The Pantanal

Trip Start Aug 31, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The 4 hour bus ride from Bonito to the pantanal was a bit horrific, mostly dirt roads in a cramped little people mover!

The Pantanal is a massive wetlands region that is full of wildlife. Our hotel was in the middle of nowhere & right on the banks of the river, so it was all on stilts. Its currently the dry season, which is the best time to visit as there is less water so its easier to see the animals. In the wet season the whole region is covered in water ... hence the stilts!

We arrived in the late afternoon and our first activity was piranha fishing! Our local guide, Paulo, pulled out some bamboo rods with a few meteres of fishing line attached to the ends & took us down to the river bank. He chucked a bit of meat on our hooks, we threw the lines about 3 meters out & they started biting straight away ... it only took a few minutes for the first piranha to be caught! They were smaller than I expected, but there were so many! We caught 11 in all, as well as a few other types of fish which we threw back. It was so easy!

All the comotion bought in a few visitors ... caiman! Paulo put a dead piranha on the end of a hook & enticed one of the caiman onto the banks ... keep in mind that the bamboo rod was only a few metres long, so the caiman wasnt very far away! I`ll try to attach the movie chris took of the caiman, as well of photos of how close it was! Lucky they have very bad eye sight.

We ate the piranha for dinner that night ... as they were pretty small, it was really just a taste. They were deep fried & very  nice with a bit of lime juice!

The next day we hopped on the back of an open air truck & went for a ride through the country side to do a bit of animal spotting & head to a farm for a horse ride. The road was raised, but every 100 metres or so there was a bridge and most of the time a pond that had some sort of wild life. Mainly caiman, but lots of birds too, vultures, hawks and eagles. We even saw giant river otters, which is supposedly pretty rare! They were pretty big too!

The horse ride was brillant, we walked through the fields on the farm, through the forest, around some lakes and swamps, then had a bit of a gallop home. The horses were very well trained ... I actually didnt have to give any commands to my horse, he walked, followed & took off at all the right times! Chrisso`s horse was a bit more feisty, probably just as well or he would have been a bit bored!

The journey home from the farm was a bit quicker without so many stops to look & take photos. In the afternoon we were taken out on a little boat for a ride up the river. The scenery was beautiful & again, there were many animals out & about. We saw capibura (even a tame one, very odd!), hundreds of caiman, many birds and even marsh deer. As we were heading home, Chrisso mentioned out loud that he wanted to see a monkey, and a few seconds later, God (or Paulo) delivered! Again, all that was missing was the anaconda ... oh, and a puma, but that was never really on the agenda, you have to go much further into the pantanal to see them & wait for days as they are supposedly very shy.

On our last morning Paulo took us for a walk through the forest, most of which is usually underwater. We saw more monkeys, a bit closer this time, as well as a giant Jabiru stork nest with 5 babies in it ... they usually only have two, so it was mightly squishy in there!

Then it was off to Corumba ...
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