Bonnie Bonnito

Trip Start Sep 10, 2007
Trip End Aug 2008

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wocha dudes!

(Very Red Dwarf)

Itīs raining outside and nice and warm here so what better way to while away some time than whittling away at the keyboard. But then they made me put away my penknife so now Iīm writing to you. Boom boom!

After the excitement of wildlife watching in the Pantanal (and having a capybara hump my leg, a life experience to chalk up on the list!) we caught a bus for 5 hours to Bonito, one of the latest jewels in Brazilīs tourist circuit.

The weather had picked up and was back to sweltering so when we were offered a hostel we couldnīt be bothered to think about any others and took it. It had a swimming pool, and nice clean rooms and bathrooms, bliss after the pantanal ranch. Only after weīd dumped our bags did we realise that it was a 25 minute walk to the centre of the town but at that point we really couldnīt be too bothered.

Then we had breakfast and were very happy with our choice. They tend to like sweet breads, sweet coffee, sweet everything. So our eyes lit up when for breakfast we saw a choice of three types of cake, dulce de leche sauce (toffee sauce) and hot chocolate.

The dietsī start on the plane out of the coutry.

The following day we booked on to a tour to the Rio de Prata. We were in a group of 8, got in to our wetsuits and jumped on the back of the truck for the 5 minute journey. Just to get off and then have to do a 40 minute walk through the tropical jungle wearing your wetsuit. But it was definitely worth it when you get to the river.

Itīs a bog standard river running through some blokes farm, but due to the limestone and some magic pixies (you can tell I switched off at this point of the tour) the water is incredibly clear. For running river water it was almost a bit freaky, if Willy Wonka did sparkling mineral water then it would look like this.

As you walk up you can see a shoal of about 20 fish, each a foot long milling round the area where you get in and thatīs pretty typical of the entire route (the fish obviously appreciate being able to see too).

We then snorkeled down the river for a couple of hours being picked up at the other end by the truck. It was really good fun to go along with the river as the current meant you didnīt have to swim. The wetsuits give real boyancy too, so you can just lie and watch the waterworld go by, meaning the fish arenīt scared by your flailing arms and happy to come up very close.

At some points the river gets very shallow and you have to carefully float over the top of rocks, Kat needed help from a fireman to get past one fallen tree at one point (Ronald was a dutch fireman whoīd also been on our Pantanal tour and was staying with us in the hostel). Iīm not so sure she actually NEEDED his help but seemed sure happy to receive it!

At a couple of points there were springs of water coming in to the bed of the river. In these places the bed was made of very small stones (kind of shale size) and with the water bubbling up beneath it looked like the bed was alive and the stones boiling beneath you. Hard to explain but we did hire an underwater camera and have some pics to upload to show what I mean.

We were hoping to see anaconda and caimen but had to be happy with the myriad of fish and fantastic scenery (was strange to lift your ears out of the water and hear the tropical birds and parrots).

Only downside of the day was the wetsuit. They were "shorties", short sleeves and short trousers. And with no suncream allowed as it hurts the fish all of us got sunburnt on the backs of our legs. I hope those fish know what we went through for them!

After that we went to the Buraco das Araras, the "parrot park". It is a whacking great hole in the ground (second only to some hole in Mexico), about 150m deep and 400m across which loads of breeding parrots have taken up as itīs pretty safe from any predators. The birds go out to feed during the day but all head back in the late afternoon, meet in the trees to boast about how many crackers theyīve eaten then flock on down.

We were a little unlucky as we had to go before they all swooped down to their nests but did see dozens and dozens of them in the trees, quite indiferent to us. And we even got to see an armadillo on the way back as a late Brucey Bonus.

Unfortunately, Bonito has caught on to the tourism thing and itīs prices are almost English. We were very tempted by abseiling in to a Cave and snorkelling down there, but at 100GBP each for half a day we ended up pulling out and went to the local municipal pool instead.

But what a pool. We hired bikes and cycled the 10k there, not that easy in temperatures above 30 degrees, but were pleasantly surprised when we arrived. Like the Rio de Prata, it is also a natural river and also beautifully clear. Theyīve just added a few steps to walk down to the water, a lifeguard and some open green space nearby. You can buy fish food (dried sweetcorn) to feed them with too, turning the water in to a boiling cauldron of fins and fish lips.

And this only cost us 2GBP, bargain!

Course, when we went in we could only swim backstroke because of the burns on the backs of our legs (and to stop the locals sniggering at our ridiculous markings behind our backs).

The following day we began our marathon trip to head to Foz, or the Iguacu falls. 3 buses and 20 hours later we arrived, my bag soaking from the water dripping from the air con which turned our bus to an arctic wilderness overnight (must remember to take my coat on with me next time).

Have enjoyed our time here so far but we are turning rain dodgers as itīs pretty stormy out there. Fingers crossed things will clear up for tomorrow as weīve a full day planned at the falls, but that is for the next installment (not oo many to go now as we leave South America in 12 days, sob!)

Love to all.

Kat and Nick
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