A Travellerspoint blog

Brazil

Mind-blowing Waterfalls....

Three days in Foz de Iguazu


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After a 22-hour bus ride from Rio (it actually wasn't as horrific as it sounds), we made it to Foz de Iguazu (the Iguazu Falls). The falls were spectacular! They are located at the intersection of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. We viewed the falls from both Argentina and Brazil- most people think the Argentina side is better, but they were both great for their own reasons. The Brazil side offers a broad stroke view of the falls, while the Argentina side is more up close and personal. What surprised me most about the falls was how many of them there are. I was expecting two or three waterfalls but, instead, the Iguazu Falls actually consist of 275-waterfalls in one place ranging in height from 200 to 269-feet. About half of the waterfalls flow into a long chasm called Garganta del Diablo (the Devil's Throat - pictures below). The Devil's Throat separates Argentina from Brazil.
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On our first day, we visited the Brazil side of the falls at sunset. On day two, we traveled to the Argentina side for a full-day of waterfall sightseeing. Getting from Brazil to Argentina was a process. We were warned it would take some time, about two-hours in actuality (each way). We traveled by local bus to the Brazil border where we were dropped off and had to have our passports stamped to indicate that we were leaving Brazil. Then, we waited 45-minutes for another bus to pick us up and take us to the Argentina border in order to have our passports stamped to indicate that we were entering Argentina. Thankfully, the second bus waited for us to have our passports stamped and then dropped us off at a bus station in town. Once in town, we had to get some Argentinian pesos and then pick up another bus to the falls. The pictures below are of the upper and lower falls on the Argentina side. The falls are a must see if you are ever in the area!
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On our last day in Brazil, we went to the Itaipu Dam, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. The dam is not the most beautiful site ever, but it is an impressive man-made object. The dam sits on the border between Paraguay and Brazil and was constructed after a treaty was signed between the two countries in 1973. The dam provides hydroelectric power to both countries, roughly 20% of Brazil's power and 90% of Paraguay's power. It was the world's largest hydroelectric dam until the Three Gorges Dam opened in China in 2006.

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Seriously, the falls were amazing...put them on your list!

On to Uruguay...

Posted by geldere 16:47 Archived in Brazil Tagged waterfalls Comments (1)

Exploring Rio de Janerio


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I have to admit, before arriving in Rio, I had some preconceived notions about the city, some good and some bad. I’d heard that Rio was a fun city, but I was also worried that we’d be robbed/stabbed from reading some of these guide books. Rio may have its fair share of problems, including crime, but by staying out of the favelas (the poorest parts of town) and keeping an eye out you really shouldn’t have any problems (and I realized my irrational fear was unfounded)
Rio is a visually spectacular city. Nestled between the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, dramatic mountains and lush forests, the landscape is jaw-dropping. We stayed at the Lemon Spirit, a funky hostel with a great backpacker infrastructure located in Ipanema, one of the nicest parts of Rio conveniently located one block from the beach.

We spent half-a-day walking along Atlantic Avenue - amazing people watching. On that day, a front passed through Rio and, as a result, there were some insane waves. The waves crashed into the seawall and pushed sand all the way onto Atlantic Avenue- even the surfers stayed out of the water. I found it amusing that along the beach there were areas of specific micro cultures. For instance, Posto 9 (lifeguard station number 9) was where the young and beautiful hang out, while there were similar sections where the gay population and families congregated.

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For some down time, we decided to watch a movie while in Rio. The movie theater was conveniently located right around the corner from our hostel. We saw Pirates of the Caribbean 4 in 3D- not a great movie, but entertaining. Watching a movie abroad provides an easy opportunity for a cultural comparison: the movie was in English with Portuguese subtitles, in Brazil you get assigned a seat (like G34), and everyone applauds at the end of the movie which were noted as differences from what we’re used to.

We spent one evening in Rio watching a professional football (i.e., soccer) match between two Brazilian teams (we rooted for the home team of course). Football is life in Brazil, if not in all of South America. You can’t find a green space or beach where someone isn’t playing. You can check out the home team, Velasco, scoring a penalty shot on the opposing team here. FYI – Rio is hosting the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016.
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Aside from the beaches, Rio has several famous sites that we visited on a group tour. Probably the most famous is Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), an enormous statue of Christ which overlooks the city.
We also stopped at Escadaria de Selaron, which is Rio’s famous staircase. The staircase was designed by an eccentric Chilean artist who, since 1990, has been covering 215 steps with over 2,000 tiles from 120 countries (he personally purchased most of the tiles as souvenirs while traveling abroad – we need to find something smaller and lighter to collect). We managed to find two Florida tiles. The staircase was featured in a Snoop Dog video and apparently recently visited by Oprah.
Lastly, we made it to the top of Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain) for sunset. After my initial nausea wore off from the cable-car-hanging-from-a-mountain-by-a-cord transfer, we enjoyed a spectacular view of Rio and its surroundings.

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Next stop, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil (a 22-hour bus ride from Rio)…

Posted by geldere 18:13 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Why is there a crab in our hostel?

3 days in Ilha Grande


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Because we're on an island jungle...

On Thursday, May 26th, we made our way from Paraty via local bus and ferry to arrive on Ilha Grande, Brazil. Ilha Grande is Brazil's third largest island and is known for its laid back vibe and gorgeous beaches. Unfortunately, the weather was largely overcast with showers while we were visiting, but we made the most of it by hiking and visiting the beaches despite the weather :)

During the first hour or so of being in our hostel we noticed a few girls taking pictures of something on the kitchen floor. My initial thought was "Oh my gosh, I hope it is not an outrageously large spider". Thankfully, it turned out to be a curious crab that decided the hostel life was for him as well.

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The next day we took a small boat to a secluded part of the island where we hiked to a spectacular beach called Lopes Mendes (consistently rated one of Brazil's best beaches). The beach sits within a cove and the surrounding hillsides are covered with a lush forest - making for a dramatic contrast. We navigated some steep rocks at the end of the beach and managed to get some cool pictures of crashing waves.

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For dinner, we hit up a "per kilo" restaurant, very common in Brazil. It's like a buffet, but your plate gets weighed after you make your choices and you pay per kilo. Jeff snickered when my plate was weighed; it was almost twice as heavy as his :)

Though it was a short trip to the island, we enjoyed it immensely. We are headed to Rio...I can already feel the beat of the samba drum...

Posted by geldere 18:36 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Beaches, Waterfalls, and Caipirinhas...

Exploring Paraty, Brazil


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On Monday, May 23rd, we journeyed from Sao Paolo to Paraty via a six hour bus ride, arriving late at night, so we plopped ourselves at the Che Legarto Hostel, a surf-inspired hostel with a relaxed vibe. We spent our first morning exploring the small town. Paraty is on the coast of Brazil and prides itself on being a well preserved colonial town and has a "Williamsburg" feel to it. I thought the guide book was exaggerating when it stated "you know a place is authentic when the cobblestones are so uneven, it's actually painful to walk the streets". Really, not an exaggeration. The town definitely achieves a feeling of authenticity, and combine that will the mountain and ocean backdrops, Paraty is a beautiful place.
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On Tuesday afternoon, we took a local bus into the mountains to see some waterfalls. After my initial panic wore off, we spent time sliding down one of the waterfalls, a "natural waterslide", into a freezing cold pool of water...it was fun! To see Jeff taking the plunge, click here. That night we ate at a quaint local restaurant and enjoyed caipirinhas, Brazil's national cocktail :)

On Wednesday, we spent our time in Paraty relaxing on a boat in the bay with four other hostel guests (a couple from Ireland 50 of 52 weeks into an around the world trip and two German fellas seven months into an 18 month trip). To see Paraty and the surrounding area by boat gave us a different appreciation for the landscape. The scenery was spectacular with mountains that seemed to go straight into the water. We snorkeled and chilled on two private beaches which made for a very blissful day!
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Paraty was great and we are looking forward to our next destination, Ilha Grande, an island off the coast. Until then...

Posted by geldere 18:40 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

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