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South America
June 10th 2008
Published: June 17th 2008
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Caiman
Brazil - Argentina - Paraguay

Brazil

Crossing over from Bolivia into Brazil the differences were apparent immediately starting with the taxi prices. A trip that would have cost US$1 in Bolivia all of a sudden was ten times that - and our wallets were not happy. But we went ahead with our plans to visit the Pantanal, a giant wetland in the south of Brazil which is famous for its wildlife, and we headed in for a three day trip.

We stayed at a lodge on the banks of a river and as soon as we arrived we were told to get into our swimmers and we went inner-tubing down the river. We later saw plenty of caimans and caught many a pirana in the same part of the river we were swimming in, but at the time we were oblivious to the goings on under the surface. After lunch we went on a boat ride where we met Ant and Jenny and saw our first wild toucan since Central America. We saw plenty more of them during the three days, if only they sat still and let you get decent photographs of them! We also saw a giant otter, howler monkeys, and plenty of birds. It seemed a little disappointing after the huge amounts of wildlife we saw in the Pampas in Bolivia, which was teeming with wildlife, but the following day would prove a little more fruitful!

We headed off on an all-day jeep safari, with a jungle walk in the middle of the day. And managed to spot plenty of wildlife including deer, quati, toucans, capybara, howler monkeys, a heard of wild pigs (apparently very dangerous - we had to hide) and our favourites - an anteater and a family of hyacinth macaws who were nesting and let us get really close to them. We saw plenty of wildlife until about half way through our jungle tour when everything went quiet and we didn´t see anything after that. On the way back out our guide spotted jaguar footprints over our last prints and explained that that was why we hadn´t seen or heard anything for the last part of the walk. It was a little creepy knowing there was a jaguar watching us someone in the area and we really wished we'd managed to see it.

The weather took a turn for the worse during the night and when we got up the next morning it was freezing and raining. Al opted out of the horse riding because he had a bit of a cold but decided to fish for piranas in the river instead. We later ate Al's catch for our lunch - a little crunchy without much meat. And Lara got the slowest horse on the planet, Pauliña, named after our guide's ex-girlfriend as she liked the men! She refused to walk with the other horses, until it was time to head home when she trotted along with Lara bouncing up and down in a fit of giggles on her back. After lunch it was time to say our goodbyes and get out of the freezing Pantanal and we took the overnight bus to Foz de Iguacu. The bus ride was completely uneventful compared to the recent trips we´d experienced but we did manage to see an ocelot crossing the road which was exciting as we´d yet to see any jungle cats.

We arrived in Foz de Iguacu (the Brazilian town closest to the waterfalls) in the morning and spent the day looking at the waterfalls from the Brazilian side, before heading
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Parrot
to the most amazing bird park we had ever seen. Large avaries housed all types of South American birds from macaws to hummingbirds and Lara´s favourite, toucans. Unfortunately it was getting dark so the light wasn't great and we were concerned that the buses would stop running and we wouldn't be able to get back into town so we didn't spend as long in the park as we would have liked.

Argentina

The following day we headed into Argentina to see the Argentinian side of the falls and had our first lazy day in months because the weather was so terrible. We just lazed around and had some great food and wine before our trip to the Argentinian side of Iguazu, we also had a TV and spent ages watching terrible sitcoms and old movies, but it was a day we definitely needed.

The Argentinian side of the falls are much more impressive than the Brazillian side as you can get so much closer and you can even look down into the ´Garganta de Diablo´(the Devils throat). We spent the day wandering around all the paths looking at the falls, and trying to stop the quatis from
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Tucan!
pinching our sandwiches. We then took a boat ride up underneath them, getting completely saturated, which wasn´t too much fun as it was cold but a hot shower and some good food made it all worthwhile.

Paraguay

After experiencing the falls it was time to head back through Brazil and into Paraguay where we headed straight to Asuncion as we were running out of time and were trying to get past the bad weather. We had a rather dramatic situation on arriving in Paraguay when we realised that we had left our money belt two border crossings behind us. This was made worse by the fact that Al had already had his entry stamped into Paraguay was only had single entry so Lara would have had to make the trip back across 2 borders (and then back through 2 borders again) by herself and then try and find Al in the uninspiring (read dodgey) city of Ciudad del Este. We realised it was going to be too difficult to manage (and may not even be there when we got back) so we left approximately $50 and Al's debit card under a bed in Argentina.

We spent a couple of days seeing the sights of Asuncion such as the Palacio Gobierno, and a wonderful statue of a past dictator that had been crushed after his reign ended and covered in concrete with only his face and hands showing - as you can tell, he was extremely popular! We don't really feel that we got to see all that Paraguay had to offer, and if we return to South America we would try and get into the remote areas and see some wildlife.

Buenos Aires

After we´d spent a few days in Asuncion we took our last overnight bus trip in South America to our favourite city Buenos Aires. It seemed as if we had suddenly arrived in Europe a few weeks early. We spent 4 or 5 days wandering the streets, doing a lot of shopping (not too long to carry things now!), drinking too much wine and eating far too much steak and other delicious bits and pieces. We just loved the feel of the city - it looks and feels like it should be in Europe but has a definite South American edge to it. We saw the sights such as Evita´s grave and
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The puma we just missed!
the lovely little corner of La Boca, but really we just enjoyed walking the streets, watching the people and sitting in the cafes. After a relaxing time in Buenos Aires, which unfortunately came to an end far too soon, it was time to fly to Santiago in Chile. But that is another story.....


Additional photos below
Photos: 51, Displayed: 27


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Ant eater
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Crazy bats flying around a bridge
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Hyacinth Macaw
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baby vine snake
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Snail kite
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Toco Tucan
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Foz do Iguacu

Parque de Aves - red brested Tucan
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Foz do Iguacu

Parque de Aves - Flamingo


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