A Travellerspoint blog

Brazil

Brazil Part III the Final Leg:

The 20,000 mile mark

sunny 35 °C

Check out www.haydencarlyonphotography.com for more photos from the trip.

After our strange night in Campo Grande Jamie had had enough and headed back to Port Alegre on an early morning flight. While Alex and I continued on and drove 250 km north to Bonito, a quite little tourist town in the south west of Brazil. We spent a couple of days seeing the sights, snorkeling and checking out the local wildlife. It was the end of the high season and the town was all but deserted so we took advantage of the low hotel prices and took a few days to relax and unwind.

Bonito is a nice town but with the volume of tourists that pass through during the year, the prices are pretty high. $30 -$40 just to go snorkeling down a river is a hefty price to pay no mater where you are in the world. But the nature and the wildlife make up for the over priced attractions and tours.

Two macaus playing in a tree. They are fun to watch, crazy birds..
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Hungry fish at a local river in Bonito
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Our next stop was the Iguacu Falls National Park and the triple border between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. A quarter of the falls are on the Brazilian side and the rest spread across the border into Argentina. We decided to take a helicopter ride over the falls before checking out the Brazilian side on foot.

View of the falls from the helicopter.
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It was the first time in a Helicopter for both of us and what a great place to do it. The Iguacu falls really are incredible and the view from the helicopter lets you appreciate just how big they are. The falls stretch across an area almost 4km wide and with over 250 waterfalls cascading into a horseshoe shaped hole it is an amazing sight.

Brazilian side of the falls
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After hiking around the Iguacu national park for a couple of hours, we ended the day at the Parque das Aves, a wildlife/bird park next to the waterfalls. Like every tourist attraction in Brazil it was a little expensive but well worth it. You can really get up close and personal with the animals and they are not at all shy. It was our only chance to see a toucan up close, and we weren't disappointed, what a beautiful bird.

This guy flew down, sat 2 inches away from us and wouldn't leave.
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The next day we went across the border to the Argentinean side where you can stand at the edge of the "Devils Throat", the point where the biggest volume of water passes over the falls; an incredible sight. Although we spent 2 days at the falls I think one is enough and you could easily see both sides in 1 day.

Devils throat, the Argentinean side.
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This was a Tuesday, I would hate to see it on the weekend
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We decided to check out Paraguay the next day and see if we could sell the car there. Just across the border, Ciudad Del Este is a giant street market with inexpensive electronics, booze and cigarettes. Everything is dirt cheap and it is a buyers market so what better place to sell the car. We spent the day shopping but after checking out the city we decided that it would be safer and easier to try to sell the car online.

It was time to make the final drive to Sao Paulo, 800km and the last leg of the journey. We arrived in Sao Paulo on Friday afternoon and parked the car in Alex’s uncle’s garage downtown. I closed the doors for the last time and said goodbye to a car that had almost become a part of me.

The speedometer at the end of the trip plus the 3000ish miles that we lost in Central America
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We had made it and it was time to relax, celebrate and take in the magnitude of the journey we had just completed. The trip had finally come to an end and I must admit it far exceeded both our expectations. I don’t think either of us could have imagined fitting so much into such a small amount of time. We managed to pack 2 years of travel into 5 months. From mountains to beaches, rain forests to volcanoes, salt flats to sand dunes, and everywhere in between. Twenty thousand miles, 15 countries, 50 tanks of gas, more than 100 hotels, thousands of speed bumps and car crippling potholes, dozens of dodgy police officers and 1 Lithuanian hitchhiker, and all in less than 5 months, what an amazing journey. And what an incredible car, 20,000 miles and not even a puncture. The only thing that broke was a $2 radiator cap.

It was sad to leave Brazil and a life on the road that I had become so accustomed to. Every day was a new adventure and with different places, people, food and experiences around every corner, it was impossible to get bored. It is an addictive lifestyle that always leaves you wanting more and I am already starting to feel the effects of the withdrawal.

But as they say all good things must come to an end. Before I go I would like to say thank you to all the wonderful people that we meet along the way, that shared the experience with us and that made the trip what it was, an incredible adventure.

Posted by hayden111 07:48 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Brazil part II: The long drive north

35 °C

Check out www.haydencarlyonphotography.com for more photos from the trip.

As you saw from the photos in the last post we did decide to go hang gliding and we picked the perfect morning to do it, it was beautiful. The launching pad was on a 550 meter mountain top overlooking one of the many beautiful beaches in Rio. It was an incredible view and a great experience, my only wish was that it was longer, unfortunately the flight only lasted around 10-15 minutes. Afterwards we spent another hour or so at the beach before starting the long drive north to Salvador. None of us were in any hurry to leave Rio though. What a beautiful city and a fantastic couple of days, my favorite city of the trip so far.

Next stop Porto Seguro, a small beach resort 1000km north of Rio, where we spent a couple of days relaxing at our hotel by the beach, before making the rest of the 500km drive to Salvador. The high season had just ended so we took advantage of the quiet beaches and cheap hotels.

Beach across form our hotel in Porto Seguro
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Jamie hard at work.
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When we arrived in Salvador we made the mistake of staying in the Pelourinho, a heavily touristed area in the historical center overlooking the harbor. From the best city of the trip to the worst, what a dump. The Pelourinho area itself isn’t too bad, but good luck walking down the street without being accosted by 400 people trying to sell you something or asking for money, it was ridiculous.

The tourists in Salvador are like a protected species and with machine gun wielding police on every corner it didn’t feel unsafe but it was hardly the most relaxing city we had been to. And if it weren't for the machine guns, Im pretty sure we would have walked away with our backpacks a lot lighter. It’s was an intense couple of days; people would actually come into the restaurant where we were having dinner and eat the scraps off our plates.

One of the statues at a creepy church we visited in salvador.. We have no idea what the dog is chewing on.
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The jesus room, complete with 25 very creepy statues.
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Square in the Pelourinho, Salvador
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Me and my girl
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View over Salvador harbor
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There were all sorts of scams going on too; one of the funniest was a Brazilian guy pretending to be a German tourist who had been robbed. He had even gone to the trouble of getting a police report from the tourist police so he could look more legit. I had read about the scam in our guide book and after we accused him of it, he reluctantly gave up the charade and started speaking perfect Portuguese.

He got pretty excited when we told him he was famous and someone had written about him in our guide book (at least we think it was him). A real character and a great actor, we gave him a couple of bucks just for the entertainment.

Brazilian Conman
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That night we had some fun with a couple of the local girls, dancing at a traditional music festival in the town square. A strange but entertaining evening that ended prematurely when someone yelled “help robbery”, after which most of the crowd disappeared into the night like a fart in the wind.

We spent the next day at a deserted beach in the middle of nowhere about 60km north of Salvador, where it was nice to have a beach to ourselves for a change. We decided though, that we had done enough beach hopping and it was time for a change of scenery. It was time to head west, then make the long drive south to the pantanel and Iguaçu falls. The Amazon would have to wait till another time.

Path to a deserted beach near salvador
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Diogo Beach 60km north of Salvador
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We drove to Lencois, a quiet, picturesque little town in the middle of nowhere with plenty of hiking trails, caves, water falls, natural water slides and by far the best buffet breakfast of the trip. A nice change of pace and a great little town with a good vibe. We spent a few days hiking around the many waterfalls and snorkeling in the fresh water caves.

Cave near Lencois
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One of the many beautiful waterfalls in Lencois
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The biggest toad I have ever seen.. A cave near Lencois
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We drove south west again, to the capital Brazilia, to see where the all the corrupt Brazilian politicians were spending the peoples money. Well they certainly weren’t spending it in Brazilia, unless it was on graffiti. After a couple of hours driving around seeing the sites we decided it wasn’t worth staying and found a hotel for the night just outside the city. It was cool to see the Government building but it didn’t warrant spending more than a couple of hours there.

Foreign affairs building Brasilia
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Next stop Campo Grande and Bonnito. We spent a couple of days in Campo trying to organize a tour into the Pantanal without much luck. After some investigation we found out that they were all heavily overpriced farm stays with little or no animal interaction and that “camping” meant sleeping in a hammock. We decided to try our luck in Bonitto.

The night before we left Alex got picked up by the local BBQ buffet waitress and ditched us, so Jamie and I went to the local pool hall for a few beers and celebrate my birthday. We had the place to ourselves at the start of the night but it slowly started to fill up and began looking more and more like a brothel. One of the ladies of the night befriended us and kept us busy while she drugged our drinks.

Luckily another local saw what she was doing and warned us. With a cigarette still burning in the ashtray and our tainted beers half finished, we made a quick and not so subtle exit and ran back to our hotel. Alex didn’t have much of a night either and when he did finally make it home he was almost in tears. He had had a scary night with the locals too. Something involving a karaoke/biker/trucker/ex-con bar in the middle of nowhere, he wasn’t to clear on the details but he was pretty happy to be back in the safety of the hotel.

Over 5000km in less than 2 weeks, the most demanding driving we have done so far.. I don't think any of us realized just how huge Brazil is...

Posted by hayden111 18:17 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Argentina to Carnival in Brazil

sunny 35 °C
View Austin Texas to Argentina on hayden111's travel map.

Check out www.haydencarlyonphotography.com for more photos from the trip.

We left for Montevideo in Uruguay early Monday morning. A relaxing 9 hour drive through the Argentinean and Uruguay countryside. We arrived just after dark, checked into our hotel and went out for a famous Uruguay steak. The next day we headed for Punta Del Est, a famous international beach resort, jammed with Brazilian and Argentinean tourists, 1 hour east of the capital Montevideo.

Sunflower fields in Uruguay
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We had heard good things about Punta and were planning on staying there for a few days but after taking a look around the city and checking out the beaches, we decided one night would be enough. With average beaches, heavily overpriced restaurants and hotels and a median age of 60, it was more like a retirement town than a beach resort. Maybe we were there at the wrong time of year.

We got an early start the next morning and headed straight for the Brazilian border and onto Peurto Alegre, Alex’s home town. Brazil, the final country of the trip, it was a definitely a surreal feeling for both of us to have made it so far. What had started out as an idea that came from a random conversation in Austin, had ended up being becoming a reality, and we had done it in just 3 months. It was great to finally be in Brazil and it was time for a much needed holiday from the holiday.

The night after we arrived I got to experience my first Brazilian BBQ. Alex’s dad cooked up a storm and served up the best BBQ I have ever eaten. I have never eaten so much meat in one day; I think we almost ate an entire cow. I don’t know how they do it.

We spent a couple of days in Peurto Alegre, before going to Alex’s parents beach house in Shangri-La (an hour north), for some further relaxation and to psych our selves up for carnival in Florianopolis, a beautiful island just off the southeast coast of Brazil. It was great to take some time out, eat some good food and do absolutely nothing for a while; what a fantastic week.

We took the long way through the country side to Florianopolis, to avoid the traffic jams and to bypass the roads that had become impassable due to a week of heavy rain. By the time we arrived late on Friday night, the party had already started and it didn’t stop until we left, 5 days later. Fourteen crazy Brazilians sharing a beautiful 5 bedroom beach house, over looking the harbor.

Carnival is all about drinking and partying till sunrise and then relaxing on the beach until sunset. People don’t even go out here till after 1am, so the nights are very long. We had a couple of house parties, went bar hoping and on the last night of carnival we went to the DJ Tiesto concert; definitely a crazy few days.

Girls in Florianopolis
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To be honest it wasn’t exactly what I thought of when I pictured Carnival in Brazil. I imagined crazy costumes, parades, fireworks and people partying in the streets, but apparently that is only in Rio. And being so close to Rio (1000km) it would have been a shame to miss the real Carnival, so I convinced Alex and Jamie to drive to Rio to make it for the last night of Carnival and the Champions Parade.

Surrounded by so many beautiful beaches, green hills and uniquely shaped mountains, Rio really is a beautiful city. As soon as we arrived we went straight to Copacabana beach. With powdery white sand, huge waves and the tiniest bikinis you have ever seen, I can’t think of a better place for an afternoon of sunbathing and people watching.

Ipanima beach, Rio
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Church across from our hotel in Rio
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Later that night we decided to brave the crowds and head out for the carnival parade. We bought a few beers and the cheapest tickets we could find from one of the many scalpers in the streets and went to the specially built carnival stadium/street where the parade is held.

The champion’s parade is the last parade of Carnival and shows the best 6 teams that had competed in the previous week. With over 4000 people per team it takes more than one hour for each team and their floats to go through. The parade itself lasts for around 10 hours and it is an incredible display. With over 50,000 people watching the atmosphere is fantastic, especially in $5 seat section. Where you get drunk, cheer for your team and throw things at the people in the $1000 per seat section. It wasn’t safe to take my camera, so sorry no pictures, but check it out on the internet if you get a chance. Definitely a great night and well worth the 1000km drive.

View from the top of sugar loaf mountain in Rio.
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Yesterday we hiked up to Cristo Redentor, the statue of Christ on Corcovado hill overlooking the city. We nearly died after the 35 degree, 3km hike up to the statue but it was definitely a fantastic view.

Cristo Redentor in Rio
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After the hike we went back to the beach to cool off with a quick swim before heading to the local soccer stadium to watch Flamengo vs Fluminense, two rival teams from Rio. With 5 goals scored in the 2nd half and around 45,000 screaming locals, it was a great game to watch and the atmosphere was electric, literally. As an added bonus we got to see one of the most impressive lightening shows I have ever seen. Half way through the game the sky turned black as a massive thunderstorm rolled in. A bolt of lightening hit the stadium and the lights went out, delighting the 45000 fans.

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Today we did some more sight seeing around Rio and people watching at the beach and tomorrow we are considering hand gliding off one of the cliffs overlooking the city. Then we head further north to Salvador and onto the Amazon.

View from the 500+ meter cliff we jumped off.
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Me and my flatulent hang gliding instructor.
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Jaime getting cozy with his hang gliding instructor. At least one of them is smiling....
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Posted by hayden111 07:50 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

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