15.11.2016 - 17.11.2016
Until we booked our trip, I had never heard of the Pantanal and so I copied this brief description I found on the internet so everyone knows what is meant by the Pantantal. "The Pantanal is an immense tropical wetlands located mainly in western Brazil. Renowned for its wildlife, it's home to hundreds of species of birds, along with fauna like jaguars, caimans and capybaras. Summer rains flood the region, while the winter dry season creates plentiful lagoons. Eco-lodges provide access to canoeing, horseback riding and hiking trails."
Once we crossed the border into Brazil, a private bus took us to a small town so we could get something to eat. Remember, we had spent the night on a train, then waited almost four hours to cross the border, so the idea of food was appealing.
Driving along the highway we immediately observed that the roads in Brazil were marked with lines and had signs posted at regular intervals. Vehicles were in good condition and traffic seemed to flow in an organized manner.
Our guide took us to a restaurant that he described as typically Portuguese. There was a buffet, and if you wanted you could order the extra meat portion. This meant that every two minutes a server came to your seat, holding a huge piece of meat on a skewer. He then carved a thick slice of meat and put it on your plate. Once this was consumed, a different waiter arrived, holding another type of meat, and carved it for you. If you ordered this, you could eat as much meat as you wanted!
When lunch was finished, we settled back in the bus and drove for three and a half ours to our next destination, a lodge in the Pantanal. Torrential rain started as we drove. This was not unexpected as November is the start of the rainy season. Fortunately it only rained the first evening and the weather during the rest of our visit to the lodge was perfect.
Our accommodation at the lodge was interesting. All of us were put in one large room and instead of beds, we were assigned hammocks. Although the lodge was rustic, there was electricity and modern toilets.
Because of the rain, we weren't able to do any activities the first day. The following day we were taken on a wildlife tour and saw many birds! We stopped at a lagoon and tried fishing. I even managed to catch two small fish! After lunch we went horseback riding which gave us an opportunity to see more of this wild area. In the evening we went on a night walk and saw some different creatures. Following the night walk, we had a campfire and shared some traditional alcoholic beverage.
The final morning our local guide took us on a two hour walking tour and shared information about how the people native to the Pantanal survived in the wilderness. It was a great way to conclude our visit.