We are currently at home with Leo’s family and I have taken a break from both the blog and our hectic ‘on the road adventure mode’ we have found ourselves deeply involved in for the past few months. AKA – we are both exhausted and need some family time of people taking care of us.
Anyone who has traveled for a while without a base will completely understand when I say there is nothing more comforting than coming ‘home’ and putting on the kettle, sitting on the couch and chit chatting mindlessly about nothing specific. WE ARE LOVING IT.
Saying that, we have had a few adventures around the city where Leo grew up – Juiz De Fora. We also just spent the weekend in Piúma at a Summer house about 5 hours from home. It was awesome, we hiked, watched sunsets, drank cold beer and ate cakes…probably the best few days we have had in weeks.
We climbed the Mount Agha, ‘Place of god’ which is the main mountain in Piúma and can be seen from ages away due to its height and shape. It only is about 340 meters of altitude but in the heat and the fact it’s SO STEEP it was exhausting but at the summit gave unparalleled views of the town, beaches and surrounding mountains so I loved it. **Check out my Insta for most posts of the mountain!
Pantanal has been on our list for a while now, even though Leo has been 25 years ago – I am sure it has changed a little since then and it is a location that is nice to explore together. We really enjoyed our time here, unfortunately it was tainted heavily due to the fact we were both severely ill at the start of the trip. Due to this we therefore had to cancel the overnight camping in the jungle which as our guide later told us was for the best as it’s very cold this time of the year at night and the mozzies are really bad, so to be honest it looks like we escaped a potential horrendous night’s sleep that may or may not make us ill again.
The staff here are pretty good, I can’t say they are great as they are not. Max and Sandro are great, but the other staff would prefer to walk around looking like they have just parted ways from a gang and be on their phones A LOT. That really pissed me off as at max there was 7 guests staying at any given time doe to low season! Another issue which we encountered is there is no safe drinking water here, which is normal for Brazil but you are expected to buy all your water. Being in 30+ degree heat everyday and having to purchase water is totally outrageous and we are both pretty sure illegal as they should have filtered water for all guests, but we will have to look into it.
Today we woke up expecting that bright blue sky and amazing sunrise but instead it was overcast and cold! However, we had a boat journey at 7.30am to take us up the river spotting more wildlife. My heart was set on seeing the giant river otter – Ariyana. I stupidly popped on some shorts and my swimmers as we had the opportunity to swim today and I expected the sun to burn through the clouds.
About 1 hour in, we had spotted again many types of beautiful birds, herons, storks, hummingbirds, kingfishers and hawks…but nothing else. We are so goddam spoilt it hurts after seeing so much wildlife but I was a little disappointed that the main reason I came here was to see the giant otter and on our last day we still had no sign.
Well…after manifesting for about 2 hours and drilling into Leo he wasn’t manifesting hard enough, we swung around a bend and BOOM, giant river otter popped his head out from the water. Now, these creatures get up to 2m long and they are huge! (They are also pretty vicious as well, but I wasn’t intending on patting them) We followed her for a while but they are lightning fast so any photo I managed looks like complete garbage. The experience counts though. **DISCLAIMER** This photo above is not mine. I wanted to show you what these otters looked like so can't take credit (all of mine look like a floating rock!!)
Sandro our guide, then pointed out some extra wildlife along the way on the way back to the lodge as by this point I was blue. Literally my hands and toes were blue. WHY THE FUCK did I decide to wear such inappropriate clothing? Back to Sandro, I swear to god this guy has binoculars for eyes. He spotted a tree iguana from about 1.5km away. Honestly, by the time we actually drove there via boat we still couldn’t spot him. If you are in need of a good guide, then Sandro is the man for sure.
I am going to open this little post by starting with TODAY WAS FANTASTIC! I had an average sleep BUT from the second we both woke up at 5.30am we both felt amazing. No more illness and back to 100% - which is necessary as today we were off on an all-day safari.
We managed to much down a delicious breakfast and even make a packed lunch of snacks for the journey as we wouldn’t be back till around 5pm. From the second we left our room today it was as if nature was on our side. Right outside our room was 2 big, beautiful blue parrots (the one from the film Rio). They are endemic to this part of Brazil and apparently really rare and we saw 2…just sitting outside our room!
Next, we hopped in the safari van and started out day. We are told from the get go, this is the start of the safari, from now on keep your eyes peeled as there is wildlife to be spotted everywhere. Instant excitement! Our guide Sandro is a gem – he has been our guide since arriving and he has self-taught himself English from the tourists who visit the lodge…amazing human. On the journey to the 2 hour hike, we spotted caimans, capybara, eagles, hawks and various other tropical birds including my fav the toucan. Upon arrival at the hike, we were informed it would take around 2 hours which was fine…but the heat sun was high in the sky and the mosquito's were in full terrorist mode already. Even then, we were both mega keen and couldn’t wait to spot more wildlife.
have to admit, it was bloody hot, and the mosquitoes here are ruthless pricks…they will literally bite through layers of clothes even when you smother yourself in repellent. I dread to look ay myself tomorrow. About an hour in, we had spotted howler monkeys high in the trees, a few other birds but nothing to write home about. After we were on our way back, I had already put my camera back in my back when a whole family of coati stopped us in our tracks all staring down at us. The best way to describe these guys are like small tree badger with the most beautiful of faces. I was so happy and snapped about 100 photos of them while the boys stood back watching my sheer excitement.
Last night was by far on of the worst I have ever had. I woke up at 11pm with a migraine, stomach cramps and nausea. From there it eventuated into crippling pain and a terrible fever so by the time this morning came around we had to cancel our early morning activity as I was just too sick. I was even too sick to eat a proper breakfast so for all that know me, will understand it must have been pretty bad. However, with the thanks to left over drugs from my hospital adventure in Thailand a few months ago when I also was poisoned, I am now starting to feel slightly more human as I write this post.
Fast forward most of the day, at 3.30pm our first activity of the ‘day’ was Piranha fishing! Yup, that’s right, we got to go fishing for Piranha’s right next to our accommodation – what a cool experience, right? Unfortunately, I didn’t catch a single one… but they did eat all the bait off every single cast I made so I still see this as a kind of win. To be honest, it was just beautiful to sit and watch the world go by surrounded by thick wetlands filled with amazing wildlife, achieving a sense of calm and relax that I had been craving for days.
We have arrived in Brazil, destination number 6, flight 9 and day 58 of the trip so far. Unfortunately, we both developed Salmonella in Ecuador so have spent the past few days not well…that’s putting it kindly - my god, not well at all. As much as I am a fan of all things local and all things market – we were seriously poisoned and had to cancel one of our tours, spend 2 days in bed and have a couple of questionable bathroom experiences. Aw travelling – how we love it! At least we are now closer and stronger than ever as a team!!
However, we are on the mend and after a good night’s sleep in Copacabana at our family’s beautiful apartment, it was time to start the next epic section of our trip to Pantanal.
From Rio, we needed to catch a flight to the capital Brasilia, then from there another flight South to Campo Grande where we stayed in this awesome Air B N B for $19NZD. Ceila, our host was excellent, made us a beautiful breakfast before we set off on our 5-hour bus journey into the jungle passing Corumba and arriving at Pantanal Jungle Lodge.
This has been on my bucket list for a while along with the Amazon but due to time commitments, it looks like the Amazon will be explored on the next Brazilian visit. Situated near the border of Bolivia, The Pantanal is a natural region encompassing the world's largest tropical wetland area. It’s massive and also home to crocodiles, giant otters, capybara, toucans, parrots and a variety of other equally awesome wildlife.
On the way to the lodge we passed capybara causing traffic jams and also many crocodiles by the side of the road – totally amazing! Upon arrival at the lodge, it was everything I hoped it would be! Nested in the jungle and wetlands, this brightly colored lodge immerses you slap bang into the middle of the action and from our room we can look out spotting crocs, fish, storks, parrots and everything we can imagine…right from our room!