Pantanal 329 I suspect many of my friends in the U.S. are focused on rapidly-changing bond ratings.  And if I were plugged into my former life, I’d probably spend time thinking about it as well.  But in remote Western Brazil, in a region called the Pantanal, we were immersed in a AAAA-rated instrument — Anteaters, Anacondas, Armadillos, and Antwrens.  I take the animals anyday!

Pantanal 444 I’m sure many of you will be aghast that we decided to blow off Morocco to take in part of Brazil, and have more time in Egypt, but that’s what we decided to do.  After Antarctica, we flew to Sao Paolo, Brazil, South America’s largest (but not nicest) city.  We spent an overnight in this city of XX million, but really saw almost nothing of it.  We then flew west to a place called the Caiman Lodge in the Pantanal.

Pantanal by Gibson 357 While there are no icebergs, glaciers, or mountains in the Pantanal, it has its own special beauty.  It’s a blend of many ecosystems, combining aspects of all surrounding areas.  It’s not a jungle, though, which actually makes it easier to observe the surroundings, including some spectacular wildlife.

Pantanal 397 We spent four great days at the Pantanal, which probably gave us a good preview of coming times on safari in Africa.  We would get up early and either hike or explore the area by truck, but be back at the lodge by 11:00 a.m.  Then, after a mid-day break and lunch, we’d be out exploring again in the late afternoon, including once by canoe.  After dinner, we’d do a night hike or spotlight safari.  So we were busy, and took in a lot.

Pantanal by Gibson 261 During our time in the Pantanal, we saw lots of great wildlife, including 12 reptiles/amphibians, 11 mammal species, and 120 bird species.  Our favorite viewing was the famous Yellow Anaconda, and Gibson got some great videos of this snake.  At night, we’d see 20-30 caiman (South America’s version of an alligator) lying in a river, jaws open, and snapping down on passing fish. 

Pantanal 384 Our mammal highlights were the bizarre Giant Anteater and a local Armadillo.  Honestly, the Anteater, a nocturnal animal (and no decent night pictures — sorry!) is the most improbable of animals.  Even if I had a decent photo (and the one at left/right is the best we managed), you can hardly make head nor tail of this odd creature.  We had other great sightings here, including the world’s largest rodent (the Capybara).  It’s possible to see some other great mammals here (Tapir, Ocelot, Jaguar, River Otter), but we weren’t able to track them down during our stay.

Pantanal 292 There was some great birdlife in the Pantanal, and we loved watching the Jabiru Stork (below right), the Wattled Jacana  (left), the Rusty-backed Antwren, the Burrowing Owl, the Greater Rhea, and the Hyacinth Macaw.  Lots of brilliant birds, and they were everywhere.  What was most memorable, though, wasn’t a particular bird sighting, but how the most exotic birds were just everywhere in this great region.

Pantanal 515 This destination isn’t for everyone.  If you don’t love wildlife, there are probably better places to explore.  And the Caiman Lodge was fairly basic, but we found it delightful.  For us, though, it was a great end to our South American stay, and a good basis for planning a future trip to Brazil.

Check out our Pantanal photos.

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