Curitiba to Paranaguá
Between Curitiba and the coastal town of Paranaguá lie 120 kilometers (75 miles) of spectacular mountains carpeted in thick jungle that are part of the Serra do Mar. The height of the peaks and density of the vegetation has ensured the preservation of one of the largest remaining patches of native Atlantic rainforest that once covered the entire Brazilian coast.
For centuries, nothing more than a winding cobblestoned road linked Curitiba to the colonial port of Antonina—a grueling two-day journey by horse-drawn carts. Then in 1885, a railway was built to connect Curitiba with the port of Paranaguá, whose deep waters were better suited for the immense ships required to transport Paraná’s booming coffee harvest overseas.
Today, the railway is one of the few lines in Brazil still active. Although you can drive or take a bus to Paranaguá, neither compares with four hours spent aboard the Serra Verde Express. Stop-off points along the way include the colonial town of Morretes and the Parque Estadual do Marumbi, an unspoiled idyll that draws hikers, rafters, and those hardy enough to climb the 1,500-meter (4,920-foot) rocky Marumbi peak.
Paranaguá itself, currently Brazil’s second largest port after Santos, offers few attractions aside from a cluster of dilapidated historical buildings—Antonina and Morretes are much more charming. However, it’s in Paranaguá that you can catch a boat for the lovely Ilha do Mel.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition