Pantanal Tour Activities – A Closer Look

In our previous post we took a look at the details of a 4 day, 3 night Brazilian Pantanal tour. This was one of our favourite activities during our time travelling through Brazil and we would encourage everyone to do it if you get a chance. As well as seeing amazing wildlife and taking part in fun activities, it’s a great opportunity to meet fellow travellers!

The activities involved and wildlife spotted during the tour are numerous to say the least! There is far too much to say for it all to be included in the overview of the tour. So we thought we would do a second post. Here we can highlight in more detail the Pantanal tour activities involved and showcase some of the beautiful members of the animal kingdom you will see.

pantanal tour activities

Pool Noodling Down the Miranda River

This was the first of our Pantanal tour activities that we took part in and it was great fun! We began by clambering in to a 12-seater motor boat, with our swim gear on, carrying two foamy pool noodles each.

Pantanal Tour Activities - Pool Noodling

Our guide Luis powered the boat a few kilometres down the river, whilst we gasped in awe as Toucans flew over the trees on either side of the bank. Eventually the engine died down and Luis turned the boat around. Then it was time to jump in! The water of the river was surprisingly refreshing without being cold; we were then free to grab our noodles and let the relatively strong current of the Miranda river take us. It was wonderfully relaxing and also a great opportunity to chat with the other guests. Overall a fantastic start to the array of Pantanal tour activities on offer.

Night Safari & Cayman spotting

Pink lightning storms in the far distance, fireflies in the river bank hedges and more stars in the night sky then we had ever seen. This was a  beautiful evening for a boat ride.  Watching the sunset was amazing and so peaceful; sitting in silence reflecting on the day and enjoying the scenery. As the boat zoomed back to the lodge, Luis turned on the searchlight and began scanning the river banks, looking out for the tell-tale signs of the speckled cayman – orange eyes. Having only caught glimpses for the most part, we were amazed when the boat slowed down and drifted into a patch of reeds right next to the lodge; sure enough there was a cayman just lying in the water.  It was the first of what would be many cayman sightings over the next few days!

Horse Riding

This was a first for me, having never ridden a horse before. In fact I’d go so far as to say I was  a bit scared of horses to be honest! We jumped on the back of a jeep, rattled down a dusty stoney road constantly on the look out for deer, birds and other small mammals and arrived at another Pantanal lodge/ranch.  We were kitted out, introduced to our mounts and given some brief instructions on how to make it go, stop and change direction.

Pantanal Tour Activities - Horse Riding

As a first time horse rider it was perfect as the horses were very well trained so no riding knowledge was needed. The ride took us through flooded fields where the water reached the horses under belly, through small woodland where we met wild cows and across muddy tracks. Overall it lasted about an hour to an hour and a half and we saw plenty more wildlife including some rare hyacinth macaws.

Canoeing

If you’re staying right next to a really long river, it would be remiss not to get out on it and canoe. So on the second evening we were really happy that we would get the chance to do. After a long ride in the boat up the river we carefully climbed into the canoes.

Pantanal Tour Activities - Canoeing

We were pretty much left to our own devices from this point. We were free to power down the river using the current and paddle power, or we could veer from side to side trying to spot an elusive capybara. The sun began to set as we approached the lodge which was a lovely end to the day’s activities.

Boat ride & swimming

This was probably our least favourite Pantanal tour activity out of all of them. The whole group jumped in the boat and we motored down the Miranda river (something which by now we had down countless times already). This time we went much further, past the point where it meets the Red River. After stopping to look at a monkey in the tree, which was too small to see properly, and gazing over a heron nesting ground we headed back. On our return trip Luis banked the boat and we had a chance to get out an swim for a while.

C got caught in the current and had to be rescued to avoid her being swept off down stream!

Piranha Fishing

Pantanal Tour Activities - D Piranha Fishing

This is something that I was really excited about (C not so much!). After a brief jeep ride down the bumpy track we jumped off and were given our rods. They were really long, simple bamboo poles with a line attached ending in a small hook. Luis showed us how to do it: 1. Attach chunk of raw meat to hook. 2. Dangle in water. 3. Wait for a tug on the line. 4. Yank!

Despite getting off to a very unsuccessful start, in the end I caught two piranhas! After a very quick photo we carefully put the fish back in the water. It was good fun, competing against the other guests to see who could catch the most. The fish were quite scary looking too!

guided wildlife walk

On the final morning we were taken for a guided wildlife walk. This was a chance to spot some of the wildlife we hadn’t yet had a chance to see. Luis our guide, who was born and raised in the Pantanal, had an uncanny knack of spotting well camouflaged critters. From Coati’s and monkeys to armadillos and cayman. It was a great way to end our Pantanal Tour Activities.

the wildlife

If we’re honest, you need to visit to truly appreciate the beauty and sheer amount of wildlife surrounding you. We would wake up in the morning to the sound of howler monkeys in the trees. Birdsong was continuous throughout the day; a family of Capybaras would nest on the bank right in front of our room. When seeing a sunbathing Cayman and flying toucans become normal, you know you’re in a paradise. Below is just a small selection of the wildlife just waiting for you:-

Pantanal Tour Activities - Wildlife

Which of these Pantanal tour activities would you be most excited about? What is your favourite animal to spot whilst travelling? Get in touch in the comments below.

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Australia quirks

It’s time for another instalment of our ‘Quirks of…’ series. This time we’re looking at the weird and wonderful aspects of the land down under – Australia Quirks.

Australia was somewhere I had wanted to visit since I was little. It was a magical places, so far away filled with strange animals and places I’d heard about on travel programs. In actual fact it is a strange mix of England and America with a little something extra (I supposed you’d call it Australian) thrown in. Continue reading

Open Water Diver Course – The Lowdown

Scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef is top of our bucket list. In order to do this, we obviously need to be able to scuba dive.  C qualified seven years ago but I had only ever done a try-dive in a swimming pool.  So when we arrived in Phuket I knew it was time to get my Open Water Diver certification.

The course is split into three sections:- knowledge development (theory), confined water dives (swimming pool) and open water dives (in the sea). Continue reading

Photo Friday: Big Trees, CA

One of the things that we love about the US is their tendency to name things as they are. Some examples that Brits will understand are sidewalk (pavement), flashlight (torch) and washcloth (flannel).

This trend is evident in naming places too – Mike’s Pizza is a Pizzeria, Kelly’s Drug Store sells cosmetics and fills prescriptions.

Last weekend we visited the aptly named Big Trees. Featuring a whole load of big trees.

Big Trees Continue reading

‘Gator Ahoy! – An Airboat Ride on the Everglades

Everyone knows that you can’t visit Florida, without taking an airboat ride on the everglades  see the alligators in the Everglades.  In fact, at least three different people suggested that it was the ‘one thing we needed to make sure we did’, when we mentioned that we would be visiting Miami.

And if you want to see the vast, open, grassy, watery expanse of the Everglades up close and personal, the only way to do it is on an airboat.

airboat ride on the Everglades - airboat Continue reading

Bolivian Salt Flats Tour – The Lowdown on What to Expect

A few weeks ago our Photo Friday post focused on the Uyuni Salt Flats.  One of the highlights of any trip to Bolivia is seeing and experiencing this bleached white expanse. “But what else does a four day Bolivian Salt Flats tour involve?”, we hear you asking. “What do you eat? Where do you stay? How much will it cost?”

To help you decide if this is something you would like to do (or if you’re just curious), we have tried to answer these and other questions based on our experience of the tour – starting in Tupiza and finishing in Uyuni. Note that you can do an Uyuni-Uyuni circular trip which will be entirely different, as you miss out the cool stuff we saw on the first couple of days!
Continue reading