Monday, June 14, 2010
This time we opted to travel by 4x4, and it took around five hours. We really enjoyed seeing the scenery from the ground -- although as there are many ranches, there were lots of gates to open! The second lodge is on an island and was bought by the owners to farm rice, but they changed their mind and turned the property into an eco lodge. I should say at this point that Carolina Vargas gave us some excellent advice about our trip, and thought our choice of two lodges was a good idea as we would get to see two different areas of the Pantanal.
Refugio was different, but excellent also. Our guide, Sergio, was an amazing character who had lived and worked all over the world and knew the flora and fauna of the Pantanal really well. We had another four excellent days and nights there with the added bonus of seeing the places in the programme where Carolina had been teaching Sancho to become an adult otter. We saw the large family group from the programme (with Italo), and most afternoons a solitary otter would come and fish outside the restaurant (not Sancho, I'm afraid). The water at this lodge was clear so we could see how amazing they are in the water. We were lucky enough to see two ocelots at Refugio, although the otters were my favourites. When I got a picture of one with a fish in its mouth it made my holiday.
When we left to go to Rio, I was gutted -- you know, when you were a kid and cried when a holiday was over? I felt just like that again. Rio was good, but on reflection, I think a week there was a bit long. I think it would have been better to spend more time at the lodges and maybe 4/5 days in Rio.
To those of you who, just like me after I watched Raising Sancho, are thinking I really want to go but it's a long way, etc. -- just do it!!!!!!!!!! I have never once regretted it and I look back on our time in Brazil with fond memories. It's the best trip I have ever done - period. Enjoy and Boa sorte (good luck).
[Trailhead's note]: There will be an additional post containing some practical travel information Jim included in his post, and also many more photographs and videos. I will be stepping out of civilization for the next three days, however. So the final posts will come after I return. Many thanks to Jim for sharing his experiences with us!]A S
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
The early start meant we were able to do an afternoon safari, which lasted into the evening. We stayed there for four nights and had the time of our lives. We did jeep safaris, horse riding, boat safaris and kayaking. We saw so many birds and animals that I couldn't list them all. The only absence was the cat family. That is not surprising, however, as to see a cat is highly unlikely. Some of the lodges that boast about lots of Jaguar sightings actually leave meat to attract them, and frankly I would rather not see one. We did hear one calling at night and found tracks:
Barranco Alto was a fabulous place and at the end of our four days and nights we were really sad to leave, the other guests and two scientists that were there were all lovely people but soon enough it was time to move on to Refugio Da Ihla and Sancho country.
Friday, May 28, 2010
We booked flights through a company I had used before and a hotel in Sao Paulo (for 1 night to break up the travelling) and in Rio for a week at the end of the trip.
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Raising Sancho had a pretty big impact on my life, in sort of a mystical, serendipitous way. I saw the show several months before some very big changes happened in my life, and in an odd way, my experience with it prepared me and cushioned me for those. And, of course, traveling to London to meet and hang out with Carolina Vargas, who is one of the most nature-connected people I've ever known was 1) one of the more surprising things I've done in my life and 2) just generally awesome.
And beyond that, watching and writing about the show made me friends all over the world -- Chicago, Belgium, England, you name it.
So. Even though I went through two boxes of tissues in the week after I first saw the show two-and-a-half years ago, Sancho still reverberates in my life today. I feel so strongly that Carolina and Sancho's story offers not just a deeply admirable example of human interaction with wildlife, but powerful lessons about life, risk, loss, and letting go.
I've asked one of the many friends I made through Raising Sancho to write a guest post about the trip to the Pantanal that he took after seeing the show. He has agreed, and I'll put the post up as soon as it's finished.
Feel free to comment as much as you like. Carolina does check in from time to time, but it may not be soon.
Monday, January 04, 2010
If you want all of my Sancho related posts, they're all here. Start at the bottom.
Also, be aware that there is a "Sancho the Otter Appreciation Society" on facebook.
There have been no major changes since my visit with Carolina last year. Sancho's whereabouts remain unclear.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Not even Republicans.
I just got oral steroids prescribed. I'm not screwing around with this.
Eleven years of peeing in the woods and this has never happened.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Stacey O'Brien, Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl
Pizza was calling, and so we hiked out fifteen miles on Saturday, even though we'd planned to camp a couple miles from the trailhead and hike out Sunday morning. We emerged from the forest very close to dark, and lugged full packs and the dog into the car with a groan. By the time we drove the 11 miles to the main national forest road, it was completely dark and drizzling.
We drove around curve after curve, tailed for awhile by a large, impatient truck. At exactly the same moment the truck swerved into the left lane to leave us in the dust, our headlights shone on a statue sitting perfectly still on the yellow line in the middle of the road.
Except it wasn't a statue. It was an owl, sitting perfectly upright, illuminated by our headlights, staring straight at us. The truck passed on the left and we swerved to the right.
The owl never moved.
I don't know whether that owl was a harbinger of death, or of further change, or just an owl sitting on the yellow line. I just feel blessed to have seen her.