Arugam Bay – Sun, Sea & Surfing.

We arrived in Arugam Bay a little under a week ago – the town is small and full of small independent guest houses, restaurants and bars. Its a real surfers town, the type of place where everybody knows each other. You can walk from one side of town to the other in 10 minutes, the locals are super friendly, the signs are hand-painted and everybody here is up for a party, the beach here is probably not everyones idea of paradise but its got a lot of character, fishing boats line the shore and the sand is a rich golden colour and although the sun hasn’t stopped shining its not a place you see many people sunbathing – its everything we expected Goa to be, We have finally found our beach town.

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SURFING

Being typical english folk, me & Jay have never tried surfing but Arugam Bay is one of the top surf spots on the planet so while we’ve been here we have given it a bash, if like us you’re new to surfing there are 2 main spots that people go to learn here –  Peanut Farm and Whiskey Point. We prefer whiskey point as its been a lot less busy and you don’t get loads of pro surfers getting annoyed with you falling off in front of them. if you’re more of a confident surfer then head to main point to catch the real waves! You can rent boards at both spots and both serve food and drink so you don’t starve to death or die of dehydration during the long days surfing in the sun! You can also get an hour and half lesson for Rs 2500 (£12) which is reasonable and you’ll learn all you need to catch your own waves and generally look cool by standing up on your board. Jay managed to stand up seven out of nine times on her first lesson!

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GETTING AROUND

One thing we loved about our stay here was the fact you can rent a scooter for Rs 800-1000  a day (£4). This was a highlight as Sri Lanka really does have the best views and weather for scooting around. One way out of town gets you to whiskey point and the other to peanut farm and on the way expect to see goats, water buffalos, monkeys, peacocks, lizards, snakes and maybe even elephants in the distance.

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The grass is so green here it look almost cartoon like and next to the blue sky it really is stunning and eve more perfect if you are seeing it on a moped with the wind in your hair and the sun setting in the background. An epic sight we will never forget and I hope one day to be back to get our fix.

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Tuk-tuks are everywhere too and you will need one of these if you are taking a board with you from town to either surf spot however you can rent them there for around Rs 1000 a day, sometimes cheaper. For those that aren’t learning to surf though, there is the main beach which is equally as picturesque right behind the main street but this surf is more for pro surfers and be careful here last there is a lot of coral so can be dangerous without surf booties. OUCH!

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FLAVOURS

We loved the food here and found you could get an equal amount of both Asian and Western food. As there is quite a lot of (healthy) competition with there being so many places to eat, everyone is on top of there game here and I don’t think we had  bad meal. Here are a couple of our favourites;

Hideaway – Amazing bar for juices, smoothies, sandwhiches and a gorgeous restaurant behind for dinner with a kick ass team of peeps. this has become our local haunt and were regulars for the happy hour 6-7pm every day, there is also live music from 6pm saturday – Hideaway is wnoed by two brothers Yanik and Yeven who can also give you great advice on things to do around the bay. Hit them up!

Breakpoint – Great falafel wraps and chicken shwarma curry wrap. Also a mean chicken schnitzel sub.

Tandoori Hut – One of our favourites. Set in a tree house just off the main strip, amazing fish and chicken with freshly prepared side dishes each day.

Kumutay (opposite buddha state end of main street) – open 24 hours great little spot for cheap food. Try the vegetable Kottu with cheese or egg. Ahhh gonna miss these beauties!

Gecko – Run by an Sri Lankan and english couple. Nice fresh food but need to up their bacon portions. One slice of  bacon in a bacon and egg sandwich is not acceptable, especially to a Londoner.  Also service was a little slow  but still worth a go.

The Seahorse Inn– Best pizza we had in Sri Lanka in a lovely garden setting with cool lighting and chilled music. Great vibes.

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NIGHTLIFE 

Theres a party every night here in Arugam Bay, the bars always rotate who has the party each night so theres no competition between them, our favourite place to party has been Mambos, which was on saturday night as you can spill out of the bar onto the beachfront and watch the light show as the sun comes up – don’t miss this!

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ACOMMODATION

We stayed at two hostels during our time in the Bay, but there are lots of guest houses along the Main street so there is no shortage of places to stay – no matter what kind of budget you’re on. It is by no means a high end resort town though so do not come here expecting 5* hotels as that really is not what Arugam Bay is about. It embraces Sri Lankan culture and does to have any plans to fill up with large skyscraper hotels appealing to the masses. Every guesthouse is original and standing in its original state.

We stayed at Hiro guesthouse which is at (we think) the best end of the street. Close to the late night Kottu place and just a bit ore of a buzzier feel going on. It is run by a cool Japanese lady who makes banging sushi and thai curries. This place was Rs 4500 per night and came with two comfortable double beds, air con and a bathroom. This would be very affordable for four friends too as it is not per person so you could cut some serious cash off the bill that way.


Overall Arugam Bay has been one of our favourite places so far, we’ve made some great friends here and there is a real sense of community, You can see how people would easily get stuck in a place like this, especially if you’re a surfer. we’re going to have a tough job dragging ourselves away from here if we stay here much longer but I’m sure we’ll be back here one day!

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Kandy To Pinawalla Elephant Orphanage, 80km By Tuk-Tuk!

After our train ride from Colombo to Kandy we did a quick bit of research but struggled to find a simple and cheap way to get from Kandy to Pinawalla. Pinawala is home to the worlds largest elephant orphanage with over 60 in total. Being on a  backpackers budget we didn’t want to pay for an expensive 80km round trip in a taxi and the buses sounded like a real pain so we took our search to the streets and hailed down a local Tuk-Tuk driver.

We knew it was quite a trip for a Tuk-Tuk so we tried to flag down one of the newer ones that looked like they could make the journey but as you would expect, every one that passed looked like it had been salvaged from the bottom of the ocean. The first driver we stopped literally laughed at us and drove off which wasn’t really the reaction we were looking for. The second agreed and said he would do it for Rs 3500 (£17) which is less than half the price of a taxi!

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Me and Jay love getting Tuk-Tuks, you get the wind in your hair, you can stop whenever you like to take photos or grab a drink and you can weave in and out of all the cars that are stuck in traffic but best of all, you are supporting the little guy!

The journey took around an hour and a half and there is plenty of great views along the way. Pinawalla was established in 1975 as a conservation breeding centre by Sri Lanka Wildlife department with only 5 baby elephants – today there are over 60! The tourist Entrance price to Pinawalla Elephant Orphanage is Rs 2500. (£12.50)

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One thing we were happy about was as you entered the park was the sense that the elephants here were really looked after. Obviously they are not out in the wild and this is always the ideal scenario however in this particular sanctuary they are not restrained and get to roam around the 25 acre park and once a day they are lead to a nearby river to be bathed, which is really quite an amazing site!

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After you have seen the elephants being bathed in the river they are walked back to the sanctuary and this gives you a chance to get up close and personal with some of the  more social elephants. There are also locals selling bananas for Rs 300 for you to feed to them as they walk past, we didn’t buy any bananas but this guy seemed to like me!

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After you’ve have seen the herd in the river you can go back to the park and see them in as near to their natural habitat as you can get. We watched a gorgeous elephant having some me time bathing and drinking which was a beautiful sight. She was showing off some serious shower skills and even remembered to wash behind her ears.

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Overall this was a great day out and the tuk-tuk really made it that extra bit more adventurous. From now on we are going to get as many tuk-tuks as possible. Today we were even thinking of possible ways we could purchase our very own to cruise from south to north Sri Lanka. Too much?

Can You Backpack The Maldives On A Budget?

BACKPACKING IN THE MALDIVES

After our week in Abu Dhabi we decided that on arrival in Colombo we would do something backpackers very rarely do, attempt to backpack the Maldives. We had checked out where we could fly off to from Sri Lanka, amazingly we found that we could fly one way to Male for just under £50. This was such a bargain that after a bit of research on whether or not it could be done on a backpackers budget we decided to go for it.

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We had heard that some of the islands had recently started opening guest houses and small family run hotels from as little as £15 a night, so it isn’t all 5* resorts after all . We will be sharing all of our money saving tips here and hope that people don’t shy away from this beautiful part of the world because of its expensive honeymoon status and hope to show that you can do it on a budget. G and I stole some luxury sun beds from the nice hotel next door earlier, thats tip number one!😉

So from the top…

MALE

We got our cheap flights through china eastern airways. You fly direct to Male Airport which is on an island of its own. When you come out of the airport you grab the local ferry for $1 to the capital city of Male. Do not expect paradise here. It is a busy place and it doesn’t have any beaches. If you have a night flight you will normally need to do one night here as we did and therefore need to stay in a guesthouse preferably close to the port so you can get out fast the next day. We stayed at Off Day Inn which was a five minute walk from the dock.

Not the greatest guesthouse as there was a cockroach scurrying across our bed as we entered the room and I swear they had forgotten to put a mattress on our bed base it was that hard. Also what was annoying was that this place cost us more than what we eventually paid on the islands to come.

The next morning we grabbed the 10am ferry to Maafushi Island for 53 Rufiyaa, which was a pretty smooth 90 minute journey passing some beautiful islands with the little water beach huts you see in expensive holiday brochures.

MAAFUSHI

Maafushi Island was a lot smaller than I expected which wasn’t a bad thing. It kind of reminded us of Holbox in Mexico; sandy streets and people riding round on push bikes and mopeds. The beaches are quite small but still absolutely stunning and the water is just next level blue, the island is lined with palm trees and is all together pretty green, you can walk from one end of the island to the other in around 10 minutes, there are a few resort islands close by that you can visit if you’re feeling in need of a bit of luxury.

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The water actually gets clearer as you get further out, G swam out today for about 200 metres to check out the corals and fish and could still stand up. For obvious reasons I didn’t take my eyes off him the whole time. Will I ever forget that bloody drowning incident in Colombia?

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BEACHES

The beach on Maafushi is small but pretty nonetheless. The sand is the purest white and so soft under your feet. There are sun loungers and hammocks available to use free of charge. The beach is lined with palm trees and there are lots of small hermit crabs scurrying around. There are some restaurants on the beach front you can buy food and drink from, you are also allowed to wear bikinis on the beach on Maafushi so no need to worry about covering up!

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ACCOMODATION

When we arrived we had a walk around the island to check the prices of some hotels, most of the bigger hotels on the beach front were £50 ($70) per night but as its off season you can haggle them down a little bit. After walking around for 10 minutes we found a hotel called Picnic Inn which was only £20 ($30) a night for a double room. It was fully booked on the day we arrived so we stayed around the corner at a new hotel called Horizon View for the same price.

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Both Hotels are pretty basic but are kept clean and all rooms have wifi, air conditioning, a fridge and new towels and bedding are provided every day although their pillows are pretty shocking and this morning i actually woke up feeling like i’d been punched in the ear by Mike Tyson.

DAY TRIPS,  SNORKELLING & WATER SPORTS

Picnic Inn and most other hotels let you use their snorkelling equipment free of charge so there’s no need to buy any or bring your own to the island, you can also book day trips and excursions through some of the hotels, we booked a trip through White Shell Hotel  for £30 ($45) that took us snorkelling on the banana reef, around the big reef and for lunch on an uninhabited sand bank in the middle of the sea, they also took us for a ‘dolphin cruise’, sadly there were no dolphins but to our surprise we did see quite a lot of flying fish!

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This was our amazing lunch spot.

The snorkelling trip was a great day out and we got to see lots beautiful coral, some colourful fish and even got up close and personal with a few sea turtles. It lasted from 10am until around 4pm and all drinks and food were included in the price.

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Along the beach front there are plenty of places you can rent surfboards and paddle boards but if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous you can try your hand at wind surfing, waterskiing or jetskiing for as little as £15 ($20)

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FOOD & DRINK

The food on Maafushi is a little boring to say the least. Breakfast was a complete washout and lunch and dinner had little to no difference whatsoever. It lacked a lot of variety once you had subtracted the inedible out of the equation. I have compiled a list of the places we found and quite liked but I will say this, try to stick to Maldivian food like curries and fried rice dishes as they really have not got a clue when it comes to western food. DO NOT order pizza or pasta for example they just haven’t grasped it. I didn’t like the taste of the chicken here so I stuck to fish, G however didn’t mind it so each to their own. All meals are around $7 so you won’t be spending a lot on food  whilst here too which is good for the old bank balance.

We ate at stingray mostly which is a guest house and restaurant. Order the chicken fried rice or the dish curry. I had a fruit platter most evenings for dessert which was good. G had a strawberry milkshake which wasn’t fresh strawberries but did the trick for him.

Hot bites did a lovely fish and chicken curry. We ordered them both spicy and they didn’t disappoint. Always ask for your rice steaming hot it’s so much nicer and no getting sick. They also do the best fresh orange juice on the island. White Shell hotel on the beach also does a great tuna fried rice & Dhonveli Palm Beach View sells a huge bag of popcorn for 80p which is perfect to get before having a night in watching a film!

Breakfast was included at picnic inn but was pretty poor, i just stocked up on toast with butter and jam, we also bought lots of bananas and apples from the local shop to keep it healthy and cheap. Don’t come here expecting michelin star restaurants but if you check out the places above you’ll be sure to find at least a few tasty dishes.

WEATHER

Its the beginning of June so its rainy season in the Maldives. It doesn’t really get affected too badly by the monsoons that hit most of Asia this time of year, so far it has been 30+ degrees with about 6 hours of solid sunshine every day. It usually rains hard for roughly one hour a day, which leaves big puddles all over the island which will all be gone by the next day! Please don’t be put off because of the rainy season, you get better deals on hotels and day trips and the rain usually commences in the morning or evening so it doesn’t ever dampen your day.

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So after our week in the Maldives we feel happy to recommend this to all types of travellers on any budget. Go and explore this beautiful paradise.

If you have any other questions feel free to ask and we will get back to you.

Happy travels

J&G.

Check out our Maldives Photo Album to see all the pictures from our trip!

10,000 Hits For 2becomeJuan!

We’ve reached 10,000 views! Heres a round up of what we have done so far!

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Chitchen Itza, Mexico

Holbox Sea Birds

Holbox Island, Mexico

Trees and cows-proper nature

Salento, Worlds Tallest Wax Palms Colombia

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Tubing In Palomino, Colombia

Christ Redeemer
Christ Redeemer

Christ The Redeemer, Brazil

Campeche Island

Campeche Island, Florianopolis

Iguazu

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

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Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia

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Taj Mahal, India

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Delhi Bazaars, India

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The Corniche, Abu Dhabi

Still to come is the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Japan & Australia! check back soon or check out our other destinations to read more about our trip!

Abu Dhabi Doo.

For the past week we have been staying in Abu Dhabi with Jays friend Emma, her husband Ali and their squad of little people.

They have been kind enough to put us up, feed us and genuinely treat us like family, Emma even taxi’d us back and forward to and from the beach every day! Its definitely been a nice break from staying in hostels and hotels!

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I’ve really enjoyed my time in Abu Dhabi, the style of life here is one To be desired, it seems like a great place to have a family. The weather has been a constant 35 degrees which is perfect for catching some rays by the pool, although I don’t think anybody told the UAE that clouds exist..

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Emma & Ali are genuinely two of the nicest people I’ve met and they really do have a beautiful family, it would be a privilege to return the favour if they come to visit us in Australia but I don’t think our 1 bed flat would be big enough for the 6 of them..
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Thanks guys. X

Taj Mahal Sunrise

We set our alarms for 4.30am, usually this would be closer to the time we go to bed but today we had reason to be up early, we were going to see the Taj!  we walked from our hotel to the ticket office, a red pyramid like building around 1km from the Taj Paid the 750 rupee entrance fee and jumped on a electric golf cart to the front gate.

The average temperature so far for our trip has been 42 degrees and to go outside this morning and for it to actually be quite cool was a bit strange, it was so nice to be able to be outside without it feeling like somebody was blowing you with a hairdryer!

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When we arrived there was only around 5 people in the queue which was great, this meant we would have the Taj almost to ourselves! they open the gates at sunrise which is around 5.30 so make sure to get there before this time if you want to catch the sunrise.

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The Taj Mahal was built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan for his 3rd wife who died giving birth to their 14th child, it took 20 years to complete and no matter what side you look at it from, it is the exact same view!

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It really is one of the Most amazing things I’ve ever seen and to get to see it with the sun rising from behind made it that little bit more special, it was definitely worth getting up at that ungodly hour to see it. Check out our India Page to read more about our indian adventure or check out the Photo Album to see more pictures like these!

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Naan-Stop India.

We’ve been in Delhi for two days now and my eyes are killing me…partly because of the thick smog that engulfs the entire city and partly because theres so much going on you never get a chance to rest your eyes, you look in one direction and there will be a cow being fed chapatis in the middle of a busy road and before you’ve had a chance to take that in a family of 4 will ride past all piled up on a small bike and all the while theres a man trying to coax you into his Tuk-Tuk and a group of small children trying to get money from you, everywhere you look something is happening, something weird and wonderful, theres a photo oppertunity and a bazaar around every corner.

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Today we zig-zagged across Delhi and checked out some temples, forts and tombs – Jay bought her first Sari and dozens of locals queued to have pictures with us. We were actually quite sad to think that pretty much everyone we had met that had been to India had advised us to get out of Delhi as soon as we could. We could not have been happier with Delhi being our first introduction to India and we can safely say that if this is suppose to be the worst of it…India is going to be very very fun indeed. We have had huge smiles on our faces since we arrived and are both so excited to see what comes next. There will definitely never be a dull moment in the next coming weeks I’m sure. What I will say is Delhi is not for the faint hearted or nervous traveller and also Jay has admitted that she probably wouldn’t feel so safe and happy here on her own as a solo female traveller. So please bear in mind that although we have fallen head over heels for Delhi, it may not be everyones cup of tea.

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This week in Delhi the average temperature is 42 degrees (110f) and drops down to a cool 29 at night, Luckily our hotel has air conditioning! Tomorrow we start the more Northern part of our India trip starting with Jaipur then onto Agra to see the Taj, then over to Varanasi and Rishikesh before we fly down to Goa, Hampi and Kerala (Cochin)

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Check out our India Page to keep up to date with our travels.

Nepal Earthquake, Our Next Stop…

So today we woke to the horrific and sad news of the Earthquake in Nepal. Already the death toll is at 758 people and it is thought to be rising rapidly. A number of historic buildings have been destroyed including the Dharahara Tower, a royal palace and many other world heritage sites.

We are waiting to find out whether we will be able to fly there in 5 days time but for now all we know is it hit roughly 5km from the centre of Kathmandu it is the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in over 80 years.

If possible we will still travel to Nepal to offer our help, although many main roads have been torn apart and all flights for now have been cancelled.

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Ice, Spikes & Hikes, Patagonia.

For the most part, Patagonia is an empty, wind-swept and baron land – But because of its perfect location on the Andes Patagonia has a couple of the worlds most breathtaking sites. The andes are home to the third biggest mass of freshwater on the planet, in this case its in ice form, which of course means glaciers.. We visited the Perito Moreno glacier, its 17 miles long and its the only glacier in the world thats not retreating.

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Patagonia has 48 glaciers but the Perito Moreno is the most visited because of its close proximity to El Calafate and because large carvings fall off of the face daily and you can be right up close to see it. You can also go hiking on the glacier, you get fitted with crampons and you’ll pass cracks, crevices and bright blue plunge pools along the way, at the end of the day you get served a glass of whiskey, complete with Glacier ice!

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Patagonia also has one of the most amazing mountain views you’ll ever see. The views from El Chalten of Mount Fitzroy is like nothing I’ve seen before, its sharp, upward spikes directly contrast the surrounding mountains. We were lucky to have 2 of only 15 days of clear sky that patagonia gets every year, we did a 4km hike along the mountains to Lagoa Capri through fallen trees and muddy paths, forests tinged orange & yellow by autumn,  allowing some great photo opportunities.

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As we were leaving, and the sun was going down the clouds started to draw in over the mountains like id never seen be

fore, creating amazingly beautiful patterns, we could not have timed our trip any better. check out our PATAGONIA PAGE for more pictures.

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Iguazu Falls – Brazil Vs Argentina

Stuck Between the two? We’ve spent the past 2 days at Iguazu falls. First we visited the Brazilian side and then we crossed the border to the Argentinian side. Both sides are stunning in their own right however if you have limited time and are struggling with which side to choose we will explain the differences to help you decide.

BRAZIL, $13 entrance fee: The Brazilian side is a half day trip with you needing only a few hours to walk the whole trail. The majority of the views are of the falls from afar with panoramic views of cascading waterfalls about 2.5km wide. You have great photo opportunities here and you also get to walk across a footbridge and look down over some falls. On both sides of the falls you have hundreds of butterflies all different colours and varieties going along the trail with you and landing on you which is very cool. There is an elevator which takes you up for a panoramic viewpoint at the devils throat which is pretty epic. At the exit of the park there is a delicious buffet restaurant where for around $14 you can eat as much as you want. The food was some of the best we had had serving things like salmon fillet, steak, the worlds best mashed potato and a lovely fresh pasta linguine dish. I would actually go back just for that to be honest!

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Iguasu Brazil
ARGENTINA, $30 entrance fee:  The Argentinian side is much more of a day out, with different trails and activities such as a boat ride into the falls and a train journey up to the top of the falls and a train journey up to the devils throat. The trails here allow you to get a lot closer to the falls with you getting pretty wet in certain parts. and also a lovely long walk across the river on a footbridge. The only food we came across was a Subway but we were happy with that…and so were the Coaties, they are a racoon type animal that are in abundance on both sides who would pounce on you left right and centre if you tried to sit and eat at the tables.The boat ride was a definite highlight and if you are an adrenaline junkie you must do this trip but be prepared to get WET! Don’t bother with the waterproofs as they will be useless, water comes from all angles and completely saturates you but don’t worry you’ll soon dry off in the sun!

Iguazu
Iguazu Argentina
Overall if we had to choose a side it would definitely be the Argentinian side for two reasons. One being the finale view from the top which is utterly breathtaking and two being the ridiculously fun and outrageous boat journey into and under the waterfalls, although if you have the time please visit both sides, starting on the Brazilian if possible, i think after seeing the views from the Argentinian side the Brazilian side may be a bit underwhelming.

Check out our BRAZIL & ARGENTINA pages for more info and to see what else we got up to.

2becomeJuan.

2 Become Juan. A Couple Of Travellers, Worldwide Wanderers, International Explorers, Land Roamers. A BackPacking Couple On The Trip Of A Lifetime.

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