ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Day 1 to 10

DAY 10 (4 of 4) – RIO CLARO BOAT TOUR, PANTANAL, BRAZIL

Our first Pantanal activity was a boat tour in Rio Claro.  Just like visiting the Amazon, a river tour is a must do at Pantanal.  The three-hour boat ride gave us a good introduction to the diverse wild life in the Pantanal.  Our guide also let us try fishing piranha.  Our wildlife sightings include many water birds, capybaras, howling monkeys, river otters, a river-crossing tapir, and finally, a very very very long distant view of the majestic jaguar.  On our way back, the full moon was already high up in the sky.
ImageRiver otter
ImageRiver crossing tapir
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DSC_6041DSC_6131 Imagehowler monkeyImagepiranha
ImageThe moment when we saw a jaguar hidden under the shade of the bush.  Can you spot it in this photo?
DSC_6162Here is the zoom-in view of the jaguar from the same photo above.

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Read other posts on Pantanal, Brazil
Day 9.1 – Trail of Waterfalls, Chapada dos Guimaraes
Day 9.2 – Stone City, Chapada dos Guimaraes
Day 10.1 – Pantanal
Day 10.2 – Transpantaneria Highway, Pantanal
Day 10.3 – Pousada Rio Claro, Pantanal
Day 10.4 – Rio Claro Boat Tour, Pantanal
Day 11.1 – Morning Safari and Forest Walk, Pantanal
Day 11.2 – Rio Claro, Pantanal
Day 12.1 – Morning Walk, Pantanal
Day 12.2 – Pouso Alegre Lodge, Pantanal
Day 12.3 – Afternoon Walk and Evening Safari, Pananal
Day 12.4 – Night of Caimans
Day 13.1 – Farewell Pantanal, Brazil

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 10 (3 of 4) – POUSADA RIO CLARO, PANTANAL, BRAZIL

After 3.5 hours on the road, we arrived at Pousada Rio Claro, where we would be staying for 2 nights.  Birds were everywhere, especially in the courtyard where there were a number of bird feeders.  A long boardwalk extended to the riverside of Rio Claro, ending at a small boat dock. Image
Front gate of Pousada Rio ClaroImage Sleeping quarter of the lodgeImage Dinning hall Image One of the many bird feeders in the lodge Image River dock

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Read other posts on Pantanal, Brazil
Day 9.1 – Trail of Waterfalls, Chapada dos Guimaraes
Day 9.2 – Stone City, Chapada dos Guimaraes
Day 10.1 – Pantanal
Day 10.2 – Transpantaneria Highway, Pantanal
Day 10.3 – Pousada Rio Claro, Pantanal
Day 10.4 – Rio Claro Boat Tour, Pantanal
Day 11.1 – Morning Safari and Forest Walk, Pantanal
Day 11.2 – Rio Claro, Pantanal
Day 12.1 – Morning Walk, Pantanal
Day 12.2 – Pouso Alegre Lodge, Pantanal
Day 12.3 – Afternoon Walk and Evening Safari, Pananal
Day 12.4 – Night of Caimans
Day 13.1 – Farewell Pantanal, Brazil

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 10 (2 of 4) – TRANSPANTANERIA HIGHWAY, PANTANAL, BRAZIL

Aliton from Pantanal Nature (our tour company) met us at 7am at the lobby of Hotel Mato Grosso.  At his car, we met a couple from England who had also booked their tour with Pantanal Nature.  We drove out of Cuiaba. On the way, we picked up a few bottles of water, and filled up the gas before entering the Transpantaneira Highway.  The Transpantaneira Highway is a dirt road built in early 1970s intended to bisect Pantanal from north to south.  Only 145km of the originally intended 397km was built. With 145km and 125 bridges, according to some, Transpantaneria has the highest concentration of wooden bridges in the world. The road work also created many ditches on both sides, accidentally providing water ponds where caimens and waterbirds love to gather, especially during the dry season. During the 1.5-hour drive on our way to the lodge, we saw caimens, rheas, and many kinds of water birds. 

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Read other posts on Pantanal, Brazil
Day 9.1 – Trail of Waterfalls, Chapada dos Guimaraes
Day 9.2 – Stone City, Chapada dos Guimaraes
Day 10.1 – Pantanal
Day 10.2 – Transpantaneria Highway, Pantanal
Day 10.3 – Pousada Rio Claro, Pantanal
Day 10.4 – Rio Claro Boat Tour, Pantanal
Day 11.1 – Morning Safari and Forest Walk, Pantanal
Day 11.2 – Rio Claro, Pantanal
Day 12.1 – Morning Walk, Pantanal
Day 12.2 – Pouso Alegre Lodge, Pantanal
Day 12.3 – Afternoon Walk and Evening Safari, Pananal
Day 12.4 – Night of Caimans
Day 13.1 – Farewell Pantanal, Brazil

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 10 (1 of 4) – PANTANAL, BRAZIL

Today is the first of our four-day tour of Pantanal, the largest wetland in the world.  Similar to many tropical wetlands, Pantanal has only two seasons, the wet and the dry.  During wet season, much of Pantanal is submerged under a few feet of water. In the dry season, the land dries up except some pools of water at low spots.  Animals and birds gather around these water pools, making Pantanal in dry season the best place for wildlife spotting in Brazil.  Like most tourists, we come to Pantanal for its abundant wildlife: caimens, monkeys, tapirs, anteaters, armadillos, otters, capybaras, macaws, uncounted species of birds, piranhas, and most importantly, jaguars.  With significantly less trees than the Amazon Rainforest, it is much easier to spot wildlife here than anywhere else in Brazil.  Arriving at mid October, we are pretty much at the transitional time from dry to wet season.  Tourism here started about 30 years ago.  Today there are dozens of eco-lodges dotted along the Transpantaneira Highway.  Despite its inaccessibility, most lands in Pantanal are privately owned and they are huge in size.  For instance, the land parcel where our first lodge is situated is roughly 2,500 hectares, and the land of our second lodge is even bigger at 11,000 hectares in size.  Traditional industries in the Pantanal include ranching and fishing.  Fortunately the soil and the climate here are not suitable for agriculture; therefore, much of the landscape is still preserved, and along with it, a diverse ecosystem of wildlife.

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Read other posts on Pantanal, Brazil
Day 9.1 – Trail of Waterfalls, Chapada dos Guimaraes
Day 9.2 – Stone City, Chapada dos Guimaraes
Day 10.1 – Pantanal
Day 10.2 – Transpantaneria Highway, Pantanal
Day 10.3 – Pousada Rio Claro, Pantanal
Day 10.4 – Rio Claro Boat Tour, Pantanal
Day 11.1 – Morning Safari and Forest Walk, Pantanal
Day 11.2 – Rio Claro, Pantanal
Day 12.1 – Morning Walk, Pantanal
Day 12.2 – Pouso Alegre Lodge, Pantanal
Day 12.3 – Afternoon Walk and Evening Safari, Pananal
Day 12.4 – Night of Caimans
Day 13.1 – Farewell Pantanal, Brazil

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 9 (2 OF 2) – STONE CITY, CHAPADA DOS GUIMARAES, BRAZIL

After the half-day hike, we drove for about half an hour to the lookout with interesting formation of stone. This place is called Cidade De Pedra, the Stone City.  Stone City has just been reopened recently after months of closure due to safety issues.  It started to rain heavily as we approached our destination.  At the gate of the lookout, we met two Australian couples who were driving their custom constructed 4x4s on a round-the-world road trip.  They were waiting at the gate, as they didn’t have a guide to let them in.  Cecilia was kind enough to take them with us.  At the lookout, we waited a bit in the car hoping that the thunderstorm would be over soon.  After a 15-minute wait, we decided to put on our rain gears and ventured out to the lookout in the rain.  Cecilia led us to various lookouts along the cliff.  The view of the red stone cliffs rising above the lush green valley was breathtaking. The rain finally stopped when we reached the last lookout.  Cecilia pointed to a distant cliff and showed us the macaw nests.  Soon after, we saw a pair of red macaws glided over the valley under the afternoon sun.  It was a magical moment. On our way out of the lookout, we drove by a baby owl standing by the road.  We stopped the car to take a few photos through the window.  The baby owl was freaked out and screamed as loud as it could, while its parents stayed cool on a distant tree staring at us.DSC_5681
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Read other posts on Pantanal, Brazil
Day 9.1 – Trail of Waterfalls, Chapada dos Guimaraes
Day 9.2 – Stone City, Chapada dos Guimaraes
Day 10.1 – Pantanal
Day 10.2 – Transpantaneria Highway, Pantanal
Day 10.3 – Pousada Rio Claro, Pantanal
Day 10.4 – Rio Claro Boat Tour, Pantanal
Day 11.1 – Morning Safari and Forest Walk, Pantanal
Day 11.2 – Rio Claro, Pantanal
Day 12.1 – Morning Walk, Pantanal
Day 12.2 – Pouso Alegre Lodge, Pantanal
Day 12.3 – Afternoon Walk and Evening Safari, Pananal
Day 12.4 – Night of Caimans
Day 13.1 – Farewell Pantanal, Brazil

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 9 (1 OF 2) – TRAIL OF WATERFALLS, CHAPADA DOS GUIMARAES, BRAZIL

Before our 4-day tour to Pantanal, we had a day to visit the Chapada dos G National Park.  Located an hour drive north of Cuiaba, the bus ride took us about an hour to the town centre of Chapada.  We met our guide Cecilia at the office of Eco Turismo Cultural, the local travel agency that we booked our tour.  We entered the park after a short drive on her 4×4.  We started the day with the Trail of Waterfalls, a 4-hour loop passing 7 falls and a natural cave.  As we hiked, Cecilia picked up some fossils of small seashells on the path and explained to us that Chapada dos Guimaraes was once an inland ocean isolated from both the Atlantic and Pacific.  The cliffs and valley that we could see now was covered by shallow water.  She also told us that Chapada is located at the geographic centre of South America.  It’s about the same distance here to both the Atlantic and Pacific.  Rivers north of Chapada flow north and enter the Amazon; and the ones south of Chapada go south towards the Iguazu River.   The hike was pleasant at times, but we were both overwhelmed by the heat as we hiked up and down the trail to the various waterfalls.  We took off our hiking boots and rested our feet in the water at one of the falls.  The water was cool and clear.  Near the end of the hike, we chilled out at Casa de Petra (House of Stone), a natural grotto carved out by a river. Casa de Petra has been a rest stop for travelers since ancient times.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADSC_5557DSC_5597DSC_5616Casa de Petra

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Previous Destination: Iguazu Falls, starting from post Day 6.1

Read other posts on Pantanal, Brazil
Day 9.1 – Trail of Waterfalls, Chapada dos Guimaraes
Day 9.2 – Stone City, Chapada dos Guimaraes
Day 10.1 – Pantanal
Day 10.2 – Transpantaneria Highway, Pantanal
Day 10.3 – Pousada Rio Claro, Pantanal
Day 10.4 – Rio Claro Boat Tour, Pantanal
Day 11.1 – Morning Safari and Forest Walk, Pantanal
Day 11.2 – Rio Claro, Pantanal
Day 12.1 – Morning Walk, Pantanal
Day 12.2 – Pouso Alegre Lodge, Pantanal
Day 12.3 – Afternoon Walk and Evening Safari, Pananal
Day 12.4 – Night of Caimans
Day 13.1 – Farewell Pantanal, Brazil

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought


DAY 8 (1 OF 1)- CATARATAS DO IGUACU, BRAZIL

Today we left Argentina (will be returning in a few weeks) and entered Brazil.  In the morning, we took local transportation to cross the border.  At the bus terminal of Puerto Iguazu, we took a bus to the national border.  Thanks to the locals who pointed us with the right directions, everything went smoothly as we got the exit stamp of Argentina, crossed the river dividing the two countries, and went through the Brazilian passport control.  At the Brazilian side, we took another bus going towards Foz dos Iguacu and got off at Bonborn Hotel as instructed by the staff at Jasy Hotel.  Then we crossed the road and got on another local bus that took us to the Brazilian Iguacu Falls National Park.  We had a few hours to visit the park before our evening flight to Cuiaba.

At the park entrance, we dropped off our backpacks at the locker storage.  Then we hopped on a park shuttle bus at the entry hall covered by a huge canopy.  All the major lookouts and attractions were connected by the shuttle route, allowing us to hop on and off as desired.  We got off at the first lookout of the falls at a trailhead.  It was grey, misty and occasionally rainy the entire day.  The trail took us to various panoramic views of the falls on the Argentine side.  The views were spectacular if not for the weather that made everything looked greyish.  Our hike ended at a grand finale with a close encounter of the Brazilian side of the Devil’s Throat, the same fall section that we visited on the Argentine side on our first day.  The Devil’s Throat is the largest falls among the 275 waterfalls in the area.  At Devil’s Throat, we walked out the metal walkway to the viewing platform right in front of the falls.  It was a fun and soaking experience.  Then we went to the multi-level viewing platform at the side of the falls.  Against the guardrails, tourists were having fun posting in front of the water curtain for photos.  It was such a joyful and wet ending of our Iguazu experience.  After our 2.5-day experience of the falls, we were happy about our visiting sequence: starting at the Argentine side of Devil’s Throat and ending at the Brazilian side.  Visiting Iguazu is truly wonderful because of its variety of experiences.

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Read more posts on Iguazu Falls
Day 6.1 – Puerto Iguazu, Argentina
Day 6.2 – Gargantuan del Diablo, Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Day 6.3 – Jasy Hotel, Puerto Iguazu, Argentina
Day 7.1 – Lower Trail, Parque Nacional Iguazu, Argentina
Day 7.2 – San Martin Island, Parque Nacional Iguazu, Argentina
Day 7.3 – Upper Trail. Parquet Nacional Iguazu, Argentina
Day 8 – Cataracts do Iguacu, Brazil

Next Destination: Pantanal, Brazil
Continuing our journey from post Day 9.1

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South America 2013 – Our Destinations
Buenos Aires (Argentina), Iguazu Falls (Argentina/Brazil), Pantanal (Brazil), Brasilia (Brazil), Belo Horizonte & Inhotim (Brazil), Ouro Preto (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Paraty (Brazil), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Samaipata & Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Sucre (Bolivia), Potosi (Bolivia), Southwest Circuit (Bolivia), Tilcara, Purmamarca, Salta (Argentina), Cafayate (Argentina), San Pedro de Atacama (Chile), Antofagasta & Paranal Observatory (Chile), Chiloe (Chile), Puerto Varas (Chile), Torres del Paine (Chile), Ushuaia (Argentina), El Chalten (Argentina), El Calafate (Argentina), Isla Magdalena (Argentina), Santiago (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Afterthought