Europe, South America · 37 Days · 54 Moments · July 2018

7 August 2018

Woke up nice and refreshed in our luxury hotel. Had a late breakfast which ended up being 3 delicious courses. We then relaxed a bit and went for a walk along the coast. Feels much better now we can breathe at sea level! Along the walk we went through a cat park where you can adopt cats. It was so strange seeing them relaxed in a park and climbing trees in groups. We also went to a love park, quite awkward with people kissing each other next to us whilst we drank a smoothie. Next went back to the hotel and had a swim in the heated pool and went in the sauna. We treated ourselves to a glass of red wine at the pool. Then went to a steak restaurant for dinner (found out it was a chain and the same one we went to Buenos Aires). Back to the hotel for a bubble bath and then an early alarm set for 02:30am!

6 August 2018

A cold and wet day in Cusco, the Peruvian weather reflecting our mood because it's our last day together 😭 Half day trip to the ecological sites of Moray and Maras. The salt pools are owned by local families who collect and sell 3 types of salt from the 4000 pools there, white, pink and medicinal. They can only be used during the dry season so are not used for 6 months of the year. Inca terrace ruins were created with soil from different areas to allow a variety of crops and potatoes to grow and somehow there was even different temperatures at each level. The rain stopped as we returned to Cusco for a pasta lunch and our last instalment of Malbec Mondays. Chloe and Kerry checked into their super posh hotel after flying to Lima and Anna gate crashed for dressing gown room service before we part ways. 5 Amazing weeks exploring the beautiful, vast and varied continent of South America. Wonderful experiences and laughs with the girls. Here's to our next adventure ❤

5 August 2018

Machu Pichu 🇦🇹 What an amazing experience. Our day started off with no hot water in the hostel but we remained positive (Kerry with a bit more encouragement) and set off on our day of adventure. We began our hike up to Machu Pichu. There was an option for a bus ride but despite Chloe and Kerry being tempted, we agreed to hike it. Anna, the athletic pro, stormed ahead like a champ whilst Kerry and Chloe trailed far behind, morally supporting each other through the sweat and pain. We finally reached the top and met our tiny tour guide Rebecca. She explained to us that the name of the city is actually unknown so it was named after a nearby mountain by the person who discovered it in the 1920s. The city itself housed up to 500 Inca tribe members and there were temples, a guesthouse, boy’s and girl’s schools, a sun-dial to tell the time and many crop terraces. It was incredibly impressive. It was particularly important in helping the Inca people hide from the Spanish invaders.

4 August 2018

After an eventful night we woke up and got ready to leave for Machu Picchu. We had a 2 hour cramped bus journey and then 2 hour scenic train journey... unfortunately we were on the wrong side to see all the nice views. Arrived in Aguas Calientes and had a lovely surprise of a private room... the woman who booked the trip said we would be in a 10 bed dorm! Wandered around the little town for a bit, it was very touristy. We made a new friend called Naomi who is from Holland. The four of us had a massage which was great although a Peruvian child attached himself to us and we had to take him to the toilet at one stage (🙈 he was only 3). Then we went out for dinner and had a lovely band playing. We had a Machu Picchu briefing and then an early bed.

3 August 2018

Day trip to Sacred Valley. First stop Pisac with the Inca terraces and tombs that used to hold 300 mummies before the Spanish invaded and removed all the bodies and gold buried with them. Urubamba river 700km and the most important Inca river that opens into the Amazon. After a super quick buffet lunch stop we travelled to Ollantaytambo, where we could see the Inca terraces and see which mountain 8 miles away where the Incas brought the stones from to build. Sadly they didn't have time to finish their temple store the Spanish invaded. We skipped a Catholic church to visit Chinchero with a lovely view and another Inca trail that was only discovered 3 years ago. Stop at a family textile business watching how they dye the different wools and we met some alcapas.

2 August 2018

Today was our first full day in Cusco! Welcome to Peru 🇦🇹 We began the day by moving hotels so we can enjoy a private room for the rest of our stay. We then went for a walk to explore our new location. The streets here are beautiful with cobbled stones and tiny verandas. On our walking tour we learned a lot about the Incas. There are still many walls that they built over 500 years ago located around the city. The reason they have sustained all this time is due to the advanced construction in the building work. It only took the Incas 300 years to grow into a huge empire because they embraced and learned from all other ancient civilisations in South America, using each other’s strengths to improve and grow. Unfortunately, the Spanish invaded and conquered and many buildings and temples were destroyed. Luckily, in recent years, restoration projects have begun and the Inca remains are being protected and preserved. This is such a beautiful city and definitely worth a visit!

1 August 2018

Early wake up this morning as our taxi was picking us up to go to the airport at 6:30am. James ( a member of team Quattro) woke up to say goodbye which was really sweet. Our taxi driver was a little manic and some confusion that we had to pay him more money but we had already paid the hotel and given him a tip. Had a nice breakfast and then checked into the highest international airport in the world. Lots of security checks. Chloe’s back pack was pulled out for further investigation, the officer said I had a pocket knife, I replied with absolutely not.... however he found a corkscrew opener with a blade on it (Chloe had no idea!) whoops. So that was confiscated. quick hour flight. The hostel recommended to us from our CEO of the last trip was a party hostel. Tennis football was the entertainment for tonight. We thought Peru was very cheap, until we realised Kerry was using Argentinian peso as the conversion 🙈

31 July 2018

Despite being incredibly tired from the night bus, we ploughed on with our one-day in La Paz and went on a cable car tour. The cable cars are for commuters not for tourists so the locals use it to get around the city. It costs 3 Bolivians per journey which is 33p! It was designed and built by a Swiss company. The different colour lines work like the London Underground but above the city! We visited a traditional witch doctor market where locals will go when they are sick or needed help with something. They find baby lamas that have passed away of natural causes (believing Mother Earth has already taken their souls), burn them with other symbols of what they wish to ask Mother Earth for and give back the body to the Earth. They truly believe in karma and Mother Earth will reward them for returning the body to her. The views of the city were breath-taking. The only part of the city that was planned was the main avenue so all other houses were built wherever the locals wanted to!
Arrive La Paz. Starting at San Francisco church we learned how the Spanish tried to trick the native people into becoming Catholic by building the church and putting mirrors inside telling them their souls were inside and as long as they visited the church but they kept they culture alive with witch markets and ritual givings to Pachamama (mother earth). We went to see San Pedro prison which we have been reading about, where prisoners run the jail. Armed Guards made one girl delete her photo. Local market full of stalls selling the same things, locals shop with the same person, Casero forever and remain loyal customers to them. At the town hall Chloe and Kerry were interviewed by a Christian TV channel and we were told about the crazy presidents they have had over the years who murdered each other and even fell out with our Queen who tool Bolivia off the world map. Last stop was a haunted street where the legend says that a woman kidnaps drunk men during the night 😂

30 July 2018

Devastating news. The dinosaur park is closed on Mondays. Kerry and Chloe were heartbroken that they wouldn’t get to see Johnny Walker’s footprints (the first T Rex). Instead, we went for empanadas and listened to some live music. Then we got some beers and went to relax in the sunshine on the roof where we read our books and relaxed. The next stop was the chocolate cafe where Chloe had a delicious chocolate fondue and delicious hot chocolates. Then we went to the supermarket to buy snacked ready for the night bus. Fingers crossed that Kerry manages to remain healthy at the end of this one. Her track record is not good. We are now waiting for the bus ready to head to La Paz which is the final stop on our tour! Then we are on our own again.

29 July 2018

A beautiful evening meal with the group at The Bolivian dining experience, hosted by Henry and his family. Traditional Bolivian dishes made Al a carte from his grandmother's recipes paired with local wine, beer and cocktail sat in a beautiful courtyard in Sucre
Today we went separate ways and Kerry and Anna went on a bike ride and Chloe went on a hike. The bike ride wasn’t anything like what was advertised by the agent. We wanted a leisurely ride looking at the beautiful mountains. We were in for a shock. The guides turned up in full Lycra gear and we had to pedal up-hill for most of the journey. The terrain was rocky and sandy so we were slipping and sliding everywhere. It was essentially professional mountain biking which is definitely not something we pride ourselves on being experts at. There were no railings, just roads and cliff edges. At least the view was incredible and it was a hot, sunny day FINALLY! ☀️
Went back up to 3800m altitude for the hike. Started off with trying some cocoa leaves which the guide told us to keep in our mouth all day! Our guide was very excited and wanted to extra things that weren’t on the itinerary. We climbed to the highest viewpoint which was quite hard, especially on a hangover. Then we climbed down to start the Inca trail. The views were incredible. We hiked for 3 hours and it was a challenge. The weather was great and I even had to put sun cream on! After the hike we went to a local persons house. The lady was 103 years old and was still cooking for the men who worked in the village. She had lots of animals and gave us a fresh orange to eat. We then went to a river and our guide offered us a swim ( this was an added activity so no one had anything prepared for a swim). Our guide then offered us another 3 hour activity but we had to decline as we had an evening meal booked. Alex the guide was really good.

28 July 2018

Morning bus from Potosi to Sucre. It was a short 3 hour journey. When we arrived it was finally warm - 23 degrees!! We had a quick orientation walk and stopped off at a market to have a juice. For lunch tried the sausage speciality. Had some free time so sat in the square reading our books and watching a puppy chase pigeons. Next we went to a tour operator to choose what activities we want to do over next two days. And after this we walked up to a view point for sunset and had a beer. Went to German bar for food and then went dancing. Met some guys from Heath in Cardiff! Small world. Didn’t stay out too late as we had to be up in the morning for our tours.

27 July 2018

Waking up feeling delicate after Anna joined the others for a little party last night and Kerry and Chloe recovered from the altitude shock. Turns out 4060m is pretty high, nothing like we have experienced before. Took a stroll around town and enjoyed a coffee and Apple strudel before we went on a tour of the mint museum (this and silver mining is what Potosi is famous for). We learnt how the coins were made by hand and then with machines and mules during the 1800's and how the coin were made of 95% silver. Today all of Bolivia's money is made in France or the USA. Very strange museum and we got the giggles walking round. We returned to the bar we had been to the night before for empanadas, the barman looked very happy to see us 😂 Had some reading time in bed before going for dinner with our guide and one of the boys on the trip (some people were so hungover they didn't leave their rooms all day!) Then for a movie night with Team Quattro and a great nights sleep.

26 July 2018

Feeling slightly delicate after a night of good red wine and cocktails, we hit the road again and pretty much slept the entire way. It took 4 hours to get there but there were nice views on the way including a very friendly dog that followed us on to the bus! We arrived in Potosi and once again, Kerry got really sick and could barely eat her lunch. Chloe and Anna had a delicious corn soup. We decided to nap in the afternoon but the room next door decided to have a wild party. Anna went out with the others on the trip whilst Chloe and Kerry stayed at the hotel to fully recover from the days travelling. Hopefully an early night and a rest tomorrow will see the end of the sickness 🤞

25 July 2018

We all didn’t sleep very well last night. Lucky we rented sleeping bags otherwise we probably would have froze! The weather had been bad overnight so the drivers had to do a new plan of where to take us. We drove for a while and went to a rock formation. After this we drove again and went to a lagoon where we had to hike to it, this involved jumping over Ice streams. The lake was beautiful and there was no pollution of any sort there (including noise). Stopped for lunch which our drivers had prepared for us. To Anna’s enjoyment it was a big salad! Hit the road again and went to anaconda valley. In between all the drives we have our driver David quite a singing show. At one point in the song Un-break my heart, James sang so loudly David got scared and didn’t know what it was. We laughed so much. Back to Uyuni in the evening and went for a nice meal and then a bar where it went downhill from there. But it was very fun!

24 July 2018

After sleeping in our huts at the community village Anna got up at 5am to go on a sunrise hike, some climbing through small spaces involved but seeing the stars and then sunrise was worth it. Then possibly the best thing ever, we saw Flamingos!!! Anna was beside herself with excitement, we were told that we wouldn't see any because it was too cold so it was a lovely surprise. More car karaoke with our crew in between stops and a game of heads up whilst waiting for lunch. More vegetables which was a welcome break from all the carbs!! Next stop was a beautiful red lagoon, very cold so quick photo stop before heading back to the car. In the evening we were surprised by local children coming to perform some songs for us to raise money for their school.

23 July 2018

Our day started late so we all had a nice lie in after the trauma of the night buses. We first headed to a train cemetery where disused trains had been left to decompose due to the change in trade. Then we had our first experience of the amazing salt flats. We saw a salt hotel and were greeted by flags from all over the world. We stopped off at another point to have a go at some trick pictures playing with perspective. We had a lot of fun and messed around with some props. The final stop for us was the sunset stop and reflections. There was a thin layer of water on the surface of the salt which gave perfectly reflected pictures. It was amazing. Then we made our way to the lodge for the night. Today was definitely a holiday highlight.

22 July 2018

So we had a night bus to Bolivia boarder. When we first got on the bus there was a family in our seats, after the driver sorted it we found out they had got the date wrong. The poor family had to march off the bus. The night bus went quickly. We arrived early. Unfortunately that meant waiting around for nearly 2 hours in the really cold early morning. Easy to cross the border into Bolivia. Next we had a 5 hour bus journey. Luckily found some blankets on the bus so we could defrost a bit. We were all really tired and kept drifting in and out of sleep. Every now and again we would wake up to a beautiful view. Arrived at our hostel and it was so cold. The altitude is also over 3000m so we were all feeling it a bit. Anna and Chloe went out for some dinner and brought Kerry back some pizza as she wasn’t feeling great. We then watched a movie in our room.

21 July 2018

Disappointing news at the meeting last nigh, we can't go to Chile! 😔 The border is closed because of bad weather and too much snow! We took ourselves to the local night market for dinner. We ordered Empanadas (South American pies) and water in our best Spanish, we received pizza and sprite 😂 So another day exploring the pretty town of Salta. Lucky for us it's a sunny day!! We ventured out on a hike to get a view of the town and the Andes. The beautiful and Salta beer at the top was worth the 93 flights of stairs to get there. We got a bit lost on our way back but made it in time to meet the group to go to San Lorenzo. We got a local bus which broke down half way. We stood at the side of the road and jumped on the next bus. A cute little town by the river, enjoyed a calzone and a beer before we headed back. Exhausted from all fresh air we had a little nap before getting our supplies for the night bus.

20 July 2018

Today we spent a cold day exploring Salta. We began with a nice lie in and a walking tour. We got to see a parade to say goodbye to visitors from Cyprus. The whole square sang the Argentinian national anthem. The city is 436 years old. It was called Salta by the Inca people who lived here before the Spanish invaded. It means “the pretty” which Chloe was really happy about. Guemes was a hero who trained the townspeople to fight against the Spanish invaders and helped Argentina win its independence. We went to the altitude museum where we saw mummified children that had been sacrificed to the gods during the Inca times. They were given a maize alcohol drink and buried alive on top of one of the Andes mountains. In 1992 they were found by archaeologists and perfectly preserved. The girl we saw was only 5 years old. The museum has 2 others that are displayed on rotation. We had a coffee and went shopping. Then got a Salta beer on the way home ready for a meeting with the group.

19 July 2018

Flight from Buenos Aires to Salta today. Chloe is very excited about going to a city named after her. The flight was delayed for an hour so it felt like a bit of a long day. Also unfortunately Anna’s bag was soaking when it came off the plane, luckily we had heating in the room so she can dry her pants! The flight meant we could get a quick nap. Arrived in Salta with no time to settle in and went straight out for an orientation walk. We all had dinner in a local Italian restaurant, it was nice to get to know our new tour group. From what we saw in the dark the city has some beautiful buildings.

18 July 2018

Had our welcome talk, overwhelmed with information and headed straight out to a dinner and tango show. More steak and red wine (not the best steak of the week but we have been spoilt). Had a brief tango lesson, Chloe enjoyed taking the lead role and Kerry and her partner took to it very quickly. The show was a bit cheesy but the dancing was great. Quick beer in the hostel before bed, trying to suss out the group dynamics and gossip alongside the usual hostel traveller conversation.
Today was time to check out of our hostel and move to the hostel where we would meet our group this evening. We managed to get a cheeky taxi man who charged us extra money for our luggage! Probably because of Kerry’s case, let’s be honest. We decided to go and queue to get a table in the famous Cafe Tortoni. We had a lovely lunch, coffee and wine stop. We then had the genius idea to take a ride on the open top bus. Almost straight away after leaving the station, it began to rain. The three of us squashed in the front 2 seats together and weathered out an actual thunderstorm but after 2 hours enough was enough. We desperately searched for a taxi to take us back to the hostel but was told by a local we needed to cross the road otherwise they wouldn’t stop. Clearly he felt sorry for the 3 clueless foreign drowned rats he saw in a predicament. Once in a taxi, we felt a bit better. We’ve now checked into our hostel and are awaiting the meeting of all 18 members of our tour group.

17 July 2018

Had a bit of a late start this morning due to our late night. Had breakfast and headed to the metro. Had a walk around a shopping mall, Anna bought some warmer clothes. Then we went to a little cafe called OuiOui which was highly recommended and had lunch - very expensive compared to what we had been paying in other places. Walked around the government buildings and tried to find a nail salon but were not successful. Instead opted to go to a bar and had our usual bottle of Malbec. Another steak restaurant for food. Going to miss this good steak!
Excited to pick up our clean laundry this evening!! Picked up a bottle of Malbec from the supermarket with the recommendation of a random other customer. Straighteners and dresses came out as we prepared to go to Buenos Aires Number 1 steak restaurant La Cabrera. Arrived at 2140 to a big queue and a 35min wait so popped next door for an IPA. When the card machine wasnt charged the barman said we could have the drinks on the house. Our table was ready but we were sent across the road to wait at the next stage where we met some paparazzi who were waiting for a transgender celeb inside. We chatted and practiced our interviewing skills. Beautiful steak dinner and service. Emanuel stopped us from accidentally ordering 500grams of steak each!! Plans of going dancing after went out the window when we too full!!

16 July 2018

Our day started later today with a lie in and a standard hostel brekki at 9:30am. Kerry investigated the shower situation. Hotter than hammock-Farm but not up to Iguassu standard. We decided to try and get the metro to the Ateneo Bookstore. After walking 4 blocks in the wrong direction (well done Kerry) we turned around and Kerry redeemed herself by speaking Spanish (kind of) to the metro man. We successfully found our way to the book shop and it was totally worth it! It’s a converted old theatre filled with Spanish books! We couldn’t read much but we appreciated the beauty with a coffee. We took a casual stroll around the famous cemetery. We saw some open tombs which was a bit disconcerting but it was interesting. We had world-famous delicious empanadas from the tiny cafe ‘La Cocina’. They were delicious! Then we went to La Boca, a beautiful and colourful side of town where we had more empanadas and red wine. There was also tango dancers in the restaurant. Winning all round.

15 July 2018

We crossed the land border between Brazil and Argentina, getting our stamps and heading to the airport. Only 12 flights a day which all fly to Buenos Aires. Managed to catch 40 mins and 3 goals of the World Cup Final. Everyone was celebrating goals from both teams which was lovely. A short nap and we arrive in Buenos Aires to 10°c colder weather. Picked our bunk beds and headed out to Plaza Dorrego for Malbec and burgers. Groups of people playing drums and dancing past us in the street before we watched tango in the square, whilst Anna had to make small talk with a man from Paraguay and Kerry turned down the offer of a dance from a little old man.

14 July 2018

8am start to cross the border into Argentina. Easy to cross over, our guide took our passports and sorted it all for us. The journey was a little difficult with a very loud and chatty man on the bus, earphones went in very quickly! Poor Kerry didn’t have hers. We entered the national park and hiked to see a different view of the waterfalls. Argentina has 75% of the iguassu waterfalls. The border between Argentina and Brazil is straight down the middle of the river. The waterfalls are the widest in the world. We had to take a train to see the top of devils throat waterfall which was an impressive 80m and very powerful! Temperature warmed up for us nicely, now 28 degrees so shorts came out again. As we left our tour group everyone said ciao and we were very friendly. Spent the evening drinking 4litres of beer and went to a cute bar and had a bottle of Malbec to get us in the mood for Argentina.

13 July 2018

Our day started with a quick walk to Paraguay! We are only 30 minute walk or 15 minute drive from the boarder. We got some fresh air and stretched our legs after the long bus ride. This afternoon, we decided to take a trip to the Brazilian side of the Iguassu Falls. Wow! They were absolutely breath-taking. We went on a walk alongside the falls with panoramic views all the way. These falls are the biggest in the world (yes bigger than Niagra) and produce the most amount of water flow. There are 70 different species of mammals, 100 species of birds and 40 species of reptiles. There were these strange creatures called quatis that roamed around and terrorised the tourists. They were very cute though.

12 July 2018

Today is a pure travel day leaving Bonito and we won't arrive in Foz da Iguassu until 5am tomorrow. First bus At 0730 back to Campo Grande, our 2nd person congratulated us on France getting to the world cup final. Rodrigo picked us up and took us back to the bus station, some more carbs for lunch and onto to night bus for the next 15hrs. We survived a screaming baby, Anna's legs being crushed by the seat in front, managing to wake up for our change of bus and having to use the men's toilet. Arrived at 0530 and unable to contact our pick up, taxi to the hotel where Anna and Kerry took a nap in reception. We took a walk to the border of Paraguay before check in.

11 July 2018

An evening stroll into town, which we learnt from Rogerio was just 2 blocks further than the deserted area we went to last night! A walk around the square and interesting fish fountain before trying tapioca from the food stall Frango (chicken) for Anna and Chloe and banana nutella for Kerry. A begging was the dinner entertainment before a live band and red wine. Early to bed for an early pick up in the morning.
Snorkelling trip this afternoon in Lake Succara, which means lake anaconda! The water is so clear due to the calcium from the rocks. The water temperature was 24 degrees ( so not New Zealand dolphin temperature! Thank god!) As we were rowing to our destination we saw a caiman in the water. The guide tried to convince us it was dead but we knew from the pantanal that it was not! Oh well when on holiday I guess you just swim with anaconda and caiman! We saw lots of fish! We floated down the current for 1.3km. After snorkelling we had some lunch at the bar and watched the England match. Very disappointing end, poor England... they nearly made it!! As we were eating our food, a boy ran up to our table and picked up Kerry’s GoPro and attempted to take pictures of us. We tried to say we spoke English and our tour guide advised us the kid said “I don’t speak Japanese” not really sure how he got us mixed up with Japanese people!
This morning, we had a beautiful lie in, 8:30am! We slept so well in hotel beds with the heating on; what a dream! Filled up on breakfast and met our guide for today, Roger. Initially he thought we were French but he soon realised we weren’t when we couldn’t get past bonjour. He informed us there would be no time for lunch. Oh no! So we decided to have an early tea. We arrived at the caves and we had 5 minutes to relax in the sun. We went to a classroom for our safety briefing and were the only English-speaking tourists there so Roger had to translate for us. We got on our hairnets and helmets and set off. An opening with about 40m in diameter reveals the exotic scenery of the Gruta do Lago Azul, a subterranean lake of clear water that receives sunlight and reflects an intense blue, framed by sharp rocks that originate there along with stalactites and stalagmites. At the bottom lies fossils of a sabertooth tiger and giant sloth! There is so much science as to why this cave formed.

10 July 2018

We arrived in Bonito and are staying in luxury! The man showed us to our room and the first thing he did was put heating on for us so we were all very excited and happy. We walked around Bonito and quickly realised most things were closed and it was on 6:30pm! Luckily found a very nice restaurant to eat in. We tried a piranha salad and then had some delicious meals. Also treated ourselves to a bottle of Brazilian red wine - heaven! Early night then as not much happening in the town and we were excited to have an actual bed to sleep in.
The sun came out and we embarked on a new hobby....piranha fishing! With bamboo rods and varied enthusiasm we began to try our luck. Pretty quiet, Paulo seemed to think it was too cold for the fish. Chloe got lucky and caught 1 of the 2 fish that were caught in the group. A relaxing way to spend the morning but don't think it will be something we continue on our return home.
This morning, we woke extremely cold and tired. Our new mate Mark snored nearly as loudly as Mike all-night so we all had limited sleep. Anna made her feelings very obvious when he joined us for breakfast. We set off on our jeep safari with a new spring in our step. The sun was shining and it no longer felt like -30 degrees! To add to the sheer joy we felt, we saw many animals! Caiman - they were everywhere tanning themselves on the river bank. Anna became the Caiman Queen as she spotted loads. Wild Boar - Kerry spotted a fast-paced boar making a dash for it so we followed and suddenly there was about 10-15 of them trotting together! Capybara - one was chilling on the main road getting some sun and we saw others sat in the swamp. Giant Otters - Kerry and Chloe were peering at the lakes edge and suddenly 2 giant faces popped out and swam under the bridge. They were beautiful. Anaconda track and Tapir track but sadly no anaconda or tapir in sight. Many species of birds, again!

9 July 2018

Yummy buffet lunch after our walk and then treated ourselves to a hammock nap before the next activity, horse riding. Paulo was adamant that we would go through the swamp and have water up to our waists but we stood our ground against ruining our Nikes and he agreed we should ride barefoot. Our horses, Cognac, Buena and Limoncello were lovely and gentle knowing the route perfectly through the swamp, although Kerry's horse was hungry throughout stopping to eat all the reeds. Relaxing afternoon spotting all the different birds, red raccoon like animals and we even stopped an Armadillo! Riding through the deep swamp it was hard to believe that in a months time this whole area will be completely dry! Time to warm ourselves in front of the fire with a beer.
Had the quickest shower ever after horse riding as it was so cold! We warmed up by the fire for a couple of hours while waiting for dinner. Had a beer and met a guy who had been traveling around Brazil for 2 months. After the usual amazing dinner, we had ent for a night hike. We were given leg protective gear to hopefully prevent any poisonous bites! It was very exciting seeing all the nightlife. Unfortunately as it was really cold our guide Paolo said that most of the animals would be hiding. We did see an ocelot, caiman, poisonous wolf spider. After the hike we went straight to bed. Tired from our big day of adventures.
We woke up at 7am today. Chloe bragged about having an amazing sleep, whilst Kerry and Anna rated theirs in the top 10 worst sleeps of all time. Clearly hammock sleeping is not for everyone. It is windy and cold again. We got up and went for breakfast in our pyjamas - scrambled eggs and sausages. Our guide Paulo announced to the group that we no longer would be wading through the swamp but taking the dry route. Hurray 😅 we were so relieved about not getting wet feet. Here are some things we learnt about animals we saw today: Wild Boar - they can be very aggressive. We saw a little family run across the road in front of us, thankfully from a safe distance. Alligator - although it was dead, we learned that often they fight over territory. This one had washed up on the shore. Macaw - beautiful giant blue parrots Many other birds like hawks, Eagles, chakalakas, Jesus-birds, ibises, herons Anaconda - didn’t see one but these can weigh up to 120kg and be up to 8m in length

8 July 2018

As soon as we got off the jeep we were sent to a boat to go on a boat safari. A little caiman was under the jetty. We saw capybara, toucans, lots of birds. Some people in the group were also fishing before the trip and caught a piranha. An interesting fact - the herons keep the caiman population down by eating the eggs in the nest. It was very cold on the boat. We then arrived at the place we are staying. Very basic accommodation and we are staying in hammocks!
Got to our hotel at 01:30 in the morning! As you can imagine we were all tired and wanting our beds. The man behind the desk was very slow and then asked for help from someone else - not what you want when you have to be picked up at 06:15! Managed to wake up on time with only 4 hours sleep and met our lovely travel organised Rodrigo who took us to the bus stop. 6 hour journey to where we were going to be picked up for our next destination. The bus was very comfortable which was a pleasant surprise. The bus driver was nice and woke us all up to tell us to get off at the correct stop. We got off the bus at the side of a highway with no information but Rodrigo promised we would be picked up. A local man welcomed us over to his house, gave us fresh oranges from his tree and we played with his dogs and cat. After a while we were finally picked up for our pantanal trip.

7 July 2018

Sad to say goodbye to Rio. After an adrenaline morning we spent the afternoon sampling some typical Brazilian cuisine. Firstly an all you can eat buffet, consisting of rice, beans, kale and various different meats in a broth whilst catching the end of England beating Sweden in the World Cup. A few hours left until our flight so relaxing on the beach and enjoying the last of chill time for a while. Before heading to the airport we had to try a hot dog from a street vendor, highly recommended by Anna's friend. The airport had it's ups and downs for Kerry and Chloe, additional charges for luggage and then nutella latte to cheer them up. Next stop Campo Grande.
So this morning, we took a run off a cliff to experience hangliding over the beach in Rio to get incredible views of the city. Anna got to go first, just in case she decided to back out if she saw the others do it first. The old man seemed to take a particular liking to Chloe so she went second. Kerry had to wait for about 45 minutes in order for Anna’s chap to get back up to the top of the mountain with his glider. And it was 100% worth the wait. Kerry also was given control over the gliders direction and speed and did nose dive towards some innocent bystanders on the beach who ran for their lives. Highly entertaining. This was an amazing experience not to be missed!

6 July 2018

Up early again thanks to a bit of jet lag but Anna took herself for a run along Copacabana beach before breakfast. A morning tanning on the beach and then getting ready for the main event of the day Brasil vs Belgium!! We headed back to the bar we had dinner the night before, it was really full but our waiter found extra chairs and a table for us. Great atmosphere even when Brazil lost. The band started up again, lots of free beer and Samba. Making friends even with the language barriers. Someone went for a dip in the sea before Churros on the way home

5 July 2018

Giovane then stopped off at the helipad viewing point to show us more amazing 360 views of Rio. Giovane played some absolute tunes in his taxi and Kerry and Anna couldn’t resist singing along to all of them. Our driver used his translator app to tell us that we sound like we are auditioning for The Voice! Dinner at a different Copacabana beach bar with a great band. Made friends with Leonardo who was 75 years old and owned many apartments. He did an interesting take on the Samba, involving his shoulders only. He selected Chloe to teach the dance to.
This morning we visited the Christ the Redeemer statue! We had a lovely driver called Giovane who helped us get tickets. The views of Rio were incredible and Jesus himself was rather impressive.

4 July 2018

After the steps we stopped for a lunch. We had three meals but could have easily fed 6 people! Walked to see the cathedral which wasn’t what we expected and looked more like a spaceship! But found a lovely man who we have booked a Rio trip with for tomorrow. Walked along Copacabana Beach and after about 20 minutes, we felt we needed a drink so stopped for a quick pit stop, this ended up being 4 hours long with many local beers and a local volley ball team to keep us entertained.
Visited the world famous Escadaria Selaron steps. These were created by a Chilean artist who wanted to display his travels of the world as a gift to Rio. It really was beautiful.
Taxi ride to Santa Tereza and the taxi driver quickly realised we were new tourists so stopped for us to take a picture of sugarloaf mountain
Woke up this morning after a lovely 12 hour sleep to see it had been raining over night. The sea was calm yesterday but lots of waves this morning. Attempted to make a cup of tea this morning with a coffee machine... didn’t work out as well as we hoped so have now lived and learnt that boiling water in a saucepan is the way forward. Attempted to meet Kerry at the bus stop but must have missed her. But it meant Kerry got to speak to our Portuguese friend who speaks no English! Whilst waiting for Kerry we tried to get a coffee but the only word we knew was cerveja.... so obviously we had a beer.

3 July 2018

Quick flight to JFK with hours of gossiping and a film. Before we were treated to a whole row each to ourselves on the Rio flights and 9 hours of sleep! Perfect. Arrive in sunny Rio and jump on the bus to our apartment. No way to contact to owner of the room and the cleaner spoke no English but continued to have a one sided Portuguese conversation with us. Left the bags away and went in search of food, pizza and a burger will do for now. Still no word from our room so we changed into our bikinis in the corridor and hit the beach. Weird check in eventually with a Portuguese lady who wouldn't leave! Little bit of exploring and a beer at the beach watching the world cup before dinner.

2 July 2018

Here we go again. Kerry we will meet you in Rio!!