After Iguazu we headed to a city called Campo Grande, from which we did a 3 day tour of the Pantanal, a jungle/wetlands in western Brazil. We started our trip on a safari, sitting in the back of a pickup truck, driving through the wetlands and looking for animals. Before too long we spotted a toucan flying above us and after hitting the river we saw hundred of caymen and crocodiles. Our tour guide explained that they werent dangerous, and proved it to us by forcing us to have our photos taken about a metre away from them! He was right, they were more scared of us (just!) After arriving at our lodgings we headed out on the boat for a night safari. We took turns using the torch to spot the caymen eyes glowing in the dark, and even saw tiny caymen babies in the shallows. As we were looking, the motor decided to cut out on our boat, and as it did we heard a sudden crashing in the trees next to us, and the sound of something running away. We think it was a jaguar! Luckily the motor restarted, and we made it back safely, but not before a school of sardines decided to jump in our boat!
The next day we went on another boat trip down the river where we saw an iguana, more caymen, storks, vultures, kingfishers, giant otters and capybara. After a long siesta we braved the hot sun to catch ourselves some supper- piranha fishing! At first we were a bit wimpy, but before long we were standing knee deep in the piranha infested waters, dodging the anacondas and caymen, and managed to catch ourselves about 10 that were big enough to eat and plenty of small ones that got thrown back (or cut up as bait..) Once fried, the piranhas tasted quite nice, although very bony! On the last day we went on a jungle walk, despite the torrential rain, where we saw monkeys, macaws, and plenty of mosquitos! We had some lunch and then drove back to Campo Grande. We then headed on our 25 hour bus to Rio de Janeiro!
Our first stop in Rio was Santa Teresa, which is up the hill from the centre of town. A nice area, but surrounded by Rios famous Favellas (city slums). The hostel was beautiful, with amazing views all over the city, a walk in wardrobe, and monkeys that came in the window and shared your breakfast! The friday night we attended the weekly Lapa street party, which was an interesting experience as it was still pouring with rain, and perhaps sensibly, many of the locals had decided to stay at home! In Lapa we visited the tiled stairs and the very strange cathedral, as well as the white aqueduct arches. We then moved to stay in Ipanema and then onto Copacabana from where we decided to go see Christ the Redeemer. Unfortunately after two attempts, He remained surrounded by cloud and after our fourth journey on the bus we decided to give up and go to Sugarloaf mountain instead! This was much more succesful, as we ascended the cable car in time for sunset and some drinks at the top as darkness fell. It was truely beautiful. The next few days were spent lazing on the beach as the sun had finally arrived and on our final night, went to the June Festival street celebration in Flamengo.
We were sad to leave Rio but our flight date was getting closer, so we took the bus down the coast to Florianopolis, a tropical island in southern brazil, where we had a stopover for a day. We spent our brief time off the bus walking through the jungle to hidden beaches and drinking Caipirinhas on the terrace. Another 27 hour bus later and we were back in Buenos Aires. One last weekend in South America before we fly onwards to New Zealand. It been an incredible two and a half months with many once in a lifetime experiences, but we are excited to move on, and for the next step of our journey!
Lots of Love
Vicki and Claire