The amazing wetlands
This should be renamed "Land of the Mosquitos". After a chilly overnight bus from Foz (You're not in Argentina anymore Toto) we pulled up into Campo Grande
at a rather early 8am and we were met by Rodrigo, a rather gruff and macho guy who ran Ecological Expeditions, the tour company we had signed up with for the 3 night Pantanal expedition. Fortunately he turned out to be rather friendly and helpful albeit a little odd.
The Pantanal is an open swampland that is fed by the Andes and the Brazilian central Plateau, it's home to a huge array of wildlife including caymen, tucans, pumas, monkeys and mosquitos. It's also larger than France and there are few places anywhere on the planet that can rival it in terms of biodiversity (or so the Lonely Planet says!).
Having signed up with Ecological Expeditions we handed over our 300 Reals and signed our life away.
We stayed at Santa Clara Campsite, a series of shacks with wire mesh and hammocks for beds. It was a rustic but adequate place and inline with our adventurous spirit. As we pulled up in our 4x4 jeep after an arduous 5hr journey we had our first greeting from the local mosquitos. We were on a tour with 9 other people from around the world and the mozzies made no preference, we were all eaten alive. We went on a night safari that night and covered ourselves from head to foot to protect ourselves and we went out searching for wildlife. We managed to see caymen eyes, a rather scary spider which i prayed wouldn't find our campsite and not much else.
Day 2 started with the sun rising and birds singing as we swung in our hammocks.
Up close with a cayman
A lovely way to wake up. After breakfast we took to the 4x4 jeep again and headed out on a deep safari searching for the elusive Puma. What we found were killer mosquitos, caymen and some birds. What was impressive was the scenary, lush green forest with 100's of rivers and streams all over. The area was due to flood in the coming weeks so we were lucky to get there when we were still able to drive through the area. At lunch we had the chance to cool off from the 100% humidty and our long sleeved clothes by jumping in one of the rivers and spending a few hours swimming before our boat tour. It started promisingly but then some rather ominous clouds gathered above our heads, lightening struck and thunder clapped and our hunt for Anacondas was cut short, thankfully.
By the time our wet, bitten bodies made it back to camp we decided that we had had enough and we threw in the towel.
On the hunt for anacondas, rather hot and wet
Mozzies 1, Jonas, Raila and Mel 0. We agreed to go Pirhana fishing the following morning and then leave. Pirhana fishing was more fun and much harder than expected. We walked down to the local river and mozzie feeding ground with our wooden rods and cow heart (well we are hunting Pirhana) bait and set about catching lunch. I managed to catch the smallest fish of the day whilst Jonas was the hunter gatherer for the group and caught about 4! The vegetarian in me just couldn 't get it i suppose!
A truly wonderful experience, just a shame that the mozzies were so aggressive and became the topic of conversation when really the incredible landscape we were in should have been the focus.