A Pantanal adventure

Campo Grande Travel Blog

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A giant anteater, in a field next to the road. We weren´t even in the main Pantanal yet.

The last four days I´ve spent in the Pantanal, a wetlands (although now it´s mostly dry like the savannah) region in central Brazil.

It was a four day and three night package, leaving from Campo Grande about 2 hours after I arrived there on Tuesday morning. Luckily they gave me a room to change in at the hostel before departure.

We set off about 11am and all along the way we were stopping to admire the fauna. A giant anteater alive and kicking in a neighbouring field, a dead one next to the road and the closer we got to the ranch, caimans (short nosed crocodiles), capybaras (very large, dim witted rodents) and plenty of storks and other bird life.

The first night we spent on the ranch (Pousada Santa Clara), before grabbing only the essentials to head into the Pantanal proper for a night.

Me and my shortlived cowboy hat. It just wasn't practical to carry around.
It was really good, we saw emus, capybaras, racoons, armadillos, a very long anaconda, more caimans, lots of vultures and lots more fauna that I will remember some time.

We arrived in camp for lunch, after our guide Gabriel had taken us on a bush walk to show us some bush craft and some more wildlife. After lunch was the first big challenge. Having seen the caimans and the anaconda in the lake next to camp, we went swimming in it! And it´s full of piranhas! Which incidentally I couldn´t catch any of at the first attempt. That was a very very nervous walk into the lake, worrying we would get scratched in any way and draw blood that would attract them. Fortunately not and the water was surprising clear and was warm because it was shallow.

Then we went on a jeep safari until after sunset, visiting a beautiful salt lake that reflected the trees surrounding it perfectly in its waters.

Very beautiful place.  After dinner we went caiman hunting, as you do! But they were nervous and swimming to deeper waters as soon as the guide got in the water. Some others continued, but I went to bed to hear the jungle chorus and try to sleep with no roll mat underneath, a futile exercise.

The next day, after a nice walk to see sunrise and then breakfast, we did a spot of piranha fishing. This time we went out a little deeper into the lake. There is something terrifying about fumbling with bait and a hook. Everytime I dropped a bit of bait (salt beef) by accident, I legged it away from that part of the water.

After a long journey back to the ranch, we did some horseriding, which I can still feel now. Most of the trail was in indian file, walking; how boring! However at the end we did get to exercise the horses a bit more.

Caimans, lots of them! They typically grow to only 2m long. Still, wouldn´t like one to nip my leg in the water.
Mine had a mind of its own, it responded only to what its peers were doing. When they galloped, so did he. And that was terrifying!

On the last morning we did some piranha fishing from a boat, which was a much more successful occasion for me. I caught 5, including one on the first cast.

Overall, an excellent experience with a brilliant group (10 of us: 5 english, 2 canadians, 2 aussies and 1 danish girl). Two of the girls had a special mission. One had won a competition for the social networking website Bebo to go on a 6 month all-expenses-paid trip around Europe and South America, the other girl was there to film it all. They were great fun and I´m sure we got to see a bit more just by their presence. Thanks to Amy and Liz.

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A giant anteater, in a field next …
A giant anteater, in a field next…
Me and my shortlived cowboy hat. I…
Me and my shortlived cowboy hat. …
Caimans, lots of them! They typica…
Caimans, lots of them! They typic…
A very long anaconda, a stone´s t…
A very long anaconda, a stone´s …
A caiman, only 20m from camp.
A caiman, only 20m from camp.
That´s an armadillo!
That´s an armadillo!
A racoon
A racoon
The salt lake
The salt lake
The trek group. Our guide Gabriel …
The trek group. Our guide Gabriel…
Campo Grande
photo by: jthreasher