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Published: February 23rd 2007
Another bus ride and more bumpy roads, we arrived in Campo Grande at 6:00 am in the morning. Being the only gringos on the bus, we were greeted by a lot of young men trying to sell us a trip into the Pantanal! However, having booked in advance meant that Israel from our chosen outlet did his best to shake off the competition. On the same day we started our 3 day camping tour deep into to the swamp. The pantanal is the biggest wet land of the world and covers 230 000 km² and over half is flooded annualy. It is an excellent place to spot and encounter wild life and experience real undeveloped wilderness. As we chose a rather odd time to visit the Pantanal - Carneval and rainy season - we had to travel by public bus to a place called Burracas das Piranhas. There, a truck picked us up and we had to travel another 1.5 hours on bumpy dirt roads before reaching the base camp. On the way we already spotted loads of alligator,
parrots and kingfisher. Our home for the next 3 days were 2 hammocks in a basic building and we were sharing with
a family of bats. During the night, the little bats were ´singing´and flying close to our faces and not to speak about the dropings... On the first day, our Gaucho and a bit crazy guide called Gabriel woke us at
6:00 am to start the first trekking into the jungle. Being in a wetland, you mostly wear no shoes or flip flops and you have to wade through dirty water on a regularly basis. The guide was nice enough to advise us that snakes can hide in the water and used to shout ´careful, careful'. In the jungle, we spotted monkeys, rakoons, capybaras (big rodents), killer bees, Panatanal deer and last but not least wild pigs. The wild pigs had piglets and Gabriel again 'careful, careful can be very dangerous´and then he showed us a tree to climb in case the pigs attack us. There were about 30 pigs visible to us, but there could have been more and as soon as they moved Em and the other 2 girls were on the tree leaving no space for Frankie, who was still trying to take pictures.
In general, it is really hard to take pictures as the wild life is
moving fast and often camouflaged. Sorry guys that we didñ´t manage to take hardly any good pictures. On our way back, there we saw more alligators, toucans and the pantanal
symbol tuitui (a giant stork). In the afternoon we went swimming in the river with piranhas and probably alligators (but what you can´t see, don´t hurt). The water is hot and it is more jacuzi than refreshing. Besides the bats, we also had an anaconda resting in the camp for 3 days under a tree - hence, we were able to take a picture!
On the 2nd day, another early morning trekking, where Gabriel showed us medicinal plants, water pigs, more monkeys, more alligators and as always loads of red ants and mosquitos.
Then finally the horse back riding! Frankie was very nervous as it was his first time on the back of a horse and there was a lot of water crossing involved. On the 3 hour ride, we encountered wild buffalos and they do not like horses. To get away Frankie had to trott for the first time. It is funny how you get used to the alligators as they were swimming in the water and the horses
actually like to chase them. On the same day, we were lucky enough to spot the rare blue parrot, who is a real beauty and another snake (don´t ask us the name).
On our last day, we were tasked to fish our lunch and we were supposed to fish piranhas as our bait was beef steak. At this time, only 4 tourists were left in the camp and only Frankie managed to fish a piranha (hmm, we must have been doing something wrong). Em was a bit bored and disappointed as the mosquitos were eating us alive and no dinner. However, after hours Em caught the biggest fish of the day called piraputanga. Obviously, not only piranhas like meat and we had a lovely lunch.
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