Trip Start Jul 03, 2006
Trip End Sep 08, 2006

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Thursday, July 13, 2006

we got the bus from bonito at 6am to corumba. the bus was fairly modern and it was nice to drive and watch the sun rise. pretty soon it was onto dirt tracks which made it a rather bumpy ride and we were crossing little rickety wooden bridges that didnt instill the utmost confidence. we passed alot of interesting communties by the side of the road again which are houses made of wood and palm leaves and plastic sheeting. it seems to be a lifestyle choice though and not linked to poverty. some of these settlements are quite sophisticated with communal kitchens and mini farms etc. anyway after four and a half hours on the bus we reached a literal post stop and were told this was us. Buraco das Piranhas, so we hopped off and we were greeted by our driver who gestures in the way of a 4*4 truck. we turfed our bags in the back and literally climbed in. we took a sand track, the only road through the vast pantanal. along this bumpy road we saw lots of caimen sunning themselves as we clung to the truck swerving from one side of the road to the next to avoid holes. we crossed countless small wooden bridges praying they held and where bridges were being repaired it meant going into the water.
when we arrived at green tracks camp we were shown to our communal outdoor hammock room. yeah we were as suprised as you. this was a wooden structure with a hole filled mosquito mesh for walls and a dirt floor. it was actually quite nice when we got used to it and suprisingly mosquito free. i think we had the many lizards lining the walls and the ten or so bats that would fly inches above our heads to thank for that. the first afternoon we went horse riding which we both really enjoyed. it involved going through farmland and we saw lots of birds and caimen, crossing a deep swamp and coming back along the road to the camp. we had dinner that night which consisted of rice and beans and a meat dish(this varied very little throughout our tour) and that night our guide, marcelo, brought us caiman catching in the dark. that was great. we spotted there glowing eyes with our torch and watched with awe as marcelo wrestled a huge one that managed to escape inches from us but returned with two moderate sized ones. he showed us how to make them go to sleep by massaging their stomachs. afterwards we went for our first sleep in hammocks. we were awoken in the middle of the night by the suprising cold, yes cold?!?!. by four i was awake curled into a tiny heat conserving ball wishing the sun to rise and grace us with heat, aswell as been left with an aching back from being slumped in a hammock. the noise all throught the night was incredible, birds monkeys, frogs, crickets, bats and farm animals(we were on a fazenda, a brazilian ranch) all humming,chirping, squeaking, screeching, howling, craoking etc. since there are no lights in the pantanal, also no electricity at our ranch, the stars were incredible. the whole sky was lit up by thousands and thousands of stars which were complemented by the fireflies.
the next day we went for a forest walk and saw many animals, peccary(vicious wild boars), capybara, aguti, coatimundi, macaws, caiman, snakes, deer(one that i saw before the guide) and lots of birds. the forest walk involved coming back through a swamp, which resulted in my first leech. in the afternoon we went pirhana fishing and to fayes great happiness we didnt catch anything despite the biggie that just got away and my efforts even wading into the water. that night better prepared for our hammock we were only woken by the birds and morning sun.
on the third day we went canoeing and for a swim in the swamp(sissy faye stayed in the canoe) which was supringly nice. on this trip we saw giant otter(up to 2m long) and came the closest to submerged caiman, maybe a foot away.
on the last day a sunrise walk was planned but it was just me and the guide as the rest of the group clung to the last few moments of sleep. afterwards we went for another forest walk and after lunch got the truck the hour journey back to buraco das pirhanas, seeing more wildlife on the journey. along the way we ran into some cowboys herding 600+ cows along the main road. we had an hour wait for the bus to corumba(faye tucked into her first chocolate bar in days). the next bus journey showed off the incredible landscape of mato grosso do sul, a large rural state in brazil, with impressive mountains and plateaus contrasting with the vast flat swamp.
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