Jaguars, otters and more...

The second part of our trip to the largest wetland in the world, Pantanal, took us to the SouthWild Jaguar lodge some 30 minutes fast boat ride from Porto Jofre on the Piquiri river.  After 6 hours of drive on the Transpantaneira we boarded the fast boat and settled in the very comfortable rooms of the flotel.  That same afternoon, we have been searching for jaguars.  The routine for the next few days called for 6 am departures return for lunch and again return to search for the biggest South American cats around 3 pm.  We have cruised waters of Piquiri and Cuiaba rivers, including small tributaries, looking for this elusive animals, but at the same time we have always took a time to stop and watch howler monkeys high on the trees, weary capybaras, caymans and their deep and scary sounds, as well as many birds species.  Going back to jaguars - we have seen 7 different animals and counted 11 sightings, with 3 fantastic photo opportunities.  The first encounter was amazing and will always remain in my mind - majestic and powerful cat, a definite king of Pantanal.  Another favourite of mine were the giant river otters - extremely intelligent, playful and 'hungry' animals.  While the jaguars are the apex predators on land, the giant otters are a definite rulers of local rivers.  The time we have visited Pantanal was at the end of the dry season, and close to the start of heavy rains - it allowed to avoid crowds and provide some clouds (read: diffuse light to phototgraph during the day), but the frequency of jaguar sightings was less than during July-Sept.  Overall, after 5 days on the river, we were returning back to catch the flight from Cuiaba to Sao Paulo and then to Houston full of great memories and memory cards of a few reasonable phototgraphs.  I have to also mention that during our first (very birds oriented part of the trip) we had a chance to see an ocelot, who was visiting hide close to the SouthWild Lodge - another very special experience that I will remember.  I am already thinking about returning to Pantanal and also try other areas of Brazil.