The Pantanal – Life Along the River

After dark skies and heavy rain dominated day one, I woke up early on my second morning to clear skies and new life within the Pantanal.

The sunshine invited everybody out from hiding, and I wanted to meet as many as possible.

The Pantanal Wetlands of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil

Before breakfast, I wandered down to a small gathering of houses along the river and watched a boy trying to introduce a kitten to a rambunctious bunch of puppies

On the walk back I spotted a bright green parakeet face-deep in a goiaba. He stopped and posed for a photo.

Green Parakeet in The Pantanal Wetlands of Mato Grosso do Sul, BrazilAfter the others awoke we piled into the small motorboat and up the river we went in search of wildlife.

Fishing in The Pantanal Wetlands of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil

The first signs of life we encountered were the many locals who lined the riverbanks with simple fishing line and a patience that I could only dream of. They definitely weren’t trying to catch Piranha.

Fishing in The Pantanal Wetlands of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil

The homes along the river within the Pantanal are up on stilts because of the wetland conditions and fisherman took advantage of the accessible shoreline.

Homes in The Pantanal Wetlands of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil

Locals share the riverbanks with another resident fisherman called the Caiman. While the majority of the caiman we encountered dipped under water whenever our boat approached, one miserable SOB came straight at us with an open mouth and bad intentions. Can you spot him? Do caimans like blondes or brunettes better?

Caimans in The Pantanal Wetlands of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil

A much less intimidating creature we spotted was the big capivara, who moved slow and looked like a rat on steroids.

Capivara in The Pantanal Wetlands of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil

The greatest encounter, however, was one that I wasn’t able to capture on camera.

After we rode up the river for about an hour, a few of us opted to canoe back down to camp. It was incredibly peaceful and serene until we heard what sounded like a deep barking and weird kissing noise.

Moments later, four large otters popped up around our canoe and swam around us. We paddled faster to keep up as they maneuvered effortlessly through the mangroves.

A fifth otter emerged with two babies and we sat still, watching them glide across the water.

Otters have always been one of my favorite animals, and to see them in their natural habitat for the first time, so close, made the the entire trip for me.

Conoeing the Rio Negro in The Pantanal Brazil

All smiles after spotting the giant otters!

Interesting side note: The reason I didn’t bring my camera on the canoe trip was because my friendly Japenese partner here had a reputation for tipping canoes. The night before he went out with a guide and a few others and apparently flipped the canoe, loosing all their belongings. Him and I had a long talk about balance and weight distribution before I agreed to team up. I didn’t need to see the Pantanal any closer than this!

 

 

My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!

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