Just make the biting stop....please

Trip Start Nov 14, 2006
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Trip End May 15, 2007


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Flag of Brazil  ,
Sunday, January 14, 2007

After the first of our truly long bus journeys (14 hours), we arrived in Campo Grande and booked ourselves onto a 4 day tour of the Pantanal wetlands.

When we arrived at our lodge, we were immediately greeted by a large group of current guests that were counting their mosquito bites and sharing biting stories. We had heard that the local mosquitos were vicious, but weren't quite ready for the reality. We soon found out that the little b*stards can bite through layers of clothes and seem to be fairly immune to Deet. One poor girl had over 330 bites and another left a day early when she couldn't stand it anymore.

The first day of our stay we went on a boat ride down the river and got to swim with caimans and alligators while the guide fished for piranhas next to us, flipping them over our heads for the alligator to eat. In the aftermoon, we went on our favourite activity of the tour, horse riding on the ranch. At first glance, the horses appeared more like overgrown and stubborn donkeys. However, once we got onto some open land we discovered that they could really fly and they left us grinning like Cheshire cats.

The next day we went on a jungle safari which involved being thrown around in a rickety truck for a couple of hours while beng eaten alive by mosquitos. Then, arriving on the forest walk to find out that we actually had to walk through flood plains where the water came up to my knees (and Emily's thighs). At this point, Emily threw a huge PMT strop and absolutely refused to walk through the water in her only pair of walking boots. After the guide made her walk through the first river without her shoes and socks on, he got so fed up with her whinging (and the prospect of this whinging carrying on for the rest of the trek) that he gave her his boots to shut her up.

We actually saw some pretty cool wildlife on the safari; including the back end of a jaguar as it ran off into a bush, some very friendly coati families, several howler monkeys, a big brown monkey (the guide's description), lots of capybaras (two of them "making love"), a giant anteater, some wild pigs and lots of brightly coloured birds including toucans and some rare giant blue macaws.

The lodge accomodation and food were excellent, although we were a little perturbed by the guide's lack of respect for the wildlife and general lack of enthusiasm. We left with mixed feelings about the trip. Although we had seem some excellent wildlife, we felt we could have gained a lot more from the trip with a more enthusiastic guide and were almost driven insane by the sheer volume of mosquito bites we accumulated.
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