Day 16 – Welcome to Pantanal

A 5 hour bus journey later and we finally got to say goodbye to the nightmare bus!

We reached the transfer point and we were greeted by toucans singing in the trees (not sure if it can really be called singing….They sound like throaty crows) and our safari vehicle. We hopped in, met our guide and set off on our 45 minute journey. Our guide is fantastic, very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. He pointed various animals out on the way and even stopped to show us jaguar tracks.

Pulling up to the farm was pretty magical. It felt like it should be a scene from a cowboy film….Horses, guinea fowl, vast rolling green plains and blue skies. We arrived at the hottest point in the day so everyone was resting. 

We were shown our rooms and given time to test our hammocks – it is surprisingly comfortable and I managed a nap! I will reserve full judgment until I have spent a whole night in it.

At 4 o’clock the group got together with our guide for a walk around the farm and forest. In theory this sounds exactly my kind of activity. In reality I was in complete misery. The mosquitos were like a plague. There were clouds of them every which way you turned and despite repellant and long trousers, I was being eaten alive.

Plus sides; we saw loads of caiman, macaws both blue and red, different woodpeckers, an armadillo and monkeys. The sunset when we came back to the farm was pretty show stopping. The amount of walking and water I’m drinking, I must be getting healthier!!!!

The mosquitos and heat are going to be a challenge to take here but a good test of my patience. Tomorrow we have an activity filled day (except between 11am and 4pm where everyone has a siesta because of the heat)….Bring on the challenges!

Day 15 – Snorkelling Time!

Today was one of those days where you can’t believe you did that….

A transfer picked us up early and we headed off out to one of the farms (about an hour away, which is down the road in Brazil!). When we got there we were given wet suits and the appealing shoes from yesterday. Not before a quick test of the hammocks though!

After squeezing myself into the wet suit (I managed to get it the right way unlike some in the group!) and taking a cold shower in it, I was ready to hop into the safari jeep and set off into the forest.

A 30 minute walk in 33° heat, in a black wet suit….Well let’s just say it was a God send to reach the water! The water was about 24° which felt beautifully refreshing and it was so clear you could see to the bottom before getting in.

The suit are designed to help you float. We were expressly told not to swim, only to use your hands to give you some direction and speed when required but otherwise to float along the river with the current and enjoy the views.

Typically, the day I needed a camera….This once in a lifetime opportunity….I went with 8% battery. I could literally have kicked myself. So….shots are limited (and pretty poor!).

It was such a surreal and relaxing experience. The water is so pure there and they work hard to preserve this (hence the cold shower). 

There were fish the size of your thumb and smaller and fish the length of your arm and bigger. There were fish that were speckled, striped, red, gold, black, blue and they were completely unbothered by us, swimming around and up to you as they felt like it. The little fish even nibbled at your legs as you floated along or stopped  anywhere long enough for them to latch on. There were swirling sand patches where natural springs were under the water, there was drift wood and little greenery islands, more nature than you knew what to do with. It was unlike anything I have ever seen.

About half way through we had to get out the water and walk around the waterfall and rapids. On land and feeling heavy again, I managed to jar my dodgy ankle after a wet suit incident…So I spent the rest of that walk limping like a muppet. Back into an ankle support I go.

On the other side and back in the refreshingly cool water I was ready to go again. We floated down mini rapids which were deceptively fast and you had to work to not end up in a bush at the side of the river. I may have ended up in them a few times….Just to test it out of course!

After an hour and a half in the water, it was time to hop out, get changed and head back to the farm where we could grab a bite to eat.

The evening was chilled out, having a Acaí juice that is popular around here and some tapioca with doce de leite – yum! Before heading back to pack AGAIN!

Tomorrow is Pantanal, so blog updates might be behind….I doubt I will have WiFi there!!!

Day 14 – Arrival at Bonito

Oh my days, the night bus really was a nightmare bus! The journey was terrible. We even got stopped by the police for a random spot check. I was lucky if I got one hour of sleep the entire journey. The only positive is that we arrived earlier than expected and they were thankfully able to let us have our rooms at 6am. I stumbled like a zombie into the boiling room that felt like a sauna and fell asleep for two hours.

When I woke up, I jumped in the shower to freshen up and get ready to face the day. I felt like it should be about 4pm not 9am! It was going to be a horrifically long day.

As a group we decided we would go to the Mimosa farm and do the waterfall trek for the afternoon. 

Here in Bonito there are loads of farms that are given protected area of lands with different natural features that the farms then charge visitors to see and ultimately help protect. It is quite expensive as everything (even transfers) are privatised here, but it is super beautiful and worth it.

The guide picked us up for 1:30pm and kitted us out for the tour. You know it’s going to be good when you have to store everything, get in swim gear and you get given this sexy footwear…

We were taken out on what looked like a safari truck into the forest and our tour guide started the trek. We were going to walk around and see 8 waterfalls. 7 of which you could swim at.

The water was cold but so freshing as it was super humid. After the first dunk, the shock was done and you could just relax and enjoy the tranquility.

Our tour guides English wasn’t amazing, but it was good enough to get the gist of things. He was fearless and often plunged into the waters with us. He took us to one of the waterfalls and excitedly told us to enter the cave and “look to the ceiling for make a wish”.

Being the first in, I swam to the cave hesitantly trying to think of the wish I wanted to make. Well….My mistake….His English wasn’t as bad as I thought….He was introducing me to the formation “make a wish” – I’m sure they could hear my laugh from the other side of the forest.

The next waterfall wasn’t for the faint hearted. On the approach it looked beautiful and peaceful like the other waterfalls but hidden to the right were some steep steps that took you up to a jump platform. The jump was 6m (19ft)…so naturally I threw myself off of it! Such fun!
We swam under waterfalls, into caves, across pools and walked for what our legs were worth! To reach the last two waterfalls we needed to take a row boat there, so we hopped in and got the oars manned. We were making good progress when the guide dramatically hushed us and got us to stop moving. After a minute he pointed off to the left of the boat…There, no more than eight foot away, was a caiman!

The next two waterfalls were uneventful and beautiful, although only three of us took to the water after our sighting and we all opted to walk the forest route back. 

In the forest we saw locusts (massive ones – like bigger than my hand!), a tarantula sized spider (also kind of looked like one), lizards, lots of birds, hummingbirds and we were even lucky enough to get a glimpse of a tapir!

We were all shattered by the time we got back to the hotel, so after a quick dinner (yum falafel), where I managed to make a furry friend!!! We all headed back, straight to bed ready for tomorrow.