Yes I know, it is slightly (very) belated but I have finally gotten around to writing about our time in the Pantanal. There is so much to write about, I have decided to split into three posts, one for each of the days we were there. Read on to find out a bit more about Ecological Expeditions Pantanal Tours, the company we booked with, as well as the Jeep Safari, Boat Ride, and Night Safari.
First of all a little bit more about the company we booked with, and what to expect on arrival. I have already talked about how we came to book with Ecological Expeditions in our Booking Pantanal Tours Post.
After a five hour bus ride from Campo Grande, we arrived at the entrance to the Pantanal. It was hot, and straight away we were greeted by a huge swarm of mosquitoes! On went the long sleeve shirts and trousers. One thing you need to know before you head to the Pantanal is that there is a huge amount of mosquitoes. Bring lots of repellent and full length clothes. It has to be expected really, seeing as you are essentially in the middle of a gigantic swamp. Its important to remember this throughout the trip. If you are expecting luxury you should probably think again.
The road through the Pantanal to the camp is nothing more than a dirt track and is very bumpy! Everyone climbs into the back of a 4×4 and braces themselves for the bumpy ride which lasts about an hour and a half to the camp. The ride itself is actually quite fun and you get some great views of the Pantanal along the way.
A slightly sore bum later, and you arrive at the camp. On getting out of the 4×4 Sandro, one of the guides, jokingly says “Its Mosquito Time!” and he wasn’t lying. One thing you will learn throughout the trip is that as soon as the 4×4 stops, the mosquitoes come.
The camp itself is comprised of two sleeping areas for the guests, one for the staff, a dining room and of course the shower and toilet blocks.
The camp is basic, but again you need to remember you are in the middle of a swamp and it is perfectly adequate. You sleep in hammocks, which was a new experience for us, but a pleasant one and it didn’t take long to get used to sleeping in them.
The toilets were very clean and there was always loo paper, as were the showers. The showers were warm, but where usually filled with mosquitoes. Although off putting at first, it wasn’t much of a problem as they seemed to leave you alone once you started showering.
The next day we embarked on the first of many activities. The Jeep Safari of the Pantanal. Everyone clambers onto the trusty 4×4 that got you to the camp, but this time you climb the ladder to sit on the roof, and as a result get a much better view. There are cushions and mattresses to sit on, which were slightly damp but soon dry out quickly in the blistering heat.
The safari itself is great. From the top of the Jeep you can see quite a distance and you get to see a lot of wildlife. Again, it is important you have your expectations set to a realistic level, you are not driving through a zoo, or an African game park, this is the wild, so you are not guaranteed to sea anything (all though you almost definitely will). Sandro even told us that until a few weeks before it had been 5 years since he had seen a Puma.
As you drive along the dirt road deeper into the Pantanal, you will stop whenever your guide, in this case Max, spots something of interest. Both Sandro and Max speak very good English and had an extensive knowledge of the Pantanal and its wildlife. They both are also extremely good at spotting things! Toucans sitting high in the tree tops, Howler monkeys in the distance, not much escapes them! Along the way you will see a huge amount of birds, including massive Herons, colourful Kingfishers, and the Pantanal’s trademark. The Jabiru Stalk.
You will also be treated to a huge number of Caimans, Capibara, and if you our lucky like us even the odd snake! All in all it is an interesting ride, just, make sure you take some sun lotion and a hat because you are sat on top of that roof for a long time.
Next up a boat trip down one of the Pantanal’s many rivers. Another short 4×4 trip brought us to what seemed to be a local’s house on the riverbank where we collected the boat. A few minutes later equipped with some fetching life jackets we where cruising down the river in the midday sun.
Again you get the chance to see some of the Pantanal’s variety of birds along the very picturesque river. We also managed to get a look at a couple of Caiman very close up from the relative safety of the boat.
On a calmer day you also get the opportunity to swim in the river, but for us the river was flowing too fast because of the rain in the night.
Overall it was a really relaxing trip, with the added bonus of getting to see some wildlife along the way and some great scenery.
This was a great way to top off the day! After dinner (the food is good by the way, but that is for another post) we set out on the night Safari. On to the Jeep again, this time with a very powerful search light.
A lot of animals in the Pantanal are nocturnal, so this is a great opportunity to see these animals that you wouldn’t otherwise. Sandro would spot the animals by the reflection of their eyes in the light.
Driving along under the night sky (which was amazing by the way, no light pollution here) was quite a thrill, as was spotting an animal.
We didn’t get to see that much, a few caimen, a few birds but it was still great fun.
Overall, very positive! The activities were great and the only complaint I could have is that there were so many mosquitoes, but there is not much you can do about that. At night the guides would spray loads of repellent around, and inside the mosquito netted sleeping areas there weren’t that many.
For more of the photos from the Pantanal (there are a lot!) check out our Pantanal set on flickr.
Sorry for the long post, but there is so much to write about and I wanted to include enough detail as everything else I have seen on the net has been very brief. Check back soon for day 2!