A Travellerspoint blog

Finally...

So that's it; it's finally over. In just under three months I have seen so many beautiful things that I am already planning my next big trip. The world is a big wonderful place, there are too many sights to see, too many cultures to learn about, too many things to experience, too much history to grasp. If I have learned one thing from this experience it is to be open-minded. Adios.

Highlights:

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Posted by Señor Usuf 08:18 Comments (0)

Cheerio Brazil

When I was choosing countries to visit what now seems an eternity ago, Brazil was top of my list. And it wasn't a let down. Everything about Brazil is spectacular. The beaches are dazzling; the scenery is jaw-dropping; the cities are highly energetic; the jungles teeming with life; the rivers legendary. You cannot fail to be moved in Brazil. Sure, it has many problems socially, politically and environmentally but for a traveller it is a dream come true. I leave Brazil simply wishing I wasn't.

Some highlights:

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Posted by Señor Usuf 07:07 Comments (0)

Mato Grosso

Waterfalls, more jungles and the geodesic centre of South America

02/02/10 - 07/02/10 - Cuiaba, Mato Grosso, Brazil

Surreall moment>>>Trying to chat up a stunning Brazilian woman via an interpreter, all my wit, humour and charm getting lost in translation...

The last stop on my epic(!) journey through Latin America is Cuiaba the capital of Mato Grosso State. We are staying with Michael's friend Gary's Brazillian wife and her family. They are very wolcoming and drive us around for the whole time.

On the efirst day we visit Chapada dos Guimarães. Chapada dos Guimarães is a county and a mountain range located in central Brazil, 62 km from the city of Cuiaba. This range is surrounded by Brazilian savannas (also known as cerrado) and the Amazon rainforest. We travelled there to see the wildlife, waterfalls and canyons in the area. The views are breath-taking.

On the second day we visit Pantanal. The Pantanal is a tropical wetland and the world's largest wetland of any kind. It lies mostly within the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul but extends into Mato Grosso as well as into portions of Bolivia and Paraguay, sprawling over an area estimated at between 140,000 sq km and 195,000 sq km. The Panatanal has few people and no towns. We take the only road that runs deep into the Pantanal: the Transpantaneira. The wildlife here is amazing and the sheer number of birds we see is amazing. We also spot families of monkeys, caimans and many other animals too numerous to mention. My only regret about visitng Pantanal is that I won't get to stay longer.

On the third day we visit Nobres which has a river with crystal-clear water perfect for snorkelling and watching fish. It's a bit underwhelming to be honest as the fish are all the same but maybe I've been spoiled by all the amazing places I've been already.

On the fourth day in Cuiaba we have a party Brazilian style: chaotic. I get hammered.

Chapada dos Guimarães

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Guava tree
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There are many cliffs, canyons and beautiful waterfalls in Chapada dos Guimarães.IMG_6893.jpgIMG_6899.jpgIMG_6902.jpgIMG_6904.jpg
Véu de Noiva waterfall in Chapada dos Guimarães.
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Me twatting about under the waterfall.
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8km from Chapada dos Guimarães, on the edge of an outlook terrace from which there are fine views of the surrounding country, is the Ponto Geodésico, marking the geographical center of South America.
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As sponsored by VISA
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The Pantanal

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Woke up 4 in the morning to able to take these pictures so someone better appreciate them..
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Nobres

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A Brazilian phonebooth AND a dustbin. Double.
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Posted by Señor Usuf 07:00 Comments (0)

Amazon Day 4

Last day in the jungle

31/01/10 - Tha Amazon Rainforest, Amazonas State, Brazil

What's annoying me>>>A mosquito getting stuck inside my ear and buzzing the whole night through.

Our last day in the Amazon Rainforest is spent doing some more trekking and looking for pink and grey river dolphins. They are fast and come up for only the briefest of moments so taking pictures is again very difficult. The pink dolphin lives in the freshwater of the Amazon River. They look like the grey dolphin, but individuals are bigger, and instead of a dorsal fin they have a hump on their back. Their tails are also bigger.

We then visit a native family for lunch. As we approach their house, they throw spears at us. Joke. They welcome us to their house and give us one of the best meals I've had in Brazil. It feels a bit voyeristic and exploitative but Elso assures us that the families volunteer to do this and that they are very well compensated for doing so.

As I leave the Amazon Rainforest I take a moment to reflect on my experience. Even though it was difficult being in the jungle what with the heat, humidity, bugs, mosquitos, hole-in-the-ground toilets (I'll spare you the gory details), the reward is one of the best experiences of my life. Just knowing you are in the Amazon is very exciting not to mention the thrill of seeing the abundant wildlife. On the flight out of the Amazon, you can clearly see the deforested areas of the rainforest from the plane. Seeing this devastation is really depressing and the poignancy is magnified if you've just seen the incredible flora and fauna in the last four days.

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Ha ha yeah we'll eat them for dinner
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Making a fishing net
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Just big enough to cook 7 gringos

Back at the Lodge preparing to leave

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Leaving the Amazon

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Posted by Señor Usuf 05:32 Comments (0)

Amazon Day 3

In search of sloths and anacondas...

30/01/10 - The Amazon Rainforest, Amazonas State, Brazil

I'm not being sexist or nothing ("how can I be sexist? my mum's a woman") but if you're going to the Amazon jungle there's probably gonna be mosquitos and bugs, and heat and humidity. It kind of comes with the territory. And yet some of the women on our tour were constantly whining about this as if it came as great surprise. If you don't like bugs DON'T GO INTO THE BLOODY JUNGLE. Anyway...

On day three there's more trekking, this time through swampy forests looking for the elusive sloth.

Sloths are incredibly hard to spot because they hang upside-down very high up and basically resemble a blob. But our obsessive guide Elso is determined to find one even if it kills us. We trek for over five hours looking for one of these creatures and by the end I am so knackered I could'nt give a squirrel monkeys ass if we find one or not. Luckily we do find one otherwise we'd still probably be looking for one. Elso tells us a little about sloths. Sloths are among the most somnolent animals, sleeping from 15 to 18 hours each day. They go to the ground to urinate and defecate about once a week, digging a hole and covering it afterwards. So a lot like humans then...

Believe it or not, the jungle can be hot. It can be 38 degrees celsius or a bit more above the canopy where the sun is shining but 93 degress celsius below. However, less than 10 percent of the sunlight filters down to the forest floor and it rarely rises above about 28 degrees.

The next thing that hits you is the sheer immensity of the trees and the incredible amount of different types of vegetation that surrounds you. Literally everything around you is in flux - in some state of living, breathing, growing, decaying and dying. Trees the size of skyscrapers, leaves the size of umbrellas and vines with incredible sizes and shapes seemingly knitting everything together. Plants growing out vines which are growing up on trees covered with other plants.... it can be overwhelming to take it all in. I was totally caught off guard by the amazing diversity of different plants in a rainforest.

In the afternoon, we take a canoe looking for anacondas. And even though we don't see one (it was highly unlikely anyway - nobody really believed we were going to find one), paddling through tree-covered swamps is incredibly thrilling. I take hundreds of pictures but it really is a futile exercise as it's impossible to capture the experience of being there. A really good diverse forest has about 12-15 different species of trees in an acre. In the Amazon Rainforest, a single acre of jungle will have about 300 different species of trees and another 300 to 400 species of higher plants, everywhere you look - you see something new, different and amazing. I think the main problem in trying to capture this on film is perspective. How do you take a picture of a 12 story tree? Especially one that is surrounded by hundreds of other 12 story trees intermingled with literally hundreds of other species of trees, vines, shrubs and bushes? But I did my best anyway.

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Believe it or not that is a sloth
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Wait! I think I saw something...no, no it's another tree
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Sloth bones - cleaned out compltetely

Posted by Señor Usuf 05:30 Comments (0)

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