The Pantanal is the world’s largest tropical wetland area and is estimated between 140.000 and 195.000 square kilometers. You can find various ecosystems here and it is home to about 1.000 bird species, 400 fish species, 300 mammalian species, 480 reptile species and over 9.000 subspecies of invertebrates. A great place for nature and animal lovers. It is said that you spot wildlife better in the Pantanal than the Amazon due to its open habitat and it's the perfect place to spent a couple of days and enjoy everything this amazing place has to offer.
We booked our bustickets to the Pantanal at Catarino’s Guesthouse in Bonito. They have a minivan that leaves Bonito at 10 am and brought us to Buraco das Piranhas where we arrived around 2 pm (costs 100 Real p.p.) Don’t worry about lunch because the driver stops somewhere in the middle where you have plenty of time to eat. You can also take the normal bus but we were told this one leaves Bonito in the afternoon and that was to late for us.
The Pantanal Jungle Lodge is located right next to the Miranda River and is a beautiful place to enjoy the Pantanal. The lodge is built on stilts and gives a wonderful view overlooking the stunning landscapes. The have both private rooms and dorms and it’s an all inclusive concept, except the drinks. You choose your tour (2 to 5 days, whatever you want) and they arrange all the trips for you. They have a great buffet, 3 times a day and their location is just perfect. When we woke up in the morning, we heard the howler monkeys howling and saw the capybaras graze, which gave a nice extra touch to the Pantanal experience.
We got picked at pick up point Buraco das Piranhas by the owner of the Jungle Lodge and he brought us to his wonderful place. We did not really know which tours we were going to do, so we were excited about what was going to happen..
After arrival at the Jungle Lodge, we had some time to unpack our bags and have a small lunch. But it didn’t take long before they asked if we wanted to go fishing. Piranha fishing to be precise.. And that was actually really exciting! You feel them nibbling on the meat all the time and when you catch one, you feel how strong they are. When pulling them out, you hear their teeth banging against the steel of the hook. You don’t wanna get bitten by those! Marije was the first to catch one, but that was beginners luck. After catching some trees first, Michiel was on fire and the end score was 7 for Michiel and 3 for Marije.
SUNSET MOTORBOAT TRIP
We left for a boat safari at 6.30 pm, trying to spot crocodiles and see the sunset. We only saw one really small crocodile, but we did see quite some monkeys a lot of colorful birds and a beautiful sunset. The tour ended in the dark and this was the moment everything changed beautifully. The stars decorated the sky, the fireflies gave a show next to the water, the birds where dancing in the air in front of the boat and the lightning completed this. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the stars, and it always makes you feel good seeing them.
The next morning, we had to get up early because we were going horseback riding. And that was so much fun! In the beginning it’s a bit scary, since we both don’t have a lot of experience with riding these beautiful animals. But we made friends with our horses and we even ‘allowed’ them to go a bit faster every now and then. The trip takes you through the open fields and small strokes of forrest. We spotted some deers but our main focus was on the horses and we loved this trip.
When we came back from the horseback riding, we had lunch and some time to ourselves, before going on another boat trip around 4 pm. This time we went earlier because they combined it with ‘floatation and swimming’ which is a sweet description of swimming and floating in the same water as the piranhas and crocodiles. Michiel was the brave one, Marije stayed in the boat. They always say nothing will happen, that it’s safe. Well, you only need one brave crocodile that isn’t impressed that your bigger than him. Or one piranha that does start nibbling on you which will attract the rest…
When the brave ones were back in the boat, we continued the boat trip and saw lots of Capybara’s (really cool animals that look like giant guinea pigs and are actually the largest rodents that exist), howler monkeys, crocodiles, beautiful colorful birds but unfortunately no jaguar. Two of the group did spot one two days before, so they were really lucky!
No sleeping in during our days in the Pantanal because the next morning we had to get up early again for the car safari. We sat in the back of an open jeep and it was a bumpy ride, extremely bumpy every now and then. But so much fun. We went for a short walk through the forest and open fields where we saw and heard lots of birds and howler monkeys. After the walk, we continued our ride and saw big groups of Capybara’s with babies, crocodiles and more birds such as kingfishers and emus. Such cool birds! We drove into all the way into the heart of the Pantanal, which is called the Nhecolandia and ended up at a quiet place, near a small lake where we were going to have lunch. Our guide hanged some hammocks between the trees so we could take a nap while they prepared lunch. Great deal! After our nap and lunch, we had some more hammock time. The afternoon was spent driving around, seeing more of the mentioned animals and a stop at a sight where locals spotted a jaguar a couple of days in a row around 5 pm. We waited for a while but he didn’t show up. Darn! But even without seeing the jaguar, it was a great day!
Normally, guests also go on a canoe trip but we missed out of this one because we wanted to catch the early bus to Campo Grande.