Our journey to Pantanal, the largest wetlands in the world, located in our neighbor’s back yard, with a few gateways, started early, before sunrise, flying to Cuiaba, state of Mato Grosso, Brazil! Before sunrise is the norm,, in the tropics, because both sunrise and sundown occur at a very fast pace! From Cuiaba, we travel, basically South, through a paved road, until we reach Pocone, the real beginning of the famous Transpantaneira Road, which has 127 bridges (some have been brought down by the annual flooding of the area) and with a mix of gravel and dirt (during the wet season, mud, or just water!!). As soon as we leave the pavement, we enter another world, crossing a few cattle ranches, but every tree, every pond, is a sample of the area’s biodiversity!! We are trigger happy with our cameras!!
Upon arrival to Porto Jofre, and our lodging for the next week, a fast lunch and off we go, on our boat, into the Cuiaba River and its tributaries, which are home to the largest cat in the American continent, and the third largest in the world, the Once Pintada, as they call it in Brazil, the Jaguar, a magnificent spotted cat, which could be described as a leopard on steroids! After an hour of patrolling the rivers, we find ourselves face to face with what we came to look for. We look at the Jaguar, as it fixes its eyes on us. It know we are hera and we respectfully maintain our distance, as our cameras click away! The recommended minimum stay in the area, to guarantee a jaguar sighting is 4 days, and we have seen our first one in the first 2 hours!!! Lucky us!! As it starts getting dark, we leave our new friend, and return to the lodge, the sky illuminated by a beautiful sunset, and bats, flying over our heads! Day one is ending!!