Saturday, March 26, 2011

Earth Hour 2011

March 26 2011 : Earth Hour 2011

I made a post last year for Earth Hour 2010. I am now 6 months into my journey, and this is my post for this year, 2011. There are countless posts on packing for travel. The useful items that have aided you in your travels etc. Let me share one of mine.

Earth Hour - Logo

I have chucked an item into my luggage unconsciously, and it had seen surprisingly lots of usage. From Europe to South America, I had lived on a budget and visited countless supermarkets/grocery stores. And I had used my green bag (bag made from recycled material) more than I had expected! And it was indispensable during the many long distance bus rides where I chuck food/water into it as my "daypack" was full of my camera gear and laptop.

I am glad I had started using it in Singapore few years ago, and I am glad I had brought it along my trip.

Perhaps you should too!

Lights out!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Impressive Iguazu Falls

I have not seen any of the world renowned waterfalls, like Niagara Falls or Victoria Falls etc, so I do not have any references or comparisons. But I am truly impressed and mesmerized by the Iguazu Falls.

Spread over the borders of Brazil and Argentina, the Iguazu Falls consists of several hundred waterfalls, cascades and cataracts. Surrounded by lush rainforest, the mists thrown out by the falls also create some sort of microclimate that resulted in multitudes of butterflies of various colours, shapes and patterns. It was an amazing and spectacular sight - both the waterfalls and the many butterflies fluttering around.

The common question is, is the Brazilian side or Argentinian side of the falls better? I think in terms of views, each side offers a different perspective and aspect of the falls. So I think they are on par. However, in terms of a visit to a National Park, I think the Argentinian side has the edge.

On the Brazilian side, the entrance fee to the park is 76 reals (~US$45) - 70 for the park fee, 5 for the park transport fee, and 1 for some kind of fund. The park bus has several stops/stations, but for independent walking, only the final stop has the excellent boardwalk that allows you to leisurely stroll through the park and gawk at the many waterfalls and butterflies along the way. The other stations are for additional paid guided walks and/or boat trips.

On the Argentinian side, the entrance fee to the park is 100 pesos (~US$25). There are also several stations/stops in the park, and a train (free/included) brings you to these stations. However, most of these stations have trails which you could walk on your own. Of course, there are still the paid boat trips and rides that you can choose to take up. There is also a musuem you could visit, and a ferry trip to San Martin island (which was closed for visiting when I was there). So overall, there is alot more things you could do on your own in the park.

The access town on the Brazilian side is Foz do Iguaçu, and it can be reached via a 22-hour bus ride from Rio de Janeiro (I went by a bus company called Pluma). Of course, you could also choose to fly.

The access town on the Argentinian side is Puerto Iguazú, and it can be reached via an 18-hour bus ride from Buenos Aires (I went with Crucero del Norte), and it was one of the most comfortable bus rides I had (complete with whisky and brut on board :)). Of course, you could still choose to fly...

And between Foz do Iguaçu and Puerto Iguazú, there are buses shuttling to and fro and it's one of the cheapest international transfer I've taken - less than 3 reals (~US$1.50)! Many hostels in each town also organize day trips to the falls on the other side, ie hostels in Foz do Iguaçu provide day trips to the Argentine falls while hostels in Puerto Iguazú does day trips to the Brazilian falls, so doing both falls is still entirely possible even though you intend to cover only one country!

Whichever side you go to, you would come away impressed! Aside from the weather, which was sweltering in Jan, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the falls! For photography, remember to bring your circular polariser which helps to bring out the 'rainbows' over the falls! Highly recommended!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

When Waters Meet

Strange indeed when you can actually see two rivers on a single expanse of water. One of the main attractions of Manaus, the Meeting of Waters is a natural phenomenon that is quite a sight, which you will see when you take a riverboat trip from/to Manaus.

Like two distinct disagreeable personalities, when the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes meet to form the Rio Amazonas, they don't mix initially. The dark waters of the Rio Negro and the muddy brown of the Rio Solimoes kept to themselves for quite a distance before slowly merging. Due to difference in speed, salinity, temperature etc, their boundary is distinct and dramatic!

For those who are flying into Manaus, and/or not going on the riverboat trip, there are many day trips available in Manaus that bring you to the Meeting of Waters. Otherwise, most multi-day jungle trips to the Amazon also include it in the intinerary. On these trips, you are on smaller boats, so you can actually put your hands into the water to feel the differences!

The Amazon is full of mystery and surprises, even when waters meet!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Amazon from the Air

My first post of 2009 was a view of Earth from the Air
I also had a view of Sahara from the Air

First post of 2011. Amazon from the Air!