We awoke in our room in Sao Paulo. Everywhere we stay is different to the last. This place wasn’t a hotel but it wasn’t a hostel either. The room was very comfortable with a good shower. However breakfast was served in our room. We had booked it the night before for 9am. All very civilised.
After breakfast we locked up our luggage and headed out to explore a little of the city before we left for the bus station.
We had an uncrowded trip on the metro to Republica. As I mentioned before Sao Paulo is a massive city but this area was very pleasant. We made our way to the cathedral. It is an impressive piece of architecture.
We had a cold beer in a back street bar with the locals before getting a new battery for my watch. Things you take for granted at home but a challenge in a new language.
After a few hours walking around it was back to the hotel to put our ruckies on and brave the tube. If the previous day had been a yard stick it was going to be hell.
Well, we must have struck lucky. We left at 3.30pm and were at the bus station by 4pm with no hassle at all. It must be the lull time between lunch and home time.
We found a food stall and had a light bite before getting on the bus.
It was going to be a 14 hour overnight journey to Campo Grande. The bus left a 6.10pm and was half empty. This was lucky because two rather large chaps sat in the seats in front of us, reclined their seats and were soon snoring for Brazil!!
I’ve never understood why people do that. It’s the same on aircraft, they sit down and recline their seat and stuff everyone else. It’s 6pm. Who the hell wants to sleep at that time?
Jill and I moved back a couple of rows to empty seats. We were able to read and enjoy a bottle of red we had smuggled on board.
9pm and the whole bus is asleep so we decide to settle down. We of course weren’t to know that the bus would make a stop at 2am and someone would join the bus. Guess whose seat we were now asleep in?
He promptly woke us up to inform us despite there being lots of empty seats. We offered to move but a nice chap nearby told him to sit somewhere else which he did most apologetically.
I think we are getting used to sleeping on buses as we awoke about 7am. The bus pulled in at 8am.
So it was off the bus a little bleary eyed to be met by a wide awake bouncy tour guide who greeted us and took us the office to await some other travellers.
Once we were all together we walked a short distance to a pousada where we had coffee and a wait for the rest of our party to join us.
We had been expecting to have to take a public bus into the Pantanal but it was all aboard a mini bus. It was about a 3 hour drive on a dead straight road through open grassland. Eventually we pulled up on a dirt patch near a disused police check point. Here we met up with a big old lorry with bench seats in it.
This was to be our transport across country to our Pantanal base. The mini bus had a trailer on the back and it was loaded with provisions for the pousada. So we had a one hour very bumpy journey down a dirt road surrounded by potatoes, melons, bananas and beer.
Along the way we saw Cayman in the river.
The pousada we are based at is very nice. We have a comfortable room and there is a small swimming pool. After dinner and a beer we went to bed. We shared our room with a small frog which refused to leave.
Outside the jungle noises grew louder as we tried to sleep. In the middle of the night we were awoken by heavy rain, thunder and flashes of lightning. Fortunately it didn’t last all night.
After breakfast on the terrace we walked to the stables to meet our horses. We were off trekking on horseback. Neither of us is proficient on a horse but fortunately the horses had done this many times before and we could relax and let them do everything. It was great fun. Like being a real cowboy.
We were out for about 2.5 hours and boy was it hot. Along the way we found a humming bird nest with tiny tiny little babies in it. Back at the stables we unsaddled and gave the horses a cold bath.
Next it was time for some washing then a dip in the pool before lunch. This roughing it in the jungle is tough going.
Later this afternoon we are off for a few hours in a 4X4 to try and spot some wildlife.
3.30pm and it’s all aboard a small truck. We drove along the dirt road stopping every now and again to look at the wildlife. We saw howler monkeys, Cayman, capybara and cuami which are a lemur type primate.
Then Marcello our guide stopped the lorry and in a field were two storks. The stork is the symbol of the Pantanal. We were able get quite close. I hadn’t realised how big they were. They must have been over 4ft tall. When they took flight it was an impressive sight.
We eventually parked up and started a walk through the wooded area. Lots of jungle noises and things scurrying in the undergrowth. After about an hour we came out at a lake. Wow it was amazing. A beautiful setting but made better by there being lots of Cayman on the bank.
They are from the alligator family and can grow pretty big. Fortunately though they aren’t aggressive and mostly eat fish. We were able to get within a few feet of them and take some great pictures. Get too close and they give a big hiss and slide off into the water.
By the time we left the lake and exited the forest the sun was setting. The sky was an amazing fire red and kept changing.
Back in the truck and a drive back in the dark with the spotlight on. I’ve never seen so many mosquitoes. It was like a blizzard. In the darkness we could see the bright eyes of the Cayman on the river bank. On the way back we took a detour off the road. Marcello said a few months ago he had seen a Brazilian Tapir at this location. They are the biggest mammal in Brazil and nocturnal so difficult to see. Unfortunately no luck this time.
We drove on, and then a short distance down the road there it was. A tapir crossing the road in front of us. Marcello could hardly contain himself. They are a big animal and we were clearly fortunate to get a sight.
We arrived back at the base. It had been hot and humid but worth it.
After dinner we all met up at the campsite for a bonfire. I know what you are thinking. It’s 35 celsius and they are lighting a fire phew way too hot for me.
Off to the bar. It was a real party atmosphere. Sat around chatting with a couple of aussies, some germans, two Israelis, a Brazilian an American and a phillipino. Quite a mix.
Then we made a mistake. The local cocktail is Caipirania. It’s basically a mug of very strong alcohol mixed with sugar and lime. Boy does it have a kick. Three of those and we were gone. Drunk as a skunk. Not a good idea in this heat and I’m still paying the price the next day ouch.