Just when you thought you'd never hear from us again....we're back!!! We have at least 4 weeks worth to catch up on - we'll do our best but can't guarantee accuracy!!!
I think we last left off in La Paz a long, long time ago (4 May to be precise!!). We spent that day just wandering around La Paz - heard what we thought was gun shots in the afternoon - turned out to be fireworks at a student demonstration!! The next day went on a trip to Chacattaya - the worlds highest ski resort (5200m) - went up a really steep winding road to get there. Lots of snow at the top - we walked up to the summit - a very steep incline (you think we'd have been used to it by now!!) Came down to a yummy hot chocolate and then played in the snow - cool!! Went onto Valley of the Moon later that afternoon - that was really amazing. An area that once used to be a lake - with hugh craters - like on the moon!! Walked along some of the narrow ledges. Got back to the hotel and Paul had a snooze - he had a headache - probably from the altitude. That night we went to watch a traditional folk show with dinner - the food was very average as was the show!!
I had a really bad night - stomach problems - as I said the food was CRAP!! Stayed in bed that morning - other than occasional visits to the toilet to throw up!! Picked up at noon for flight to Rio via Santa Cruz and San Paulo. Eventually arrived in Rio at 10.30pm - I was feeling pretty sorry for myself - having not eaten all day and aching all over!! Got through customs expecting to be picked up and taken to hotel - but for the first time during our trip we were let down - what timing!! After waiting half an hour and failing to get any currency changed - paid for a prepaid taxi (on credit!!) to the hotel. Slightly concerned as we had no vouchers for any of our Brazil trip!! Luckily the hotel did not need vouchers - taken up to our room at around midnight only to find that the toilet had been used, towels were dirty, there was rubbish strewn around and the bar had been used. Paul went down to complain at reception - we eventually got our room changed. In the mean time we had tried to contact the 24 hour emergency line for the travel agents - which turned out to be an answer phone!!! Not what we needed as we were flying out next morning to Campo Grande and had no transport to the airport/ vouchers!! Finally got to bed around 1.00am.
Up at 4.45am - HAPPY BIRTHDAY IAN!!- had to get a taxi to airport (luckily we had our tickets!!) Caught the flight to Campo Grande - which went via San Paulo - again!!! Why we flew to Rio the night before I will never know. Not a good start to Brazil!! Were met at Campo Grande - much to our relief. There was a 3.5 hour transfer to our Lodge - Posada Caimen - the last hour of which was very bumpy!! Arrived at ranch 2.30pm - they have electricity and hot water - COOL!! That afternoon we went for a horse ride - I had the laziest horse of the lot!! Really hard work to get him to move - Paul had a really good horse (Zabomba) that needed no encouragement - he really enjoyed his first ride ever on a horse!! Saw loads of blue macaws (the only ones we didn't see in Peru!!)& monkeys - so much easier to see animals than in the rain forest. The Pantanal is more like savannah and swampland. Had a drink in the bar and a lovely meal that night followed by a slide show.
The following morning we were up at 6.00am to a ringing bell!!! Feels like school!! Breakfast at 6.30 and then went on a boat ride at 7.00am - had the worst possible seats (thanks Paul!!). Saw loads of birds (including toucans), caimen, monkeys and capybara - the guide wasn't so great - didn't speak english. Trip was over by 9.30am and the next trip was at 3.30pm. We were not overly impressed- not used to having so much free time!! Got in touch with travel agents who apologised and blamed the love bug for a glitch in their system!! That afternoon went for a drive and spotted more caimen, storks, heron and loads of other birds. Did a little walk but it was getting dark and true to form in the forest we saw nothing!! On the way back did some spot lighting - saw deer and wild fox. After dinner went out spot lighting again - saw 2 giant ant eaters - that was really amazing, a porcupine - very rare and loads more caimen feeding on fish in the river. Good night out.
Next morning up at 6.00am - had a walk around the ranch in the morning - fairly interesting - it was a working cattle ranch with several thousand cattle. From there went on to the lake to feed the caimen. Stood about a foot away from some rather large caimen - they were more interested in the meat than us!! After lunch went horse riding again - really enjoyed myself this time as I had a decent horse. Paul kept the one from before. Went through loads of swamps - water upto a meter high and some with caimen in!! That evening watched a nature video!!
Another 6.00am start following morning. Went for another drive and walk. Saw deer, birds, loads of peckory pigs and a racoon. The lodge we had driven to was really beautiful - overlooking a lagoon. Saw jaguar tracks on our walk but no jaguar (apparently the villagers had seen one the night before!!). Got back around 11.00am and decided to try piranah fishing. Got one of the guides to show us how it was done - our first time fishing. Went about half way up a long bridge armed with long bamboo rods, large hooks and bait. Within minutes the fish were biting and I caught the first fish. Shown how to remove them from hook - not easy as they have very sharp teeth!! Anyway carried on fishing - within minutes the bait was taken - this time I felt I had a big one. I was just telling the guide I thought it was a biggie - I think both him and Paul thought I was being feeble!! Anyway it turned out to be a 6 foot alligator!!!! And it was well and truly hooked - just couldn't get the hook out - the guide took over (as I was going to be pulled in!!) and I was given the job of running back to the ranch for a machete to cut the line!! That was interesting!! The guide left us to it and we carried on with one rod - taking it in turns until the bait was eaten or a fish was caught. I proceeded to catch 3 more piranah - one through the left eye, the next through the right eye and the last through the gill and eye!! Not pleasant - Paul had the job of holding the fish while I tried to get the hook out!! There must be a lot of one eyed fish in the lake!! Paul just fed the fish with his bait - I guess I must be a natural!! (better wrist action!!). That afternoon went on another boat ride - very nice and relaxed - didn't see any animals - watched a nice sun set. As there was nothing organised for the night we went for a night walk with one of the guides with torches in hand. Not as scary as the rain forest although the guide kept warning us to look out for snakes!! Spotted an owl.
Next morning had another walk in the bush. Checked out around noon (after I had managed to walk into a door!). Had 3 hours on the road to Campo Grande and flew back to Rio via San Paulo. Arrived at 10.30pm and met this time - yippie!!
Following day had a bit of a lie in till 9.00am. Removed all my jewellery - Rio has a bad reputation and Paul was concerned!! Went for a walk along Copacabana beach - strangely not many beautiful women were on the beach but I had some interesting viewing!! Had to go back and change as Paul was wearing long trousers and it was now about 30 degrees and everyone else was in shorts. Took at taxi to Cocovada and then a train up to the Christ statue. The view from the summit was amazing. Rio was a beautiful city built between the hills, a beautiful bay and the ocean. The statue was impressive too!! Also saw the tiniest monkeys I have ever seen - as big as my palm and quite difficult to see. Headed down on the train and got a taxi to Lagoa where we had a walk around the lagoon before heading to Ipenema Beach. Sat on the beach for a while but it felt too cool even though the temperature was 24 degrees. Had lunch at a street restaurant - loads of food!! Walked back along the beach front watching the surfers. That night we went to a nice restaurant to celebrate our 6 month anniversary. Realised when we were about to order that they only took mastercard and diners. Of course we only brought visa and amex with us - typical. About to order one dish to share when the head waiter said he could pop next door to the nightclub to put the bill through on visa. Meant we could have a nice meal and celebrate in style.
Next day up at 7.30am and then went for an other wander along the beach. Took a taxi to Sugar Loaf and the cable car upto the top. Again great views although not as good as the Christ statue. Got back down and bought a day ticket for the hop on - hop off tourist bus. Headed downtown to the historic centre. Went to the flower market and stopped at Columbo tea house for a drink and yummy snacks. The architecture was amazing. Hopped back on the bus to go back to the hotel. That evening decided to try the Indian restaurant in town. Had great expectations - the manager was from Kerala. Unfortunately the curry was more like stew - he made it extra spicy but even Paul couldn't taste the spice.
Next morning we left the hotel at 6.00am and saw the sun rise on our drive to the airport. The pilot circled the city - great view. Landed at Foz Iguasu 10.30am and taken to our hotel. The hotel was beautiful - the best we have stayed in so far. Went for a walk to falls straight away as they were just outside the front door. The falls were spectacular. Different to Angel Falls in that they consisted of over 300 falls and very impressive. All around there were loads of wild racoons which were attracted by the tourists feeding them - quite cute!! Later that afternoon we went for a jet boat trip with the Macuco Safari to get really close to the falls. The boat went up river over loads of rapids and then went almost underneath the falls - we were absolutely soaked - 25 minutes sheer exhilaration!!! Got back to the hotel around 5.00pm and watched the sunset.
Next day we went on a trip to the Argentinian side of the falls. First stop was to a point where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay joined and then on to Devils throat for a short boat trip to a viewing platform to view the falls from the edge before the drop - amazing and wet!! After that did a couple of walks to view the falls from above and below - very spectacular. On the way back we stopped at the bird sanctuary where we walked through aviaries with toucans in them. Also was section with humming birds in them which was cool!! Got back to the hotel and had an early dinner and went to bed.
There was heavy rain during the night so we didn't bother getting up for the sunrise. Had a leisurely morning with a final walk around the falls. Picked up at 2.30pm for the transfer across the border to the airport in Argentina for our flight to Buenos Aires.
Well that's all for now folks, we are tired and hungry and so Argentina and New Zealand will have to wait for another day (soon hopefully!!). Hope everyone is well and keep e-mailing us!!
Pip & Paul