April 2016
  • Day7

    Farewell Argentina we loved you

    April 19, 2016 in Brazil ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    We both felt sad that today we left Argentina and we are moving on to the last stage of the trip - Brazil.

    After breakfast we had the joy of driving back up the track and finding our mechanic Hector in El Sorbebio. He did not know we were coming as the lodge had not managed to speak to him (there is very rarely a phone signal here). I was dreading it but actually he was lovely and stopped working on all his other cars to help two strangers. We did a test drive then he put the car in the workshop and went under it. He started banging with a wrench I think, a lot.

    He solved it too. Seems the Iberá mud had set like concrete on the wheels and the car wash had been a superficial one. He reckoned that water might not have worked anyway. One hour later we were on our way - at 110 kph - to Iguazú.

    As we drove through the national park a toucan flew right in front of us. Very exciting!

    After some last minute shopping to use up our pesos we felt the relief of giving the car back and got in the taxi transfer to the Brazil side. Crossing this border was so much easier and faster than any other this trip. Next challenge was to take Brazilian Reais out of a cash machine - Clare passed with flying colours. Then we arrived at our huge and quite fancy hotel with a huge pool, swim up bar and a gym. They also gave us a free upgrade so we already loved the place.

    We enjoyed stable wifi, air conditioning, the gym, pool, swim up bar in that order. I (Lisa) was very pleased to be able to run 5k without stopping or dying because I hadn't been able to run since Mendoza.

    Tomorrow we are off to the Brazilian side of the falls.
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  • Day6

    Moconá Waterfalls

    April 18, 2016 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Last thing we wanted to do today was drive - especially back out on that dirt road. Thankfully our tour to the main attraction here - the Moconá waterfalls - included our guide also being the driver. He came in a new Ford Focus so it was very tricky driving on the track.

    It's quite low season here now so we were the only visitors to the park and had a tour and boat ride to ourselves. There were thousands of butterflies everywhere, like in Iguazú. We were lucky as there is only water flowing 70/365 days a year due to a dam upstream which controls the flow. These falls are different than most others because they are a continuous 3 km long and run parallel to the river not across it. The Uruguay river is also the natural border between Argentina and Brazil here.

    After our trip we returned to Yucuma but to save the car we did the canoe crossing rather than drive the track. The canoe had a massive spider in it but we survived. Our tour guy was from the agency which rented our car so he had a look too but couldn't fix it. Instead we have the joy of a trip to a mechanic in the next town tomorrow to check it and see if its safe to drive back to Iguazú.

    It was so hot this afternoon we could barely move. At one point we sat with sweat dripping from our chins. No AC and the fans just move warm air. We went to the pool but being under the jungle canopy it filled up with bugs, leaves and twigs faster than we could scoop them out. Plus the mosquitos were having a party there. We went and laid down til our very lovely dinner.
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  • Day5

    From wetlands to jungle

    April 17, 2016 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Adventurous drive out of Iberá on even worse road conditions than getting there. In total we spent 9 hours driving and 1 hour trying to sort out problems with the car.

    Although we didn't get stuck this time when we finally came to the paved road the car vibrated in a bone-shaking way whenever we went beyond 70 kph. As we were not too far from the city of Posadas we went to Hertz in the airport but it was deserted. I tried to call but they'd given me a wrong number and I used all my credit.
    Eventually as we drove away a woman chased us in her car and flagged us down. She was from Hertz and came to help. She said it was probably mud in the wheels causing the issue and instructed us on where to go to get it professionally cleaned.

    We thought we'd solved it but didn't get to go fast again for another hour or so and we still had more than a hundred km to go. Decided to limp there at slow speed. Scenery over the Uruguay river to Brazil was stunning. The last part was another track (10km) but it was still light and very pretty.

    Arrived at Yucuma Lodge to find we were the only guests (again) so dinner was a very intimate affair, with very good food. It's made up of rustic wooden buildings set in thick jungle alongside a river. Smells a bit damp - think it's still drying out from being completely submerged in floods two years ago.
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  • Day3

    Iberá first evening

    April 15, 2016 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    Once we'd finally arrived at the right lodge & settled in, went for an dusk walk through the forest and on a boardwalk over the marshes. The Iberá wetlands are 1.3million hectares of pristine freshwater marshes. In the forest we saw howler monkeys, giant snails & hoof prints of wild pigs. On the boardwalk we saw more fabulous capybaras just chilling & sunning themselves in the pools. As it had been recently raining here were swarms of dragonflies and in the floating island were little caiman.Read more

  • Day2

    (Mis)adventurous drive

    April 14, 2016 in Argentina ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Thursday started out fine - as in no more rain and thunderstorms. We were on the road before 9 for a long drive to what we thought was going to be three days all inclusive in a lodge in the Iberá wetlands. We picked up a policeman hitchhiker at one of the checkpoints and had an interesting chat with him about usual Argentine topics - football and politics - but also guns, drug smuggling, crime and Scotland (he wants to visit).

    Unfortunately due to a big communication error between us & the travel agency, we drove to the wrong lodge. And not just a little bit wrong, 170km on unpaved mud roads wrong. We got lost on the way (before realising we were in the wrong place), eventually found the 'lodge' in the middle of nowhere - only to find it padlocked shut. It had closed 2 weeks before we were told by a local farmer. We only realised the mistake by hunting through the paperwork and finding the hotel voucher. On the way back to the main road our 4x4 got stuck in the mud. Completely.

    We tried various methods to extricate it for about an hour. Eventually we gave up and walked back to ask the same local woman at her farm for help. She roped in her daughter, Rosa and walked back with us barefoot through the mud, cow and sheep poo.

    Bless their kind hearts, these two phenomenal women & a couple of farm guys, helped us push and shovel the car out. At one point the wheels span, completely covering them in mud & cow poo, to our mortification. Clare got off with only a light splattering. We were justifiably in awe of those fabulous women who had the brains & did most of the work to get us out. Muchas gracias to them. Lisa dug out several hundred pesos of gratitude to give them and they were so muddy that the señora gestured to tuck it into her bra!

    The sun was beginning to set and we only had a 1/4 tank of diesel by this point so we had to drive to the nearest town (70km) back along the mud road. All made more tricky by having filthy windows as we had run out of water in our windscreen reservoir.

    Five police checkpoints later we found petrol & a pretty dingy hotel to stay the night. When we went to find somewhere to eat TripAdvisor failed us so we had to keep walking around. Then when we got back to the hotel the room key snapped in the door - just to top off the day.

    This morning we were on the road before 8 and drove the 2 & a half hours down the correct mud road to the right lodge. All is well in the world now, but we were both pretty alarmed at points yesterday when we realised we were stuck in the wrong place in remote Argentinean farm country, running out of petrol as we'd had to drive so much further than expected when we got lost. But thanks to kind folk we are fine. And thanks to Clare's mum, having given us many packets of wet wipes which we have been carrying around for 2 months, we survived a cow poo mud splashing. The car however is now more brown than silver.

    The lodge is lovely. It is situated on the edge of the wetlands. There are lots of birds. We are also the only guests! We saw deer, herons, road runners & capybara on the way, which look like massive, Labrador-sized guinea pigs, or small hippos, very calmly trundling across the road. There were also several herds of cows being herded along by gauchos on horseback. All very atmospheric.

    Now we are going to lie by our exclusive pool after our first three course meal of the trip and our first proper lunch in four days.
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  • Day1

    Rain and ruins

    April 13, 2016 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We picked up our honking great 4x4 this morning and cruised down Ruta 12 on day one of our road trip. After about 90 mins the heavens opened snd we have seen probably as much water (rain, rivers and reservoirs) as we did yesterday! It has poured.

    We had to stop at one point (see Clare reclining photo) because the visibility was so bad and Clare had numb bum. We stopped at one of the best preserved Jesuit missions - San Ignacio Miní. Difficult to take photos during the thunderstorm but we took some in a moment of respite. The tree is a strangling fig which has completely enveloped one of the supporting columns.

    Now we are at an airport hotel in Posadas - first in the restaurant for dinner again. Big 6-7 hour drive to Iberá wetlands tomorrow, partially on dirt roads, hence the need for the 4x4.
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  • Day0

    Iguazú Falls - butterflies & rainbows

    April 12, 2016 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    Couldn't resist some photos of the natural wonders of Iguazú.
    Also saw a baby snake - apparently 3m long mum would've been near by - glad we didn't meet her