Floating with fishes

Trip Start Sep 02, 2008
Trip End Dec 14, 2008

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Mato Grosso do Sul,
Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Having decided to miss out on the Pantanal due to lack of time and alleged ridiculous numbers of mosquitoes, we headed to Bonito to get our wildlife fix.  Bonito's attraction is its proximity to lots of beautiful clear rivers full of fish, set in rainforest full of wildlife and, as it turned out, ridiculous numbers of mosquitoes -doh!

We arrived at Bonito's Youth Hostel after a 20 hour bus journey from Sao Paulo to find a beautiful pool and shady hammock area - a great place to spend the afternoon recovering and chatting to other travellers.

But the next day it was up early and off in a taxi with our new buddies, Winston and Sarah, to Rio da Prata (Silver River), a 50 km drive away along dirt roads, during which we saw our first toucan - so cool!! - who flew away pretty sharpish but got us all very excited, some owls sitting on fence posts in the middle of the day, and lots of ostriches!  At the Rio da Prata centre, we donned wetsuits and set off on a 2.5 km walk through the forest, and because we weren't allowed to wear insect repellent as it would pollute the clear river, I got quite bitten, even though we were walking in single file down the path, monitoring the person's backin front for landing mozzies!  So I blame Winston for the row of bites across my back ;-), oh, and maybe also the cute family of monkeys in the trees above us who may have distracted him from mozzie-monitoring my back!!

Once at the river we gratefully climbed into the refreshing water and set off snorkelling down the river behind our guide, using only our arms to propel us so we didn't kick up the sand at the bottom and spoil the amazingly clear turquoise water.  It was a very gentle 2 hour trip down the river, coming face to face with all sorts of impassive Brazilian river fish and waving at massive shiny gold Dorados and big black Bacu's who lurked around corners. We also saw cool underwater springs where the sand bubbled on the bottom of the river just like the bubbling mud back in NZ - weird!

It was stunning and so relaxing, especially as the wetsuits kept us buoyant so lots of the time we were literally just floating with the current like huge fish!!  The river took us through pristine rainforest so when we took our snorkels out of the water, we saw tropical birds and butterflies flitting about in the trees.  One cheeky bright orange butterfly even rode on my head for ages - Nige said it was because I am as beautiful as an exotic flower! (Not really - he said it was because I had a sweaty head!!)

Back at the ranch we had a huge healthy buffet lunch and then it was back in the taxi home to put cream on our bites and watch a cool thunder and lightening storm from our comfy hammocks...
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