Pantanal – one of the largest inland wetlands of the world in the heart of South America, more than 3000 km away from the Amazon. Its area is almost as large as the area of the Federal Republic of Germany, but little developed and almost uninhabited. The Pantanal is home to 650 bird species, 120 mammal species, 50 reptile species and many other species. This ecosystem is fed by 175 rivers, some of which are up to 600 m wide.
On our nearly 4-week north-south crossing by jeep and boat we are guests in the in the in the realm of the Jaguar. After many years in Africa, we look forward to exciting encounters at eye level with the big cats weighing up to 140 kg. As individual travelers we are allowed to experience the natural beauties and the animal world particularly intensively, but also the renunciation of comfort.
However, when we start our water-rich photo tour, we do not realize HOW hard we have to work here for good shots, also because the rainy season starts 2 months earlier this year.
Nevertheless, we are already able to observe the 9th Jaguar swimming, hunting and relaxing after just 4 days of exciting search. We have photo times of up to one and a half hours. Fantastic!
The price for this is a package from 4:30 clock wake-up time, up to 43 degrees with very high humidity and at the same time almost 400 itchy insect bites, about 40 of them on each back of the hand. A good chance to test our limits together with Anti Brumm Forte. Unfortunately, the European chemical mace fails in the Pantanal. There are only unusual alternatives such as the misused use of the waterproof pack sacks, which are actually intended for the rescue of the camera equipment when water enters the boat. But at least the legs and feet are protected from the Mossi attacks.
And yet: The Pantanal is fantastically beautiful and unique with its flora and fauna. We see i.e. hunting giant otters, who track loudly over 2 km with unbelievable 40 km / h an intruder, who successfully floats for his life, but full of panic in his eyes.
We meet an old, well-nourished Jaguar male, who masters his life in the wild despite a blind eye.
We observe a giant stork, which takes half an hour to devour a young caiman for breakfast.
We accompany anteaters on their sporty morning walk under electrified farm fences. The only animals in the Pantanal who can kill a jaguar with their clinging embrace. As a result, we do not let any of the animals get closer than 2 meters. As anteaters look very bad and the wind is favorable for us, one and the other bear head straight for us. In such moments, we are overcome with a slight panic, as well as the addiction to good photos does not help. In addition, an anteater has very long and sharp claws on the forelimbs. With those he can teach human and animal deadly injuries. They are not to be joked with.
And we get to know greedy piranhas, who shred at lightning speed anything that comes before the nibbling bar.
However, on our very exciting and varied journey through the North and South Pantanal we give our heart to a less popular species, the cute armadillos. Small, intrepid fellows who have a good sense of smell and hearing, but need a pair of glasses. We also do not blame them for their numerous and often deep holes, in which we often place our feet involuntarily and painfully.
At the end of the journey we spend a few days in Bonito, starting point for trips to the National Park Sierra da Bodoquena. Bonito is located in the midst of the region, which is called Caribbean of the Midwest due to its rich blue, crystal clear waters. During the snorkeling trips you can see lots of fish.
Disadvantage of the activity: thick wetsuit and life jacket. At 40 degrees you have the feeling during a hike to the waters to stick in a steamer. But there is also the grandiose “Ara crater” Buraco das Araras. In and around this 124-meter-deep crater live many wonderfully red-glowing Red-and-green macaws.
A color dream for every eye and an unforgettable experience, when a group of up to 50 of these stately parrots flies screeching over the 500 meter diameter crater hole.
Conclusion: We do not want to miss the great encounters and very sweaty activities during our trip. Nevertheless, we ask ourselves the question: Pantanal, the Serengeti of South America? We are drawn to Africa yearning again.