Four Brazilian fishermen and I piled into the back of a covered pick-up truck at the roadside rendezvous point to catch a lift into the Pantanal.
They knew the area well and were happy to be returning to their familiar fishing spot, while my joy came from each and every unknown.
Despite being one of the largest tropical wetlands in the world, and an exceptional place to encounter wildlife in South America, I hadn’t even heard of the Pantanal up until a few weeks ago.
The Pantanal stretches across Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, however, a large majority of the territory lies within the western Brazilian State of Mato Grosso do Sol.
I was heading to the Pantanal Discovery camp on the southern end of the region, where I’d be spending the next four days off the grid.
My stop came and I wished the guys good luck as they continued a bit further down the muddy dirt road.
Once on-site, I barely had enough time to throw my bag on the bunk before another guide signaled me down to the river and onto a small motorboat for a sunset wildlife scavenger hunt.
Joined by two bird-loving Frenchmen and their Brazilian brother-in-law, we journeyed an hour down river as they identified birds I’ve never seen before.
Something about that cool breeze hitting my face as we cruised down the uninterrupted river while the sun fleeted below the tree-line that put me at complete peace in this foreign place. I don’t think I said one word the entire trip, I just nodded and smiled every time they pointed to a moving object.
Content on just soaking in that tranquil moment, I knew that tomorrow would be a different story…