24th October – 27th October 2016
Brazil was always destined to be good. One of my friends from back home decided to fly out and spend two weeks with me. It’s also the final wonder of the (modern) world left for me to visit.
The hostel we ended up in was quite fun. Our room was in a little out building and quite niche and quiet too. The area was perhaps a bit ropey (“whatever you do don’t turn right” the hostel worker quipped”) but otherwise nice.
Just around the corner was the “famous” mosaic steps, which were all encompassing and generally lovely.
After a short walk around town we always found a very odd church and spire with a cross on top.
We both found Rio to be a fairly odd place. We had impressions created by the recent Olympics, which made us think the city would have very good infrastructure post-Olympics and would have this afterglow about the place. It was one of the few areas on my travels I haven’t felt particularly safe and didn’t want to be wandering around strange areas or still be out late at night.
That aside, a lot of people we met had a completely different experience staying ten minutes away at Ipanema or Copacabana beaches. So who knows. We still had a very much enjoyable time and no harm came to us.
Besides. The very next day was the big day. Christ the Redeemer. Wonder number seven of seven. What was there not to be excited about?!
27th October – 5th November 2016
The Pantanal is somewhere I’d never even heard of before but somewhere that I am forever thankful to Becca for introducing me to. We booked our tour through STA and nervously went along to the meeting point hoping it would all be ok.
As soon as we met Ricardo we were in safe hands. We were taken to our (very comfortable) bus and made our way to the next pickup. The next one was a safari pickup truck just for the two of us.
Then we made it to our lodge in the Pantanal for the next few days.
As is often the case, we had so much fun and did so many things that I barely took any photos. In just a few days we managed to go horse riding (even up to galloping), kayaking, piranha fishing (and then piranha eating!).
There was an odd moment where one of our newly found friends, Steph, kindly lent me some washing soap for my clothes. As I began to wash and hang my clothes a group of maybe 8 or 10 American tourists turned up and were jolly well gobsmacked. “Look guys, we’ve got ourselves a man living like the locals”. Click click click. They had their photos and were gone again as quick as their flashes.
Next stop: Bonito
After another bus we arrived in Bonito. Here we explored some caves and went snorkelling in some of the loveliest crystal-clear water I’ve ever seen.
The sun was beaming and it was a glorious day. Another highlight, which is all over Brazil, is getting to taste the best ever sweets I’ve ever indulged in, in all my life.
Finally, the night was ended with a spectacular plate of fish.
Next stop: Mission Iguasu
Following our overnight bus, this is where the fun started because we quickly realised that the distance between Campo Grande (where we began) and Iguasu left no time for us to make our return flights. Panic sets in.
We start thinking through our options. I hadn’t been able to book my flight from Rio to Buenos Aires (the original plan) because I was put on an “international watch list” (for what I do not know). Becca needs to get back to Rio and I need to get to Buenos Aires. We’re so close to Argentina (the falls is literally the border) that it seems silly to go back. We decide to take the cost of the return flights as a hit and then buy Becca a flight from Buenos Aires to Rio, each covering half the cost. I try to cover as much of the additional expenses as I reasonably can as it also suits me more to come to Buenos Aires directly.
With that sorted we can now enjoy the falls.
It was spectacular. Everyone told us the Argentina side would be better. We couldn’t imagine how it could surpass it.
I guess we’ll just have to go and find out.
After the bird zoo.
Boy were we impressed! There were passenger trains, an opportunity to go in a boat THROUGH the actual falls. We were soaked. Smiling from ear to ear but absolutely drenched from head to toe.