canoes laden with fruit moored on the Acre River
The Acre River as viewed from the Ponta José Augusto Bridge connecting Brasiléia and Epitaciolândia
Departing the hotel we took a vehicle to Brasiléia for shared taxis to Assis Brasil. While waiting for the taxi to fill we quenched our thirst in the tropical heat with a young coconut.
Enjoying young coconuts at a cafe in Brasiléia, Acre
Fortunately, another passenger paid for the fourth seat enabling the taxi to leave earlier and giving us extra room in the rear.
At Iñapari I received a 90 day visa for Peru despite overstaying my previous visit. The trip back to Puerto Maldonado went without drama and our escapade to Acre, Brazil along the Interoceanic Highway was over.