The Pantanal, Porto Jofre, Pantanal Nature and Jaguars
Aug 20, 2011
|**NOTE** 3 Vids have been added, see if you can find them.
Well, how can the last 3 days be described? Easily "Worth every penny"
Both of us have to say that they have been the best days by a long way. One of the main reasons we are doing this trip is to see the world and what wildlife it has to offer and it goes without saying The Pantanal surpassed all expectations.
Why have we not heard of this place before? Why does the lonely planet say the best thing about Brazil is its beaches?
We landed ok and had a small mix-up with our pickup. Accomodation was expensive but good. The next day we were greeted in the morning by Ailton, who was to be our guide for the next 3 days.
I will start off by saying, Ailton is a great guy. He is the owner of Pantanal Nature and he started the company by saying to his old boss "If you dont improve, I will leave and start my own company." And so he did. He actually has great passion for the pantanal and its wild life as well as making our trek the best it could be. It helped that he spoke fantastic English, we were discussing a lot about English/American/Australian accents and had a lot of laughs.
Our first day was spent driving down the trans-Pantanal road. A 140km dirt road that was half finished. Because it doesn´t go anywhere and is only half complete, it offered the unique experience of being in the middle of nowhere, no human inhabitance and yet still accessible by car.
I can say that, if we had to leave on that first day for whatever reason, I would have left happy. The sheer number of wildlife down this long road is astounding. We took more photos on that first day than we did in 1/10 of the rest our trip (1700 in total, 180 1st day, 120 2nd and 200 3rd ). It was mind boggling, Ailton had to stop every 10 minutes just because we kept seeing new animals. Highlights included our first caiman, followed very quickly by our first bask of caiman. Going down hundreds of miles of Amazon, we didn´t see a single caiman. Even in the reserves we have been in has only yielded 1 or 2. We also saw quite a few Capybara familes, happily dosing in the waters with the caiman. The great horned owls were a treat as Ailton could do several animal noises and got the owls chatting.
It took the entire day to complete the road and it was an adventure all by itself. Including a stop at a restuarant which again had very tasty fish (cannot recall the name but all locally caught as to be expected). When we arrived we were expecting a campsite with usual group facilites and a tent prepared for us (as this was what described in our itinerary), but what greeted us was the work of a dedicated company doing its best to make our stay even better. The "tent" was indeed made mostly of cloth, but was bigger than some rooms we have stayed in and better than most as it came with ensuite bathrom facilities and it also had electrical outlets (with fan). Some "tent", Ailton explained they were in the process of upgrading all facilities and didnt want people to get the wrong ideas before arriving. The restuarant wasnt finished yet, but that should be running next week. So, with a jaw dropping "safari" this topped our day off quite nicely. Dinner was to be in next doors´ restaurant with a buffet style layout. Again, the fish (catfish this time) was excellent, I think we just prefer fresh water fish (sorry Guernsey).
The plan for the next day was to wake up at 5.30 to get in early and catch the sun. With camera ready we set off in our boat, just the 3 of us, to take the hour or so journey to the spots most likely to spot the Jaguars. But, as they werent as active at this time we went Otter hunting. With radios between all the boats a family was quickly found and we followed them for about an hour or two watching them catch many fish and devour them in the lillies. They are very playful and seemed to give us a show, but who can tell with otters?
Another hour or so was spent roaming around, taking in all the animals (mostly caiman and capybara), getting good info from Ailton on everything related to the area, whilst trying to find the elusive creature that likes to sleep off yesterdays meals during this time.
Before 10.00am we got the call of a possible sighting, off we went and before long we could see him. Hidden very well in the bushes just up from the bank our first Jaguar( technically second, as we saw one on the road far ahead, but he was long gone by the time we got near). It was exactly what we had expected, we could barely see him, through the bushes as he was well camoflaged, but Ailton could still identify this one as out of the 5 collared Jaguar in the pantanal, this was the only one within this specific region (20 Jaguars he could identify by the pattern on the coats all within this region). They only collar the older Jaguars as to not stress out younger ones (it seems the older you are the less you give a care about such things). We sat and observed him but typically with wildlife he was taking a nap, so we went off again seeing if there was anything else for us to find.
The rest of the day was spent taking it all in as well as getting the most of our guide. We went back to camp supremely happy that we had completed what we set out to achieve. Dinner was as usual with different meat and fish at which point we got news we were not expecting
"So, we will start again tomorrow at 5.30, if that is ok with you?" said Ailton.
What? We had thought that we were heading off back to Cuiaba tomorrow as the journey takes about 4/5 hours to get back? Nope, Ailton felt we could get another day in and then head back tomorrow evening. Another full day of Jaguar hunting. Talk about the customer comes first.
So, with grinning faces off we went again and this is where the tale will end. Before I end it, we dont want to spoil any surprises, the first 2 days are enough to satisfy any hungry customer, but, I will say this, the last day out shone the first and second day by enough that even the National Geographic and BBC couldnt have (and didnt) done better out of the Pantanal. You are just going to have to get it from us personally.
Not being one to plug but, http://www.pantanalnature.com.br , if you find out more.