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Brazil's Pantanal: Amazingly Rich in Wildlife

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Brazil

Brazil Pantanal Safari

I had been flying 21 hours on four different planes. The last plane was a small six seater, which landed 500 metres from the farm where I was to stay for the next five days. I disembarked and was greeted by a Chinese host. Imagine my surprise- I was in Brazil, in the Pantanal and I, myself, am Chinese.

 

Located in the upper Paraguay River basin, the Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland. The area holds one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife on the planet with more than 650 bird species, 80 mammals, 50 reptiles and 250 species of fish.

 

I stayed at the Fazenda de Rio Negro, a secluded farm and rooming house on 7,700 hectares. The next morning, as instructed by my guide, I taped my pants to my socks using masking tape to keep out the ticks and other crawlies from my legs. I hopped onto a jeep and ventured past the farm gates into the giant marshland.

 

I saw animals I had never heard of before or never even knew existed. I spotted capybaras all throughout the jeep drive. In groups of three or five and in larger groups of ten near the watering holes The world’s largest rodent, which looks like a guinea pig, was everywhere. Two vibrant red and green macaws swooped overhead. We left the car and began our trail walk.

 

Up in the trees, I saw three brown howler monkeys. The monkeys watched us. Several minutes later they threw little feces pellets at us. “They throw their poo because their scared,” our guide said. An hour into the walk, plodding along about 500 metres in front of us was an anteater. I gasped at this moving mound of stiff brown straw-hair with a bushy tail and an oddly shaped narrow head. On our trek, I also crossed paths with a tapir, a pig like creature with a longer protruding snout.

 

After we returned to the farm, I relaxed in the yard. I sipped my caipirinha (a cocktail made with limes, cachaca, a Brazilian sugar cane liqueur, and sugar) and listened to the cricket noises of the Pantanal. Under the stars the farm workers showed off their dancing skills. Their hips had a fast rhythmic and hypnotic sway to the samba beat.

 

The next day, they took me out on the river in a small motor boat for another day full of wildlife sights. This time, instead of capybaras, I saw caimans everywhere along the riverbank. These small alligators lay lethargically on the shore of this shallow and murky brown river. We floated past a river otter trying to perch itself on a log. High up in the trees, I glimpsed an enormous empty nest. A few minutes later, a jabiru stork, the tallest flying bird in South America, flew home.

 

Back at the farm, we played a twilight soccer game, the Brazilians versus the guests. The locals playing in their bare feet defeated the tourists 3-0.

 

On my last day, while I was sitting at the picnic table eating breakfast, a toco toucan flew to the nearby fruit tree. Its beak was a dazzling orange, like something out of a cartoon. I stared at the bird, all the while dreading my long journey home. I was so taken with the animals and the lifestyle of the locals who call the Pantanal home. 

Well.... Maybe the Fazenda could use another Chinese host.

 



Did you like this article? Then you'll like these: Rio de Janeiro , Ilha Grande, Diving in Salvador, Ilha de Silves, Birdwatching in the Pantanal, The Colonial Heart of Rio, Fernando de Noronha, Iguassu Falls-A Brazilian Perspective, Rio Favelas and Coast to Coast.








By Sharon Cheung
An avid traveler and freelance travel writer, I have been to 28 countries. My experiences have included working on cruise ships, studying in China...
25 Feb 2008


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