Monday, 31 March 2014
Tuesday, 25 March 2014
Well the Amazon trip is over :(.
Now to start the bus trips to Venezuela, now I had heard this bit is a tad confusing but its not that bad. To get to Santa Elena from Manaus, you do the following.
1. Bus to boa vista.
2. Second bus to pacarima.
3. Walk to Brazilian border and through immigration.
4. Walk on to the Venezuelan border and though immigration.
5. Taxi to Santa Elena.
Simple steps, but the bus to boa vista was late meaning I missed the only bus to pacarima, so wait a day for the next one, then the next one is late, queue me panicking because immigration is only open in the morning according to my trusty guide book ( thanks so much Chris). Now I had read horror stories about not walking and there being terrorists, robbers, scoundrels and pirates ( ok not pirates but you know what I mean) in the bit where you are not in either Brazil or Venezuela, but there was just a guy selling juice, fresh orange juice actually. So I am now safely in Venezula, begin the trek up the mountain tomorrow, so not post for a while, as there are no pictures of today as you all know what a bus looks like. So added a few more from the Amazon to keep you entertained.
Saturday, 22 March 2014
Friday, 21 March 2014
The last day in Lencois was a lot of trekking 7km up and 7km down, very little flat ground at all up to see Fumaca, means smokey in Portuguese, and its amazing. It gets its name from the wind creating a smoke effect from the tiny water droplets that form as the water falls. However since its very dry right now in Brazil, it has a slightly bigger effect on the waterfall. The wind whips up the entire waterfall and it actually falls upwards once it reaches half way down the waterfall. Its an amazing feeling when the wind whips the water in the direction of the plateau above the waterfall that you are standing on. At the bottom of the water fall is a pool of water the looks very calm and still, considering it should be fed by a waterfall.
Then another little trip in the car to another natural water slide and a big pool which we could swim in. The water was coloured red because of the tiny bits of rock that were in the water. Was very pretty, however my camera ran out of battery on the way up Fumaca which was disappointing but I will be getting pictures from a German guy called Timo, he has quit his job and is going on a year travelling, he asked if he could read my blog for ideas, not too sure what ideas you going to get from my ramblings mate but good luck.
Getting to Manaus means a 7 hours bus, a taxi to the airport, two flights and a car ride to the office. Very excited about this part of the trip.
After a long trip to Manaus, and then another long trip involving two trips by boat and two taxi rides I am now in the Amazon basin. I arrived at the camp early in the morning, I have lost track of the actual day of the week now completely. Meet two British couples and a guy from Denmark who I am going to be spending the night with in the jungle, so we headed out on the boat after lunch. The setting here is beautiful, there are trees all along the way and the river opens out the huge lake like areas, without a guide you would get lost easily. On the way we saw sloths in the trees and a few terrapins. We got to the camp roughly two hours latter and started setting, there was a long hut with no walls that we would sleep under and it had beams to hang hammocks. Beside it was a small lean too for starting a fire under, which was the first thing that Paulo our guide did. He cooked rice and one and a half chickens on the fire, the food was surprisingly tasty. After dinner Adam the guy from Denmark found a few tarantula, another larger spider and a few leeches crawling through the forest. Then came sleep time, crawling into the hammock without ripping the mosquito net was difficult.
In the morning I learned I had been bitten badly on my legs and back, and in the afternoon it started to itch. I had left my antihistamines back in the office and was regretting this choice now. Once we had had a quick breakfast of pineapple and biscuits we headed back to the jungle lodge. We briefly stopped at a little local house to see a pineapple plantation, this was enlightening as we also got to see a rubber tree and try various other fruits, guava, orange lemon, papaya and a few others I have never heard of. Since myself and Adam are staying longer we are going to have a different guide and head off deeper into the Amazon over the next few days, not sure exactly how this will work but it should be an adventure.
So the guide did not turn up that afternoon, so we were with the main group having no idea what was going on, ended up fishing for piranha using chicken as bait, caught quite a few and they are much bigger than I expected. I was useless however and failed to catch a thing, fishing has never been my thing. Next day headed out early to see the sunrise from a good vantage point, got a few good photos. Mine and Adams guide has arrived and we are going to go out rowing into the swamp land and try to find some of the rare wildlife, then fishing in the afternoon and a caiman hunting in the evening, I really hope it goes well.
We now have a new guide Ralf but pronounced Half in Portuguese. He knows a lot about the local area and the row into the flooded areas of the forest was good, my camera is not good enough to take the distance shots, but we saw howler monkeys along with various birds and an owl. He was explaining that the water level changes by up to 12 metres at some points, and that during the dry season this is a normal forest but during the wet season it floods. The water does not mainly come from rain, but from further up the right river in Peru the mountains get the rain and the water level of all the Amazon rivers gets higher as a result. Once back we went fishing, Adam has brought a casting rod with him and I had a few goes at casting, it's a little more complicated then I thought. Then more piranha fishing, this time I actually caught one and since we were fishing outside the protected area we could eat them. On the way back I lost my balance getting out the boat and ended up in the river, camera luckily came out rather undamaged even if it took a few dodgy photos in the middle which I am super grateful for, but I have some large bruises on my right leg now grrrrr. Caiman fishing turned out a lot better however and we caught and got pictures with it. We tried catching a larger one but it did not want to happen and we lost the one that we hooked, from the boat the head was at least twice as large as the one Ralf caught by hand.
Morning of the 18th we headed to a local school and Ralf's house which is a short trip up river from the jungle lodge. This afternoon myself and Adam will beheading back into the jungle for round 2.………………
Thursday, 13 March 2014
Monday, 10 March 2014
A change of plan, up till now i have been in big towns, and i saw a picture of a waterfall and thought i need to go see that, had a few days so i am just going. 6 hours bus ride out of Salvador is a sleepy little town called Lencois, this town happens to be on Chapada Diamantina national park in Brazil famous for it's blue water lagoons and waterfalls. I got there late yesterday and checked into my hostel but still had enough time to do a 6km hike to a small waterfall over some rocks.
Today I got down to the bigger stuff. Inside a cave is a clear blue water lagoon, called Poco Azul. You have to shower before getting in to make sure you don't have sunscreen or makeup on to keep the water as pure as possible. You also have to wear a life jacket because diving down is not allowed, however this meant taking picture from within the lagoon was possible. Light lunch then off to mosquito waterfall, named because of the size of the diamond s that were found there. The view from the top was awesome but even more so was swimming under the water fall.
On the way back to the hostel we managed to come across a tarantula :)
Hope there is more to come tomorrow......
Saturday, 8 March 2014
Salvador, I am staying in a lovely hostel in the oldest area of the city. The hostel serves a great breakfast, from 8 till 12 so both mornings it has been possible to have an early breakfast head out to see parts of the city and return for lunch. The first day I headed down to the beach with various members of my dorm, two Swiss living in Switzerland and a Swiss girl living in Brazil from Canada, strange people to meet but cool none the less. I felt like a needed to relax from the bus trip to be honest, the change in prices from copacabana was huge, a parasol was only 3 reols compared to 20. Hopefully that is a good sign of things to come. Got a little burnt whoops....
Next day I headed out on a walking tour of the old town, the tour was organised by the hostel and a Brazilian history teacher took us around the oldest parts of the town, quickly flipping from Portuguese to Spanish to German to English, just in case someone asked a question. Basically Salvador was the first place that the Portuguese settled in Brazil, they liked a tree that had a red dye here and its colour gave rise to the name Brazil. Various boom and bust economies have brought wealth and then destroyed it leaving a very strange mix of high rise building s next to run down 1700 buildings.
I had planned to stay in Salvador and see the area a bit more but I have seen something that I cannot pass without going to see, I have to get on another bus for a few hours but hopefully this should be well worth it.
Thursday, 6 March 2014
So last day in Rio, we headed to the beach not just any beach, but Copacobana beach. Now you'll have to excuse the lack of photos of the wonderful white sand and the many fine ladies that were on the beach as I forgot my camera. But you can Google for some nice ones and imagine me there amount the people I'm sure. The waves were quite good and we ended up getting wiped out as we got caught in two waves at the same time andi ended up doing a handstand In the shallows as I tried vainly to right myself. As we were leaving I decided that I would head out to the beach gym that I had heard off between copacobana and ipenenama beach. I only know this from googling but it was a 5km beach walk there and back. Needless to say my legs were killing me just after that torment. Let alone a beach gym workout :) after which i headed back to arrange the next part of the trip, having been recommended a hostel called galleria 13. So I expect great things.
So now to book the bus to Salvador in the morning, one catch, you need Brazilian ID to book a bus online, even on the foreigner tab. So I have to be at the bus station in the morning before the bus leaves at 915 and get a space of which only 2 remain. Luckily there is another company, also have to buy at the station but this one leaves at 11 but takes 28 hours, decided on the latter. The bus its self was not uncomfortable, but due to a lack of any timekeeping in Brazil the trip took a total of 33 hours so now a full 39 hours later I'm safely in the hostel.
Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Monday, 3 March 2014
Sunday, 2 March 2014
It's the small details that make all the difference in life they say. So if your not allowed on the flight for some reason they should obviously let you know beforehand. Air Italia have a little unnoted rule where unless you have a booked ticket out of Brazil they will not let you on the flight to Brazil. Its not just me that has been caught out, the couple in front of me were caught out and the couple behind, they showed booked accommodation in Argentina, however it has to be a plane or bus ticket leaving Brazil. Cue 30 minutes of stressed calls and texts to my family as I cannot get on the free WiFi. So right now I have a flight from Rio to Paraguay on the 14th, the whole thing seems to be airline specific, so I won't be going Air Italia again anytime soon. UPDATE Brazilian passport control just wanted to know I was leaving by bus GRRRRR
So at least I'm on the plane now, tons of time to myself. I had William, my brother shave my head and I feel more bald than normal on a plane full of Italians who seem to never lose their hair. There is a group of pensioners two rows in front and each one has a full head of greying hair, maybe they dye it but they definitely have hair. Another side effect is that everyone seems to have identified me as an Englishman, I've been on a few long haul flights but normally the air stewards say hello, goodbye in their native language, not for me straight to English, as thou shaving my head is quintessential English or I have a stamp on my forehead at least I have space for it now.
Arrived ahead of schedule and got to the hostel really early, so heading out for a street party ahead of carnival, it's only 10 in the morning.....hahahahaha