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Friday 29 Jan 2010
Jericoacoara, Brazil

Itinerary finalised but with a few sacrifices!

Head down, I denied myself any sunshine today and instead sat inside my room tossing between my (dodgy) Rough Guide book and various travel websites hoping to come up with a clearer picture of what I was hoping to achieve over the coming 3 months.

The plan has always been to have a "chill-out and planning period" for the first 2 weeks, then begin the "real" South America trip in earnest at the start of February.. running until I head back home on 1st May.

And I believe I've finally cracked it!

I've had to make a few sacrifices though...

  1. "Carnaval in Brazil" is starting a little too late for me. When I originally booked my flights to South America the date for Carnaval had yet to be set (it fluctuates annually) so a "guestimate" was that it would start near the end of January. Alas it doesn't begin until the 12th of Feb in Olinda (where I was planning to see it). Not only that, but the cost of accommodation is ridiculous. I've been getting quotes around the 200 euro/night mark, and you HAVE to commit to a full package of 5 days. If I had gone I would only have wanted to see it for 2 days anyway. I think it's amazing that Brazillians can afford such prices despite not earning quite as much as we do back in Europe, but in many cases Brazillians often save up all year just to spend it all at Carnaval!

  2. "Going down the Amazon River in Brazil" was another "must-do", but an unfortunate mix of expensive flights and requirements to spend at least 4-5 days would mean I'd have to sacrifice one of the countries on my itinerary to accommodate it. There is an upside though, and the Amazon river also stretches into a few other countries such as Peru and Bolivia, so I can try to get on it from there instead.

The plan is to head off to Colombia in 2 days on the 1st Feb. It's going to be a horrible 14 hours flight (no surprise there) that begins at 2am and for some bizarre reason goes all the way south to Sao Paulo from Fortaleza before another flight brings me back up to Bogota (passing Fortaleza on the way up)!!! It's with another airline "Voegol", so hopefully I won't have any of the problems I encountered with TAM and Iberia. It was the "cheapest" option (I say "cheapest" as the flight cost around 450 euro! Internal flights are cheap in South America. International flights within South America are not.)
Actually I checked my VISA bill later and it seems I was charged 522 euro! Hmm whatever bizarre exchange rate they were using I'd probably recommend AVOIDING VOEGOL from now on!

Each country will get between 15-20 days, so I'd had around 15 days in Brazil already. The ironic thing is in two weeks, apart from the Iguazu Falls and Amazon, I've essentially "seen" the main sights in Brazil (which are mainly found along the coast). Despite being the largest country in South America, most of the sights are either found in the cities or the beaches. The vast swathes of rainforest that have always dominated the interior mean that the history of Brazil can mainly be found along the coast. The Amazonian port of Manaus is the obvious exception, but that was populated early on only because of easy access thanks to the Amazon river.

This probably also explains why the Portuguese managed to claim so much land when they established Brazil, the interior was probably so dense with vegetation and marshes that the Spanish would have thought it was too much trouble to conquer! (later... I actually read more into it, and apparently the country is so large because the slave traders used to travel deep into the countryside to capture Indian slaves, thus anexing the area for Portugal)

Hopefully I'll get a chance to explore some more of Brazil on the return leg, but I really feel I've had a good taste of the place at this stage! Definately a great place to chill on beaches and party to great music!

Anyway, best get out and enjoy the last days of sunshine before my 'orrible flight in 2 days! Onward to Colombia! Laughing


I met a few people for drinks from the Pantanal region of Brazil later on, and from what they tell me, this has to be mentioned as the 5th MUST SEE thing in Brazil, along with the Iguazu Falls, Amazon, Cities and Beaches. Still though, for a country of it's size, it's surprising that you can see pretty much all the main sights within 3-4 weeks (from all accounts, Peru or Argentina would require about 2 months to see all the major sights).

The Pantanal sounds like a great experience though, in particular in April when the rains have ended, and you can arrange African-style safaris to see all the animals including the famous Jaguar so I'm going to see if I can squeeze it into my tight itinerary!

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South America Twenty Ten

Travel blog by peterforan



After previously dipping my toes in Latin America via trips to Cuba and Central America, it's time to go for the big splash! 3 1/2 months to take in as much as I can, armed with little more than my camera, laptop and a few dodgy Spanish phrases.

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