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I Didn't Get Killed in Rio: Our Travels in Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador

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Jul 23rd, 2015, 12:05 PM
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I Didn't Get Killed in Rio: Our Travels in Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador

My family has been planning a trip to South America for a very long time, and this summer, we finally got to go! We started in Ecuador and spent two nights in Quito. We then spent five days in the Amazon rain forest at the dreamy Napo Wildlife Center. We continued onto Peru, enjoying the wonders of Machu Picchu, and finished up in Brazil. Needless to say it was the trip of a lifetime, and I hope to go to Argentina sometime soon now! I will post the specifics when I'm able to find my notes, but until then, here are a few things I can remember off the top of my head.

- Iguacu Falls is one of the most amazing things I've seen in my life... and I've watched a wild killer whale do tricks in Alaska! If you ever get the chance to go, do! It is the kind of place that makes atheists believe in God.
- While in Iguacu we stayed at the lovely Belmond Hotel, one of the best hotels I've ever been in. The staff & service are amazing, as are the grounds. If you do stay there, make sure to climb up their tower with a cup of tea and a book. It is the cutest little place to relax, painted in a light pink with views of the falls.
- The bird park in Iguacu is not worth it... at all. Yes you can stand with in a couple feet of beautiful birds, but from what I saw most of the birds there are not "rescues" as promised. You are much better saving your money and waiting for a chance to see them in the wild.
- We went in June, and I was under the impression that it would be reasonably warm. Ha. I wore my shorts twice... in Rio and Machu Picchu. I only packed one pair of long yoga pants, which I wore the rest of the trip. I would've killed for a pair of jeans, rain boots, and a Patagonia sweater. When in SA during this time of year pack for a variety of temperatures.

That's all worth mentioning now. I will be back with the rest.
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Jul 23rd, 2015, 01:47 PM
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Glad you're still with us after braving Rio
Thanks for the interesting report.

One of my all time memories began when I picked up a piece of a Wandering Jew plant from the ground in the house-sized cage with parrots and macaws at the Bird Park in Foz do Iguacu. Almost instantly I was surrounded by about a dozen huge macaws interested in being fed that very piece of the plant. On my shoulders. On any surface they could cling to with their feet nearby. Doesn't get any better IMO than being up close and personal with a macaw, though a bit scary at first.
I also subsequently encountered a pair that live free in my friend's neighbor's backyard in Recife, and also flocks in the Pantanal in the wild, but nothing like that close encounter of the arara kind!

And yes, I pack a light sweater and light-weight slacks for Rio in June/July, especially for the heights (Sugarloaf/Corcovado) and at night. Surprising, yes, how cool it can get there.
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Jul 23rd, 2015, 07:46 PM
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Interesting you had that experience in the bird park! I loved seeing the macaws, but it makes me sad to see animals caged. That said, I thought most of the animals had a good home, except the ones at the beginning of the park. They looked sad.
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Jul 24th, 2015, 02:35 AM
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Well, it's not like they're in the kind of small cages you'd find in a home setting. The "cages" are at least as large as many houses, a couple of stories high and with room to fly.
If caged animals make you sad, good you didn't visit the zoo in Rio. They have one big open exhibit with an overhead pedestrian walkway, but most animals are in cages, decent size for the monkeys, but the cats in particularly small ones, and the poor lone elephant just looked neurotic and bored. The adjoining park is pleasant though and there's an excellent small ethnography museum nearby with some lovely artistic objects.
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Jul 24th, 2015, 02:36 AM
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Waiting eagerly for the rest of your tr.
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Jul 29th, 2015, 04:03 PM
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Then you haven't been to the favellas where even the police thinks twice before entering.

Most interesting thing is that favellas in Rio are located in the most precious areas with the most amazing views over Rio. In Europe you would have to pay a fortune to buy a lot there.
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Jul 30th, 2015, 03:24 AM
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Well, these days, you DO have to pay a fortune for a lot on a hill in Rio. And the residents of the very-visible-from-the-tourist-areas communities are made up of the families of the maids cleaning your hotel room and the vendor making your beach visit comfortable, among other hard workers. The UPP program put paid to the myths about these communities years ago, as many World Cup visitors who recently chose to stay there in the many new pousadas can happily attest.
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