The Pantanal - October 2011

with Elston and Jackie Hill
In the geographic center of South America, the Pantanal spreads over an area of approximately 75,000 square miles of
wide-open flood plains in Paraguay, Bolivia and (mostly) Brazil. This is the world's largest wet lands containing the most
abundant collection of wildlife to be seen anywhere in the Americas including the world's biggest jaguars, anteaters and otters.
About 80% of the Pantanal floodplains are submerged during the rainy seasons, nurturing an astonishing biologically diverse
collection of aquatic plants and helping support a dense array of animal species. We went during the end of the dry season
when the wildlife is concentrated in the water holes and rivers making observation of the wildlife very easy.

Below is an index and link to a collection of photos from the trip. If you click on the first link, there will be a link at the bottom of
each page to the next portion of the trip. At the the bottom of this page is some information for persons interested in doing a
similar trip.
For our trip, we went with WANT Expeditions. We arrived in Cuiaba where we were met by Akos. From there we took a bus
down the Transpantera Highway where we stayed at four camps for eleven nights. After this trip, we did the extension which
started at Camp Grande and lasted for six nights at a lodge in the southern Pantanal.
The Transpanteneira Highway is straight as an arrow since it is built through what is swamp land in the rainy season. It is a dirt
road with 126 single lane wooden bridges, and extends for 90 miles. It is all but impassible in the rainy season when the rising
waters may overtop the road or wash it out. .The four lodges were at four locations towards the end of the road.
Our third lodge where we saw the jaguars was a floating lodge with air conditioning.
Here we saw jaguars and giant otters.
The rivers are filled with fish and we saw local fishermen (below) as well as persons who came to the Pantanal exclusively to
fish giant fish.
Csaba is a part owner and builder of the bird hides which we visited on the extension. He had to drive us carefully as there
were no breaks on the 30+ year old Toyota Landcruiser.
This was the bird hide for the Macaws.
This was the bird hide for watching the vultures. We each had our own hide.
And finally, this was the bird hide by the water hole. Unfortunately it rained when we arrived so that the birds had nominal
interest in the water. The first of two days was not productive, but the second day we saw plenty of birds and wildlife even
though they were mostly little interested in the water hole.
A gaucho at one of the lodges rounding up horses for our horse back ride.
Brahma Cows graze much of the Pantanal.
The trip occurred in October which is the best time to go since it is getting towards the end of dry season and the wildlife must
cluster at water holes and rivers.

This was a very good trip provided by WANT Expeditions. Akos has done his homework. We saw jaguars four days in a row
which was much better than average. We were generally up at or before sunrise to get the best wildlife and photography
experiences. It was a very intense trip and we could not have expected more. The only small negative is group travel. It is
called a small group, but fourteen people does not exactly seem small to us.