The Pantalan

Warning to travellers in Brazil, for domestic flights you need to be at airport at least 2 hours before departure. Come back Heathrow, all is forgiven . However despite the maddening crowds, once processed, things are straightforward and most flights leave on time if not early. I connected with Osley at the departure gate and we flew to Cuiaba, on an Airbus 320. I had assumed that Cuiaba was a “town” but it is a very big city, looking larger than Adelaide from the air.

We were met at the airport and driven in a big black offroad “hilux” vehicle to our lodge. We stopped for lunch at a cafeteria style establishment. The road was sealed for about 90 km then rocky, dusty red dirt unsealed for another 50 km or so. Reminiscent of unsealed roads around Alice Springs the major difference being the presence of swampy wetland marshes beside the road teeming with birds, alligators and wild large rodents. We navigated many rickety wooden bridges, successfully. The most common animal, by far, is the Capybara , the worlds largest rodent!

The most common bird is what I would call a red capped finch. These are so domesticated that hundreds of them hop around you at meal times on the tables. And will brazenly eat crumbs from plate whilst still eating yourself! ( that is terrible grammatically but you know what I mean!)

Arrived at the Aracas Lodge about 2.30 pm in time for quick swim, cool drink then we left in a safari type open vehicle to catch the wildlife, of which we saw plenty arriving back after sunset for dinner.

The lodge is surrounded by lush wetlands and these “waterholes” are also teeming with fish and hundreds of alligators! At night one of the guests almost fell over an alligator at her door! I could cope with a wallaby, a wild goanna, but an alligator!!! Frogs everywhere one needs to check bed before hopping in at night!

Sunday morning we rode horses around the countryside. I rodey horse at a gentle walk, Osley shot off like s cowboy on his! Then in the late afternoon had a walk through the wetland and forests to a 25 m bird lookout tower then back in the setting sun.

The next day we took a kayak down a river and saw numerous water birds, an alligator and 3 giant otters. The most common bird was the Cormorant. We also saw, from a distance, a Jabiru standing in its giant nest built in a large, dead tree.

Given that the lodge is far removed from civilisation, it was a great place to spend 3 days. The rooms were basic but clean and the water hot , the food home cooked and we had a different roast or baked dish each night: pork, lamb, fish, whilst on the canoe trip we had a great BBQ beef! It was all the more appreciated when one realised that one was a few hundred kilometers from a big city!

We had a very knowledgable guide who stayed with us for all the day and evening trips.

We left at 6 am for the drive back to Cuiaba. It was dawn and consequently we saw even more wildlife as we drove back in the marshes, fields and trees.

Off to the Foz do Iguaçu today and getting there is another story! If Osley was not with me who knows when and where I may have slept tonight!