Pantanal Safari: Pirhana Lunch

Wim’s news from the Flotel (Pantanal Safari): 

The cold front was gone by morning, leaving behind a magical mist on the river, clear skies, and breathtaking sunrise. The moody, magnificent scenery was just perfect for photography.

As we left the Flotel and prepared to fill our cameras with images of the sunrise, we picked up a jaguar! She was a little elusive, and regularly retreated to the security of the jungle foliage, –

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– but every now and again she emerged to pace back and forth next to the river. 

We spent the entire morning with the jaguar, keeping our distance so as not to alarm her, as she alternately appeared and then disappeared, only to emerge again when we least expected it. 

Finally she went to lie down and all we could see were a twitching tail and a flicking ear. As it was getting close to lunch time, we headed back to the Flotel – but didn’t stop there for our midday meal today.

Instead we headed upriver to the Peccary Lodge where we were served the local delicacy. Before I tell you what it was, let me assure you that it was delicious. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself eating Pirhanas! Yes, that is what we had for lunch. Pirhanas. They were large, beautifully prepared and as I said, yummmmmmmm!

While we were eating, an unusual visitor arrived to join us. An armadillo, actually, a very tame armadillo, joined us. It was so tame that we could touch it, tickle its tummy, feel its ears – and it enjoyed all the attention, actually wanting more and more.

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Flying around from Palm Tree to Palm Tree we saw dozens of Hyacinth Macaws. Their brilliant colour and large size mean that they always look fabulous in photographs. Just seeing them is such a pleasure.

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There were numerous parakeets of every conceivable colour … Brilliant!

And I simple have to mention the thirty or so Crested Caracaras. The only way I can describe these strange birds is that they are an odd mixture between an eagle – and a chicken! A very regal head of an eagle, complete with powerful beak is offset by that chicken-like body.

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They were very busy – mostly arguing and fighting with each other. They seemed to create disputes out of every bit of water – as if there is a shortage! They fight over morsels of food, or simply because … well, just because! There was no real reason, but that didn’t deter them as they squabbled merrily among each other.

As we returned downstream to stalk jaguars again, we rounded a bend in the river – only to find a jaguar climbing out of the water. We had missed its swim across the river by a few moments. And it slunk into the bushes so quickly that we didn’t really have time for a decent photograph. Oh well!

We found some kingfishers bathing in the river, jumping in and out of the water as they splashed around, spraying all around them. It was great!

Then we came across a colony of about thirty Black Skimmers, nesting on the river bank. We spent at least an hour with them as they all took off together from time to time, interacted with one another, had the occasional dispute, and returned to their roosting spots. 

On the way back to the Flotel, the Supermoon rose, huge in the sky. It was simply massive, and a deep, glowing orange. In the darkness of the jungle it appeared even more impressive, more amazing! What a sight! Gradually the colour faded through a spectrum of reddish colours to a pale pink, and then the huge white orb hung in the sky. It is going to be incredible on the 16th! 

Of course our dinner was preceded by our nightly Fishing Bat photography as they scooped insects from the surface of the water.

Well, today was our final full day here – and what a time it has been. Totally outstanding – and we still have tomorrow morning to look forward to …