Sunday, May 19, 2013

Day 1 - Pantanal Wetlands Brazil - world's largest wetlands - a wonderful education for an 8 year old

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Yesterday, I did not even know the Pantanal existed.
I was hunting on line for hostels, and found we would be stopping at the edge of the world's largest wetlands - located just as we crossed the border of Brazil.

So I had sent an enquiry via email to Ecological Expeditions.
After sending the email, i then read some concerning reviews, so sent them a cancellation email.

However, and fortunately this was ignored.
The guy had turned up at the border.
We had haggled over price.
We eventually agreed on a price that was a bit more than our days budget.
This is on average $60 - $70 a day, depending on location.

They then offered us a free night at one of their hostels after the tour, so this was the sweetener.

The guy gave us a receipt, and seemed detailed.
We have not had much success with tours.
They hear English, and think you are rich.
I stressed I did not have a lot of money to spend.

After our late departure from the border, he took us to the supermarket.
Inside were about 6 Automatic Bank Teller Machines.
My Commonwealth Travel Money Card would not work on any of them.
My credit card, worked on only one - but at least we had some cash.

We then went to his office near the bus terminal, sent a quick message with the details on Facebook - just so our friends knew we hadn't disappeared for the next few days.
Then we went across the road for a quick bite to eat.
It was difficult as this was our first exposure to Portuguese.
We had no idea, as it was a basic cafe and there was no menu.
But a man (who I thought was a weirdo) came in from outside, and told us in broken English that he was a Greek and could speak many languages.
He offered to help.
I told him I wanted bread for my son.
He shot off next door and bought us a bread roll.
He did not work here, he was just kind.
Then 2 guys from the border arrived.
We chatted to them.
One had the dreamiest eyes I have ever seen.
He looked and spoke like Jesus.
My son was convinced he had met Christ himself.
Especially when he ended the conversation that he thought traveling the road of life with my son was the most precious and wonderful gift I could give my son and how it showed my love and what a rich bond we shared.  Well my son was convinced then!

We quickly raced back to the guide and were keen to head off.
He collected a couple of things en-route.

Next we were driving to the country.
It looked a lot like Australia.
But the road was so bumpy.
I regretted sharing a drink with my son.
It was fizzy orange, but was served in a bottle the same as large beer bottles here.
After asking the driver to find a place for "natures call" we continued on our journey.

I was amazed at the red soil.

 Emus were in the wild - it was feeling more and more like Australia.

Next came wild water pigs.
We had never seen these and were amazed.

My son decided to be funny and run off over the bridge.

That was until we spotted a caiman below.

 The problem with stopping was we had now let mosquitoes into the car

We finally arrive to the river.
We then drive through many properties to get to The Lodge.
My son is eager to help.
He soon works out the gates, and is a great assistant opening and closing them all.

Once we arrived I had a quick rest, but was eaten alive by mosquitoes, so quickly went in.

This is not a great photo of the room.
But our room was wonderful.
We had air-conditioning and an en-suite with hot water.
The windows had double wood shutters.
It had a double bed, and 2 bunks with nice linen - we were happy.

 We then headed out for a 1 hour or more boat ride.
Just the 2 of us.
We saw many caiman.
The water was still and lovely.
Unfortunately the guide on this trip could speak no English.

The water was so still - it was like a mirror.

We saw amazing bird life too.

The caiman were so close, you could look into their eyes.
We were pretty amazed at the quantity we saw on our first day.

 Ahead of the boat you can see an albino caiman.
Well really it is a dead caiman - it has gone white in the water.
The smell was repulsive!

We then had time trying to fish for Piranhas.
I had a go this time - which was different than our Amazon Jungle trip.

But he was telling us there was no oxygen in the water?
We quit that pretty quickly.

My son was not happy we had to head back to The Lodge.

 The lady who cooks offered me a cold beer.
I was ever so thankful as we had no cool drinks with us.
But the mosquitoes came out to suck my blood, so I headed inside.

As the sunset, the wild and bird life came into action.
Caiman came right in to the river bank edge.
Birds sang their evening song.
Bats flew out of the roof.

The sunset and it was time for dinner.

The river was really beautiful, and quiet.

 We had a little sunburn.
But we met some lovely people at the dinner table.
Everyone was fantastic.
We all talked - it was quite a mix.
I think we will enjoy our 3 days on this Tour!

We recommend Ecological Expeditions and thank them for their great prices and service.

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