Breakfast with the Alligators (by MAPG)

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Feb 19, 2010

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Where I stayed
Ecological Expeditions Camp

Flag of Brazil  , Mato Grosso do Sul,
Saturday, September 12, 2009

Three days later, after a total of 20 hours spent on several buses, we were in the middle of the Pantanal jungle. Together with 2 Dutchmen, one Australian guy, and under the command of our rough guide called Amazon, we spent 3 nights in hammocks & waking up at 5:00 – according to Amazon, this was the best time to spot big mammals such as jaguars. Activities to spot wildlife included trekking – one of Amazon's favourite; after a 5 hours march through the thickest bush ever + crossing a river full of alligators and piranhas barefoot…twice, only some footprints were found -, a boat tour, horseback ridding, and day & night jeep safari. After all the technology assisted stuff (jeep & boats) proved the most effective in spotting wildlife. Birds included tucans, hawks, and a huge fish eater with a wingspan of 2 meters, the symbol of Pantanal. Aligators and Caymans were by far the most abundant animals (sometimes many hundreds of them at in one place), followed by capivaras or water pigs. The first, a fierce less meateater, the second, a big, tasty herbivore. What seemed to be the perfect predator-prey relationship turned out to be peace & harmony, with alligators and pigs sharing the same swamp. The domestic character of the alligators was even tested by us on numerous occasions. Because Amazon insisted on leaving the camp at 5:00, breakfast took place some hours later on the banks of the river together with our amigos.

Actually, I only got bitten by a piranha while getting it off the hook. My revenge was better though: I fried it and ate it afterwards. I almost forgot the mosquitoes..I don’t even want to get into that. 30 minutes of fishing without a t-shirt on got me at least 50 stitches (no sign of malaria yet). Large piranhas landed on our plates, small ones got thrown back in the water, and medium ones became alligator food. Throwing them just like that or tying them to a rod and then playing with the alligators, the fish did not make it alive.

Pantanal was great but after 4 days we were more than happy to get out.
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