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Iguazu Waterfalls Brazil

After visiting the Argentinian side of the Iguazu waterfalls, we decided to spend the next day seeing the Brazilian side. We took the Crucero del Norte bus from the Puerto Iguazu terminal, which runs roughly every 2 hours, and costs 60 pesos each for a return ticket.

The process to get to the waterfalls involves going through immigration. You have to get stamped out of Argentina and then back in when you return, but if you are visiting Brazil for just one day you don’t need to get stamped in or out of Brazil. These buses will stop for the border control and wait for you to go through the process.

The journey takes about 45 minutes and the bus drops you off at the park entrance, but remember that Brazil is an hour ahead of Argentina so ensure you get the first one of the day at 8.10am Argentinian time to make the most of your time there. The good thing about visiting the Brazilian side is that you can pay the entrance, of around 100 Argentinian pesos, and anything else within the park, in Pesos, Reals or US dollars.

The Brazilian park is not as big as the Argentinian and there is only 1 circuit to follow. There is a bus that runs through the park from the entrance to the start of the circuit with stops along the way for additional extras you can do, from treks to boat rides, none of which are included in your entrance ticket.

However, what the park lacks for in size, it more than makes up for in views! From this side you are able to fully appreciate the sheer size and magnitude of the waterfalls, especially the Devil’s throat.

Iguazu (Brasil) - panorama of the waterfalls across the argentinean side

Iguazu (Brasil) - on the way to the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) waterfall viewing platform

Iguazu (Brasil) - approaching Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) waterfall

Iguazu (Brasil) - Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) waterfall from the closest viewing platform

Iguazu (Brasil) - closer look into the impressive Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) waterfall

Iguazu (Brasil) - Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) waterfall from above at the highest platform

The whole park can easily be done in a couple of hours, and if you have time to spare it is worth going across the road to the bird park. Again, you can pay for the entrance and any food etc, in Pesos, Reals or US dollars Entry is around 70 Pesos per ticket. The park is a sanctuary for a large species of rescued and endangered birds, including a large variety of parrots, flamingos, toucans and many other strange species, and makes for a nice afternoon stroll. You can get real close to the birds, with walk through pens and cages and they are not afraid of humans, but obviously a “do not touch” policy is in place.

Parque das Aves (Bird Park, Brasil) - flamingos

Parque das Aves (Bird Park, Brasil) - grey crowned-crane birds

Parque das Aves (Bird Park, Brasil) - yellow-headed amazon parrots

Parque das Aves (Bird Park, Brasil) - macaws

Parque das Aves (Bird Park, Brasil) - tucan close up

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Iguazu Waterfalls Argentina

From Salta we took a 13 hour bus to Resistencia which cost us just over 400 pesos each. We arrived at around 7 am and decided we would go straight to Puerto Iguazu instead of north to Clorinda for the border crossing to Paraguay. We were lucky enough to find a bus with Rio Uruguay leaving at 8.30am for 300 pesos each. The journey took us a further 8 hours and we finally arrived in the afternoon.

Our first stop in Puerto Iguazu was the extremely helpful tourist information point located in the Rio Uruguay office of the bus terminal. The lady not only explained all the transport options and costs to get to the waterfalls, but also gave us maps and costs for the Brazilian side of the falls too.

We checked in at one of the numerous hostels located in the town and decided to head out to the waterfalls the following day, allowing us a day of rest from all the bus journeys.

Buses to the Argentinian Iguazu waterfalls leave the bus terminal at Puerto Iguazu roughly every 25 minutes, and return tickets can be bought within the terminal for 50 pesos each. The journey to the waterfall park entrance takes about half an hour, dropping you off at the steps of the entrance. Entrance to the park is 130 pesos per person, but if you decide to come back the following day, you can have your ticket validated and you only pay half price for the second day. Although, if you start early you can easily take in the whole park in a day.

There are 4 main circuits within the park, each one taking you to different view points of the waterfalls, from far off views to standing above the Devil’s throat waterfall. There is also a free little train that runs through the park connecting you to the circuits via 3 stations. The park is also filled with little places to eat, souvenir shops, toilets and chill out areas, giving the whole place a nice relaxed feel.

Iguazu (Argentina) - panoramic views of the waterfalls

Iguazu (Argentina) - Gargatna del Diablo (Devil's Throat) waterfall in the distance

There are also various boat rides available, which can be booked either at the bus terminal, agency or at the park, but they are all extra except for one. You can take a free little boat ride across to the island of Saint Martin. From this little beach you can climb up to the top and see the impressive waterfalls from a front row position!

Iguazu (Argentina) - panoramic view of San Martin waterfall

Iguazu (Argentina) - rainbow by the San Martin waterfall

They recommended we start from the further afield waterfalls and viewpoints and leave the almighty Devil’s throat, or la garganta del diablo, waterfall for last. We think this was a great tip as the waterfalls seemed to just get bigger and better, although be prepared to get very wet!

Iguazu (Argentina) - approaching Gargatna del Diablo (Devil's Throat) waterfall

Iguazu (Argentina) - rainbow at Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) waterfall

Iguazu (Argentina) - Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) waterfall

Iguazu (Argentina) - Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) waterfall panorama

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Canaima National Park Angel Falls in 3 days

From Ciudad Bolivar airport we took a small 18 seat plane for the hour-long journey to Canaima National Park. As you approach Canaima the flight travels over a beautiful landscape of lush green savannahs, rivers and mountains, giving you a glimpse of the true size of the national park.

Canaima National Park view from plane

Upon landing you are asked to pay the entrance fee of 150 VEF per person, and then asked to wait at the airport hut for your resort rep to come and get you.

Once everyone had arrived we were escorted to Kavac lodge where we were split into 2 groups, one would head out to the falls the same day and the second would head out tomorrow instead. We would be going straight out at around lunch time. Unfortunately for us this meant hanging around for a few hours in the lodge with nothing much to do.

At around 12.30pm we finally set off with a new group to the falls. It was explained that we would take a 4 hour boat ride with 2 breaks, one for lunch and one further along for a swim. It was also advised to bring only what you would need for the night and following day as we would then be back to the lodge for our second night.

With everyone packed we headed down to the river to take what looked like a long canoe with an engine at the back. Shortly after setting off we arrived at our first stop and had lunch by the riverbank.

Canaima National Park table mountain in the distance

Following lunch we had to walk to the other side of the riverbank to take the boats from the other side due to some rapids. From here we could already see the scenery start to change and glimpsed our first table top mountains in the distance.

Canaima National Park our first views of table mountains

The boat journey continued for about an hour until we reached a small waterfall where we stopped and had the opportunity for a swim and a stretch.

Canaima National Park waterfall stop

In total we travelled for 4 hours on the boat, the first part was amazing with beautiful scenery and sunshine, but for the last 2 hours it was incredibly cold due to the wind and the sun setting, plus our backsides felt badly bruised from sitting on wooden planks for so long.

Canaima National Park boat ride to Angel Falls

We finally arrived at the site just before 6pm and set ourselves up with hammocks. A word of warning though, no matter what the agencies tell you there are no mosquito nets provided and there are plenty of mosquitos around! Another thing that was not mentioned to us when we booked the tour was that we would need some warmer clothes for the evening, we knew we would be spending a night in the hammock but had assumed it would be warm at night, we were very wrong!

After dinner and hot drinks we retreated to our hammocks for some sleep and despite wearing nearly all the clothes I had with me and having the blanket over me I still felt cold. To make matters worse there were at least 5 very loud snores in the group that not even the ear plugs could drown out!

Canaima National Park Angel Falls hammock base camp

The following morning, after a cold night and feeling a little groggy, we had breakfast and headed up to the falls. The trek takes about 2 hours with stops at the various viewing points, the best of which is the second one where there is a large stone that you can carefully climb onto and have uninterrupted views of the falls and the valley around.

Canaima National Park Angel Falls at dawn

Canaima National Park Angel Falls from base

Canaima National Park Angel Falls close up

We found out that you are able to climb to the top of the waterfall but it would take around a week to do the round trip. It’s a shame we didn’t know about this when we booked as we would have liked to do this.

Canaima National Park river to Angel Falls from base camp

After lunch at our site it was time to head back to the lodge, the journey back was an hour shorter as we were heading downstream but unfortunately after a sunny start we were plagued by rain for most of the journey, which seriously decreased the appeal of the ride.

Once back at the lodge we checked in and were able to relax for the evening. The next day the group was yet again split, as some people chose to stay on an extra night. In a smaller group of just 4, we headed off to the Kavac beach to take another boat for a tour of the waterfalls in the area.

We crossed the lagoon and headed up for short walk to the Sapo waterfall. This is where you have to cross under the waterfall itself. We left our belongings on the side and headed down through the crevice on the front of the waterfall. The area is extremely slippery and you will need sandals with a very good grip. Luckily we had 2 guides between the 4 of us so there was always someone at hand to help us along the way.

Canaima National Park crevice walk through El Sapo waterfall

As you cross the wall of water you are completely and utterly drenched, for a split second you are unable to actually see where you are until you step right through, but in the morning heat the cold water is a nice relief. We visited the waterfall at the start of July and were told that by August the amount of water doubles to the point whereby the whole wall of the area is covered in water.

Canaima National Park El Sapo waterfall

We then headed up to the top of the waterfall for the views and although the waterfall is not very high it is impressive in width and can only imagine how much more so in August. One thing we learned about the water is that the rusty colour comes from the high level of iron found in water, apparently it is perfectly fine to drink but it does have a strange taste!

Canaima National Park top of El Sapo waterfall

After our tour we were taken back to the lodge for lunch and then onwards to the airport for our flight back to Ciudad Bolivar. This time we ended up flying back with 2 girls on a tiny 4 seat plane, it was so small that our backpacks took up one seat and one of us had to sit at the front as co-pilot!

The flight back was just as spectacular and we were sad to be leaving the park after such a short trip, but we have decided that we will definitely return to Canaima to see the top of Angel Falls and to do the 6 day trek to the Gran Sabana as the park is just too beautiful to not return

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Rio la Fortuna Waterfall

Whilst in La Fortuna we decided to go and visit the waterfall of Rio la Fortuna, located a few kilometers from town. We had wanted to go and see the waterfall in Rio Celeste, a 3 hour trek in Tenorio national park, but with the continuous bad weather we didn’t want to get caught out again following our luck with the hike to Cerro Chato.

So off we went to see the waterfall of La Fortuna, located at the end of an unpaved road which leads to both the waterfall and the entrance to the Cerro Chato hike. We parked and paid $10 per person to get in, its worth noting that if you pay in local currency you seem to pay just under the 10,000 colones which I expected to pay. This has happened several times so if you want to save yourself the odd 100 colones per entrance pay in local currency.

Once in you cross a bridge and then head down a steep set of stairs all the way down to the bottom where the river is. At the start of the path, you can take a turn on the right and head for the viewing point, where the waterfall can be seen from a distance.

Rio la Fortuna waterfall: view from the viewing point

On the way down you have the option to come off the path and see a smaller waterfall with a pool of water in front where you can get right up to the water coming down the rocks.

Rio la Fortuna: side waterfall

When you are nearly at the bottom you reach a viewing platform for the impressive waterfall which thunders down into the river.

Rio la Fortuna: main waterfall with masses of water

If you continue to the bottom, a further few minutes walk you get to the actual river with a small beach like area to relax in. The water here is not very deep and nor is it warm but if you come down on a hot day I am sure the cool water would be a nice refreshment before you have to climb all the way back up!

Rio la fortuna beach

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Llanos de Cortes Waterfall

On our last day in Liberia we decided to spend the morning at a nearby waterfall called Llanos de Cortes, located at under half an hour’s drive away.

The place is not very well sign posted and does not yet to seem on the main tourist trail which suited us just fine. If you are driving keep a look out for signs on the right just before you hit Bagaces.

The entry to the waterfalls is in the sum of a very small donation of 500 colones per person which goes to the local school, however to park your car you are advised by the “guard” that a tip is required. Again this was not very high and we just gave our loose change which came to around 700 colones.

There is short yet slippery stone stairway down to the waterfall and we were lucky to be the only ones there when we arrived.

Llanos de Cortes: full view

The waterfall itself is not as high as others but it is very wide and has a lovely shallow warm pool in front of it which is perfect for swimming in. The sand in the pool glimmers and looks like flecks of gold which just adds to the charm of the waterfall.

Llanos de Cortes: in front of the wall of water

If you are feeling adventurous you can climb back up to the parking and head right through a field, following the path through the undergrowth you will emerge at the top of the waterfall.

Llanos de Cortes: view from the top

The views from there are amazing but not for the fain-hearted as it is very slippery with no safety ropes of any kind.

We don’t think there is an actual path to get there but the guard seemed pretty laxed about people coming and going through so just use common sense and be careful.

By late morning a couple of small tours turned up so if you want to have the place to yourself for a bit try to get there early.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Semuc-Champey

Located near Lanquin, Semuc Champey is a natural water wonder consisting of several limestone pool formations along the Cahabon river. The pools are filled with turquoise water and form little waterfalls as each pool is above the next.

Semuc Champey: Pools

We opted for a tour of Semuc Champey which also included the Lanquin caves, we had wanted to go with the bus but it was difficult to get information on how to get there exactly.

The town of Lanquin is located an hour’s drive on unpaved tracks from the main road and seems to be the last place for provisions before you get to Semuc Champey, which is then another 30 minutes away.

Semuc Champey reminded us of a smaller version of Agua Azul in Mexico. In fact the pools are a total of only 300m compared to the 7km of Agua Azul.

Semuc Champey: Waterfall

But what makes them different is the very fact that they are so close together, allowing you to easily go from one pool to the next.

Semuc Champey: Main pool

The area also feels very secure and there are both security guards and life guards.

After Semuc Champey we taken to the Lanquin caves for a quick tour. Although highly impressive in terms of rock formations and the fact that the caves are still used as a Mayan church with animal sacrifices, the slippery surfaces and lack of proper handrails throughout make it a beautiful yet dangerous place to go.

Lanquin cave: Jaguar altar

Even with our Vibram soles we were struggling to walk across the wet rocks without sliding, the only saving grace was the fact they had added electricity to the caves so you didn’t need to worry about using one had for the torch and only one for your hanging on.

The caves are also covered with bat excrement as there are thousands who reside there so ensure you take wipes as your hands at the very least will be filthy by the end.

When you are able to stand still and look around, the caves are spectacular, the numerous altars, now black with years of candle smoke are unlike anything I have seen and the knowledge that they are still in use does bring a certain awe to them.

Lanquin: Mayan altar

If you have the chance to do the combined tour I would recommend it, just be very careful and ensure you go prepared!

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Palenque

A clear distinction is needed here: Palenque is both a town and the ruins. The town is a don’t-bother-unless-you-have-to sort of place. It is uninteresting, a little run down and apart from offering internet really does not have any real charm.

If you are arriving to Palenque before 10pm I would suggest to bypass it altogether and head straight out to El Panchan area, however if arriving any later than it’s easier to crash out in Palenque and head out in the morning. There are both taxis and collectivos running to and from.

If staying in Palenque I would avoid eating anything that is not pre-packaged, harsh but both myself and 2 others who ate in the town were struck with food poisoning, coincidence?

El Panchan is a nice little “jungle” area next to the ruins that was cultivated back in the 80’s. The place is now made up of various places to stay all literally next to each other, from a sling your hammock up to a private room accommodation. Note that if you head further in towards the ruins you will also find the likes of Mayabell and couple of other places to stay, so there really is plenty of choice.

El Panchan

We opted for El Panchan area and chose Margarita and Ed’s cabanas, which were simple but clean accommodation with their own bathrooms. The complex also has a couple of eating places with Don Muchos being the primary place, the menu is varied and all the food is fresh with prices that won’t make your eyes water.

However, one thing to note is that there are no shops in the complex, so make sure you bring anything you need with you or you will have to return to Palenque for provisions.

The ruins themselves are a short collectivos’ drive away and run every 10 minutes, you could walk it but for 10 pesos we opted for the ride up. Try and get to the ruins early in the morning as the tours start arriving from 10am.

Palenque Ruins Temple of Inscriptions

The most impressive part of the Palenque ruins has to be the palace with the sheer scale of it and the amount of hieroglyphs still found intact. You really do feel a little like Indiana Jones walking through the ruins with the jungle as your background whilst exploring the palace.

Palenque Ruins Palace

Whatever you do, don’t miss the museum, not only does it have an impressive array of near perfect ceramic masks and hieroglyphs but there is also a special chamber that houses the sarcophagus of Pakal the Great, discovered in the Temple of Inscriptions. Photos do not do it justice as the sheer size and condition of it are outstanding!

Pakal's Sarcophagus

Palenque/El Panchan are also a great jump off point for many other sites nearby. We opted for a day out to Misol Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls, again this can be accomplished by taking collectivos but we opted for a tour as they gave us plenty of time at each place.

Misol Ha is a beautiful waterfall which you can actually walk behind of, but make sure you wear proper sandals as the stones are quite slippery. You can also go for a swim at the bottom of the waterfall.

Miso Ha Waterfall

From behind the waterfall:

Miso Ha: Behind the Waterfall

Agua Azul on the other hand is a series of waterfalls with bathing areas at each level, in total the waterfalls run for around 7km but the lower level has the most impressive colours.

Agua Azul Waterfall

Agua Azul Waterfall

There are also plenty of places to either pick up a snack from empanadas to coconuts or have a meal at a number of restaurants. The water also varies in depth at each bathing level so there is an area for everyone, plus for safety there is also a lifeguard available at each pool too!

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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