Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Whirlwind after Carnaval: Brasilia, Cuiaba, Pantanal (Did I mention DAYS in buses??) - feb 6 to 12

Stubbornness, stupidity, frugality, laziness...all those contributed to me taking buses instead of flying.

I decided that I was going to the Pantanal because I refused to skip out on Brasil's two big nature highlights - Amazon or Pantanal. Carla's dad in Sampa warned me about the floods in the Amazon this time of year so I decided to go to the Pantanal.

Which meant 37 hours in the bus to Brasilia. Then I met Cesar, really didn't like the city but loved the people I was with, stayed 30 hours, then got on a bus for 18 hours to Cuiaba, the jumping off point for the Pantanal from the north...

Met Ire and her family, then we bargained the price of a pousada down to 100 reais a night, full board. It definitely helped that it's low season (hmm there's a reason for this...more to follow).

So Sunday morning I took a bus to Pocone which took 2 hours, then paid 80 reais for transport out to the pousada. It was HOT. Like scorchingly, brutally, cruelly hot. It was pretty amazing though, on the way out to the pousada there was already lots of wildlife to be seen. The stars of the Pantanal are the birds; immediately there are so many different types of birds - kiskadees, kingfishers, hawks, caracaras,'s astounding. On the drive out, we also saw various jacares (small caiman/crocodile types), and giant river otters.

Over the next two days when it wasn't pouring down buckets of rain, we saw capybaras (huge rodents that reminded me a lot of wombats, my favorite Australian animal), lots of jacares, lots and lots and lots of different birds, and howler and capuchin monkeys. And a big turtle, and various Pantanal deer. Oh, and about two million mosquitos. I don't remember any place else I've ever been where there were as many mosquitos. Possibly nowhere (but I still have scars on my legs from my time in the Amazon in 2003 so maybe I've decided to delete that out of my memory)

What I can comment on about the's not really like the wild, wild, jungle. It's a flat wetland, the vast majority has been cleared for cattle farming, and that's why it's so easy to spot wildlife; there's none of the dense greenery like in the jungle which prevents people from being able to see the animals. I would love to go back in the dry season as the bodies of water attract huge amounts of birds apparently, and there are no mosquitos (doubtful, in my case).

It was definitely a bit pricy but I don't think it was outrageous. In the dry season it's supposed to be easy to hitch a ride down the transpantaneira highway, and I would say you see plenty just from the road, so that might be an option for the future.

Got back to Cuiaba today and tomorrow morning will take a bus to Sao Paulo, where I'm meeting Dani :) :) A Paulista girl that I met in Borneo in 2006...I'm her date to a wedding Saturday night because her husband had to stay in London...can't wait to see what sort of anarchy takes place at weddings here!

1 comment:

Niko® said...

37 hours?
I still hold the 2.5 day record!