Earlier this year I spent three weeks in Brazil during my six month stint in South America. It was a great place to begin my Latin America journey. Brazil is bright, colourful, loud, full of life and some of the happiest people I encountered. Here is what I got up to during my three weeks there.
My first introduction to Brazil was spending 5 days at the famous Rio Carnival, what an introduction it was. Music, dancing and drinking was all that I did for five days. Probably the biggest carnival in the world with millions of people taking to the streets to celebrate and join the bloco parties. Seeing Christ, Sugar loaf mountain, Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches as well as attending the Sambadrome were all amazing things to do in Rio but after five days of drumming and dancing it was nice to leave the craziness behind and head off to the next destination.
The cute colonial village of Paraty in Brazil was five hours drive from Rio and a world away from the madness. The cobbled stone streets were lined with colourful windows and doors which were just so photogenic it was ridiculous. We jumped on a boat for the day to tour the nearby islands and drink as much caprahinas as humanly possible (which is hard considering how much lime and sugar is in them) before doing a bit of shopping from the lovely craft stalls.
Overnight at truck stop
Part of being on a South American Tucan Tour group is that things will inevitably go wrong (and they did a fair few times). The first major fuck up was that our truck broke down in the middle of nowhere somewhere in Brazil, I can’t tell you the name of the town nor could I point it out on a map but there wasn’t a lot there.
Luckily because our tour leader spoke Spanish so she managed to talk a local business in to taking us in for the night, they let us set up our tents, allowed us to use the facilities and put up with us for over 24 hours. They couldn’t have been more hospitable and it only showed us how good people can be. They even shed tears when we left.
An amazing but truly testing time was the Pantanal. The Pantanal is famous for being home to the jaguar, unfortunately for us we didn’t see one but other groups did so to say I was gutted was an understatement. Whilst other people saw a jaguar I was being ravaged by mosquitos whilst wearing 100% DEET during a jungle walk.
I’ve never experienced anything like it before. I was swinging a t-shirt in front my face for two hours, whilst sweating profusely and getting eaten alive! I counted over 100 bites I received in two hours. I was in the Pantanal for three days so you can only imagine how ravaged I was by the end of it. Even taking a shower was a battle field, at the campsite the shower blocks were filled with mosquitos so the second you turned the shower off you had to dress super quick otherwise they got you!
I can’t even describe how intense it was, eating dinner, chilling in a hammock, fishing for piranhas was totally taken over by the mosquitos.
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”- Dalai Lama
Of course it was amazing seeing some of Brazil’s animals including Toucan, Capybara and Cayman. You can read more about my adventures in the Pantanal here:
Bonito was a welcome break after the heat and mosquitos, the camp site had a pool and a bar so it was a great place to sit back and relax for a couple of days. There was also a river that I visited that was home to huge fish that weren’t scared of humans. The water at the river was really clear and it was a beautiful place to just chill out for the afternoon.
The mighty Iguazu Falls was a real highlight during my whole South America trip. In Brazil we stayed in Foz de Iguazu and my first sight of them was seen from above with Heli Sul. This was my first time in a helicopter and it was an incredible experience, the take off, circling of the Falls and the landing were seriously cool. It was $120USD well spent!
Three weeks in Brazil finished in Foz before crossing the border into Argentina. I did like Brazil but it wasn’t my favourite place in South America. Obviously the language was an issue at times, English is not widely spoken at all and I spoke literally no Portuguese so this was hard at times for me. I did find Rio a bit sketchy and I really felt on edge whilst walking around, I could never really relax or feel at ease and I really didn’t enjoy that feeling. We also had long driving days where we sometimes spent the night in a petrol station forecourt in the pouring rain. This became the norm on the Tucan Travel overland trip which wasn’t great. I would love to go back to Brazil and see more of the North and the Amazon because I literally saw the tiniest part of the country.