So unfortunately most of my flights in Brazil are at 6.12am which means I need to get up at 4am. Painful. So having resisted uber in London I was told the best way to get to the airport was to take an uber. So I did and arrived in Cuiaba at 8.15. The hostel sent a taxi which was great and soon I was discussing a tour to go on. The next day. Rule number one- don’t make a decision when tired!
To cut a long story short- I decided to take the tour as the hostel had persuaded me this was the best option and also a french guy staying in the hostel was also going. I think I got a little bit ripped off in retrospect but the tour was still a great experience.
Arriving in the transpanteira- the highway to the Pantanal was a highlight. Our driver pulled over and showed us the baby caiman in the bushes; kingfisher’s diving among the caiman; the statuesque toyouyou phonetic spelling) which is the largest bird in the Pantanal.
We arrived in the pousada where we would be staying for the next few days. I went horseriding and my horse wouldn’t move lol. We went hiking in the forest and saw capucine monkeys. The sunsets were beautiful both amber and azure and as for the stars at night. Well there is something to be said for being in the middle of nowhere! We saw sunrise over the forest from a tower taller than the tree’s.
We then travelled further north to Porto Joffre which is jaguar country. I have to say I’d completely underestimated how much water there would be in this part of the trip. I have a phobia of water as some of you may know and was unprepared for having to challenge this fear so soon. I was up at 5am, my mind whirring as I tried to make a decision, trying to master my fear and panic. This would be the smallest boat I’d been on and on quite a large river. I decided to try. And I succeeded. We went on the look for jaguar’s and seeing on the way river otters, water pigs; had the surreal experience of floating through and once over caiman; fished for piranhas 10 meters away from caiman and finally, finally, got to see a female jaguar walking out of the forest and taking a brief dip in the river before disappearing back into the forest. It is totally addictive seeing these creatures in the wild and the huge telescopic lenses of the tourists on the other river boats is testament to this.