Touring Ted

2 wheels & no sense. My Motorcycle travel blog.

Mind made up, plans formed, promises made, bikes been prepped and savings account filling.

It’s official.  A few months ago I made my mind up to ride from here in the U.K to Capetown, South Africa.

It’s a trip i’ve been thinking about since I got back from South America in May 2008.  I’ve been motivated and managed to clear my debts (mostly) and buy and prepare the bike which will be my faithful steed.

As you all know, Africa is pretty wild and can be very dangerous.  Sure, i’m nervous and a little scared but I think that’s just fear of the unknown.  I was “bricking it” thinking of going around South America. While sketchy at times, my fears were unfounded and i discovered nothing but the friendliest people and the most breathtaking of scenery.

I think peoples opinion of Africa is mostly of war, famine and corruption with the odd Safari park and a bit of sand in the North.   I can say this because it’s an  ignorant opinion I had myself until I started travelling and opening my mind to the world a little.

In fact, its probable the most beautiful, rich , ancient and interesting and diverse continent on the planet.  Full of nature, history, a huge variety of culture and languages.  Huge moutain ranges with wild waterfalls to arid deserts and miles of open plain and grasslands.  I can’t even start to tell you what I’ve learnt about Africa with only a little research !

So it’s on this virtue that I believe the riches has to offer me in terms of culture, wildlife , diversity of landscapes and counties FAR offsets any risk of Kidnap and violence.

June 2007, Ripley Derbyshire – HU meeting !    Thats where I bumped into Neil Gonzalez. He had the same bike as me with a tank I was looking for and that got us chatting.  Plus, I wanted to know where he bought his comedy wig (turned out it was his real hair… ooops )   😉

We got chatting about travelling and realised that we were both in the same boat.  We have travelled a fair bit ourselves but were looking for a travel buddy to do a longer, crazy and more adventurous trip.  Since we couldnt afford a BBC camera crew, the SAS, a medical team, aspare parts backup trucks and fresh laundered silk undies everyday to look good for the media , we decided that we could hook up and think of a trip together.

While generally talking crap about ourselves, bikes, the world via the internet, we talked over riding through Eastern Europe for a while but mutually decided that it was far too easy and not much of a challenge for our 400c Enduro bikes, so Africa became the plan..

“Do it now, while you’re young enough to bounce and heal”  was pretty much the logic behind it all 🙂

So, we have decided on a September 2010 departure date.   The route so far (but liable to change at anytime lol)  is :

Uk – Spain – Sardinia – Italy – Greece – Turkey – Syria – Jordan – Egypt – Sudan – Ethipia – Kenya – Tanzania – Milawi – Zambia – Namibia – South Africa.

Easy huh.. Should take about 4-5 months  !
So hear we go ! The blog is GOOOOOOOOOOOOOO !!


Author: Ted Magnum
05.12.2009

Europe = Too easy !!!!!!

F**K it…… Let’s ride THROUGH Europe to Africa.  While we’re there, might as well head all the way south to Capetown  🙂


I’ve just been introduced to what seems a great website for travelling on a budget.

http://www.helpexchange.net/

Loads of places to go and chill out for free in exchange for mucking in with some labour…. A few hours a day working in the sunshine in the countryside is a small price to pay for your sanity. Plus, I really want to polish up on my Spanish and get back into the “traveller” social group.  My kind of people !!

I think i’ll go mad if I stay in the UK.  Living in my mums spare room for the next 18 months to save for a £10,000 trip to ride to Capetown seems psychologically impossible at the moment. ..  Off setting the Africa trip may not be such a bad idea… I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I might as well sit out the recession in the sunshine and come back and save some decent money for the Africa trip when things are more settled..

I start a new job (Stil at Sony) this week. It might help with the boredom for a while but if not, I think ill be out of here by the end of September.

Other news…I’ve gone and got myself another bike.  A bright yellow Suzuki DRZ400 trail bike.  I got it for Africa but as that seems to be on hold for a while, I dont know whether to keep it or not.. I will probably have to sell one bike to fund this winters escapade but which one ???????????????


Since returning to the shores of Merry old England in May 2008, I’ve had nothing but a desire to travel more and more. If anything, I want to get away even more than before I set off for South America.

Travelling (and especially on motorcycle) is such a fantastic life changing experience it is something that I think I will always have to do. I’ve met so many fantastic people and experienced things that I only dreamt of and I’ve barely scraped the surface of planet Earth.

I’ve been hatching up a few hair braining ideas since my return since last May whilst still paying for my last trip ! I ended up spending about £10,000 in South America and I only budgeted for £5,000. The £2500 trip to Antartica and my lack of planning for beer and hotels really hit the credit card hard. So, the last year has been spent paying off that extra £5000 and saving enough to buy my current steed… A 1999 battered Africa Twin that has already been to South Africa and back (so hopefully she knows the way lol)..

Soooooo !! The saving starts now.  And now the eternal question  ! WHERE ????????????????????????

I’m toying with the idea of riding from the UK to Capetown then back to to Argentina and upto Colombia again (visiting the west coast of South America which I missed) OR maybe riding to Australia…

Watch this space  🙂

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09.07.2008

After Angel falls, it was a few days ride to the Colombian border. The roads were very good and once again took us through beatiful landscapes, jungle and twisty moutain passes. Our only downer was the Venezuelian checkpoints. They were mostly very hostile with the military police demanding to see all our papers and checking everything. To me it just seemed an excuse to bully about rich weterners about or just out of total boredom (probably the latter). Saying that, we were never asked for a bribe or physically threatened so onwards we pressed.

A few LONG days later we made it to the Colombian border. Venezuela gave us our final sour taste by demanding an “Exit fee”, AKA bribe before they would stamp our exit visas and let us leave the country. I dont want people to think I didnt enjoy Venezuela but it has the potential to be so much better if they would just chill out a little.

Within 15 minutes we were happy and smiling again. Its a fantastic feeling to get through a border and see all the wlcome signs.. I always let off a “Woooo Hoooo” everytime I see the first sign..

It was fantastic to be in Colombia. The difference was like black and white with relation the the officials. The guards had big smiles and welcomed us in. They offered us drinks and gave us directions to the customs office (unusually it wasnt at the border and a couple of miles in the city near an airport). We had to go to customs to declare our bikes and obtain our tempory import visas for the bikes which WOULD be checked at guard points on the roads. A bit of a pain but necessery.

So off we went into the madness and jumble of the city following signs to the airport. On arrival at the airport the gateman told us that the customs was infact not at the airport but in the town AHHHHHH !!  Luckily, and in true Colombian hospitality style , a random bloke in a car insisted that he show us the way 🙂

After all the faffing about with the usual customs photocopying and form filling Sean and myself decided to head for Bogota and home leaving Criste to head north to the coast. This is after we were grabbed by a local guy on a bike who insisted we come to his small B&B for free drinks and even offered to put us up for free. We were all quite eager to press on so unfortunatley had to decline his invitation but it all made us feel very welcome in what is such a wonderful and unfairly critisised country.

I really really really wish that I hadnt lost the pictures of the ride south to Bogota because it was simply stunning. Riding the Colombian andes at over 10,000 feet in the mist of the jungle moutains was one of the most memerable rides of my life. The people are verging on indiginous and their lives are very basic. What I didnt really plan on was the cold at 10,000 feet. We were bloody freezing and glad when the altitude dropped as quickly as it rose.

A few days earlier I had received an invite from a fellow scouse biker (Mick) who has an apartment in Bogota. Mick spends 10 months of the year in Colombia and 2 in the UK, working when he feels like it.  He kindly invited myself and Sean to come and stay with him while we sorted out out shipping and flights back to the UK. It was really nice to roll into Bogota knowing a friendly face and some local knowledge was on the horizon.

Over the next few days, Mick made us feel like Royalty and even he even bought my bike off me to replace his well used and abused KLR. I was a little sad about leaving my bike behind but it saved me the huge hassel and cost of shipping it home.. At least she will be used in South America for many years to come !

After I booked my flights I made sure I made the most out of Bogota with the little money I had left. We went clubbing in downtown, enjoyed the fantastic resturants and basically chilled out with some locals…. Bogota is not what I imagined it at all. Big expensive shopping malls, classy resturants and nice museams. Thorwn into the mix is samba, dancing and friendly happy faces…. I loved Colombia and my biggest regret is not having enough time to explore it properly.

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Writing this blog has been fun and I hope its helped to inspire a few people to just getting out there and doing it. If I can do it, ANYONE can….  You will meet so many wondrous, kind and selfless people that it will totally shake your own perspectives on western life. You will meet many other travellers, with and without motorcycle, who will happily share your experiences with you (and your beer). I can almost guarantee that you will make friendships on the road that will last a lifetime.

What I learned about travelling is that you really cant plan anything and I’m glad that I didn’t really plan much at all. You have to remain very elastic as nothing ever really goes how you plan it. In my opinion, I had much more fun that way too.

Its pretty sad writing the last post on this South American blog and thats probably why I’ve waited 6 weeks after getting home to do it.  But ALAS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!,  the trials and tribulations of touring Ted will continue…

I’ve just started planning my next trip. At the moment im still undecided but I think its more than likely going to be a huge long trip to South Africa. First crossing western and eastern Europe and down the side of Africa (not sure which one yet)… Its going to probably be 2 years off with my current dire financial situation but hold onto your hats, knowing me its going to be more adventure packed than this one was 🙂

Until then….. Chau !


Im sorry that its been so long since my last post but i’ve been crazy busy and actually back home and working in the UK.

Be it at that… ill write of my final weeks in South America. In true Ted style, i lost my memory card with 90% of my Colombia photos on so ill just do my best..

From my last post, I was travelling through Venezuela with the Americans Sean and Christi. Myself and Sean had been playing with the Idea of taking a microlight to the world famous Angel falls. What many people dont know is that you cant simply driver or ride to the falls. They are in the middle of the bloody rainforest’s and even the closest town is somewhere you have to fly to.

So myself and Sean (Christi opted out so she could scrub her knickers), decided to head to the airport and charter a flight and day trip to the falls. We rode to the small airfield of Ciuidad Bolivar, fought our way though the hoards of people selling flights and agreed a price with the most reputable (ok the cheapest) operator there.

We paid our money in cash (A friggin pain in Venezuela where the cash machines don’t work) and agreed to be picked up the next day from our hostel in town..

We spent the night getting pretty dam drunk and listening to the Beatles on my MP3 player, completely forgetting that we had to take a microlight over the jungle in the early hours.

As promised the van picked us up and took us to the airport. We were immediately loaded into a little plane and away on our 1 hour flight to Caniema (the closest Jungle settlement to the falls)

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We touched down after a choppy and pretty frightening flight. It probably only felt so bad because we were hungover and trying not the throw up !!

 WOW, what a beautiful place. Caniema (spelled wrong), was just stunning. A huge lake surrounded by waterfalls and lake side shacks. Its probably only here for tourists but it doesnt take away from its beauty. If this place wasn’t only accessible by light plane, im sure there would be a Mcdonalds and Hilton hotel here !

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After hanging about for a few hours visiting the smaller falls, it was time to take a second plane and do our “flyby” through the deep jungle and past the face of Angel falls.  We were so excited and for good reason. The fly out into the Jungle is just phenomenal. Countless miles of beautiful open rain-forest, mountains, rivers and wildlife. We were jaw dropped for the whole flight and though life couldn’t get better until the pilot (crazy old dude who had watched too many Battle of Britain films) took us over the falls. We took photos and the pilot banked, rolled and dived his way over the rainforest trying to get us a good shot. I barely held onto my lunch when my memory card filled up.

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 These photos REALLY don’t do Angel falls justice. They are 1 kilometre high and the water is barely a mist when it reaches the bottom. A life time experience !

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Its been over 2 weeks my last post but I have been rather busy and theres not really internet going around in the Amazon 🙂

Since my last post I have continued up the coast of Brazil with the Americans and Canadians enjoying the beach towns, white sands and warm waters. Eventually we headed in land for the city of Belem where we had planned to take a 5 day cruise up the River Amazon to the Amazonian city of Manaus and the gateway into Venezuela.  As usual the ride was beautiful with lots of Jungle, sweeping roads and complimented as usual with huge pot holes that could swallow a man and crazy trucks trying to kill you,  but were all more than used to that by now.

We pulled into Belem and found the Hotel that was recommended to us by local biker, Alex, who we were recommended to contact by other travellers. Alex was pretty busy while we were there so he had us adopted by a local motorcycle club who were more than hospitable. One guy in-particular called Alfredo took us to meet his club, out to dinner, the beach and made sure we had everything we needed while we were there… A great experience of friendly Brazilians once again.

After 4 days we managed to buy passage onto a ferry boat to Manaus, pick up our Visa for Venezuela and have our Brazilian visas extended. For the boat we paid a shifty looking broker our cash and waited all day at the quayside for the chance to load our bikes onto the boat. Now THAT was an experience. We were ushered to the side of the ferry as two guys pull out a plank of wood about 1 foot long and soaking wet from the rain (it rained all day – typical ). We took turns to wobble our bikes over this thin plank to the deck, trying to ignore the water 10 feet below us and hoping the wheels wouldn’t slip or the plank break.. Alas, we survived !!!

Not much to say about the voyage really apart from that it was a cramped ferry with most people sleeping in hammocks. Meals three times a day of rice, beans and chewy beef… Blllllleeerch !!! We passed the time playing cards, drinking too much and looking out the banks of the river and at the river people who paddle their way up and down the water to their little shacks, selling things to the boats and catching donations of food and clothes.

It was in Manaus that we split from Peter and Carol as they were heading to the North coast !

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The trip from Manaus took us north and to the Venezuelan border. This 2 day ride took us ove the equator and also through an Indigenous Indian reserve. We were warned not to stop in the Indian reserve as the locals think it funny to shoot people who pass through. While we were riding, we came passed a wierd Colombian guy who was riding to Brazil on a bright yellow scooter. The poor guy had stopped and broken the key off in his ignition and was stranded on the road in the reserve. I stopped when he waved to me and he was pretty nervous. All attempts to free the broken part of the key failed so we hailed a passing truck and loaded him into it with his scooter and onto the next town… My good dead for the day 🙂

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Venezuela

We arrived at the border of Venezuela at about 3pm. We were pretty nervous about leaving Brasil as we accidentally illegally imported our bikes into Brasil at Iguzu. If the brazilians checked our paperwork, we were liable for big fines and all other kinds of trouble. Possibly even a free meal at the jail !! Luckily, the just stamped our passports and waved us goodbye so all good there. The Venezuelan border was pretty straight forward but by far the most organised and official I have seen yet. There’s no chance of getting in and out of Venezuela without them knowing about it.

Our first stop was the border town of Santa Elena where the lonely planet told us we would find “A funky, friendly hippy town”, as usual it was complete bull and the place was a mining town with expensive hotels, dirty traffic laden streets and nowhere decent to stay. We ended up in a five star hotel paying 100 pounds a night and waited to get of there.

Another stress was that our cash cards wont work in ANY cash machines here and we are dam lucky to have Brazilian money left over to change with the street hawkers. Thank god that fuel is only 3p a litre. YES, THREE PENCE A LITRE for good fuel… 🙂

We left Santa Elena the next day and met up a fantastic couple on the road. Orlando and his girlfriend/wife instantly adopted us, took us to a hotel, paid for our fuel and insisted we come with them to their house in the north to stay. Our second day here and already we have friends.

They took us to big biker rally in their city where we were instant celebrity’s, introduced us to all their club and even put us up on there family farm in the country as all the hotels were booked out for the rally. What brilliant people. They wouldn’t let us pay for anything and treated us like old friends..

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We are now in a city called Bolivar and today we are searching for a plane to fly us to Angel falls in the rain forrest and then high tailing it to Colombia as I have to back home in 3 weeks.. AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH !! Hopefully ill post again before then…

 Hold onto your hats !! 


Since my last post from the Penunsular of Florianapolis, iv had some greats highs and a couple of lows.. As usual though, im still having a great time.

Myself, Sean and Cristi left Florianapolis and headed North with Peter and Carol form Canada. Sean has a friend (an old student exhange buddy) who now lives in Sau Paulo with her husband. He arranged that we go and visit them for a couple of days while we check out the city. Peter and Carol (the beach lovers they are) decided to skip Sau Paulo and go their own way for a few days up the caost but we arranged to meet up a few days later. So in true Brazilian style hospitality, Seans contacts (Patchi and Eduardo) put us up in their beautiful modern high class apartment building on the outskirts of Sau Paulo. They took us too dinner and gave us advice on how to visit the city safely. We took a bus into the city and met up with Patchis sister and were pleasanly surprised by how nice the city was when she gave us the tour. You only really hear bad things about Sau Paulo but if you know where to go, its really beautiful and full of culture.

Time was ticking on and after 2 nights we headed north to meet up with Peter and Carol at the beautiful town of Parati. Very touristic but still fabulous. Lots of little local stalls and people making street art near a lovely litle harbour. We serviced our bikes at the hostel there and made plans for the infamously dangerous Rio de janiero.

We left parati nice and early so we could get into Rio de Janiero before dusk. We wanted to find somewhere nice to stay away from the city centre an close to the beaches. We got there nice and early and headed to the beach front town of Iperena which is right next to Copacabana beach but less touristy. We had a great time in Rio. Many people avoid it due to fear of violence, muggings and extreme poverty. Although this goes on, you really have to go looking for it. Rio is one of my favourite cities in the world and im so glad I didnt miss it. The safest way to do it is to take organsised tours arranged by the hostels. We took a day trip to see the famous Christo, the Carnaval sites and sugar loaf moutain. It was truly fabulous. People are so friendly and fun loving (like all Brasilians) One night we even went clubbing in one of the favelas (the famous slums) where I had one of the best nights EVER !! Everyday dancing Samba, full of energy smiles and life. A far cry from drugged up scallys getting pissed on crap beer back in Liverpool….

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So, if you ever get the chance to come to Rio, DO IT !!!!! 

We are now heading further up the east coast along the beach towns and coast.

Its in one of these stops where I managed to get myself electricuted in swimming pool. This is  how it happened…….. It had been a hard long day and I was having trouble with my bike. It kept cutting out and stalling like it was being starved of fuel. I stripped the carb at the side of the road and still couldnt find the problem. Its really difficult working on a bike in tropical heat with a limited tool kit in a petrol station, belive me. The bike still wouldnt run so we made a decision to hobble back to the nearest town and find a good workshop. I took my bike to the mechanic and explained the problem in sign language and Spanish (he only speaks portuguese). He knew exactly what the problem was with the bike and I was up and running again within the hour. Brilliant mechanic and a really great guy :).

So after a few hours of messing about in the heat, we hit the road and 4 hours later and in the dark we roll into Vitoria and find ourselves a pricey hotel. I was really tired and pissed off after a bad day so went down to the pool with Sean. I walked over to the pool and leant on a big brass street lamp thing next to the pool. 2 seconds later, i was in the pool with this metal 240v light on top of me being electricuted and unable to move underwater for about 10 seconds…I thought this was it, the end of Ted…And what a way to go !!!!

Thankfully the light shorted out and I dragged myself out of the pool bleeding badly from deep electric shock lacerations on my foot. Sean and a local guy bandaged me up as the hotel staff giggled like it was an everyday event !! If this happened in the Westen world, id be a millionaire with compensation. Here, I was lucky not to get billed for a new lamp ! Thats just life on the road in South America though and im still keeping the reaper on his toes for now  🙂

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So now im riding though tropical coutryside and rain forest on the way to the Amazon boat in Belem. Were riding sweeping moutain roads though beautiful landscapes where people sell fruit on the side of the road and overturned trucks are a regular occurance. The heat is almost unbearable. You want to keep riding just to get air over your skin so you dont boil alive in your riding gear. The one thing that I still cant get over is the size of Brasil. Its bloody enormous. There are so many beautuful places to see, you need 2 life times !! We have been riding for 2 weeks and are still only half way up to the north… Time to open throttle I think !

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So, until the next time.. ill try and keep myself alive for a few more posts !!   🙂


 

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 We left Argentina on the 26th of March after my birthday drinking session at the cabin. A short ride to the border and a dramatic language change hit us. We speak no Portuguese making immigration more difficult and is now the reason that I have an illegal motorcycle in Brasil (more on this later).

So we spend 2 days riding east from Igazu falls to the coast of Brazil. The landscape of Brazil is stunning. Lush forests and greenary everywhere. The twisty and turning moutain roads are a wonderful contrast from Argentina. The only distraction is the slow moving ancient trucks which you have to overtake with extreme caution.

I didnt really know what to expect of Brazil but our first night stop was a great one. We pulled into a town called Plato Blanco which is probably the nicest place iv been to in a long time. Lovely green plazas, modern shops and almost western choice in the supermarkets. Brazil seems to be the most modern out of all of South America, including Chile and the people are really nice too.

The next day of riding was a long one. We wanted to make it all the way to the east coast island of Florianopolis where the surfing beaches were hiding. We underestimated how long it would take and after 8 hours the sun went down leaving us riding unlit, twisty moutain roads with potholes and ridges. This was a nightmare for me as I only have a tinted helmet visor meaning I had to ride with it up (imagine driving your car with your head hanging out the window). I mistake I dont want to make again as its bloody dangerous and nerveracking.

We were relieved to make it to Florianopolis at 8pm. We didnt know what to do so just headed to the south of the island and the surf beaches… Of course, we couldnt find a hotel and decided to head to a supermarket to ask in there…

Miraculously there was a local guy on an XT600E parked outside who directed us to a Pousada (accomodation) which was on the beach front and only 10 quid each a night for a whole apartment 🙂 I love the way these things happen. One moment your wandering around aimlessly expecting to sleep in a bus stop and 2 minutes later you are in a lovely apartment by the beach and have a local friend who invited us to a BBQ at his house the next day and introduced us to some English speaking locals.

The last few days we have been chilling in this beach front apartment. Surfing and drinking the local coctails (Caiparinas). Very beautiful, very relaxing and its going to very hard to leave.

We were joined in the apartment by Canadian couple Peter and Carol who we have been communicating by email with. We were all chatting over dinner and they told us that they were given a tempory import for their motorcycle at the border. Without this document, you are pretty much smuggling a vehicle ilelgally into the country. OH SHIT !!!! We dont have one (the guy at immigration told us we didnt need one.. he was wrong)

We havnt decided what we are going to do yet. Maybe just try and smuggle it out again and hope the cops dont stop us !! We potentially could be thrown in jail (although unlikely)

Lets hope I get to make another post !! heh heh

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Sean, Criste and myself arrived in Puerto Iguazu on Thursday 20th March. Puerto Iguazu is right on the three corners border of Brazil and Paraguay and the base for exploring Iguazu national park and of course the magnificent waterfalls of Iguazu. The ride upto Puerto iguazu was very beautiful. Sweeping twisty roads through tropical landscapes. I hope the roads stay like this all the way north.

So we found ourselves a nice private cabin in a small park. Its a little cramped but very nice with bathroom, kitchen and set in a beautiful tropical garden. The usual routine of drinking, cooking and checking out the local bars didnt take long to get going but hey, im on holiday. The town is very touristic as you would expect with lots of backpackers but it has kept its small town local feel which I love.

Of course, we didn’t come here just to drink and laze around. We set off on Saturday for the 20km ride to the national park.

The national park is truely beautiful. A tropcial environment with lots of wildlife such as butterflies, alligators, codies (small racoon things) and lots of birds and insects. We walked around on the trails and then came up to the falls. WOW is all I can say. The waterfalls are truly the most magnificent thing I have ever seen and makes my trip to South America worth it alone. All I can say is just to look at the photographs and try and imagine the noise of water, mist, heat and tropical birds.

We spent about 6 hours walking around them and trying to take photos from all the best vantage points. Most of the time we just stood in silence in total awe of what we were looking at.

The sky darkened and huge tropical rain clouds came out of nowhere. We quickly made way back to the carparks and our bikes just as the heavens opened. We were drenched through for the 15 minute ride back to the cabin but red wine, a good meal and great memories kept us smiling as the rain disappeared just as quickly as it appeared. That night We decided to go into town for some caiparina cocktails to finish off the night…

All in all, a brilliant day. 

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