monalisa

Another Pantanal trip report - May 2017

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Excellent trip report @monalisa , with great photos and movies! The Pantanal has been on our wishlist for a long time and you report has definitely revived our interest!

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Great sightings and beautiful scenery. I started reading the TR on this site in preparation for our trip, I am sooo ready :)

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Okay folks thanks for hanging in there with me! We are finally at the last instalment of my trip report. Phew!

 

Where I left off was in the late afternoon of our final day at Porto Jofre. It was about 5pm, we were starting to head back to the flotel, and the sun was beginning to dip.

When I spotted a family of giant otters swimming by I happily pointed them out but was unsure whether to bother with taking pictures.

Something I should mention is that: Me + low light + any kind of movement = photography disaster!!

With any adjustment I make I either end up with extreme noise or darkness or it's blur city. If anyone has some general pointers please let me know. Don't think it's unsolicited advice, I need all the help I can get! :lol:

 

So back to the otters.. Light was disappearing and it was time for us to go so I wasn't really expecting us to follow this family. Especially after such an amazing otter-filled day I was surprised when Manuel abruptly spun the boat back around for these guys. We certainly weren't going to complain though! We happily watched the otters swim and play for a while when Paulo suddenly excitedly whispered to us, "Guys! It's coming, it's coming!!".

What was coming?? "The jaguar!". We really could not believe our eyes. Later Paulo told us that he and Manuel had seen the jaguar and that's why they stopped the boat. They just let us watch the otters in blissful ignorance until it popped its head out.

 

What a way to finish our time in Porto Jofre. Needless to say the camera came back out for this one! Hiding in heavy bush, perched on a slanted tree was a gorgeous jaguar.

 

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Portrait shot

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Pretty as a picture! ^_^

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We had been told earlier that jaguars and otters are sworn enemies so we were giddy hoping for some interaction here. I pointed the otters out to the jaguar and told him to "go get one" but I don't think he understood me. Makes sense since he probably only understands Brazilian Portuguese :P

We were about 10 metres away from the jaguar and the otters and they were about 5 metres away from each other. Soon enough the otters spotted him and instead of swimming away came closer and began to hiss and snarl at him. Poor defenseless kitty-cat stuck up a tree. He didn't seem to know what to make of these critters. Paulo commented that he wished it had been Geoff here instead as he would not have been as tolerant of the otters as this one.

 

I warned you about the quality of the photos but I'm still posting them as I think they are necessary to tell the story

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Video to the rescue!

 

Truly we couldn't have asked for more out of our time at Porto Jofre. We had really given ourselves a hard time about coming too early before the peak season but in our 5 boat trips we saw 5 jaguars!! - a great result for us! And bar the fishermen, we pretty much had the river and all the animals to ourselves. So if you are like us and don't like crowds, perhaps you could roll the dice for May as well :) Apparently in peak season there can be 20 boats to a sighting. Eep. We joked that someone should set up their own boat to come by with snacks and ice cream. I am soooo not a crowds person.

 

The next morning we headed back to the Transpantaneira, but not before stopping by a nice property with giant lilypads. I had seen pictures of them on the internet and showed them to Paulo. Well, he took us there and they did not disappoint! They were the size of tables! 

 

Here is a pic taken with our camcorder. I was really kicking myself now that I packed away my camera.

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Thankfully after a few sunny days the quality of the Transpantaneira had vastly improved and wasn't as muddy or bumpy. And of course, because I had packed my camera away all the animals decided to pop out. There were plenty of crab-eating foxes, all sorts of special birds and even an agouti! 

We figured when we got back to the Fazenda Santa Tereza Hotel that we would now be able to explore the property and do a drive for our afternoon activity. Unfortunately the roads leading into the property were still in abysmal condition (it was seriously tough even driving in) and we were advised against doing the drive on the property so we just headed back onto the Transpantaneira. We didn't see much unfortunately and the dust clouds brought up with each passing car was really bothersome.  We did however see a large group of capybaras that we stayed watching for some time. This is maybe 25 metres away.

 

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One particularly amorous male chased a female for at least a good 15 minutes before they disappeared.

 

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Three way capybara kiss!

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The sky was very strange this day. I don't know if any of you have ever seen this but the sky was visibly different shades of blue. It may have had something to do with a cloud behind us casting a shadow. Nevertheless we thought it was very cool. Here is my attempt at a photo (taken on my phone):

 

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The next morning seemed to go by very quickly. Because of the condition of the roads again we transferred by boat to another property further along the Transpantaneira. Again I didn't have my camera with me so just tried to mentally soak up the scenery on our last day. The sunrise was absolutely gorgeous.. shades of peach and apricot, with pink and lavender clouds. I have to say, Brazil 100% delivers on beautiful scenery, which I wasn't expecting.

 

The road transfer back to Cuiaba airport seemed to go by in a flash. We tried to download as many of Paulo's stories as we could in the time we had left. He has led such an interesting life and has so many stories to tell. It was sad to say goodbye to him, but alas it was time, and we got on to our flight to Sao Paulo.

 

Something we did not realise was that Sao Paulo has TWO airports. When you plan your Pantanal trip, don't let this be you! Learn from us! :lol:

We had a 2 hour gap to make our connection to Johannesburg.  Can you imagine the stress levels upon arriving at a different airport and realising you are racing the clock to clear customs, collect baggage, find your way to the other airport (the distance to which you do not know), drop your bags off and clear customs again? Well we made it! It was quite the adrenaline rush but I don't recommend it :lol:

 

Anyway, unfortunately here ends our incredible adventure in Brazil. It was our first time there but hopefully not our last!

Next stop... Botswana!

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Thank you for sharing your adventures, it was indeed a great trip. The last jaguar was a beauty. Not very courageous, but beautiful :)

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Thanks again for sharing @monalisa, what a great trip overall and a special interaction between the otters and jaguar at the end.   It certainly seems like the end of May is an interesting option to visit with less people around!

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@monalisa what a great time you had on the river.  Congrats on the tremendous Jaguar and Giant Otter sightings!  Your photos look great to me.  Going in May certainly paid off for you.  I am curious, do you know if it was cheaper then if you had gone later?  Not sure how you would know that unless you got quotes for different time frames but I thought I would ask.  May does have the risk of more rain and less wildlife so I assume it's cheaper...but you never know.

 

Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

 

Alan

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@monalisa

 

I've been away, so just got caught up with your report.  Thanks so much for sharing it with us.  

 

It looks like you really benefited by taking the risk (even if you didn't know it was a risk) and going in May -- exclusive or almost-exclusive jaguar sightings are practically unheard of. In fact, the whole crowding issue was one reason I deferred the North during our trip last year to another time.  I'm still looking for a solution to that, as I definitely want to see jaguars.

 

When do you go to Botswana (another targeted destination of mine)?

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On ‎11‎/‎07‎/‎2017 at 6:55 AM, Atdahl said:

@monalisa what a great time you had on the river.  Congrats on the tremendous Jaguar and Giant Otter sightings!  Your photos look great to me.  Going in May certainly paid off for you.  I am curious, do you know if it was cheaper then if you had gone later?  Not sure how you would know that unless you got quotes for different time frames but I thought I would ask.  May does have the risk of more rain and less wildlife so I assume it's cheaper...but you never know.

 

Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

 

Alan

 

@Atdahl Hi Alan, I asked my guide and he said that you certainly can get discounts during the low season but that there is virtually zero chance of jaguars during the flood. I don't think we personally got a discount for our trip in May but we did get upgraded to the best rooms free of charge due to no one else being around, so that is a discount of sorts :P

 

 

On ‎21‎/‎07‎/‎2017 at 2:04 AM, Alexander33 said:

@monalisa

 

I've been away, so just got caught up with your report.  Thanks so much for sharing it with us.  

 

It looks like you really benefited by taking the risk (even if you didn't know it was a risk) and going in May -- exclusive or almost-exclusive jaguar sightings are practically unheard of. In fact, the whole crowding issue was one reason I deferred the North during our trip last year to another time.  I'm still looking for a solution to that, as I definitely want to see jaguars.

 

When do you go to Botswana (another targeted destination of mine)?

 

@Alexander33 It certainly did pay off! If you are willing to gamble on less jaguars for the chance at more intimate sightings then definitely do look at going to Porto Jofre at the end of May. The chance to have the guide all to yourself is also is a big plus in my books! Another alternative is to try the Paraguay River instead of Porto Jofre. I understand this is where @jeremie went and had great success avoiding crowds while still getting great jaguar sightings.

 

I've actually already come and gone from Botswana (a distant memory now :(). We went straight from the Pantanal to Botswana and then Zambia. Hopefully I will get time to put together some photos for a trip report soon!!

 

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Posted (edited)

17 minutes ago, monalisa said:

 

@Atdahl Hi Alan, I asked my guide and he said that you certainly can get discounts during the low season but that there is virtually zero chance of jaguars during the flood. I don't think we personally got a discount for our trip in May but we did get upgraded to the best rooms free of charge due to no one else being around, so that is a discount of sorts :P

 

 

 

@Alexander33 It certainly did pay off! If you are willing to gamble on less jaguars for the chance at more intimate sightings then definitely do look at going to Porto Jofre at the end of May. The chance to have the guide all to yourself is also is a big plus in my books! Another alternative is to try the Paraguay River instead of Porto Jofre. I understand this is where @jeremie went and had great success avoiding crowds while still getting great jaguar sightings.

 

I've actually already come and gone from Botswana (a distant memory now :(). We went straight from the Pantanal to Botswana and then Zambia. Hopefully I will get time to put together some photos for a trip report soon!!

 

 

This is correct. Rio Paraguay has high jaguar densities but less compared to Porto Jofre, 50-fold less tourists on the river. And less sightings compared to Porto Jofre (jaguars are more tame, there are very few tourists, no talkie walkie between the boats)

Edited by jeremie
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