We left Puerto Iguaza (Argentina) and crossed the border to Brazil and Foz Iguazu. Having spent two full days in awe on the Argentinian side, we were expecting great things from Brazil which has the best panaramic views of the falls. The views were great but so were the masses who came to see it. It ended up being a bit frustrating, the highlight of the day was bumping into Marc Owen from Old A´s rugby club right under Diablo (the devils throat) once again provong it is a small world after all.
From Foz Iguazu another monster bus ride took us to Campo Grande, the gateway to the Pantanal. The Pantanal is a massive marsh area more than twice the size of the Okovango, it is reputed to be the most species rich area on the planet. clearly this excited us. Moments after stepping off the bus were had organised a 4 day tour into the heart of the Pantanal. By the time we had reached base camp the group (2 Aussies, 4 English, 1 Polish and us) had bonded, it was clear good times were ahead.
Our days were spent taking boat trips, fishing for Piranha, horse riding, taking game drives and walks, and swimming in Caimen and piranha infested rivers (and I do mean infested). We also had time to laze in Hammocks in the afternoons, play competitive games of volleyball and on one occassion not make complete t*** out of ourselves playing football against our Brazilian guides (3-2 loss) In the evenings we sat chatting and watching the sun set over the river while sipping the local beer. It could not have been more perfect. Sleep, however, was hard to come by! The Hammock, while great for an afternoon siesta, is the work of the devil as a night time bed.
The Pantanal experience was not without drama. On the first morning we went for a boat ride, on route there was a zip wire into the river which we all wanted to go on. Zoe went first, lauching off the 3 meter high platform and a couple of seconds later landing happily in´the river. My turn did not go as smoothly. As I launched off the handle got snagged, stopping the slide dead. This left me to fall about 2 meters landing on my head on the hard river bank. Completely unconcious, my lifeless body then rolled another couple of meters down the bank. I came around with a rather worried Zo pulling sand out my mouth. Thankfully all was well, I spent the day re introducing myself to everybody and trying to remeber who I was, and where we were. By evening I had my memory back and was able to take to the volleyball court.
After the tour the group decided to stay together and travel to Bonito. Here we snorkeled in crytal clear rivers, seeing an amazing amount of fish. We took over the hostel on the last night, which will have to go down as one of the best parties of my life. A huge tropical storm blew over, guitars were played, local cocktails were tried. We even celebrated the jewish new year with special wine and apples with honey. The next day, very quietly, we said farewell and went our seperate ways. With plans for some of us to meet up in Rio.
Zoe and I spent a full 48 hours on buses and in dodgy hotels to get to Ilha Grande. When we got there it was worth every minute. Ilha Grande is an Island about 150Km south of Rio. We spent two days in a tropical paradise, eating the best seafood, and hiking through jungle to find secluded brilliant white sand beaches.
From there we headed by speed boat and private bus to Rio. We checked into our hostel and headed straight to Copacabana beach for a swim. Zoe had her coconut milk with a straw direct from the nut, and I got to see the tiny Bikinis that have made Rio famous. That night we met up with the Pantanal gang and for want of a better word, we got smashed. The next day the weather closed, ruining the views from Christ the redeemer, we were also not feeling great, stomach bug not hangover. Unfortunately it rained for the rest of the time, so we never got up Sugarloaf, or got to enjoy Impanema beach. We will have to return to Rio some day to enjoy it to the full.
We are now in an internet cafe in Santiago, Chile. Tonight we fly to New Zealand. The last two months in South America have been exceptional, and it is with heavy hearts that we leave. Chow
The land of the long white cloud awaits