After spending last summer on a wildlife viewing Brazilian adventure, Sara from Wildfoot is documenting her experiences on our blog. Today, Sara travels to Pantanal and spots a young ocelot.
Today we’re on the move again, and this time, our destination is one of the most renowned eco lodges in the Pantanal, situated approximately halfway between Porto Jofre and Cuiaba.
However, there is still time for two more jaguar sightings in the morning, as a 20-minute boat transfer to dock quickly becomes three hours of jaguar viewing!
We meet two female jaguars named Patricia and Iris. Patricia we had seen previously, but Iris is a new one for the tally and is beautifully positioned in an open area. She seems completely at ease despite there being almost 20 boats jostling for a good view and allows each and every one of us to fill our memory cards with photos before finally retreating into the undergrowth, a great sighting to end with.
Once more, we are on our way to the dock where I am met by Bronco, who is going to take me on the next leg of the journey, which is a three-hour drive along the Transpantaneira to Southwild Pantanal Lodge.
The eco lodge was once a traditional cattle ranch comprising 3,500 hectares of flooded lands at the end of the Pixaim River, but today it is regarded as giving one of the best wildlife experiences anywhere in Brazil.
On arrival, I quickly notice it has not lost its original, rustic ranch charm, whether in terms of the physical building structure or its staff, with all of the guys donning cowboy hats. Before arriving, I had heard rumours that the food was some of the best to be found anywhere in the region, and lunch certainly doesn’t disappoint.
In the afternoon, I opt for a bit of a walking safari, which was perhaps in a bid to ease the guilt of having second helpings at lunch! We start with a visit to the observation tower, which has been carefully positioned next to a jabiru stork nest that has been used for the past decade. On reaching the top, it becomes clear that there are five very small chicks in it. It’s really interesting to see the interaction between the two parents and their chicks at close quarters, watching them take it in turn to gather food for the waiting hungry mouths.
Although I could sit and watch this family of storks all day I drag myself away to go on a night walk, which proves to be a very good decision as we strike lucky spotting a beautiful young female ocelot. Although I came to Brazil with high expectations of seeing jaguars, not for one moment did I expect to see one of these highly elusive nocturnal small cats, so it is a real bonus!
Pleased by this unexpected success, we return for a delicious dinner. The food at Santa Tereza is really some of the very best the Pantanal has to offer!