Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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I have been to some incredible cities while on this trip but I think Rio would have to be the most incredible city I’ve seen. The way that the city is designed is just amazing, huge skyscrapers built amongst mountains right next to spectacular beaches. From above the views of the city are just jaw-dropping.

I stayed in a hostel called Che Lagarto which is one block back from Ipanema beach, one beach over from Copacobana. It was a fantastic hostel and the people who work there were absolutely lovely. They also do open bar on Thursday nights which is always great fun as I found out with my new Aussie friends Harry and Giles, my French friend Greg and Norwegian friend Hanne.

Just having a drink or three at open bar night at Che Lagarto

Ipanema beach is gorgeous and Copacabana was really cool, although when I was there it was overcast so it didn’t look as spectacular as I’m sure it would on a sunny day.

Ipanema Beach

Copacabana Beach

On my second day in Rio I did a city tour which took us to Christ the Redeemer, Santa Teresa, the Cathedral, Lapa Steps, and Sugarloaf Mountain.

The views from Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain were absolutely amazing, giving a grand view of the entire city including Copacabana, Ipanema and Centro.

At the Lapa Steps we were able to meet Selaron, the artist who created the masterpiece, and I got him to sign a postcard for me. He was a bit crazy but apparently we caught him on a good day because a lot of the time he doesn’t even come out of his house which is right next to the steps.

On another day a group of us went to Barra de Tijuca where there is a beautiful beach. Alejandro, Andrea, Greg and I had an absolutely fabulous day lazing about and enjoying the sun (and a sneaky caipirinha).

Rio is also an amazing place to go out. Twice I went out salsa dancing in Copacabana, then went to an incredible street party in Lapa with people everywhere, cheap drinks and plenty of samba, and on my last night (Halloween) had a great night out drinking in Lapa and then dancing like idiots in Ipanema.

The food in Brazil is also incredible. I tried some sushi (thanks to encouragement from Greg) and it was delicious but the Brazilians really love there meat which means I was very happy. On my last night, Greg, Hanne and I all went out for churasco, which is pretty much all you can eat meat (chicken, beef, pork, sausage) with a side of rice and chips. Accompanied by a nice glass of red wine, of course. It was AMAZING!!

The vibe in Rio is absolutely awesome! It really has a buzz that makes it the exciting place that it is. The people are all gorgeous and aren’t afraid to let you know it. The guys all get around in tiny swimmers (or budgie smugglers as we’d call them in Australia) and the women wear g-string bikinis, most of the time on the beach I didn’t know where to look!

I’m so glad I went to Rio, because it wasn’t originally on my list of places to visit. And despite many people telling me that it can be dangerous, I felt safe all the time I was there. Rio is definitely a city I’d recommend visiting, but be aware that it’s expensive compared to the rest of South America, with prices for most things on par with Sydney or London.

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La Paz, Bolivia – The End of the Tour

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After leaving Puno we headed around the banks of Lake Titicaca towards Bolivia. The border crossing went quite smoothly which was a relief as I was a bit nervous because it was my first overland border crossing.

We stopped off in Copacabana for lunch (not the famous Copacabana from the song, which is in Brazil) before continuing on to La Paz. All up it was about a 7 hour bus journey.

The city of La Paz is located in a valley and sprawls up the sides of the mountains that surround it. We entered the city via El Alto, a neighboring city which overlooks La Paz. As we came to the edge of El Alto we were able to look down onto the city and I was absolutely awestruck! I’ve never seen anything like it. The buildings cling to the mountainsides and spill down into the lower part of the canyon where the main streets of the city are made up of modern skyscrapers.

After my first glimpse of La Paz I knew I was going to thoroughly enjoy my time in the city.

The only part I didn’t enjoy was saying goodbye to the amazing group of people from the tour. Part of the group were heading home while others were continuing on with another tour which meant it was time for me to start the solo part of my journey. It was quite amazing how well everyone on the tour got on and we were all very sad to say goodbye. The good thing is that many of them will be in London or nearby when I arrive so we have already planned to catch-up and reminisce about the amazing times we shared.

A huge thank you to Rod from G.A.P Adventures who looked after all of us and made the tour the best experience of my life. And of course to the cheeky bastards on the tour: Francisca, Benedicte, Jolien, Marilyn, Nat, Kat, Shruti, Kat, Will, Tim, Joey and Mark; you guys were the best tour group I could have imagined and I already miss you all very much!

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