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Our Tour of Brazil and Peru

Brazil and Peru were interesting –  but huge. Everytime we went to a new place, it was a full day’s traveling.

floating by caymans in the Pantanal, Brazil

Floating past caymans in the Pantanal, Brazil

We first went to Campo Grande, where we met someone who introduced us to Pousada Santa Clara in the Pantanal, which was excellent. Cheap, but good room, full board and excellent guides. We did a river trip, tube floating among the caymans, walked through the forest and saw an anteater, monkeys, racoons, parakeets, capybaras and loads of birds. We also fished for yellow-bellied piranhas and caught one each, which were then fried for us that evening – very tasty but very small and lots of bones!

From there we went to the youth hostel in Bonito. The hostel was great. We had a private room, there was a swimming pool, and they organized all the tourist trips. We did a snorkel float in both Rio Sucuri, and Rio de Prata – freshwater rivers with astounding clarity. But the trips were very overpriced and very tourist oriented. Apparently everything is government controlled, and you got treated like children on a school trip.

Next was Foz Iguazu which was simply amazing – huge, huge waterfalls that we saw from both the Brazillian and Argentinian sides. Both were equally spectacular.

We then visited Ceu’s friend Matheus in Belo Horizonte – a clean modern city with such steep hills that you really need good breaks on your car! It was like going on a roller coaster. We had a lovely visit with him and his mother and brother – and got to drink the Brazillian specialty drink called ‘Chop’ (pronounced ‘Shop’) which, believe it or not, consists of just the FOAM from an ordinary beer! Absolutely crazy! Matheus showed us his city, took us to the best restaurants and, naturally, we watched the Brazillians play at the World Cup. Nothing else to do, since the entire country closes when a game is on. Even the museums shut until after the game.

Matheus and Ceu cheering for Brazil's victory over Chile at the World Cup

From there we went to Rio, and stayed in a rather basic youth hostel at Ipanema. We ate in the restaurant across from ‘The Girl from Ipenema’ restaurant, which is where the song was written. We toured the largest Favela which is run by a drug gang – and as a result has virtually no crime, as they want to keep it a safe place for people to come and buy drugs!

Of course we walked both Copacobana and Ipanema beaches, along which there a several public, open-air, work-out gyms. They consist of a frame of pull up and other bars and one even includes weights. They are totally free and get well used. We often saw people there with a personal trainer coaching them.

Throughout the trip we had sunshine, warm weather, and no rain.

A 4 hour flight took  us to Lima, Brazil. First stop was a Ceviche restaurant in Miraflores – IIt was so good when we went there on our first pass through, (on the way to Brazil from BVI), that we went back there a second time. Lima itself, however, was rather uninspiring. Very run-down.

From there we started our Peru tour – the floating islands of Uros in Lake Titicata, the highest navigable lake in the world. It is huge – and 3,800 meters high. The floating islands are made of reeds, the houses on them are made of reeds, the cooking fires are fueled by reeds, the farmed guniea pigs (yes, they eat them) feed on reeds, and even the children’s jungle bars are made of … reeds.

Dancing at the Lake Titicaca Party

Dancing at the Lake Titicaca Party

We stated overnight with a family on Anantamis island, and walked up to the peak of Pacha Mama, 4,200 feet. Then we donned native clothes and went to a party. The weather was curious – the bright sunshine was hot, but the air was cold, so you would be warm on one side of the body, and cold on the other!. The nights went down to about freezing point.

On the bus ride from the town of Puno (Lake Titicaca) we visited some Inca sites and then arrived at the Inca capital, Cusco. Of course, this is now 75% tourist driven, but still a pleasant town of about 300,000 people.

First visiting the Sacred Valley, we then went to Olaytamba to start the Inca trail.

Here was our first surprise – we had a private tour, just the two of us – plus SIX porters and our guide, Marco Antonio. The guides carried our stuff, put up our tents, and cooked us meals that were served at a table with a table cloth! Marco was excellent, so enthusiastic about the Incas – he has been guiding for 20 years, but was still taking as many photos as us, as the shadows and lighting were always different.

Breakfast at the top of the Inca Trail

Breakfast at the top of the Inca Trail

The trail was fairly straight forward, including the second day which took us back up to 4,200 meters again, to cross the Dead Woman’s Pass. Along the way we saw numerous Inca terraces and buildings, and lots of flowers, plants and birds. Marco identified them all.

He even took us to a couple of un-restored Inca sites which, to us, was probably the highlight of the trail. These are off the trail and, in fact, Marco had only been to one of them twice before. First you have lots of jungle and then, suddenly, under the jungle you see terraces, and houses, and store rooms, and temples and fountains – all grown over by trees and vines. Just like ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’!  It does make you realise how much restoration it takes to bring a place like Machu Picchu to the condition it is now in.

Finally we arrived at Machu Picchu – and it is just as spectacular as in the photos. We also climbed up Waynu Picchu, which was steep, but not too bad until the very last bit where it is definitely pretty hairy. For me, anyway; Ceu (Mountain Goat) seemed to be just fine with it!

First sight of Machu Picchu

First sight of Machu Picchu

Again, the weather was fantastic. During the daytime we were hiking in sunshine with T-shirts. At night it went down to a few degrees above freezing. We had frost one morning. In the distance we could see glaciers and snow in the highest peaks, over 5,500 meters.

The final stop was the Amazon at Puerto Maldonado, elevation about 200 meters – yet 2,000 km from the sea. Now, here was the biggest surprise. Here we were, in the Amazon rain forest, just 12 degrees south of the Equator, and it was COLD. 11 degrees cold to be precise.  Bear in mind that the lodge had no walls, no ceilings, and no heating. That means it was 11 degrees for 72 hours straight.

Fortunately Marco had warned us, so we took with us our fleeces and hats (we could bring with us only a sub-set of all our gear). Other travelers were not so fortunate, and had only their summer clothes, so they were even more miserable than us.

Still, we had tours through the forest, seeing a family of Giant Otters, a few blue and yellow macaws, lots of squirrel and howler monkeys, but no snakes. I guess one good thing about the temperature was the lack of mosquitoes and insects.

In the Amazon rain forest

In the Amazon rain forest

So that was it, a full month in South America, and then back to BVI to board our boat. A great adventure.

2 Responses to “Our Tour of Brazil and Peru”

  • Matheus:

    olá meus amigos, was really nice have you guys here! Enjoy your trip and I hope see you guys again! You guys will be always welcome to my city! Um grande abraço, Matheus.

    • Noel:

      my friend..you are the best
      foi tao bom ver-te outra vez. espero estar tudo bem contigo e familia
      ainda estamos em Kelowna mas vamos voltar para o barco na primeira semana de Outubro
      big hug
      love, Ceu

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