The Pantanal, the other wildlife of Brazil!

Trip Start Dec 05, 2005
Trip End Mar 02, 2006

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Friday, January 20, 2006

After being in Rio for some time it was time to see the other Brazilian "wildlife" in an area called the Pantanal. For those of you who have never heard of the Pantanal (believe me I had not really heard of it) it is known as the best place in South America to view wildlife. It is a Florida-size wetland on the far western edge of Brazil that contains lots of animals, including capybaras (a large rodent animal), caimans (like crocs but smaller), jaguars (hardly ever spotted), anacondas (watch out j-lo), armadillos, piranhas and loads of tropical birds (macaws, toucans, parakeets etc.). It is the largest flood plain in the world, with a lots of rivers and both a dry and wet season. It describes it in our book as the world's largest freshwater wetland system that extends through millions of hectares of central-western Brazil, eastern Bolivia and eastern Paraguay. We were there during the wet season so the rivers were full and we were greeted by many tropical storms in the afternoon. The best part I think of this area are the amount of birds that are attracted to all of the water. Along with the animals and tourists that go there to see them lies huge cattle ranches and the land is used for cattle grazing. It is intersting how the farming and natural wildlife habitat live side by side. Needless to say with all this rain the roads are a mess and it required four wheel drive vehicles to pass on the muddy roads. Many of these area's "fazendas" (cattle ranches) have slowly converted to tourism. We stayed at one of these "fazendas" in a makeshift camp for backpackers to visit and do a variety of activities to see the surrounding nature. We stayed in a large tented area that had mosquito net as walls and about 20 hammocks hanging in a row that provided us with our sleeping arrangements (lets just say the ear plugs came in handy, especially the second and third night when a huge group of backpackers arrived and were put in our tent). Lucky for us our group was only five and we had one guy from California and a couple from Holland. We all got along great (sometimes you never know who you are going to be grouped with and we were happy with our group!) We stayed for four days and three nights and our days varied with different animal viewing activities. We had a guide and he would take us for walks in the area to see what we could find in terms of birds and animals. The mornings we were awakened by the interesting loud sounds of the howler monkeys (these of course were the male monkeys howling at each other trying to pimp the female monkeys). We rode horses too and not that I am a hue fan of horses I think I ended up quite enjoying myself as I had the fastest horse! Scott of course was put on an old cranky horse that at times would keep up with the group but otherwise was quite the pain in the ass. his horse did speed up at the end when he knew he was on the way home! Speaking of pain in the ass after a few hours on the horses my butt needed some rest! I think the craziest thing we did on this "tour" was go piranha fishing while standing up to ours waists in the water! They give you bamboo fishing poles and give you cow heart for bait! The piranha were small and Scott and I did not have our lucky fishing hats on as we did not catch any (only lots of bites)! Only our guide and two others had any luck! We got to eat our groupīs catch at the end of the day (see photos). Our last "sunrise" walk we were lucky to see an anteater, a very cute mellow animal crawling in the trees for termites and ants! The bad part of this trip were the huge amounts of mosquitoes, and by the end of our four days we could hardly see any part of our legs as they were covered with red mosquito bites!!
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