A beautiful journey with Serra Verde Express

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A beautiful journey with Serra Verde Express

Serra Verde Express is a company that takes you to one of the places that I certainly enjoy the most when I go to my hometown of Curitiba: Serra do Mar.

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It’s a mountain range with escarpments and is located in the Southeastern part of Brazil; a beautiful place with amazing landscapes and plateaus which Serra Verde Express trains take visitors to daily.

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Serra do Mar is an ecosystem which is part of the Atlantic Forest Biome, and it is somewhere that I used to visit a lot when I was younger and fitter (a long time ago… 🙂 ). The trip lasts about 4 hours and explores that natural beauty as well as some villages near Curitiba that have maintained their humble feel and natural landscapes.

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The whole trip is worth doing but there are some parts of it that are simply breathtaking, including some tunnels that I used to explore with friends as a boy scout while hiking the trails in the region (the best-known being the Caminho do Itupava).

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After so many years, it was finally time to visit again and this time with my family on board (literally…). The trip is recommended for all ages and, in fact, on this particular trip there were quite a few couples with young kids and babies. Children certainly enjoy the train and the adults enjoy the views even more so.

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To finish this long yet pleasant trip, we got to spend lunchtime in the historical village of Morretes, where we tried the region’s most traditional dish: Barreado.

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At the station to catch the train with Serra Verde Express

Our trip to Serra do Mar and Morretes started early in the morning, as the train was set to depart from the train station in Curitiba at 8:15am. That was a big change for me, as the railway station in Curitiba is much more developed now than it was several years ago. It was only then that I realized I haven’t been on that train for more than 15 years!

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Once we were at the station we were able to spend some time appreciating the pictures in the waiting area. It was just a glimpse of what we were about to enjoy over the next 3.5 hours.

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At around 8 o’clock passengers started to enter the carriage and take their assigned seats.

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It was interesting to see those old trains from the 70’s taking passengers on one of the most beautiful journeys in Brazil. The old trains have, of course, been adapted for modern times, but the features of locomotives from days gone by have been maintained, making them elegant rather than modern and futuristic.

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As there are different classes and tickets, we had to go to the carriage that was assigned to us. We were invited to take this trip in Tourist class, although there are also several other options: Economy (the simplest and thus cheapest option), Executive (beverages and some snacks available on demand, and a bilingual tour guide provided), and Cabin (the most expensive fare with more exclusive seats and panoramic windows). In our class, Tourist, we were offered one beverage and one snack pack for free, and had a tour guide, Eugenio, speaking Portuguese.

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This is a trip that is becoming more and more popular with foreign visitors, and for that reason Serra Verde Express has tried to adjust to the needs of their clients with a bilingual guide in Executive class. The languages spoken there are Portuguese and English, whereas in Tourist class only Portuguese is offered. If you are purchasing the ticket and only speak English, the most convenient option is therefore Executive class.

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The trains and the railway from Curitiba to Morretes

As we mentioned before, the trains taking passengers from Curitiba to Morretes are very old but very well maintained. They are fueled by diesel and electricity and have a maximum speed of 25km/hr. Serra Verde Express was the company that was chosen to operate passenger trains on this route, while another company called ALL was chosen to transport freight.

This was agreed as part of the privatization of the railways in Brazil in the mid 90s.

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The railway itself is even older, as this part was built in the 19th century when this mode of transportation was used much more than it is these days. Many tourists take the road to Morretes by car, and indeed that way is also beautiful, especially the part called Caminho da Graciosa, but the journey by train through the mountains is full of history and charm.

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The construction of the railway connecting Curitiba and the port village of Paranaguá is considered the greatest and audacious in Brazil. Many engineers (local and from Europe) thought this to be impossible due to several reasons, mainly of engineering reasons, however not so much for the brothers Rebouças, who led and concluded the project (although one of the brothers, Antonio, passed away before the conclusion).

Our journey to Morretes with Serra Verde Express

Unfortunately, the weather was not very clear that morning, with many clouds covering the sun, but it wasn’t too cold. However, we were concerned that the clouds would surround the train at the moment when we descended the mountain range, creating an issue for us to take some nice pictures. Luckily, the weather got better after some time and our experience was then complete.

This experience would take us from Curitiba, located at an altitude of about 900 meters, to Morretes which is 70km away and at sea level.

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The cities bordering Curitiba are growing very quickly – Curitiba and the surrounding region have about 3 million inhabitants – so it is difficult to tell when the train leaves Curitiba and reaches the next city, Pinhais. However, the guide will normally inform you of that during the journey, as well as mentioning some facts about the region.

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As the beginning of the train journey from Curitiba to Morretes passes through some small villages near the capital, for safety reasons the maximum speed is around 20km/hr. It is slow, so at this point you just have to sit, relax and enjoy the small communities at a slower pace.

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Something that has not changed over time, as it was a normal sight a few decades ago and nowadays continues to be, is the affection of the local people when they see visitors inside the train passing through their city.

Both when going to Morretes and when returning to Curitiba it was nice to see kids and even adults waving at the tourists inside the train. That was Noah’s cue to wave back at them 🙂

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The majority of the preserved part of the Atlantic Forest Biome is located in the state of Parana, of which Curitiba is the capital. This journey provided by Serra Verde Express gives you a good idea of the beauty and grandiosity of the region.

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During the journey we passed 13 tunnels, 42 bridges and many amazing spots that gave us great pictures:

Represa Caiguava, which has a chimney under the water and was a pump house before

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Rio Ipiranga, which means “reddish water”

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Santuário Nossa Senhora do Cadeado

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Ponte São João, which is 110m long and 55m high

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Viaduto do Carvalho, where you get the sensation of flying as you don’t see anything apart from the abyss

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Estação Engenheiro Lange

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Estação Marumbi

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After so many amazing places, the guide offered us some of the souvenirs that were mentioned during the trip. From the pins, hats, postcards and DVDs, we took a DVD that has given us much more information about the trip and the region.

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Arriving in Morretes for a Barreado

Finally we reached the village of Morretes, meaning “many mountains around”, which used to be covered by water about 100,000 years ago.

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This is a place where many, if not all, tourists stop, not just for pictures and to enjoy the river but also to try the local cuisine at one of the many restaurants.

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Even Serra Verde Express has a restaurant serving local food, but we went to the most traditional one called Madalozo. There we had the chance to try delicious Barreado, which is a slow-cooked meat stew prepared in a clay pot and sealed with clay made from cassava flour or wheat. Accompanying that we had prawns, rice, salad, and other delicious dishes that would make anyone feel satisfied (and ready for a rest afterwards 🙂 ).

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After lunch we returned to Curitiba on the train with Serra Verde Express, which was perfect because we got to take some more pictures on the way back as well as re-take some in the places where we had encountered clouds before. Luckily the weather was much better on the way back. Our guide, Tatiane, was also great and has given us more valuable information.

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It was a perfect day for the 3 of us, and we returned to Curitiba hoping to come back to Serra do Mar and Morretes with Serra Verde Express very soon.

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Serra Verde Express

Avenida Presidente Afonso Camargo (Rodoferroviária de Curitiba), 330

80060-090 – Curitiba – Paraná Brazil

+55 41 3888 3488

Family Travel Secrets were invited by Serra Verde Express to experience the trip. All opinions and the oodles of pictures remain our own.

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