Brazil’s first luxury train is set to make its inaugural journey April 23, and there are no prizes for guessing who it’s aimed at. The first clue that the Great Brazil Express won’t be courting domestic clientele is the price (starting at $3,500); the second is the name itself (in English, not Portuguese). Then there’s the promotional YouTube video, which appears to have hired the voice-over guy from Moviefone to do the rhapsodic monologue.
But whatever its marketing idiosyncrasies, the train’s route, through Brazil’s eco-heartland, is nothing to sniff at. The Great Brazil Express starts from Curitiba, the country’s largest southern city, and a paragon for urban planning (think 580 square feet of parks per person – all 1.8 million of them). The 300-mile journey through the state of Paraná takes in the bizarrely shaped rock formations at Vila Velha, the Serra do Mar coastal forests, and the Three Borders region, where Brazil meets Argentina and Paraguay. That’s where you’ll see the world’s largest dam (Itaipú) and the mighty Iguazu Falls.
While the wonders are big, the carriage of your journey is anything but: with just two saloon cars, the Great Brazil Express is available to only 22 passengers. Throughout the seven-day experience meals are hosted on board, though overnights are arranged off-train. And if we were to guess why: a slow-moving train full of affluent foreigners in the middle of the Brazilian wilderness? Might have something to do with security.