Friday, 3 October 2014

Into the Pantanal Wetlands

I just looked up from the map book to see a caiman staring at me from the river. Caimans are small crocodiles, they eat fish and, I think, birds. Not humans, but I'm not going swimming. There's piraƱa too!

We have made it to Porto Jofre. It's the end of the popular route called the Transpantanera. In the 1970's the Brazilian government decided to build a road across the Pantanal, but after building 145 kilometres of road they gave up. 

The Pantanal is a massive wetland area and it's flooded for a good part of every year. So, building a road here, and maintaining it, is costly. 

Getting here has been slow. Between the rough dirt road and all the wildlife sporting I think it took us about 10 hours to drive the 145kms. 

What have we seen on the Transpantanera? 
Mostly water birds. 
Capybara (world largest Rodent), 
and the farmed animals: Cattle (mostly Brahmin), Water Buffalo, and horses. 

To get here, we skirted around the Southern and Eastern sides of the Pantanal, taking a dirt road (BR419) recommended by our Couchsurfing host in Campo Grande. So far, we're actually more excited about what we saw doing that than doing this Transpantanera. 

Getting to the Transpantanera we saw:
Giant Anteaters (twice)!
Lots of birds (okay, there's more on the Transpantanera)

Giant Anteaters
I was very excited to see a Giant Anteater. Mostly people visiting the Pantanal want to see a Jaguar. But, as I said to Hendrik, I most wanted to see a Giant Anteater: they are such interesting looking animals! Then, about 2 hours after I said that to H we spotted one ambling in a cow paddock. 

As the guide book, Lonely Planet Brazil (9th ed.), says Giant Anteaters are a threatened species (prized meat apparently) and difficult to spot, this was very exciting. Imagine our excitement when, about 36 hours later, we spotted a second one ambling through another cow paddock. 

Next on my list of what I really want to sight is the Giant Otter. Then an Anaconda. And the Jaguar? I saw one once from a boat in Bolivia. The locals flagged us over to proudly show us what they'd killed, ie, a Jaguar. It was beautiful, but dead. 

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