Bonito, Brazil

Swimming with sharp toothed ‘beasts’.

Okay so bare with me. We did our final truck clean this morning which involves cleaning the truck top to bottom and everything inside it. All done and beer in hand by 11.40am. I am now looking out of the hostel at beautiful hilly, lush rain forest which goes right down to the sea. However, it’s raining so I’ve continued drinking and thought I’d better get this written before I get carried away with Rio carnival in just four days time.

Brazil is odd, I think I love it. I think it’s what West Africa would be like if developed and so I probably love it because it has that tropical West African feel but don’t find it so exciting because it’s rarther developed. But ultimately it is beautiful and everyone is great. The place is so green and lush. The locals have obviously taken a lot off the land from the forest but I always get this sense that the forest wants it back as there are trees poking up anywhere they get chance! This great urge for things to grow means that Brazil is quite awesome at growing crops hence why so much rain forest has been flattened over the years. I don’t know if the Amazon is being flattened as quickly as ten years ago but it’s quite obvious that Brazil want to be at the forefront of being environmentally friendly. Yes I’m surprised to be saying that as well and I know they have a lot of industry that doesn’t do much good but: A lot of their energy (the majority if some reports are to believe) comes form hydroelectric, they are growing hundreds of thousands of acres of sugar cane for bio fuel and there are huge tree farms everywhere as well. Not to mention they have colour coded recycle bins absolutely everywhere. It is ironic because bio fuel directly competes with food supply and crappy trees are being grown and farmed in place of lush, exotic and, diverse jungle BUT as a passer by it looks like they acknowledge some kind of environmental responisbility.

So less flower power and more scarey (thats a lie) animal stuff. We spent several days in the Panatanal which is the largest wetland in the world and I can safely say it wasn’t very wet. They normally have three seasons, dry, wet and flood but, last year it didn’t flood and so they are a bit short of water as you will see in the pictures with all the caymans huddled in one little pond of water. A cayman incidentally is a kind of crocodile but not as big or aggresive, in fact thay are kinda like kittens! Our first day started with a boat trip on one of the rivers that still had water and it was jolly nice, with birds, caymans and big guinea pig things everywhere. We then pulled up and did a spot of piranah fishing. To give you an idea of how many piranah were there, some of the guys caught eight or nine within half an hour. I caught two, plus three more that jumped off the hook before I got time to get the guide to knife them to death. I don’t particually like fishing as a sport but as we were going to eat them I could live with that (they weren’t very meaty). As we were fishing there were a few sneaky caymans hanging around but that didn’t stop the guide from jumping in for a swim. This got me thinking, if I jumped off the boat I could get a photo of me jumping in with two caymans in the background looking at me which would be epic. So I got mentally prepared to be eaten alive by piranahs and cayman and got ready to jump. Just as I was about to, the guide shouted at me not to. Why I hear you ask? Otters! Four of them playfully swam past. They were huge and apparently quite nasty buggers, more likely to attack you than caymans. By the time they had swam by and I had jumped in, the caymans had moved to behind the boat out of sight of the cameras so now I have no proof of what I did which, is sad.

The temperature was pushing 40oC so in the middle of the day we lounged in hammocks and sat in the pool. In the afternoon we went on a horse ride which wasn’t anything crazy but was a good way to see a bit more of the area. The next day was more of the same. In the morning we went for a hike around the the pockets of rain forest and saw monkeys. The guides found a male anaconda not far from our lodge which was pretty sweet. It’s not so big because apparently it’s the females that get really big, up to 10m in length. The evening was spent having a bit of a drive and walk looking for jaguars which are seen relatively often but that night wasn’t to be for us. The best we got were tarantulas and caymans but still a jolly good trip out. All in all the Panatanal was an excellent experience.

We then headed to Bonito where we snorkelled in the Rio Prata. Rio means river, so we snorkelled in the Prata river. The Rio Prata is supposed to be the clearest river in the world thanks to sand and the way it gets filtered or something like that. I can’t argue, you could see loads, apparently visability is up to 40m which is believable. The obvious benefit was you could see lots of fish. The highlight for me though was the location, just imagine this crystal clear river running through the rain forest, it was beautiful with no noise other than that of the forest. We just floated along for about two hours, it was jolly lovely.

Brazil is certainly a beautiful place to be!

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