Day 38 (11th Oct) – Pantanal Safari

16 10 2010

Our main tour guide for the safari was the self titled ‘Jonny Indiana’, a short’ish barefooted indigenous man. Today was an incredible day, not even in a zoo had we been so close to so many animals; which wasn’t necessarily a good thing. The day started with a fruitless 5am walk to the river in search of the very elusive jaguar.

After showers and breakfast we set off on a jeep safari through the Pantanal, where we stopped every few hundred metres to watch, photograph and ultimately scare off Scarlet and Hyacinth Macaws, Capybaras, Toucans, Kingfishers, Otters etc.

It is the dry season and this is the driest month, which means most of the wildlife congregate around the drying pools, swamps and rivers. They were hundreds of caimans basking themselves in the sun on the waters edge waiting for lunch. It was then that Jonny Indiana suggested we go ‘for a walkabout’. I kid you not, he led us down to the very river bank we were just taking photos of all those caimans in search of Anacondas! Oh, and what do you think his suggested footwear was?… ‘flip flops or like me, barefoot’. Fortunately, none of the caimans were much over two metres, aggressive or hungry. We walked along the river bank through scrub, swamps and lagoons. We really felt in the heart of the Pantanal and among the wildlife.

Before lunch we went for a very quick dip in the Rio Paraguay; no caimans there, but there were piranhas and they weren’t scared to have a little nibble. So we got out and tried our hand at a little piranha fishing with Jonny’s homemade bamboo cane fishing rods… ‘the hunted becomes the hunter’. Using raw beef as bait our group caught a grand total of four piranhas.

After lunch we went on a river boat safari where we saw yet more Pantanal wildlife. Some fish decided to leap out of the water and into the boat – one of which hit me on the face. There were literally dozens of fish jumping at or over us. After much screaming and hysterics the girls composed themselves and we had ourselves the makings of a fish supper.

It was from the boat that we arguably got too close to some of the wildlife. Our second guide manoeuvred the boat to the raised river bank where a large caiman was soaking up the rays. It was then that Jonny Indiana decided to jump off the boat and up the bank – I don’t know why, maybe to wrestle it or something. Anyway, this startled the caiman and it leapt from the river bank above us towards the river and our small boat. All six of us on board crapped ourselves in unison, then dived right, therefore making our small boat tip. Our guide who was sat at the back of the boat was tossed into the caiman and piranha infested water! He was not a happy chap… The caiman fortunately missed us and the guide.

After another ‘walkabout’ in search of an Anaconda (no joy unfortunately) we made our way back to camp for 9:30pm, dinner and a well earned sleep.

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