23.02. - 26.02.2010: Pantanal

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Saturday, 23.02.2002: Bonito - Pantanal

We got up at 5-45am and drove for 4 hours on a very bumpy road north towards the Pantanal, Brazil's principal wildlife observation area and most popular fishing destination. This vast wetland measures 230,000 square km and houses 650 species of birds and 230 varieties of fish.

Then we left our truck behind and got into 2 smaller flat back trucks with side benches. Then it got even bumpier and extremely dusty. It was boiling hot and after a right turn we started going through swampland. The 2 trucks were trying to race each other and through the swamps there wasn´t really a set road - each truck trying to find the least wet route, although our truck seemed to keep going for the biggest, deepest swamps on purpose. There were so many times when we thought we were going to get stuck and we got really wet from the spray from the wheels. Thank God the trucks were 4-wheel drive!

Bumpy drive through swampland

We spent 3 nights in the Pantanal in a campsite that was infested with ants and black caterpillars that landed on you during the night whilst sleeping in hammocks!! The hammocks were under a thatched type roof and dust and caterpillars dropped out of it, and was surrounded with a thick green mosquito net. The problem was that the door did not shut properly - some use having mozzie nets all around it when the gap in the door was big enough for a tarantula to get through - and one did!!

The campsite was very basic with the water for the showers getting pumped out of the surrounding swamps, the toilets crawling with large ants from about 5pm onwards and gigantic frogs at any time of the day!! It was also crawling with tarantulas and we always checked around our feet when sitting at the table for meals (rice and beans, or rice and beans!). In fact we got quite used to getting visits from them.

We also had caiman (half-sized alligators) who were on the edge of the camp and came to the kitchen to get fed!!


We also had the most poisonous snake in the Pantanal lying outside the door of one of the other hammock rooms, which got killed by the Israelis sleeping inside!!

Sunday, 24.02.2002: Pantanal

We left at 6-30am for a 3 1/2 hour walk. It didn´t take long and we had to walk through knee-deep water. Yuk! - dirty, muddy and smelly (cow shit and pee mixed up with rain water!). It got hotter and hotter. We walked in the open to different clumps of forest areas. They were shady but full of mozzies and ants.

But we saw lots of wildlife - two howler monkeys, a little coati (raccoon family) eating the palm fruits, a jabiru, rear (Brazilian austrich), parrots and tucans.

Walking through knee-deep water to see the wildlife of the Pantanal

We got back to the camp at 10am, had lunch at 12am and most of the group went for horse riding in the afternoon.

Getting saddled

We rested in the afternoon, had a shower and afterwards a bit of fun with Chicitita - the blue camp parrot.

Fun afternoon with Chicitita

Monday, 25.02.2002: Pantanal

Today it was Kirsten´s birthday. We left camp at 6-45am in the truck and drove of to a truck safari. We saw white tailed dear, a snake and an armadillo, which the guides caught so we could have a closer look.

Lots of wildlife on truck safari

Afterwards we drove to a lake to go Piranha fishing. Most of the group waded into the water and passed caimans. They spent 1 1/2 hours fishing - the water up to their armpits. Katie beat all the men and got the most!

Piranha fishing video

Back in camp we played volleyball. Lunch was at 12-30pm and Helen decided to go vegetarian. Paul had seen the cooks slaughter the lamb that was served up for lunch and it put him right off!

There was another walk at 4pm but this time we didn´t see a lot.

We were visited by more tarantulas during our evening meal. Alex picked one up so we could see the fangs. Uuuaaahh!

Then everybody at camp started singing "Happy Birthday, Kirsten" over and over again. Pedro, one of the guides, conjured up a superb birthday cake for her - chocolate, still warm, with icing and "Kirsten" written on top. We had only been eating rice, rice and more rice - no sweets or puddings - and I think the lasting impression of the Pantanal will be that fantastic chocolate cake. We all wished we'd made up a birthday every day!!

Kirsten´s birthday party

Afterwards we went to the lake at night. Pedro caught a caiman and put him down in the grass on its back. God, the caiman really loved the belly massage! Pedro also picked up a beautiful flower - the Lady of the night - for Kirsten. What a superb birthday!

Tuesday, 26.02.2002: Pantanal - Bonito

Got up at 5-30am, had breakfast at 6am and off we went on the two trucks back to our Kinda truck and to Bonito. It was a lovely sunny day again and we all enjoyed the ride through a few wet patches again. We saw lots of birds along the way and had another lunch break at 11-45am with cold hot dogs and chipsticks.

We were all happy to see the Kinda truck again and Alex plus another guide got a free ride back to Bonito. Alex spotted a rattlesnake and Darrell went into the breaks. The guides were trying to catch the snake with a stick but didn´t get her. Val´s comment: "Well, boys always like to play with their little snakes!".

We got back to Bonito by 4-15am and stayed at the superb YHA for one night - it poured with rain and we had some serious thunder and lightening.