Piranhnas in the Pantanal

Campo Grande Travel Blog

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The Caddy from Happy Gilmore rocking out with Ronald McDonald, MouseFunkSquad, and Jesus

First and foremost as i was stranded in the jungle with no electricity, phones or a computer i missed Mothers Day so a Big HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all the mums but sadly there can only be one greastest mum of all time and that is mine, LOVE YA MUM!

Back onto Brendo's bogus adventure around Brazil! Left the magic of Iguazu behind and have headed into the jungle of the Pantanal! Now why go here and not the Amazon you ask?

The Pantanal is the world's largest continuous wetland on the planet and a region amassed with biodiversity. Connecting Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay, this vast, swampy floodplain is home to a splendor of wildlife, remarkable plants, and dramatic seasonal transformations. It is often coined as a reservoir for threatened species, thus much of the wetland is now protected.

Sunset on the river in the Pantanal
Though it is not as lush in terms of density like the Amazon it is still an amazing region to explore as I found and an exciting opportunity to find the elusive Pantanal jaguar! Even better was the weather we had, sun sun and more sun WICKED!

When we arrived at Campo Grande, a jumping point to get a tour into the jungle, you are swapped absolutely swapped by every tour company underneath the sun! It was quite amusing the boys were moving like sloths (another 18hr bus ride) through the bus terminal and the crowd of sellers just stayed on them like flies to cow poo, took us a good ten minutes to ditch our tags! So arrived there 8.00am in morning and found out quickly that there was a tour leaving at 1130am so we were off immediately, a 5 hour cramped journey to our campsite! We went with Ecological Expeditions not because they were the best but because they seemed significantly more adventurous and exciting (option to sleep out in hammocks as well) than the other companies.

Sloth just chilling out on the ground
It was better they expected, our guide was awesome and showed us an exciting time! His name was MAx but in no time we had nicknamed him Maxi and Madmax! He has been tour guiding in the Pantanal for over 12 years and was a healthy reservoir of knowledge and spoke remarkable english! 

The group sizes are small (8pax) but there are generally several other groups sharing the campsite with you so there are plenty of people to mingle with! There is an option to camp it or be put up in a lodge do the camping a lot funnier and the hammocks are comfy! So we made up half the group, meet another aussie Shauno and had 3 rather eccentric arty germans, all in all a rather unique blend of spirits! The tour officially started with a 'safari'! Now this was slightly misinterpreted in the brochure as all it entailed, was driving down this major dirt road looking for animals and considering we had to use the road everyday to get to the other activities we had a 'safari everyday', that is Brazil!

Our first day was littered with giant river otters, capybaras, elegant birds like the tou-cans (best bird ever!), a jungle fox, black howler monkeys and these racoon like animals and let us not forget the caymens which we renamed gaymens! They are everywhere! Now apparently this particular specimen does not grow over 3 metres unlike their close cousins in the the Amazon that can exceed 6 and will eat you.

Mad Max holding the trap shut so we dont lose our fingers...
The funny thing is that the Pantanal caymens may only be restricted by their food source (more too eat in the Amazon), so potentially there could be big caymens in the pantanal! This information was, needless to say, kept from us until after we went swimming with the caymens! Yes people, ADVENTURE ADVENTURE you get to go swim in alligator/piranhna infested waters and as Maxi would say ´no problemo MATE´!!! Nah apparently only real big ones that are only found  in the amazon are terrotorital the rest are rather placid, so with this in mind we took our bodyboards with us and in a sense went caymen surfing. We had ball and the river cruise that accompanies the infested water swim is awesome, saw more monkeys, a green iguana, more kingfishers and Mark was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the elusive jaguar as it climb out of a tree! The piranhnas were no biggie either unless you had a cut profusely bleeding you may have thought twice!

Our second day was just as jammed pack which included another ´safari´ to get too the daily activities that included a jungle walk and horse riding! This day was definately the highlight of the tour! The jungle walk was really cool and you got the feeling you were just so isolated in nature.

My horse I nicknamed Swamp Caddy
Saw plenty of animals but no big cats, waded waist deep through swamps, the ladies of the group were a bit cautious especially after 5 aussie lads had been stirring them up about the scenes from the movie anaconda, what we were doing was very similar! Also, Max demonstrated his amazing ability to call animals and birds!

After the lunch it was horse riding! The tables were now turn on the boys as the girls were horse riding scholars! Corey had never ridden a horse before, while the other boys had only been walked around on a horse/pony at a circus or showground by a clown! Personally, i was a little more confident as a grew up around stables and have ridden horses many times before but it didnt take long before i remembered why I avoided horses, my allegies!!! While my adrenlin was pumping it was all good but afterwards i could barely see out of my eyes!! So we named all our horses, there was rogan josh (corey´s), swamp donkey (duggo´s), dorimus (mark´s) and mine bearded mule! Our aim was a swamp rendition of the Melbourne Cup.

Duggo chillin with a Toucan
It was hilarious we had races, went through the swamps on the horses, got chased by water buffaloes, the horses always pooed in the water and it would float into the person behind you so funny! However my funniest recollection was when the horses decided to gallop, limbs were flailing everywhere, corey was wailing, duggo couldnt see shite as he didnt have his glasses and mark looked plain silly on his horse as he was to big for it! I nearly came off, my arse out of the saddle, one hand on the reins, the boys dont know how i stayed on! The guides were amazing riding bareback and the girls didnt even have to try to make us look bad but we all had smiles at the end of the day1

Our last day involved some piranhna fishing and arts and crafts program! The fishing was alright but we didnt catch any big ones and everyone was fairly stuffed with sore butts from the day before, but we got to eat them for lunch which was rather cool! The arts and crafts was awesome, we made bands, necklaces, hair attachments etc out of some plant we collected on our jungle walk! I was humbled that the guides who come across as hard arse jungle men, like tarzan were capable of such artisitic weaving and patience, a great way to end a tour!

So i have talked this tour up but bear in mind a tour can be good simply by what you see and do but a tour becomes a great experience by the person interpreting the region for you! Max and Levi were great and made this experience unforgettable, Cheers boys!

Well this is our last stop in Brazil so i hope you enjoyed the Braziliaan ride, personally I have meet a lot of great individuals and shared some of the best experiences ever! It is now off to the mountainous regions of Bolivia, notorious for their rocky roads by bus or bike! Where the jungle has failed, maybe the rocky roads will succeed in my demise lets hope not haha! Peace everyone!  

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The Caddy from Happy Gilmore rocki…
The Caddy from Happy Gilmore rock…
Sunset on the river in the Pantanal
Sunset on the river in the Pantanal
Sloth just chilling out on the gro…
Sloth just chilling out on the gr…
Mad Max holding the trap shut so w…
Mad Max holding the trap shut so …
My horse I nicknamed Swamp Caddy
My horse I nicknamed Swamp Caddy
Duggo chillin with a Toucan
Duggo chillin with a Toucan
Armadillo getting some attention f…
Armadillo getting some attention …
It took him 20mins to climb 2 metr…
It took him 20mins to climb 2 met…
Sunset in the Pantanal
Sunset in the Pantanal
Catching Caymens
Catching Caymens
A Caymen enters the river where we…
A Caymen enters the river where w…
Collecting jungle plants with Max …
Collecting jungle plants with Max…
They look happy, full of confidenc…
They look happy, full of confiden…
Levi our other Crazy arse guide
Levi our other Crazy arse guide
Getting down and dirty in the Jung…
Getting down and dirty in the Jun…
Simon and Tim a bit worried, witin…
Simon and Tim a bit worried, witi…
Campo Grande
photo by: jthreasher