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.
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).
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 (!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!