After an insane week in Bolivia it was time to swap one of South America’s least travelled to countries for one of its most – Brazil.
I landed in Rio de Janeiro at 7 in the morning by which time it was already the equivalent of a hot day in England. My itinerary for Rio was simple and very cliché. See the Christ the Redeemer statue (My fourth wonder), sunbathe/hang glide at Rio’s golden beaches and a favela tour.
I spent four days in Rio, which is still one of the most fun places I have ever been. After that I sat on a coach for 28 (yes, 28!) hours as I made my way to the Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay border for a weekend at Iguazu Falls.
And that weekend is where this post will take place. For the theme of this final instalment of the South America throwback series is connecting with nature.
Connecting with nature
The theme of mental health awareness week back in May was connecting with nature. I wanted to publish an article about the subject then but I ran out of time. Keen to write about it further down the line I’ve decided now is the time. Because, simply put, Iguazu Falls is the most spectacular natural wonder I have ever seen.
Throughout the pandemic we’ve all had to connect with nature more than we traditionally would. Which I think is a good thing. Whether that be walking, running or cycling – I certainly couldn’t have managed without it.
Growing up in a small village in Essex I think I always took nature and its mental health benefit for granted. It was only once the pandemic hit and we were stripped of everything else that I realised how crucial it is – especially after living in a city the last three years.
For me, connecting with nature serves as a reminder of all I need to build a positive state of mind. Anything mankind can do is minuscule compared to the power of nature.
Speaking from my personal experience of depression and anxiety it usually stems from things such as social media or other people in general. Conversely when I’m surrounded by nature, whether that is a walk in the park or at Iguazu Falls, those things are about as far away from my mind as possible.
Which is why most of my travel photos I have on display around my home depict a natural setting. The Bolivia salt flats, Grand Canyon, Norwegian fjords and of course, Iguazu Falls.
Whenever I’m looking at those photos I’m immediately taken back to that place. How it felt to be there, whether it was hot or cold, the people I was with and what I did.
There’s no way to know for sure but I am pretty confident in saying having those reminders in every room helped me throughout the pandemic. Especially this past week while I have been self-isolating.
Igauzu Falls borders Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay – although it is not accessible from the latter. The falls are made up of over 200 drops with the largest being close to 100 metres.
I had a full weekend in the nearby town of Foz du Iguazu. But I spent two days at the falls. One on the Brazilian side, one of the Argentinian side.
I can’t think of many things that have truly left me speechless. However, during those two days at the falls I would say I was for most of it. On the Brazilian side you get glorious panoramic views of the falls to grasp the scale of it.
While on the Argentina side you feel like you’re among them and the water is on top of you.
It is definitely a contender for one of the greatest places I have ever been. And it is considerably better than the quite frankly overrated Niagara Falls.
There are so many contributing factors that prevent me knowing when my next holiday will be. I’m sure there will be city breaks and stuff like that before I next jet off somewhere as alien to me as South America was.
However, I do already know where that place will be. Africa (hopefully) in 2024. It will be a milestone year for me as I turn 30. Although I don’t have a full itinerary of what I want to do as yet I do know that nature will play a big part. A safari in Botswana surrounded by the most amazing animals. And, of course, I plan on getting my waterfall fix at Victoria Falls.
Retiring the backpack
My third trip didn’t end in South America. After a memorable weekend at Iguazu Falls I flew to California for a month. After that I spent a week in Toronto before finishing off with seven days split between Boston and New York City. Once I was home I hung up my backpack for good.
Although I had some of the most fun I’ve ever had in those places I won’t blog about them like I have South America. The mental health benefits of travel are clear for all to see.
I know i’m only 27 which hopefully means there’s a lot of life ahead of me. That said, I’m certain I will always look at that month in South America – plus the rest of my travels – as some of the most fantastic experiences of my life.
I’m not one to look back so much these days but this series of posts has made me do so. From my therapist giving me the assurance I could do it, Lauren at STA Travel putting together three perfect itineraries, loading my backpack into my dad’s car and driving to the airport to all the wonderful people I met along the way. To stand here now. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – isn’t that the truth.
2021 London Marathon
I’m running the 2021 London Marathon for Mind!
If you wish to donate or keep up to date with how my training and fundraising is going you can do so by following the links below.
Fundraising Page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JordanCamp
My blog post about the event
Mind Website: https://www.mind.org.uk