Life in the outback....

Pantanal Travel Blog

 › entry 13 of 123 › view all entries

The overnight bus from Foz do Iguacu was a bit bizarre - we left Iguacu and thought it would be pretty much straight through to Campo Grande - no sir, absolutely not.  After about 2 hours we stopped and were told to get off (at a service station in the middle of nowhere!) and that another bus would along shortly (well, we think that's what they said, me and the Americans I was with didn't speak any portuguese so it was a bit of guess work - I heard 'dez minutos' which is 'ten minutes') - an hour and a half later we were still waiting there (bear in mind this is about 10.30pm at night) wondering what the hell the happening.  Buses came and went.  Eventually one did stop that we were finally allowed onto.

Sunset at the lodge
..random.  Cue bumpy ride and no sleep....ah the joys of overnight bus journeys! 

We got into Campo Grande at about 9.30am (well it was actually 8.30am as there was an hour time difference that I had no idea about ad didn't realise until about two hours later when  thought the tour should be leaving and there was still another hour to wait!!) - Fabio picked me up from the bus station to take me to the hostel/tour company meeting place....they were really friendly, allowed me to have a shower and have some breaky.  I had booked a 4 day/3 night tour and it eventually left at about 10.30am - got chatting to Dave from Bradford on the bus - funny fella, quality northern accent!

I didn't realise how far it was from Campo Grande to the Pantanal - it turned out to be 370km, which took us about 5 hours with stops, and then we had to get a jeep from that bus drop off to the pousada where we were staying (Santa Clara).

Caiman - creepy fellas!
  There were about 8 of us at this point - 4 got dropped off at the camping site and the rest of us at the main site where the dorms, rooms and reception etc were.  Was not what I was expecting at all - a great little set up with large dining room, TV room, table football, pool table etc - pretty damn smart!!  We met Johnny (a Brazilian local) - our guide with 20 years experience in the Pantanal - all looked good.  There were no activities for the rest of the day as it was about 5pm by this point and getting dark - caught a glimpse of the sunset which was fantastic (see picture!).  Dinner and food was pretty good throughout - all cooked fresh - a limited buffet but pretty damn tasty I have to say and a nice change to get some vegetables!!  We chilled out at the campsite as they had a fire and had a few beers, before Niall the Aussie decided to cross the river in the dark, caiman and all.
Iguana
..crazy fella!

Day 2

We were up early (breakfast at 6.30, meet at 7.30am) for the boat trip.  Johnny took us out in a little motor boat down the river from the campsite - out first glimpse of the wildlife - caiman were everywhere.  They are like small-ish aligators and we found out they never attacked humans as they aren't big enough - phew!! They were pretty damn close to the boat and Johnny was stopping off at the little islands to get up close - absolutely amazing creatures!!  They feed mainly on the plentyful piranha which can do some real damage!!  Johnny's spotting talents were unbelievable - he was seeing things hundreds of metres away like iguanas completely camoflauged in the trees.  Toucans, herons, storks, vultures - loads of fantastic birds (!).

On the horses
  The girls were loving the capyburas (the worlds largest rodent, like a very big guinea pig) which were by the river side chilling out and taking it easy.

After lunch we were off horse riding - my first time since riding my sister's horse when I was about 13.  So I didn't  really count that as  relevant experience when asked!!  The horses was brilliant, well trained and no trouble whatsoever.  It was bloody painful to start with (especially as my stirrups weren't the right height, so my knees were killing me) and getting used to the horses trotting etc was a little troublesome...but I eventually got the hang of it (having made an improvised whip from a tree branch).  Andy, Karen, Rose and Joel all seemed pretty comfortable with it as well.

Yee-haaa!
  Johnny was getting a bit adgitated as were a little slow getting the horses going, but I did manage to get up to a gallop at one point!  Crossing the rivers was brilliant, amazing what the horses can do.  Only downside was the mozzies - they had a field day on us (we all went out in just T-shirts), so we came back with massive bites everywhere, which became a bit of a theme....we chilled out when we got back (a nice cold Brahma was the order of the day!) and made use of the hammocks - quality place to kick back relax and chat.

Day 3

We were up at 4am for the night trek - Johnny got us in the jeep with the driver while he sat on top with a massive spotlight.  He was back on form after being a bit moody during the horse riding yesterday.

Me and Andy chilling in the hammocks
  Unfortunately it was cloudy so we couldn't see the sunrise which we had stopped at a lake for.  Still we did see a few toucans pretty close up and a giant otter, which apparently do attack humans if you're stupid enough to get in the lake (we kept our distance).  On the 'hiking' part (really it was just a walk!), we found Howler monkeys which were pretty cool - Johnny proceeded to do his best Dr Doolittle impression by 'talking' to the monkeys, who seemed to know what he was on about as they got a bit chatty too! Brilliant!

Afternoon activity was piranha fishing - it was pretty simple but one of the highlights of the tour.  We just had bamboo canes with a simple line and hook attached, and some off cuts of meat to use as bait.  Due to the dry season, the river was low which meant the fish were concentrated - literally biting a few seconds after casting off.

Wild pigs at the camp
  Took a while to get the hang of nailing the bites and getting the fish out, but was a great feeling to nab a few - and then having to get the hooks out and knock them out.  Those we didn't need for dinner we threw to the caiman - lazy buggers gave up eating them after a while even when we threw them straight at them!!  Weird feeling though as the caiman were sitting right next to us on the bank as we were merrily casting off to catch piranha - a great experience!!

Day 4

A bit of a non-event to be honest.  Johnny took us out on a walk near the camp, but we didn't see anything different from yesterday.  Bit annoying really and Johnny seemed to give up early and we were back in camp by about 9.30am and told we could chill out until our bus left at about 2pm.

..so not really a 4 day tour at all, but I guess it was pretty cheap so can't complain too much.  The other group managed to see an anaconda, which was gutting for us.  They saw one near a marshy lake and got to hold it and everything which was pretty cool - they had some great photos - it must've been about 3 metres long.

They organised us a minibus back to Campo Grande, although Andy, Karen and I made the schoolboy error of sitting above the axle, which we regretted for the next 4 hours - unbelievably bad roads out there!! No chance of sleep or reading or anything!! And we had the surreal sounds of something like 'All Time Greatest Tearjearkers' - Nilsson's 1972 top-5 hit 'Without You' was blaring out at full blast (you know the one that goes 'I can't live, if living is without you.

Me Karen & Andy showing off our piranha catch as Des the caiman wanders nearby...
..' etc etc) - totally random music!!

A quiet night in Campo Grande - although we did go to a great little area called 'Feria Central' which was like an undercover Japanese market with loads of little food places - had some great food and then got the best desert ever - fresh strawberries covered in warm chocolate - absolute heaven, even for me (not being a massive chocolate fan)!

Tomorrow...off to Sao Paulo!!

Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
Sunset at the lodge
Sunset at the lodge
Caiman - creepy fellas!
Caiman - creepy fellas!
Iguana
Iguana
On the horses
On the horses
Yee-haaa!
Yee-haaa!
Me and Andy chilling in the hammoc…
Me and Andy chilling in the hammo…
Wild pigs at the camp
Wild pigs at the camp
Me Karen & Andy showing off our pi…
Me Karen & Andy showing off our p…
Toucan
Toucan
Capyburas
Capyburas
Pantanal Hostels review
Good value accomodation & decent tour
A decent place to stay - hosts are friendly enough and there are good services - no internet, but Tv room, table football, pool table, swimming pool, … read entire review
Pantanal
photo by: Sads79