Part 3: OUR river Pantanal adventure (boat tour on Rio Cuiaba)

Still on the hunt for the big five of the Pantanal we decided to go on a boat tour from Porto Jofre on Rio Cuiaba. We had seen the capybara and the giant anteater, but was still on the lookout for the last three, the jaguar, the giant otters and the anaconda. Your chances of seeing those three are a lot bigger on a boat tour, since they live and feed in the river or on the riverbanks.

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The day started with a thin cloud cover, when we left Porto Jofre. We were staying at Jaguar Ecological Reverse about 37 km from Porto Jofre, and the owner, Eduardo was our private guide for the day. Eduardo was born and raised in the Pantanal, and he has followed in his dads footsteps, but now farming is not his main income. It is tourism.

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Our mood was high, but nothing happened the first 4 hours! Well except for all the caimans hanging around…

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Still just keep looking… it started with a Toco toucan, which is the largest species in the toucan family. It is famous for the huge colorful bill measuring 16-23 cm. In total the bird measures 55-65 cm, which means that the bill represent a third of the birds total length. Then Eduardo spotted a black howler monkey. They can be pretty hard to spot since they sleep or rest up to 70% of the day.   

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Suddenly a jaguar was moving on the riverbank. In South America the jaguar from the Pantanal region are the largest of the species with lengths of about 2.7 meters and a weight of 95 kg for males and 78 kg for females. One of their favorite prays are capybaras. The jaguar population in the Pantanal have been estimated to around 120. Eduardo told us that he have seen only 7 different jaguars a long the riverbanks.

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After this we got to observe a family of giant otters. With a length of 1.7 meters it is the longest family of the weasel family. It feeds mainly on fish, so check out the left picture, where one of the otters have a fish in its mouth. WOW! 4 down and 1 to go of the big five of the Pantanal.

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First I didn’t expect to be so lucky to see a jaguar, but what was the chances of see an anaconda. I didn’t know, but as we were cruising down river Eduardo spotted a snake in the water. It turned out to be a small anaconda, about 1 meter long. Both the green and yellow anaconda live in the Pantanal. They can grow to a size of about 4.5 meter, which is a lot smaller than the anaconda living in the Amazon.

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After 6+ hours on the water we were headed back to Porto Jofre. This time it was Esben, who spotted an iguana in the water

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If you just can’t get enough of the wildlife… check out our small video:


It was an amazing boat trip, and what a perfect way to finish our visit in the Pantanal. During the latest rainy season, the Transpantaneira had been flooded several places 20-25 km before Porto Jofre due to more heavy rain in April and May. The road had been destroyed several places, so it would only have been possible for us to drive the last kilometers if the road was completely dry. At the worst parts there was deep ruts, and the surface was very uneven. So for us it was perfect to go on the boat tour with the Jaguar Ecological Reverse, since we drove to Porto Jofre with Eduardo in his pickup truck.

We camped in our van at the Jaguar Ecological Reserve, and could enjoy the hyacinth macaw, that came late afternoon to feed in the native palms

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On the Transpantaneira we got up just before sunrise (5.45 am) and went early to bed (8 pm). You really want as many hours with daylight as possible, to explore this amazing place. We had some fantastic sunsets and sunrises, though we had most luck spotting animals around sunset. We had an amazing time in the Pantanal, and would recommend this to everybody. Our Pantanal adventure has come to an end, and we will finish it off with these amazing sunrise pictures – so get up early in the morning and go explore.

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The next morning it was cloudy, and the weather forecast had promised rain and cloudy weather for the next 4 days. It was time for us to leave the Pantanal. We didn’t get far before it started to rain! Quickly the road turned into mud. Every time it starts raining we get surprised of how quick the roads can turn from solid hard pack to slippery mud. This time Esben was behind the wheel, since all the animals were hiding.

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We made it out all the way in one piece. Filled up gas and aired up the tires ready to hit the pavement towards Campo Grande. Today is the 13th of June and Esbens birthday is tomorrow. So check out the next post to see how Esben spend his birthday on the road.

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