Pantanal Safari: Upriver for Jaguars!

Wim reports from the Flotel (Pantanal Safari): 

We woke up to an ethereal, misty morning and hurried out to photograph the never-ending flights of birds. Again they were there in their thousands. 

The birds looked extra magnificent as they materialised out of the mist with brilliant plumage seeming even more dramatic against the white mist that surrounded them. And when the sun began to send small shards of golden light through the mist to pick out a bird here and there, the scene was set for some phenomenal photography.

Besides the birds mentioned previously like the Toco Toucans and Orange-backed Troupials with their vibrant colours, there were hosts of other birds again. The Rufescent Tiger Herons with their distinctive rufous plumage.

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A local bird of prey – Caracaras – were represented in some numbers as they flew back and forth, checking out the meal possibilities.

And I just have to mention the Vermilion Flycatcher. This bird is scarlet – blood red – and looked just amazing against that white mist. Our cameras filled rapidly with all that colour swirling around.

And then to our delight, the large, magnificently coloured Hyacinth Macaws arrived. They are an endangered species, so it was really a treat for us to spend some time close to the large birds.

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Large -yes! They measure more that a meter in length and are the largest of the flying parrot species. That, and their magnificently coloured plumage has unfortunately placed them on the endangered species list.

After breakfast it was time for us to travel again on the Transpantaneira Road – this time to Port Jofre, where we boarded a boat that took us upriver to our Flotel. The Flotel is a floating hotel – well, actually a large, well-appointed and fitted out houseboat. It is all beautifully done in local woods, with ten en-suite rooms, all very comfortable.

We could hardly wait to get out on the river and start stalking(?) jaguars. We had reports that one or two had been seen in the area, and we set off with high hopes.

Sure enough, within ten minutes we spotted a jaguar! It was very shy, hiding from us in some pretty thick vegetation along the edge of the river. But nothing could dampen our excitement! A jaguar! Right there! Right in front of us!

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Our cameras clicked, clicked, clicked, clicked, – and then –

We heard that there was a second jaguar just a minute or two further up the river! Yes! A second! In one afternoon!

This fellow was lying on the bank of the river, totally unconcerned by our presence, just soaking up the sun’s rays. Nothing could have budged us from that spot as we photographed each yawn, each lift of the head, each tiny movement of the beautiful, shining cat. It was wonderful!

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Finally, darkness forced us to return to the Flotel – but our day was not over.

The lights on the Flotel attracted all types of insects, which in turn attracted the Fishing Bats. We set up our equipment and used flashlights to capture some outstanding images of the bats as they flew around, catching the insects.

In the morning we want to find those jaguars again …