Last summer, Wildfoot’s Sara embarked on an incredible wildlife-spotting trip to Brazil, recording the highlights of her holiday for your enjoyment. We have been sharing her daily journal entries on the Wildfoot blog. Today, Sara goes jaguar spotting, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Today is serious! We have a fast speed boat for the whole day and a local guide named Wilson. And we have one thing in common – jaguar spotting!
The Pantanal, which means swamp or marsh in Portuguese, is the largest continental wetland in the world and is simply beautiful. I can think of nothing I’d rather be doing than cruising its maze of channels, under a perfect blue sky, in search of one of the most charismatic creatures to grace the New World.
In the wet season, 80% of the Pantanal floods, with water levels rising as high as three metres, but we are visiting in the dry season when water levels are significantly lower, causing the wildlife to congregate on the river edge and making sightings much more likely.
Lodge researchers have documented many jaguars to be living in close vicinity of Porto Jofre and are so confident that we will strike lucky, that some of the lodges have started offering a ‘money back guarantee’ if we don’t see one, which gives me great hope for the days ahead.
Luckily we do not have to wait too long before Wilson gets a call on the radio and, despite the linguistic challenge, we know immediately a jaguar has been spotted. It turns out to be a mother with an elderly cub!
I can’t believe my luck! We have been on the water no more than a couple of hours, and we don’t have one, but two of these beautiful creatures in front of us!
We spend some time with them before they decide to settle down behind some dense foliage for the day, somewhat obstructing our view, so we decide to try our luck by venturing downstream a bit further.
The wildlife is everywhere, caiman at every turn, heron and kingfishers bombing the water, capybara looking nervous in and out of the water. We even catch sight of a troupe of black howler monkeys and a very timid red brocket, a not-so-common deer species.
Just as we’re going to call it lunch, we get a message over the radio that another jaguar has been spotted. Once again, the jaguar has decided to seek shade from the blistering midday sun in some long grass so the view isn’t great, but I’m not ungrateful after seeing three in the same morning.
We spend the rest of the afternoon flipping between the two sightings in case either has decided to spring into action, but it’s not to be. We finally call it a day as the sun sets around us and head back to the lodge for a few Caipirinhas to celebrate. What a day!