Day 18 – Bolivia Bound

I was not sad to say goodbye to Pantanal. In fact, I was the first person packed, dressed, fed and ready to leave. I had had a better night sleep thankfully and my bites were looking marginally better. I had managed to gain some more at the bonfire on my hands but I wasn’t bothered by this….We were leaving TODAY! And we were heading to Bolivia – no more mosquitos! I almost danced in celebration.

We had to head back the way we came. An hour’s ride in the safari jeep and then a two hour ride in the nightmare bus *inward groan* (yes it was as bad as you imagine) to get to the Bolivian border.

The nightmare bus dropped us and our bags off just before the Brazilian border. From here we had to take our backpacks and walk. We had been to the shop for food for the night journey so not only did I have my 55l main bag, my 13l backpack and my tote bag of entertainment, I now also had a plastic bag of snacks to carry in the 33° heat across the Brazilian border and then walk to the Bolivian border. I almost sat down in rebellion then and there.

With an outward groan I donned my bags and began my sweaty trudge to the Brazilian border officials. Thankfully there wasn’t really a wait and it was a simple process of show your passport and customs document, get your stamp (yes!) and head out the exit door heading to the Bolivian border.

The walk to the Bolivian border was probably not even five minutes but it felt like I was walking through a desert and I was slowly evaporating. It was so damn hot! At the door of the Bolivian border we were told to wait outside and fill out our documentation. I could have cried, they had aircon inside!

After about a 10 minute wait I was seen by a very nice official who happily gave me my stamp and entrance document and sent me on my way before I was a puddle at her desk. Outside our guide took us to see someone to change up our Real into Bolivar ready for our trip. We then hopped into taxis heading for the train station.

At the train station we confirmed it would be a train we would be catching and that it would leave at 6pm. A 4 hour wait….Luckily our guide had a local contact where we could go for a reasonable price and use the pool, sbower, toilets, WiFi etc so we hopped back in the taxis. I was practically salivating at the word ‘shower’!

At the hotel, naturally the WiFi wasn’t working! I didn’t really care, that wasn’t what I was there for. I almost took the poor woman’s hand off when she offered out the towels and I basically sprinted to the shower whilst everyone else hit the pool.

The hotel owners were such lovely and helpful people. When they saw how bad my bites were they got me some alcohol to apply to stop them getting infected and offered a load of advice and some ice to help give me some relief. I was so grateful I would probably have moved into their service then and there. I even got a lollipop!

Before we knew it, it was time to get in the taxi and head to the train station. Feeling much fresher I felt ready for anything. 

At the train station we were told to get rid of our bags (I got to keep mine – Woop for 55l!) And then we were ushered to get onto the train. I was expecting this swish, modern looking train taking hundreds of people at speed to chosen destinations. Well clearly I was living in a fantasy! It was a two carriage train, looking very much like a UK train just with more spacious seats and it trundles along at a steady pace. It is however, miles better than the nightmare bus!!!! Not sure how well I will sleep tonight but I’ll give it my best shot.

Day 16 – Welcome to Pantanal

A 5 hour bus journey later and we finally got to say goodbye to the nightmare bus!

We reached the transfer point and we were greeted by toucans singing in the trees (not sure if it can really be called singing….They sound like throaty crows) and our safari vehicle. We hopped in, met our guide and set off on our 45 minute journey. Our guide is fantastic, very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. He pointed various animals out on the way and even stopped to show us jaguar tracks.

Pulling up to the farm was pretty magical. It felt like it should be a scene from a cowboy film….Horses, guinea fowl, vast rolling green plains and blue skies. We arrived at the hottest point in the day so everyone was resting. 

We were shown our rooms and given time to test our hammocks – it is surprisingly comfortable and I managed a nap! I will reserve full judgment until I have spent a whole night in it.

At 4 o’clock the group got together with our guide for a walk around the farm and forest. In theory this sounds exactly my kind of activity. In reality I was in complete misery. The mosquitos were like a plague. There were clouds of them every which way you turned and despite repellant and long trousers, I was being eaten alive.

Plus sides; we saw loads of caiman, macaws both blue and red, different woodpeckers, an armadillo and monkeys. The sunset when we came back to the farm was pretty show stopping. The amount of walking and water I’m drinking, I must be getting healthier!!!!

The mosquitos and heat are going to be a challenge to take here but a good test of my patience. Tomorrow we have an activity filled day (except between 11am and 4pm where everyone has a siesta because of the heat)….Bring on the challenges!

Day 14 – Arrival at Bonito

Oh my days, the night bus really was a nightmare bus! The journey was terrible. We even got stopped by the police for a random spot check. I was lucky if I got one hour of sleep the entire journey. The only positive is that we arrived earlier than expected and they were thankfully able to let us have our rooms at 6am. I stumbled like a zombie into the boiling room that felt like a sauna and fell asleep for two hours.

When I woke up, I jumped in the shower to freshen up and get ready to face the day. I felt like it should be about 4pm not 9am! It was going to be a horrifically long day.

As a group we decided we would go to the Mimosa farm and do the waterfall trek for the afternoon. 

Here in Bonito there are loads of farms that are given protected area of lands with different natural features that the farms then charge visitors to see and ultimately help protect. It is quite expensive as everything (even transfers) are privatised here, but it is super beautiful and worth it.

The guide picked us up for 1:30pm and kitted us out for the tour. You know it’s going to be good when you have to store everything, get in swim gear and you get given this sexy footwear…

We were taken out on what looked like a safari truck into the forest and our tour guide started the trek. We were going to walk around and see 8 waterfalls. 7 of which you could swim at.

The water was cold but so freshing as it was super humid. After the first dunk, the shock was done and you could just relax and enjoy the tranquility.

Our tour guides English wasn’t amazing, but it was good enough to get the gist of things. He was fearless and often plunged into the waters with us. He took us to one of the waterfalls and excitedly told us to enter the cave and “look to the ceiling for make a wish”.

Being the first in, I swam to the cave hesitantly trying to think of the wish I wanted to make. Well….My mistake….His English wasn’t as bad as I thought….He was introducing me to the formation “make a wish” – I’m sure they could hear my laugh from the other side of the forest.

The next waterfall wasn’t for the faint hearted. On the approach it looked beautiful and peaceful like the other waterfalls but hidden to the right were some steep steps that took you up to a jump platform. The jump was 6m (19ft)…so naturally I threw myself off of it! Such fun!
We swam under waterfalls, into caves, across pools and walked for what our legs were worth! To reach the last two waterfalls we needed to take a row boat there, so we hopped in and got the oars manned. We were making good progress when the guide dramatically hushed us and got us to stop moving. After a minute he pointed off to the left of the boat…There, no more than eight foot away, was a caiman!

The next two waterfalls were uneventful and beautiful, although only three of us took to the water after our sighting and we all opted to walk the forest route back. 

In the forest we saw locusts (massive ones – like bigger than my hand!), a tarantula sized spider (also kind of looked like one), lizards, lots of birds, hummingbirds and we were even lucky enough to get a glimpse of a tapir!

We were all shattered by the time we got back to the hotel, so after a quick dinner (yum falafel), where I managed to make a furry friend!!! We all headed back, straight to bed ready for tomorrow.

Day 13 – Iguassu Falls Brazil

Today was a lazy start. No alarm, late breakfast, late for check out, a gentle wander to the supermarket for snacks and an easy bus ride to Iguassu Falls Brazilian side.

It is hard to say which side is more beautiful. There is less to walk on the Brazilian side, but you can see so much and you can really take in the scope of the falls.

I was planning on taking a helicopter ride across the falls to get the full effect but when I was told it was $130 for an 8 minute ride the accountant inside of me started having a toddler screaming fit – so that was a swift no!
So I walked the route, took in the view, spotted birds, butterfly’s and lizards and tackled the all the stairs to the high viewpoint.

It really is hard to put into words the beauty.

After the falls, we had some free time before dinner where I put in some calls to my friends and family at home (love you guys!).

Dinner was at a Gaucho restaurant – more meat that you can shake a stick at! I’m always disappointed in my stomach letting me down at these places….I want to commit to trying everything but after my first bit of meat my belly is having none of it and decides it is full, so I spend the rest of the meal having food envy.

My food baby and I then needed a little walk as the night bus is tonight and the last thing anyone wants is the meat sweats mid-12 hour bus ride!!!!

So here I am now….Sat on the “nightmare” bus with very little wiggle room (damn long legs), no ability to lay or stretch out and stuck here for the next 12 hours. Oh the joy. Thank God for music….Here’s to a long night!!!