Thursday, May 1, 2014

Into the wild Pantanal (19.04.2014 - 22.04.2014)

As Bonito was totally booked out we fled to the Pantanal. We booked the four days / three nights in the hammock version at Fazenda São João, still not cheap. The Pantanal is an enormous wetland/swamp of three to four times the size of Switzerland! This unique environment gets flooded during the rainy season and slowly drys out during the rest of the year, Mosquito heaven!

At our Fazenda we met Daniel from Denmark, the only other guest! Tending to our needs where probably three times as many employees...
The first night our guide (I'm so bad with names, can't remember his...) made us a fire. But soon the heat and insects drove us to seek shelter in our mosquito-proof-shed. This was only the beginning of a loosing battle, I'm fairly certain that the mosquito make up the biggest part of all the biomass in the Pantanal...

After an earlyish rise and breakfast we went for a horseback ride. We saw heaps of birds, cows and even startled a herd of boars. And got like a million mosquito bites, no kidding! The bite you in the face and through clothing, mean! The mosquito cream we've used so fare didn't seem to work...

In the afternoon we hiked stumbled around the fazenda and saw more or less the same animals again. Got some blisters and more mosquito bites, yay.

At night we headed out, but didn't bring our own flashlight. So we had to follow and trust our guide (with the only light) which ambled bare feet into the fields and swamps looking for caimans and what not. Scary shit if you know there is a field full of caimans and snakes around you which you can't see! Was quite cool once we got over the first shock. Saw a big owl, a tarantula and heaps of caimans. When they get blinded by the flashlight they usually stay still and you can approach them. Didn't work all the time, some got angry and started making angry noises! I even pulled one from the street myself, how manly! ^^ On our way back Melanie almost stepped on a quite venomous Bothrops snake (don't google the images, nasty bites) but I saved her in the last moment, no joke! Manly again! =)

The next day we where supposed to go piranha fishing. Our guide selected for this an stagnant pond with around a dozen caimans perched at the bank. After chasing them away we started throwing our lines into the murky water. Everybody can make the connection that meat on a hook and caimans don't mix well. We didn't catch anything besides greedy caimans! Daniel then tried his luck on an other waterhole and caught at least some kind of fish, not a piranha. I joined him and also caught a little fish, still no piranha. Soon we were out of meat and again encircled by caimans so we abandoned this little venture and headed home.

On the schedule as activity after lunch was another hike around the fazenda which Melanie and I gladly declined in favour of some rest in the hammocks. Daniel and the guide still left and promptly got caught in massive down pour. They got lost and had to sprint home to make it back before nightfall, lol.

For the last day we got in some kayaks and floated down the Rio Miranda. It was nice to glide through the scenery including the occasional argument about when and how to paddle ;) Soon afterwards we had to leave to make it back to Bonito.

It may not sound like it but we had a great time out in the wilderness. The mosquitos where unforgiving but the amount of birds and other animals was just awesome! Who can say the slept just meters from a pond full of caimans?

Some blue Aras hanging out at the fazenda