Dozing polar bear, Indianapolis Zoo

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Sancho friend goes to the Pantanal -- Part three

Pampas deer

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.

Spectacled caiman


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

A Sancho friend goes to the Pantanal -- Part Two

The flight was amazing. It was just over an hour, and once the land dropped away into the Pantanal basin, he flew us low over the river so we could see the wildlife. We landed at the lodge at lunchtime and all went to have lunch together with the other guests and the owners.

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.