Crossing from Rondônia into the state of Acre, territory annexed from Bolivia during the rubber-boom days in the first years of the twentieth century, there’s nowhere to stop before you reach the capital at RIO BRANCO. The state is a vast frontier forest zone, so it comes as a real surprise to find Rio Branco is one of Brazil’s funkiest cities. It’s a small but lively place with little of specific interest, perhaps best known as the home of the famous environmentalist and rubber-tree-tapper Chico Mendes. Arriving at night (as you usually do) after an eight-hour journey through the desolation of what’s left of the jungle between here and Porto Velho, the brightly coloured lights and animated streets can make you wonder if you’ve really arrived at all, or simply drifted off to sleep and are dreaming. By day Rio Branco doesn’t have quite so much obvious charm, but it remains an interesting place.

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