Pantantal, Brazil 2013: Part 2, River Otters, Caiman, and Birds…Oh My!

Full Disclosure:  I was not financially compensated for this post.  We received a small discount for professional courtesy from Southwild.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience. 

Please visit my previous post for Part 1 one our trip.

I am not sure why Tristan decided to go "gangsta" in the Pantanal. Maybe it was the heat?

I am not sure why Tristan decided to go “gangsta” in the Pantanal. Maybe it was the heat?

Giant River Otters

People go to the Pantanal for jaguars.  No question about it.  But there is no denying that there are so many other wildlife to appreciate while riding out in the boats on the river system.  One morning, Paolo, our guide, heard that a family of river otters was swimming about half an hour boat ride upstream from where the latest jaguar sighting had been radio-ed to him.  He gave us a choice to head towards the guaranteed jaguar sighting or to go find the river otters, with the understanding that if we went to the otters we would not see jaguars that morning.  We chose to go after the river otters.  I am so glad we did!  I loved watching these interactive, highly-social, intelligent, energized little creatures.  They make so many noises and are always moving!  The first time we followed the river otters, the group consisted of 8 individuals, including the babies.  At one point, they backtracked because they had left one of the babies behind.  The adults were making some agonizing noises, and I was afraid the baby had been lost or killed.  But it turned out he had caught a fish and had stayed behind to avoid sharing it.  His family was not happy when they caught on to his act!  After swimming for a couple of hours, the family climbed on to a beach on the river bank and took a nice nap under the cool shade of the trees.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a "point and shoot" Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a “point and shoot” Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a "point and shoot" Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a “point and shoot” Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a "point and shoot" Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a “point and shoot” Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a "point and shoot" Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a “point and shoot” Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a "point and shoot" Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a “point and shoot” Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a "point and shoot" Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a “point and shoot” Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a "point and shoot" Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a “point and shoot” Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a "point and shoot" Nikon Coolpix L110.

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a “point and shoot” Nikon Coolpix L110.

River otters with fish, Pantanal, Brazil

River otters with fish, Pantanal, Brazil

River otters with fish, Pantanal, Brazil

River otters with fish, Pantanal, Brazil

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil

Giant River Otter, Pantanal, Brazil

On another river otter sighting, we followed a family along one of the shallow channels of the river system.  They are so cute!

Caiman

While on a river otter sighting, I learned to respect the shallow channels off the main river system.  Since it is hotter along the channels as there is less breeze, Kara decided to dip her feet in the water.  A few seconds later, a caiman popped underneath her foot!  She quickly pulled her feet back in the boat, but was pretty shaken up.  Paolo and I nearly had heart attacks too, as neither one of us had realized she had her feet in the water.  Paolo proceeded to tell us that we could dip our feet in the fast-moving, wide river, but not in the slow-moving channels, where the caiman can go up the boat.  He said tourists and guides have lost feet and hands to caiman. People tend to underestimate caiman because they do have the reputation of being much less aggressive than their alligator and crocodile cousins.  But they are still wild animals and we need to have a healthy respect for them.  I got a few good shots of caiman.  These were actually Tristan’s favorite Pantanal animal.  Kara was less fond of them for some reason…

Caiman, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a "point and shoot" Nikon Coolpix L110.

Caiman, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a “point and shoot” Nikon Coolpix L110.

We spent some time in the shallower channels of the river.

We spent some time in the shallower channels of the river.

Caiman, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a "point and shoot" Nikon Coolpix L110.

Caiman, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a “point and shoot” Nikon Coolpix L110.

Birds

Paolo was clearly an avid birder.  Even when everyone else was enthralled with a jaguar, he would point out and watch the many, many types of birds that inhabit the Pantanal.  I am not a birder, but I appreciated the diversity and beauty of the birds in the area.  I did not get a lot of bird photos because I only have a “point and shoot” Nikon Coolpix L110.  I was grateful for the binoculars I was sharing with Chris, though, so I could see the birds more clearly.

Kingfisher, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a "point and shoot" Nikon Coolpix L110.

Kingfisher, Pantanal, Brazil. Photo taken with a “point and shoot” Nikon Coolpix L110.

Mama and baby skimmers. This photo was taken on the same river bank where the jaguar attacked the caiman in that famous viral video. Link at the end of this post.

Mama and baby skimmers. This photo was taken on the same river bank where the jaguar attacked the caiman in that famous viral video. Link at the end of this post.

Stay tuned for more pictures and updates of our Pantanal Trip.

Pura Vida!

About Noemi Gamel

Noemi Gamel is a physician who prefers writing diverse children's fantasy stories instead of medical charts. She is a geeky nomad, too.
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