Our adventure in Brazil started with the Brazilian side of the Iguazu falls. For those of you who don't know, the Brazilian side plays host to 20% of the falls and with it, some spectacular panoramic scenes. Views of real natural beauty unfold before your eyes, as the water crashes over each individual fall. The shape of the falls is hard to put into words, with each fall making its own unique route down to the bottom, often separated by lush green forest. Being able to see so many of the falls allows you to watch the water endlessly crash into the river below. The spray that is thrown up as the reflects off the sun to pepper the surrounding areas with beautiful rainbows, enough to take anybody's breath away. As you wander down along side the falls you are given a new naturally sculpted scenic treasure every time you pause, this is one place you could really spend hours just watching. It's all topped off with a walkway that finishes in the middle of the biggest part of the falls. They told us that being close to the falls causes a natural energy that makes you happy. So after braving the walk down to the biggest part of the falls it's not a surprise we were grinning from ear to ear all the way home, despite being soaked from head to toe.
Brazil is another place I wish I spent more time, it's for this reason that I've already booked to go back to Rio for the Olympics!
Rio itself is mesmerising, from the moment I arrived I was taken in. The city has everything. Mountains, rainforest, slums, beaches, 5* resorts and world famous landmarks. We stayed in one of the many favelas, known as the slums of the city. So after our two hour traffic ridden journey we pulled up in Vidigal favela. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit scared at first. The favela is based below the 'Two Brothers', a pair of suitably named mountain peaks, and the little town towers over the 'Ipanema' and 'Leblon' beaches. These areas are noticeably richer than its neighbouring favela, so it's not until you see the geographical closeness of the areas that you understand the contrasting lives people in the different areas lead. It also easy to see and hard not to be enticed as to why locals are not afraid to tell you that 'Brazil has the most corrupt government in the world'. But hey, the majority people in the favelas are happy and wouldn't have it any other way; living their lives away from the constraints of modern society. They're content with what they have and I've learnt whilst travelling that's definitely one of the most important things in life. So I joined them, for a week calling their home mine, the 5* resorts weren't for me. I wouldn't have it any other way.
We spent a few days being typical tourists in Rio; visiting Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer, Copacabana and I even managed to get myself to a local football game at the Maracana! All these were great, have to be done while you're there. But the real fun was spending our time with the locals in the favela. Home to us was a hostel Bruno and his family had made above their house. BBQ's and parties on the rooftop. Listening to the noises of the favela all through the night! Jumping on taxi bikes to take you up the 5 straight hill climbs to and from the hostel. Definitely the highlight of Rio!
So our time in Brazil was short lived, but we will meet again. Next stop Fiji.