A Travellerspoint blog

South America Part 9

At the Copa, Copacabana.......

sunny 25 °C

My final stop on this trip is Rio de Janeiro Brazil. Not bad for a last stop! I arrived on Saturday night after a slightly delayed landing due to………RAIN! They closed the airport it was that bad! Not exactly the sunny Rio I had in my mind! My fears were short lived however as I woke up the next morning to blistering heat! I found myself in Copacabana only a couple of blocks from the beach. Nice but waaaay too many old men in Speedos! I’m more of a surf shorts kinda gal!

I took a tour on Monday morning to the favela known as Rocinha. - It is home to 200,000 people and growing! There’s ‘free’ electricity, cable tv and internet here, sounds ideal doesn’t it? What I haven’t mentioned is that it’s a very poorer part of town and the utilities mentioned above are stolen from cables in the street that hang just above my head. The houses are built on land that is essentially free for all so if you find a space (difficult) you can claim it and build your house. As space is limited you can then sell your roof to the next person and they build their house on yours and so on and so on. Thing is to get to the top you have to go through everyones houses so privacy is minimal and the foundations and sewerage system weren’t designed for such houses so it leads to its own problems. In spite of their reputation and the police (with guns you see the army patrolling banks with) are on street corners, I felt quite safe on this tour although admittedly I was holding onto my camera tight. Everyone was friendly as the guides are daily visitors, especially the children who want their photo taken so they can one day be famous!! We also visited a daycare centre that the company sponsors and which donates part of the tour cost directly to the centre so it’s nice to know the money was going back into the community. The government is trying to gain control of the drug dealing and arms problems in these areas by sending in elite police units on raids and then forming a peace unit with the intention of improving the bad name these areas have attracted in time for the city to welcome the Olympics and World Cup. Trouble is, according to our guide, it’s not exactly working. A worthwhile trip as it shows you another side to the city

Moved to Ipanema on Monday where I joined the 3 girls for the last few days of the trip. The weather was stiil good so we organise a city tour the next day – all Rio’s best bits in one day. We visited the Lapa steps, Santa Teresa, Christ the Redeemer and finishing with cable car ride up to the Sugarloaf for a spectacular sunset. It’s as amazing as I imagined! We spend the week just chilling out, wandering through the city and finish it off on Thursday night with a trip to Lapa to see the street dancing and music but it is a letdown. I expected a large street party, with with lots of colour and samba music. I have been told that Friday night is the best night to visit (Thursday was our only option) but also now that carnival is over it is a lot quieter. Definitely didn’t feel safe here either even though we did have a French lad among us for protection! Rio wouldn't be the safest city in the world! So we retreated back to Ipanema for some more Caipirinhas! Yum! I can’t talk about Rio without mentioning its famous beaches – the weather did mess with us for a few days (I think it was better in Ireland) but when the sun shines the beaches are fantastic for a walk, run, sunbathing, sipping a cocktail, volleyball or building giant sandcastles! Pity the bedbugs kept me from sunbathing! Little monsters! But this is very common in hostels all over so we were lucky (and unlucky you could say) to be tormented by them in our last week. Such was my experience I will definitely never use the phrase ‘don’t let the bed bugs bite’ when I send my kids to bed! It’s definitely something to be feared! And more for how easily they spread than the itch from the bites!

Posted by elisasdiary 06:44 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

South America Part 8

Water, water, everywhere.....

sunny 28 °C

Onwards and upwards (literally) to northern Argentina, specifically Puerto Iguazu, home to the famous Iguazu Falls. I was glad to have opted for the flight for this journey as it would've taken days otherwise and probably cost the same! Starting with the Argentinian side - I was completely blown away by the size of them, this huge volume of water thundering downwards in the form of 275 waterfalls into the Rio Iguacu below. There are several different trails you can take which brings you to different viewpoints. The Paseo Garganta del Diablo is a one-kilometer-long trail that brings you directly over the falls of the Devil's Throat, the highest and deepest of the falls. It’s impressive. Aaron (a fellow traveller from Perth) and I took a short boat ride on the river and underneath the mist of the falls (more like a shower!!) – a great laugh it’s just a pity I didn’t bring a change of clothes as we got soaked! Although it doesn’t take long to dry out in the Brazilian heat!
The next day I went to the Brazilian side along with Sanja, another solo traveller from Slovenia. This side gives you a more panoramic view of the falls and in my opinion an even better viewpoint for the Devil’s throat. Just watch out for the racoons – they’ll try steal your lunch!

Posted by elisasdiary 06:27 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

South America Part 7

The end of the world!

all seasons in one day

From El Chalten I flew south to Ushuaia to the southernmost city in the world! aka the end of the world! Ushuaia is the gateway for trips to the Antartic and I am very jealous of those getting the opportunity to take one of these trips! The budget definitely wouldn’t stretch that far!
I spent St Patricks Day here with a few fellow travellers from Wales, France and Germany. We spent the day watching the rugby and toasting the Irish for our national holiday. Surprised to find there were 2 irish bars here – the Dublin one much livier than the Galway and they put on a good show – wigs, face paints, costumes and even green beer! Funny to be 1 of only 2 irish people present, it was like being a mini celebrity for the night!
After recovering from the excitement of the weekend Gemma (Wales), Heidi (Austria) and I took a walk to the nearby Martial Glacier, a pebble in comparison to the monstrosity of the Moreno glacier the previous week but it did gift us with beautiful views of the Beagle Channel and the mountains around this southern city. The remaining time we spent relaxing after what has been a lot of trekking in Patagonia. I would recommend Patagonia to anyone who loves the outdoors and even those who don’t will find themselves in awe at the scenery here. We came at a good time too as its now starting into Winter and the temperatures are dropping. We’ve had some snow showers and freezing winds here in Ushuaia, I almost got blown away once or twice! It’s funny you can have all seasons in one day here, the weather can change every 20 minutes!

Posted by elisasdiary 09:25 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

South America Part 6

Big chunks of ice and a lil' bit more trekking - El Calafate and El Chalten

sunny 14 °C

Travelled to El Calafate to see the famous Moreno glacier and we were not disappointed. Such an amazing sight that awaits visitors here. Some of you may recall it being in the news recently as they had a large rupture of ice on March 4th. We started with a boat trip for an hour to see the south side of the glacier but the really brilliant views are from the balconies which we spent hours walking around taking tons of photographs and watching pieces break off and crash into the water below with a thunderous roar! Made the 20hour bus journey worthwhile!

Then it was off to El Chalten about 2.5 hours away for some more trekking. Hostel hopped here until we found somewhere nice but also got a chance to camp in the mountains on our 2 day trek to see the Fitzroy and Torre mountain ranges. We got up an hour before sunrise in the freezing cold to trek the Laguna de los Tres route and witness the sun reflect off the Fitzroy range giving it a rusty orange glow at 7.30 in the morning. Fantastic! I'm not sure if even the photos capture how beautiful this was. The views along the route were nothing short of amazing and we were blessed with the weather for it! The camping was a lot of fun too! The pasta dish we’d brought for dinner was the only downside of the trip! Ladies I'm picking the pasta sauce next time ;)

Posted by elisasdiary 05:35 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

South America Part 5

Big chunks of ice and a lil' bit more trekking - El Calafate and El Chalten

sunny 14 °C

Travelled to El Calafate to see the famous Moreno glacier and we were not disappointed. Such an amazing sight that awaits visitors here. Some of you may recall it being in the news recently as they had a large rupture of ice on March 4th. We started with a boat trip for an hour to see the south side of the glacier but the really brilliant views are from the balconies which we spent hours walking around taking tons of photographs and watching pieces break off and crash into the water below with a thunderous roar! Made the 20hour bus journey worthwhile!

Then it was off to El Chalten about 2.5 hours away for some more trekking. Hostel hopped here until we found somewhere nice but also got a chance to camp in the mountains on our 2 day trek to see the Fitzroy and Torre mountain ranges. We got up an hour before sunrise in the freezing cold to trek the Laguna de los Tres route and witness the sun reflect off the Fitzroy range giving it a rusty orange glow at 7.30 in the morning. Fantastic! I'm not sure if even the photos capture how beautiful this was. The views along the route were nothing short of amazing and we were blessed with the weather for it! The camping was a lot of fun too! The pasta dish we’d brought for dinner was the only downside of the trip! Ladies I'm picking the pasta sauce next time ;)

Posted by elisasdiary 05:35 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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