A Travellerspoint blog

The Island of the Dodo Bird

Mauritius; 20.1625° S, 58.2903° E

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Mauritius Island map with attractions

It finally hit us that we are in Mauritius, after about 8 years! Since we were very young when we left, I about 7-8 years old and my sister 12 years old, we don't really remember what it looks like. But, we were greeted by all our family members at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Airport. My cousins were all grown up and everyone were really happy to see us. They took about 7 cars just to come get us. This is the only place where we are actually spending almost two weeks, but we wouldn't be doing so if it weren't to visit family. This is sort of taking a break from traveling and just enjoying some time with them, I guess you could say.

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Caudan

We did a lot of sightseeing in Mauritius and we didn't have to pay for any accomodations, because we would switch places whenever we stayed over at our cousins' place. One day though, we had a huge cousins' sleepover at one of my cousins' place. Some of the landmarks that we visited were the Crocodile and Giant Tortoise Nature Reserve Park (which we went when we were very young), a hiking trip to Tamarind Falls, Caudan Waterfront, the Blue Penny Museum, hiking at the Black River Gorges Park, the Botanical Gardens (named after the Prime Minister's father; Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam) and Trou aux Cerfs.

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Movenpick Hotel

What I also like is that we are allowed to take day trips to hotels, so we don't have to spend the whole night there. However, we are still allowed to book a room and just have it for the day, or just go to the beach. Some of the hotels were mostly new ones, such as; Anahita, Tamassa, Long Beach (Which was called Coco Beach when we were young), Sugar Beach Saint Géran, Shandrani and Movenpick. But the only day trips we took to the hotels were to Movenpick and Anahita.

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Anahita

I loved Anahita because there is a lot of privacy. Our rooms include a kitchen and on the patio, or in the backyard, there is a private pool. So we don't have to necessarily go to the hotel pool. Depending on the room you book, there are many different options in pool size, room size, backyard space, etc...

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Beach sunset

We spent only about 3 out of 12 of our days at the beach. Most days, we would go during the afternoon and have a BBQ there, then head back home. All of my family members took vacation and since my cousins weren't on holidays for school, they decided to take every day off with us anyway. Besides, it doesn't matter if they miss a lot of days of school, because there is not really any limit and the school system is different, they do not have to call in, etc... Also, they have afternoon tuition, which is more beneficial than going to school.

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Ile de deux cocos

One of the days, we went to Ile de deux cocos and another day at Ile aux Cerfs. Although Mauritius is an island, there are other little islands that tourists are allowed to visit, such as these ones. Ile de deux cocos has a resort on the private island, as well as day trip (which is what we took). It was very blue, and had clear water. On that island, they preserve the ecosystem. We also got the chance to snorkel among the corals and unique tropical fishes! Deer Island or Ile aux Cerfs, offers many activities on the island. Also to get there, we had to take a speedboat.

After a lot of swimming, adventuring on different islands, visiting parks, we went to try something different. I told my aunt that we didn't get to go to Kruger National Park, so they brought us to the Mauritian Safari Adventure, but we got around on a quad bike! It was epic because we've never been quad biking before. While at the safari park, we also got to interact with the cheetahs and lions. Another attraction we got to experience was the underwater scooter cruiser ride. It was pretty bizarre, and I had never heard of such a thing, but it was great and really fun.

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Different shades of sands from various beaches

Other than visiting Pamplemousse, Gris Gris, Casela (which was another landmark that we went to when we were young), Seven Colored Earths, Domaine les Pailles (which is where my cousin got married when I was 4 years old), Bois Chéri (the tea tastes awesome - just thought I'd put that out there), Labourdonnais Castle and the Sugar Museum, we had a great 12-day vacation with our family in Mauritius. It also went by really quickly. We collected different shades of sands from the various beaches we went to as a souvenir as well!

Now, we are heading back to our journey, as we leave everyone behind and move on to London, England before heading to our final destination in Africa, Morocco. Goodbye Mauritius, à la prochaine!

Posted by ZK_15 07:44 Archived in Mauritius Comments (0)

Place of Gold

Johannesburg, South Africa: 26.2000° S, 28.0667° E

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Sunrise in Joburg

We took a plane from Cape Town to Johannesburg, since it is much faster than if we were to take a tour bus or something. We went to the Gold Reef City Theme Park, since we haven't been to an amusement park since we left Orlando. Besides, we love them anyway and we don't really get the chance to go back home, because my parents can't go on rides. We also got a 4D theatre experience! It was a great way of having fun and the lines to get on the rides weren't long, so we loved that!

Then, the next day we went to the Apartheid Museum. It was so heartbreaking to learn all about the history and see different pictures, etc.

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Sunset in Joburg

We then went to the Botanical Gardens, where we saw a herb garden, a rose garden and an alpine glasshouse. We were able to catch the sunset before going back to our hotel, Genesis Suites.

We also really wanted to visit Kruger National Park, but it was way too far- about 6 1/2 hours by car. (We can't even drive here anyway and we don't have enough time sadly). But the park is basically like an African safari, where we get to see real African wildlife (elephants, lions, buffalos, etc). I think it would be a great experience, but maybe the next time we come here we'll get to go or something?

One thing to look forward to now is that we're finally going back to our country, where we will get to see our family members again after so long!

Posted by ZK_15 20:44 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

The Tavern of the Seas

Cape Town, South Africa: 33.9767° S, 18.4244° E

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Two out of three regions done - check!

We're out of the Americas and now onto Africa. We have landed in Cape Town, South Africa and we're ready to see how different our time here is going to be compared to Latin America and North America.

Since we have arrived here in the afternoon, we not only have now entered a different timezone, but we also have lost a few hours of the little time we have here to visit. We decided to just take the rest of the day to relax and enjoy our hotel, Hotel on St Georges.

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Breakfast in South Africa

The next day though, we took the advantage to do a lot of sightseeing. Our hotel did not offer breakfast, so we went for breakfast outside. The view we got was absolutely beautiful. Since we didn't know any locals like Giselli and Fernando in Brazil, we really didn't know how to explore and find the secrets of the city. We realized that the best way to see a country and to learn about it is if you have locals that you know around!

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Cape of Good Hope

We then took a taxi ride to Cape of Good Hope, or Cape Point. For us, since we love nature (which is obviously another reason why we picked South Africa-to get the chance to see the animals, etc), we found the view breathtaking. There were a lot of animals around. We were able to spot at least 10 different species of birds which we weren't really able to identify.

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The Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean meet at Cape of Good Hope in Cape Peninsula

We saw many cliffs. There were two oceans, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean. We found it pretty cool, as when we got to the top we were able to see both of them meet. We also took a picture at the signs pointing to the oceans and touched the water, though it was quite dangerous, because we could've slipped due to the slippery rocks.

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Table Mountain

We then went to Table Mountain National Park, another UNESCO Heritage Site. We went to the Table Mountain, which is flat and overlooks the beautiful city of Cape Town. There, we met a lot a group of tourists from Toronto unexpectedly.

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View of Cape Town from Table Mountain

There was a rich and unique variety of both flora and fauna. The mountain is covered by clouds and so it was quite cold. Our hike up Table Mountain was I must admit- very hard, but in the end it was definitely worth the complains.

We also learned that there's a place not too far from Cape Town, called Gansbaii that does Shark Cage Diving. Just the thought of it already terrifies me, but it would be a challenge and I don't think I would ever in my life ever be able to do such a thing.

But that being said, at least we were able to challenged ourselves and be able to complete one of the things on our bucketlist - abseiling on Table Mountain! It was easier than we had thought, but a scary (less than the shark cage diving though for sure).

Although shopping is a bit pricey in South Africa, we were able to find a few things at the Pan African Market on Long St (they have a bunch of stuff from all over Africa, it's pretty epic; clothing, instruments, etc) and at St Georges Mall.

Since we didn't get to spend much time in Cape Town, we didn't get the chance to visit Kirstencosch Gardens, or visit the District Six Museum.

But that's okay, because isn't that what traveling's about? We can't see everything, but at least we are enjoying it and we learned something new. Besides, we have another opportunity to see another part of South Africa anyway, as we are heading to Johannesburg!

Posted by ZK_15 19:52 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

The Marvelous City

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: 22.9083° S, 43.2436° W

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Copacabana Beach

After walking for so many hours in Buenos Aires, Argentina, there’s no better way to relax than on the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A friend of ours suggested that we look for an apartment on airbnb, instead of going to a hotel, so that’s what we did. We have landed here a few hours ago and after checking in at the apartment where we will be staying for the next couple of days, we came down to the beach for a swim.

On the beach, there are a lot of locals trying to sell many different things, so it definitely won’t be a problem if a tourist forgot their towels, etc… However, it can get quite pricey. We have bought a coconut and shared it. It tasted really sweet and it was one of the best!

The people with whom we are staying with are very nice and helpful. Since we don’t speak Portuguese, it is quite tough to understand when others are talking to us. They have lived in the USA, so they know English. Guess we can say that we got lucky! They also offered to show us around. Since it is currently winter in Brazil, there is a lot of rain.

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Sandcastle on the beach in Brazil

They brought us to Ipanema, which is one of the safest parts of town. There are a lot of people at Ipanema beach, but we decided to not go to the beach, instead we just walked around. We went to the craft fair. There were many locals selling hand-made crafts. We got the chance to buy some souvenirs. We also saw a really big sand castle.

For our first day in Brazil, it is quite busy. We are doing so much and we are tired. But it's okay, because Rio de Janeiro is definetely one of the most beautiful cities that we've been to. We also want to see the most that we can. Brazil is the largest country in South America and Rio is one city of the country, yet there is already so much. I think that if we wanted to see all of Brazil, it would take us at least a year. What I like about the country though, is that there is so much to see and there's something for everyone. Like there's the Amazon Rainforest, museums, parks, art galleries, etc.

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Christ the Redeemer

Our next stop was the Christ the Redeemer statue. It is actually one of the seven wonders of the world and is seen in many movies. I was amazed when I learned that the statue was sculpted in France. It is located on the Corcovado Mountain, which we had to take a train to get to. The view from it was absolutely breathtaking though.

Afterwards, we had lunch at a local restaurant and tried fresh watermelon juice. Then, we went to the Tijuca Forest. It is one of the largest urban forests and surrounded by it, there is another tourist attraction which we visited, the Park Lage or el parque lage.

Our second day in Rio was quite relaxing. The owners made us breakfast; hot chocolate, bread with butter, biscuits, fruits (papayas, pineapples and passionfruit-fun fact: passionfruits were first grown in Brazil). There's only one hour difference from Canada and Rio, so we talked to our parents before heading out, so that they know we're okay.

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Our view from Sugarloaf Mountain

The owner's husband, Fernando, had to go to work so she, Giselli, took us to Sugar Loaf Mountain. We took a cable car to get at the top of the mountain. It looks like the traditional sugar that was used back then. We got the chance to go rock climbing there. It is a very popular landmark to do this kind of thing and one of the largest in the world. Being the kind of person who is scared of heights, I sure did a great job with the help of Giselli and my sister.

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Iguazu Falls from the Brazil and Argentina border

She then drove us to Iguazu falls, which is located on the Brazil and Argentina border. It is on the Iguazu River, which is divided by the lower and upper section. It is also another one of the UNESCO Heritage Sites and it is both taller and wider than Niagara Falls.

We also went paragliding once we got back to Rio. It was an amazing, yet scary experience. I felt like a bird and we also got the chance to see Rio from a bird's point of view, so it was pretty cool.

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Casa Lola

She also told us about this place about 14 hours drive north called Casa Lola, where the "shower in the guest cottage has a wooden shower head made from a fallen tree, and copper faucet knobs made by local artisans." She showed us a picture from when she went and we were amazed by how sick it looked, but we don't have enough time to go visit it. It looks like a beautiful hotel.

Instead, the owner surprised us by taking us to a football game at the Maracanã Stadium, which is where the next FIFA World Cup is set to take place. What is known as soccer in North America and football in South America, this worldwide famous sport is very popular in Brazil. People are crazy about the sport and it is seen as almost like a religion, because so many people love it. A lot of people in Brazil are poor, so this is seen as a form of entertainment, where the nation comes together. Fernando also joined us for the game since it was right after dinner. The stadium was packed and we got Brazil jerseys to wear at the match.

He was also telling us about a very famous 4-day celebration which occurs every year in Rio. It is known as Carnaval. There is a huge Samba parade and the show is broadcasted worldwide. We couldn't attend though, because it starts on Saturday and ends on Fat Tuesday. It is the biggest carnival celebration that occurs forty days before Easter, so we were way off.

It's okay though, because we got to experience what a soccer game feels like in Rio!

On our final day in Rio, we decided to relax some more, by just going to the local beach -Leblon Beach.

Posted by ZK_15 18:12 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Did anyone say Tango?

Buenos Aires, Argentina: 34.6036° S, 58.3817° W


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Buenos días Buenos Aires!

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Lavalle Street is always lively

Buenos Aires seems like a nice city to live in. However, it is still recovering from financial problems. It sucks for a country when they are suffering financially, but the tourists benefit a lot from it, because it is a lot cheaper compared to the surrounding countries.

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One of the best Dulce de Leche we ever ate, you sure can say that again!

Just like in Peru, once we got to Argentina, we tried the food to see the difference. South American food is really similar, but we try our best to taste the traditional food. We had empanadas, which is I believe one of the most famous dishes. It is a pastry or sometimes bread stuffed with meat. It is absolutely delicious! We also had some dulce de leche. Nothing compares to the dulce de leche cake we had in Buenos Aires. We have tried is before and I must say that it was a lot sweeter, but it tasted better!

From Peru to Argentina, we had to change the currency. Now that we aren’t in America anymore, every time we switch countries, we also have to switch currencies. It is pretty annoying. In Argentina, we are using the peso. It is really cheap to get into the attractions.

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Argentina


Casa Rosada/Pink House

And about the attractions, the first place we visited was La Casa Rosada, which is basically the White House of Argentina, except its pink! Quite an odd color, but it is quite original and I like that. We then went to La Recoleta Cemetery. We don’t really like cemeteries, but this one is a very famous landmark of Buenos Aires and it is a must-see! It is quite scary though, because we were surrounded by tombs with dead people in them. (Well that’s what a cemetery is for?!)

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Teatro Colon

We also visited the Colon Theatre, the main opera house and one of the top five best concert venues in the world. We also got to see a show. Which one? Well, the tango of course! The tango actually originated from Argentina. It is a Spanish dance, and once we tried it, it was pretty hard. Just like in Boston, Buenos Aires involved a lot of walking! We walked down Calle Florida and La Boca. We also went to Plaza del Mayo, which is a historic plaza in Downtown of Buenos Aires.

There is so much to do in Buenos Aires, but we are only here for so little time! Ahhh.

Posted by ZK_15 15:21 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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