After the stunning beauty of Iguaçu Falls we headed inland towards the Pantanal, one of the world’s largest tropical wetlands, an area rich in wildlife in the southeast of Brazil.
We stayed for 3 nights at a farm/eco tourism lodge, Santa Clara, with macaws and toucans in the trees and caiman and piranha in the river. We trekked through the jungle and rode horses across green fields. In such a beautiful setting it was easy to forget how hot we were and how many mosquitoes were biting us.
A highlight of our stay here was a boat trip up the river, where we saw so many beautiful birds as well as capybaras, the largest rodent in the world. We watched them munch grass on the banks of the river, and then completely disappear under the dark water.
We also spent an afternoon fishing for piranhas’, a pastime in which I was not very successful but Luke of course excelled at. He managed to catch 9 which along with a few caught by some others were then cooked up for our dinner.
Competing with us for space along the river bank were caiman, a smaller relative of the crocodile who supposedly only eat fish. Some of them got very close, and some of us got close to them. We did swim in the same river with the piranha and caiman, although I didn’t stay in long after I felt things bumping my legs.
Our next stop in the Pantanal was in Bonito, where we had come to see one of the clearest rivers in the world, the Rio Prata. There is a section of the river where people are allowed to take guided snorkelling tips, and it is very worth doing. The water is crystal clear and teaming with big fish and underwater plants.
While we were in Bonito Luke and I also went on a river tubing trip. I imagined something similar to floating down the river where I grew up on an old tire, but this was quite different. After being made to put on helmets and life jackets I guessed it would be a little more intense. It was a fun hour of going over little waterfalls and rapids down a lovely jungle river.
Paraty is a beautiful little colonial beach town between Sao Paulo and Rio. We stopped here for a few days before reaching the end of our trip. The sea here was almost too warm to swim in, but it was nice to spend a few days soaking up the sun and relaxing before hitting Rio in the full swing of Carnaval!
Rio is an absolutely mental place, and I imagine it would be on a regular day as well as during the biggest party week of the year. Throughout the city there are street parties at all times of day and night. These basically consist of a float or band slowly making their way through a neighbourhood followed by a large crowd of dancing, dressed up people. It is a crazy sight to behold, but a fun thing to be a part of.