Took us two days of traveling to get us here. There was some “free camping” at a truck stop and roadside snack bar. In a little town by the name of Miranda, Doris (our trusty truck) broke down. Thankfully, Miranda was only 2 hours away from our destination so one of the other Tucan trucks, which had already arrived there, headed back to pick us up. Stopped off at a lake swarming with Caymen (a subspecies of crocodile which is extremely placid) and had some photos taken while fighting off the mozi invasion. Got to the truck stop where we parked our lift and jumped on to another open backed truck and took the one hour dirt track to our final destination. Pousada São João Ecotur in the heart of the Pantanal.
A horse ride was the major activity of the day. A two hour circuit through the wilderness on the hunt for wildlife. Unfortunately, no anacondas this time but we did see a couple Caymen, a few Maccaws and a bunch of Toucans (which are a lot smaller than I had imagined). Having horse ridden before, it was like riding a bike (or horse rather). There was a rather scary moment. Katherine’s (a.k.a. Kat) horse freaked out, Kat lot control and ended up thrown to the ground at quite a speed. There was obvious Angel involvement because bar a couple of bruises, she was tip top. After all that excitement, lunch was calling followed by a relaxed afternoon with some card games. An afternoon walk followed by a bottle of Vodka and it was time to get the party started.
Todays activity was the much anticipated Piranha fishing. We all piled into a truck and commenced the 40 minute ride to our Piranha filled lake. On the way, we stopped off at another little swampy lake in search of giant otters. Sadly, they were either not there for very well camouflaged for we did not see them. A little disappointing but hey, you cant win them all! Out of nowhere a massive storm blew in. Cats and dogs bombarded us from above and the temperature must have dropped about 15 degrees with the rain. We were going to be getting wet anyway so through the rain we trekked to the Piranha lake.
Contrary to what the media portrays, Piranha will not swarm and devour anything which touches the water. They may have an inquisitive nibble of a toe every once in a while but in order to catch them, we all had to wade chest deep into the swamp. Pieces of raw pig was our initial bait of choice. On average, a chunk of flesh would last about 30 seconds before the hook had been stripped bare. I managed to catch 5 Piranha. As a group, we had a very successful session in general (which we feasted on for supper). Once we had run out of pig bait, we started catching Piranha with Piranha. Ironically morbid. A nap in the afternoon followed by a night walk of 1 hour concluded the day. Still have not seen an anteater or jaguar.
A trip down one of the many rivers in a boat was the morning plan. Keeping an eye for any wildlife (of which there was none), the trip lasted about 1.5 hours. We stopped at a sandy bank for 10 minutes for a swim in the Piranha infested river before heading back to the lodge where lunch was being repaired. I think the best part was the lunch to be honest :-P after having eaten the same thing day in and day out at the eco-camp, it was a refreshing change to get sausages, chicken pieces and a multitude of vegetables. There was a strange desert which I believe was a pureed mix of honey, pumpkin and coconut. Interesting.
Good Bye Pantanal
This was to mark the end of our adventure here in the Pantanal. An incredible jungle getaway with lots of awesome activities to be done. It is most unfortunate that I acquired an eye infected sometime during the evening of night 1 which got progressively worse. Thanks to Kat, Emelia and Alicia for helping me out with some eye drops and saline fluids. Off to Bonito now for the next few days. Looking forward to the adventures to be had there.