The Pantanal is an area of swamp, marsh and jungle in the south-west of Brazil. One of the most sparsely populated areas of the country, it covers an area roughly twice the size of France.
We took an overnight bus from Foz do Iguacu to the city of Campo Grande, from where it was another several hours by minibus and 4-wheel-drive truck to arrive at the tourist lodge where we would spend the next few days. Despite the remote location it was a well-equipped place. There were a few locals and tourism workers, plus their pets (a parrot and 3 boar) living in the lodge, and it was kitted out with a pool table, TV and, thankfully as the temperature was always above 30 and humidity extremely high; a swimming pool.
Everyday we took part in different activities that brought us closer to the nature- treks in the forest and through the wetlands, boatrides along the river and my favourite, piranha fishing. Using a long stick of bamboo as a rod and a small piece of beef on the end of line, we stood on a narrow bank. It was not difficult to get a bite, this happened with almost every cast. The trick was getting them to stay on the hook as you brought them in, and then avoiding dropping them on your feet as their teeth gnashed away. Those that were big enough to eat, we kept, the guide finished them off with a crunch as he pushed his knife through their skulls. Those that were not big enough for us to eat got thrown to a caiman (small crocodile) which was lurking a couple of feet away from Anne, much to her unease. That night we had a delicious meal of fried piranha and rice.
The climate here was an experience in itself. The first night we witnessed a massive thunderstorm, the second two nights there were power cuts- a serious problem as it meant the fan in our dorm cut out. We all woke up in the pitch black covered in sweat and with several new mosquito bites to add to our collection.