Where We Be
We got to within ten feet of this magnificent jaguar! Credit for this photo
goes to fellow traveler
Marcin Sroka from Krakow, Poland. Nazdrovya!
The Pantanal, Brazil -- Porto Jofre
Let's start with the jaguar, even though we
didn't see ours until the end of our second
safari day. Certainly that's why most folks come
to Porto Jofre, aka Jaguar Camp. Here is literally
your best chance in the world of spotting a
jaguar up close in the wild. While far from a
guarantee, there's a genuinely good chance of
seeing one if you visit between May and
November. In our case we saw just one jaguar
in three days of hard looking, but it made our
whole trip to the Pantanal feel complete.

Porto Jofre is where the road ends and there's
nothing between you and the Pantanal wilder-
ness but water. It's a wetlands paradise, and the
only good way to explore it is by boat. So that's
what you do: each day you get into a motor boat
and go on safari, typically twice per day, once in
the morning and again in the afternoon. You
never know what you might see -- or not see --
and that's half the fun. Of course JAGUAR in
capital letters is on everyone's mind, but we
were also lucky enough to see tapirs, toucans,
monkeys, river otters, capybara, caiman, lizards,
jumping fish, and birds beyond all counting.
Morning dawns misty but glorious
But hey, at least it's cool at sunrise, and animals
like these giant river otters are at their most active
Active at begging for fish, that is!
I doubt we'll ever see giant river otters any closer than this
For them this must be the equivalent of a McDonald's Happy Meal
Around every bend, literally, are grey and cocoi herons
The Pantanal looks as sleepy as we feel!
And this is the anhinga, also known as a snake bird. When swimming, only
its neck appears above the water, so it looks like a snake ready to strike.
This toucan is hunting for eggs among the
weaver nests of the yellow-rumped cacique
The much smaller caciques squawked their displeasure at the
toucan's presence and dive-bombed him to drive him away
This "raft" of capybara look utterly content in the water
You can see this one's slightly webbed toes as he tries to get
the attention of his mate -- "Hey, they're looking at us again"
They're a favorite food for both jaguar and caiman,
but they seem awfully relaxed about it, don't they?
The dark section of this trunk shows just how high
the water can get in the Pantanal during the rainy season
If you like peace and quiet, serenity and
birdsong, the Pantanal is the place for you
If you like birds, you'll be in heaven -- although a few in
our group got "birded out" with all the constant sightings
We also got a terrifically good sighting of this tapir, which
our guide told us can be even harder to spot than a jaguar
Unfortunately for him, the high bank kept going and going, so we got a good
long look at him both swimming and standing before he finally found a way out
Not to be outdone, Joanna makes friends with a fish
During one of our passes we saw this caiman
swimming, a common sight in the Pantanal
This is the best photo I could manage with my Canon PowerShot. You can see
just how well-hidden the jaguar was -- and how he was looking right at us!
Our boat made multiple passes within a few feet of the jaguar's lair; sometimes
he was sleeping, other times awake. This photo is courtesy of
Marcin Sroka.
You'd never know a jaguar was hiding
just behind that curtain of vines
Just one tree can support a lot of roosting birds
As the sun sets, the moon appears and the birds go to roost
Pantanal sunsets are magical
Sergi makes friends with a lizard
We loved the intricate root systems
of the exposed tree trunks
Joanna climbed out of the boat onto a sandy beach and
experimented with how close she could get to the capybara
Pretty close!
They can submerge for up to five minutes to avoid predators and can supposedly run
as fast as a horse on land -- although they seemed pretty lazy when we saw them
Capybara bookends
The jabiru is the bird symbol of the Pantanal
and is the tallest flying bird in South America
You'll never see more of these distinctive-looking
storks than you will here in the Pantanal
Heading home at the end of a satisfying safari day
Time for one last sunset before heading home
They're highly social and can be
found in groups of fifty or more
We were lucky enough to see
a few babies among the herd
We love this portrait of a capybara family resting near the river bank
Back at the dining hall at Camp Jofre. Make no mistake, this is simple living, but the food is
good, the AC in our rooms is cold, and there's plenty of Skol and Bohemia beer to drink.
When he first spied us, he crashed down the
bank into the water and started swimming
Speaking of distinctive-looking,
this odd bird is a southern screamer
There are worse ways to spend a day! Exploring the Pantanal with Eric from the Netherlands,
Sergi from Spain, and Marcin & Joanna from Poland. Photos courtesy of
Marcin Sroka.
Look how sleek they are!
The kingfishers are among our favorites. You'll see
ringed, Amazon, and green kingfishers aplenty here.