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Perusing the Pantanal

View 8 Month Adventure on elliehirch's travel map.

Put away your cell phones kids.. The Pantanal is like Pokemon Go in really life... Only ten times better because you're in the wetlands collecting sightings of amazing wild animals!

I had a smooth and uneventful flight to Campo Grande via São Paulo and spent the night in easily the nicest hostel I've ever seen. I had a ten bunk dorm on the top floor to myself, complete with huge closet, huge bathroom (jacuzzi tub, marble counter, massive mirrors), and balcony with a great view...


Then pick-up the next morning for the drive into the heart of the Pantanal. Talk about a beautiful drive. When we left the pavement for the dirt roads I was switched to a seat on top of a big truck. We weren't down the road more than 5 minutes before the driver stopped to point out a baby caiman, a toucan, and then a big track across the road from an anaconda. I'm actually happy to report that was one animal he looked around for but we didn't see!
Our first stop in the afternoon was at the jungle lodge by the river for a boat ride. I was given the choice between a smaller canoe or a ride on a bigger boat. I opted for the bigger boat as it would cover a larger distance and head towards the river otters. Again, we hardly covered much distance before spotting capybaras, howler monkeys and many birds. And then.. The magic happened. As were looking at a big heron on the other side of the bank.. We saw it.. Jaguar. Sitting perfectly at the water's edge as if it was posing. I managed to stop shaking long enough to get my phone to video, and then enjoyed about a minute soaking in the presence of such a beautiful creature before it yawned, turned, and stalked off into the bushes. Guides that I asked estimated around 5-10% of visitors to the Pantanal are lucky enough to see one. I felt very lucky indeed.


What my post jaguar excitement looked like.

The rest of the ride was also beautiful, just a little more calm! The greenery in the Pantanal is truly spectacular. And the smell. Sweet, floral smells throughout the whole place. I've never experienced anything like it. We saw kingfishers, cormorants, and other birds along the way, including the bird that is the symbol of the Pantanal, Tuiuiu or Jabiru stork. Ironically, no river otters. That's ok, I'll take the jaguar any day.



Jabiru stork, largest bird in Brazil

The ride ended with the sunset!

I spent both of my two nights there at São Joao farm. I absolutely loved seeing a Pantanal farm and experiencing the similarities and differences to an Alberta farm!

If you look carefully you can see the caiman in front of the farm on the left and the capybara on the right.

For the rest of my time in the Pantanal I enjoyed walking tours, both daytime and nighttime, horseback riding, jeep/truck rides and piranha fishing. My luck ran out at the fishing. Using long bamboo poles and red meat bait, we waded out into the lagoon, right next to some baby caimans and I attempted to hook some of these toothy fish. When they start to nibble you need to yank the line out of the water to hook them. I managed only to send one flying through the air rather than hook it. Free ride. The guide I was with caught two which I got to enjoy with my dinner. Not much meat on em but it's pretty tender and tasty!
From my ~ 3 days on the tour, the list of animals is so long that I actually started having to write it down on my phone to remember! More capybaras, toucans, caimans and black howler monkeys. Hearing them howl (which they do usually morning and evening or when the weather changes) sounds really weird, almost like airplane jets from a distance. I also saw blue macaws (like Blu from the cartoon Rio), red macaws, agouti, lizards, feral pigs, giant anteater, armadillos, coati, small ostrich, parakeets, egrets, cranes, herons, loads of other birds.


Blue macaws

I love the armadillos! Got so close to one at night I could see the ridges on its back!

And then there is the Pantanal cows. Much skinnier than those I'm used to. The humidity and heat that they have to survive, as well as the floods probably makes them tougher than the cows I'm used to as well. The hottest days in the Pantanal will be up to 45 degrees. I don't even want to know what it 'feels like' with the humidity. I only had to endure about 35 degrees while I was there. I showered 4 times that day.....


Lastly... Some of my favourite images of the scenery...

And the classic walking photo!

Everything about the past 3 days was amazing. Beautiful scenery, amazing animals, good food, nice people (I even had a guide for just myself some of the time). Truly spectacular way to experience more of the wonders that Brazil has to offer!

Posted by elliehirch 19:41 Archived in Brazil

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