In spite of its remote location, Rio Branco is a pleasant town with a good urban organization. Most modern public buldings are of interesting architecture, usually inspired by forest or native culture elements.
Acre lives in Brazilian popular culture as "the state that doesn't exist", as in a conspiratory theory. Nothing could be more unfair, given this was the one state in the federation that went through an armed struggle to become part of the country.
Acre also is the greenest state of Brazil, with over 50% of its territory protected somehow. As such, important figures on the national environmentalist movement, such as Chico Mendes or Marina Silva, come from here.
- 1 Rio Branco airport (RBR IATA). Has a handful of flights per day, most in the early hours. Direct destinations include Cruzeiro do Sul, Acre's second city, Porto Velho, Manaus and Brasilia.
A city bus line connects the airport to the city center. Service runs hourly from 6AM to 11PM. The bus passes in front of the airport building, but there's no stop there. To reach the bus stop, on leaving the building turn left and follow the road. However, given said bus stop is a bit remote, at night the bus drivers are kind enough to pick you up from the airport door.
The taxis operate on a rip-off fixed price of R$ 100 to anywhere in town. The drivers themselves might help to pool people so they share the ride cost. An Uber ride to town will cost around R$ 35, but there are few drivers in Rio Branco and the service is often unavailable.
The airport building is open 24 hr and it's not uncommon for people to overnight there waiting for the city bus service to resume.
Getting to Cuzco on the cheap
Leave Rio Branco on the 6AM service towards Assis Brasil. It calls at Brasileia at 11am and has a lunch stop at a roadside restaurant at midday (lunch dish/prato feito: R$ 15, greasy fried snacks: R$ 6). It calls at the Brazilian border post at 1:40pm, before continuing to Assis Brasil town. This leg takes 7½ hours and costs R$ 62,50.
At the border, do the necessary exit formalities (this border post is open only from 7AM to 7PM, reason why you have to take the 6AM service from Rio Branco) and wait for the Peruvian vans that come pickup passengers for onward travel. There's roughly one every 15-30 min. This service starts at the Brazilian border, stops at Iñapari where it waits for all passengers to finish Peruvian border procedures and go all the way to Puerto Maldonado. In Iñapari, there are many money exchange business right across the road from the border post, and you should get rid of all reals you still have as the rate gets worse the further from the border you go. This leg takes 4 hr and costs 25 Peruvian soles (and in Peru you pay for transport only when you get to your destination, so it's ok to board without soles, because you'll have chance to exchange money in Iñapari).
(At the Brazilian border, beware of taxi drivers offering to cross you to Iñapari, this service is usually not needed because the van comes pick up passengers there. But should you wish to go from the Brazilian border to Iñapari, the going rate for the taxi ride is R$ 5 per person)
At the van arrival point, which you should reach at around 6PM, motocars (Peruvian tuk-tuks) come meet the passengers. To the bus terminal, the going rate is between 3 and 5 soles depending on your bargaining skills.
At the terminal, shop around for bus tickets, but the cheapest to date is a simple service for 25 soles, plus the 3 soles of boarding fee (to be paid separate at the counter inside the terminal).
Warning! Get pills against soroche (altitude sickness) before boarding the bus. After Quince Mil, in only 2 hr/100 km of road you'll get from 500 m to 4.725 m of elevation, which is an extreme variation by all standards. Soroche symptoms include headache, stomach pain, vomiting, dizziness, and loss of consciousness.
In front of the bus terminal, some small inns sell dinner menus (soup + main + drink) for 6 soles. If you board a 7:30PM service to Cuzco, you should arrive 6PM the next morning (typical temperature at that time: +5°C), totaling 24 hr of transit.
Total: 62.50 reais + 58 soles (August 2018).
The 2 international bus terminal sits outside the city. It's a modern building, with the ticket offices right at the entrance, and some food options both in form of cafes as well as informal vendors. The building is entirely open air, and it can be cold there early in the morning.
To Porto Velho, capital of nearby state of Rondônia, company Verde offers services departing at 7AM, 10AM, 8PM and 11PM (103 reais, 9 hr).
To the border with Peru, there are daily services to Assis Brasil at 6AM and midday (62.50 reais, 8 hr). Companies PetroAcre (+55 68 3945-2967) and TransAcreana share the right to exploit the service, each week one is running the buses - inquire at their windows and they will direct you.
To the border with Bolivia, there are a few daily services to Brasileia (48.50 reais, 4½ hr).
To Xapuri, of touristic interest due to its connections to the activist Chico Mendes, PetroAcre runs daily 7am and 2:45pm services (35,50 reais, 3,5h).
On the night from Friday to Saturday, the bus plying the São Paulo/Lima route calls at Rio Branco and it's possible to take a straight service to Cuzco (282 reais, 24 hr) or Lima. That's the longest commercial bus service in the world, and it is estimated to reach Rio Branco Saturday 3am. Call Ormeño Bus Company's representative for details: +55 68 992 342 837.
The other straight services to Peru have been discontinued.
Lotações (shared taxis) are common in Acre state, and the most popular way of medium-distance travel among locals. As a rule of thumb, the price per person is twice the price of the bus service, and they leave when full (that is, 4 passengers). Service is reasonably structured, and they congregate on their designated 3 .
As of June 2018, the prices were R$ 60 to Xapuri, R$ 70 to Brasileia and R$ 110 to Assis Brasil (with a change of car in Brasileia).
Rio Branco has a network of city buses run by the local government. The fare is R$ 4 (Aug 2018) and it's possible to transfer free of charge at the 4 terminal urbano (city bus terminal).
- 1 Palácio Rio Branco, praça Eurico Gaspar Dutra. Tu-Su. Named after the Brazilian diplomat who helped secure Acre's annexation to Brazil, this palace was the first house of government, with offices on the ground floor and residence on the second. Converted to a museum, the first floor now has exhibits on the story of Acre (Portuguese-only). The second floor was then converted to offices of cerimonial use, and it's open to the public when political events are not taking place. It has mazing designer furniture, blendng clean lines with Amazonian elements. Note the meeting table made of one single tree trunk, and which is so wide the windows had to be removed for the table to be placed there. Strangely enough, the building toilets are not open to the public. Free.
- 2 Memorial dos Autonomistas, Av. Getúlio Vargas, 309. Tu-Su. When Acre got annexed from Bolivia to Brazil, it was deemed the status of "federal territory". This memorial recounts the strugle to elevate Acre towards full State status. It has a theater, a hall with exhibits and a mausoleum. Free.
- 3 Parque Chico Mendes (Buses 103 or 115 starting at Terminal Urbano have stops in front of the park.), ☎ . Tu-Su 7AM-5PM. A large green area used most by school groups, this park has exhibits on the life of Chico Mendes, on how rubber is extracted, and a small zoo with local animals, including jaguars, caymans, macaws and monkeys. Free.
- 4 Lago da UFAC (UFAC lake) (Get a bus to UFAC at Terminal Urbano). If you prefer to see animals at large, the lake at the Federal University of Acre has a good number of freerange caymans. Do not feed them, and know that they are very fast beats in spite of their lazy appareance - when attacking, they usually jump from the water to a prey standing on dry land, so don't stay too close to the shore. The strip of land bordering the lake has picnic tables and is a hangout area for university students. At night, capybaras can also be easily spotted.
- 5 Museu da Borracha (Rubber Museum), Avenida Ceara 1441. Once a reference on the story of rubber tapping in Acre, this museum has been closed for renovation since 2015 with no date to be reopened.
- Take a stroll alongside Rio Acre, leaving from the 1 pedestrian bridge all the way to the 2 Gameleira promenade.
- Look for high quality, affordable cultural attractions at Fundação Garibaldi Brasil or 3 SESC Centro, av. Brasil 713.
- Do as the locals and go spend your late afternoons at the 4 Horto Florestal, a large green area with a lake and sports facilities. There are free local dances presentation on Tuesdays and Thursdays evenings.
- Take a break from midday sun by rerouting your exploration through the Parque da Maternidade (Motherhood Park), a long stretch of greenery that also houses the 5 Casa dos Povos da Floresta (House of People of the Jungle) and the Casa do Artesão (Craftsman's House).
Cheap Chinese stuff can be found at the 1 Calçadão (Pedestrian street) near the Terminal Urbano. For groceries, the best-supplied supermarket chain is called Araújo and has many units in town.
- 2 Casa do Artesão (Craftsmen's House), Rua Joao Donato 156.
- 3 Casa dos Povos Indígenas (Native People's House), Rua Rui Barbosa 17. Reopened in June 2018, it is supposed to become a reference point for trade of artifacts made by the 16 ethinic groups living in Acre.
Acre state is one of the biggest producers of açaí in Brazil. This purple juice extracted from the fruit of a palm tree gained international fame as a superfood, consumed in form of a frozen cream to which fruits or nuts are added. However, the local way to consume it is to mix the fresh unsweetened juice to a bit of manioc flour (for crunchiness) and then add sugar, condensed milk and/or powdered milk.
Another local delicacy is tacacá, a broth made with manioc water and jambu - a leaf that causes an effect between hotness and light numbness of the mouth. When asked how much goma you want, start with "little" because this goey paste is an acquired taste, but don't skip it as it dissolves into the broth, giving it a nice thickness. It is served in a bowl, and you are supposed to drink directly from it, Japanese-style.
On street markets, look for sweets made of tucumã, a local nut, or sweets or juice made of cupuaçu, a fuit that gives a nicely sour cream.
Not particularly unusual, but 1 Praça do Relógio has a concentration of holes-in-the-wall selling freshly squeezed orange juice (R$ 3/4/5 for 300/400/500 ml) that makes a great break on hot days.
- 2 Tacacá stalls, Praca da Independencia. A popular evening spot for tacacá among locals. Small/medium/big R$ 15/18/20.
- 3 AFA Bistro. Pricey and fancy pay-per-kilo lunch restaurant that will cater for businessman tastes. R$ 59.90/kg of food on weekdays, R$ 70.90/kg on weekends, R$ 8 for dessert and R$ 8 for 350 ml of fresh orange juice.
- 4 Mercado do Bosque, Rua Coronel Alexandrino 635. Traditional afterparty spot. Good breakfast with local delicacies. Try the tapioca, or the banana porridge.
- 1 Studio Beer, R. Alexandre Farhat, 132. Bar with live regional music on Thursday, Friday and Satuday evenings
- 2 Mercado Velho (Old market), Rua Epaminondas Jácome. Usually has al fresco tables and live music on evenings Friday to Sunday.
- Hotel JK, Rua Benjamin Constant 1330, ☎ . Single, double and triple rooms available. Includes Wi-Fi and a decent breakfast. from R$ 59.
- Majú, av. Nações Unidas, 302, Bosque.
- Guapindaia Bosque, rua Coronel José Galdino, 230, Bosque, ☎ .