The Pantanal

The Falls on the Argentina side are equally as impressive as the view from Brazil, but in a rather different way. Here you get to be much closer to the actual water, and you can spend a good few hours doing all the trails. It was also where the coach loads of wrinklies go, unfortunately, but with a good bit of artful planning you can manage to overtake them on the rather crowded walkways and save some time.

Amazingly all the bus connections to get me to Campo Grande worked out, I had a small hiccup with Brazilian immigration and now my entry/exit visa is already stamped to show I’m not in Brazil any more, so what’ll happen when I really try and leave in a week and a half remains to be seen! The bus from Foz to Campo Grande was a bit of a mare, I had a 328 year old Brazilian geezer next to me, who spoke to me for the full 20 hours without realising I don’t speak Portuguese, I swear. It also sounded like he has TB. Then we got dumped at a service station, the bus disappeared down the highway for an hour and a half without us, God knows where that went. Then to cap it all at 2am we got busted for drugs, plods with machine guns came aboard and stripped the bus and it’s luggage bare searching for gear, everything was out from the hold and all over the grass by the side of the road. This took a full 2 hours, and makes me suspicious as to where the drivers had been with the bus for the 1.5 hours previously. Maybe they made a courier stop in Bolivia or something…

Anyway, got myself on a trip into the heart of The Pantanal the same day, and stayed in a Pousada mounted on stilts to clear the flood waters. Nice place, a bit disorganised in Brazilian fashion, and needless to say it pissed with rain for the first day and night. We did a few bits and pieces, fished for piranhas, took boat trips up and down the river, saw a load of alligators, toucans and blue macaws and stuff. The highpoint was without doubt the horse riding, I had a nag that I decided to name “Ayrton Senna” as he only understood one command – “go as fast as I possibly can, no matter what” Great fun at full gallop through 2 foot deep water, desperately trying to hold on to the bastard.

We made it back to the bus to transfer us back to Campo Grande with a minute to spare, after the Pousada’s truck wouldn’t start, then once we push started it, it got buried in a foot of mud after 20 yards, then after pushing it out we got stuck in a herd of about 1,000 cows coming the other way, but we made it and after 4 nights in a mosi-infested pit with nothing but a cold shower and rice to eat I have treated myself to a night in the 5-star Hotel Bristol. Champagne backpacker, or what!?

Now I’m facing a dilemma on what to do next, I can fly to Manaus in the Amazon, but it’s quite a price on the flight, and the jungle trip may work out quite expensive, and I’m pushed for time. Otherwise I may go back to Rio and chill out for a while. I have this evening to decide…

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