A nice day for nice people

Wim and Sandra Berends

We have seen many different kinds of macaws in the wild, but that one was still missing from our list. The hyacinth macaw, you know: the blue parrot from the movie Rio. The place where we see this beautiful bird is the Pantanal in Brazil. We already had excellent experiences with Sapa Pana Travel before, which made us decide to ask them again to plan another beautiful trip for us. Because if we do go to Brazil, we would like to see even more beautiful birds.

We start the trip in Rio and sleep in hotel Mama Ruisa in the Santa Teresa district. What a nice place and we are spoiled. A great view over the city, beautiful art on the wall and design in the rooms. Santa Teresa is an oasis of green in a metropolis of millions and already before breakfast we spot the first toucans and parrots. The lady at the reception gives great tips on where to go, calls taxis and arranges atmospheric restaurants. Don't be frightened by all the negative stories about crime in Rio de Janeiro. The city is easy to visit without a guide and the atmosphere is cheerful and relaxed.

What a nice place and what a pampered place. A great view over the city, beautiful art on the wall and design in the rooms.

But we have to move on, because our destination is in the Pantanal. After a couple of domestic flights the guide of Araras Ecolodge is waiting for us at the airport in Cuiaba. He will be our guide for the next five days. There are no other people, so we have a private guide for ourselves. And another one with an enormous knowledge of birds and there are quite a few of them in the Pantanal. Not entirely green on bird watching, we eventually spot over a hundred species we haven't seen before. What a feast! Where my husband is a real birdwatcher, mammals are my favourite and I am not disappointed either; capybaras, monkeys, coati's, agouti's, guinea pigs, tapirs, otters, anteaters. And then, of course, the thousands of caimans; they are photogenic and not scary at all . We see the hyacinth macaw in abundance. In the wild, but also in the lodge, because that is where Blu, the house macaw, lives. He was part of a programme to return captured birds to the wild, but refuses to leave. As our guide said: "I don't think Blu knows he is a blue macaw". Other highlights of our days in the Pantanal are undoubtedly the discovery of two anacondas. Even for the most seasoned guide, this is special, as they are spotted at most twice a year.

On the last full day we go in search of the jaguar. For that we have to go even deeper into the Pantanal. First for an hour or two by car and then on a boat to explore the river. After seven hours of searching, if we start to lose courage, we finally get a signal over the radio that one has been spotted in about twenty minutes of sailing. A female who is busy hunting along the riverbank. We see her sneaking up on capybaras from the long grass, but secretly I am a little relieved that the capybaras are always on time with the jaguar. For a full hour we can follow her along the bank. What a mighty beast. Much bigger than her cousin, the African leopard. Satisfied we return home, to the lodge. The Araras Ecolodge is a beautiful place and an excellent choice of Petra, our travel specialist at Sapa Pana Travel. Nice rooms (with air conditioning), sweet people and delicious food. And above all a beautiful environment. We just spot most of the animals on the grounds of the lodge. Sitting quietly on the terrace the wildlife passes you by.

A female that is busy hunting along the riverbank. What a mighty beast .

As icing on the cake, we fly on to Iguaçu. The waterfalls on the border with Argentina. We arrive at night and when we wake up the next morning it is cloudy. We quickly walk to the waterfalls and find them beautiful and impressive, but we are not as lyrical as we read in the booklets. In the course of the morning our guide comes to pick us up for a trip to the Argentine side of the waterfalls. On the way he stops at a huge tax-free shop, so we can buy a shirt of the Brazilian the football team for the home front. When we arrive at the waterfalls the sun breaks through and a breathtaking sight is created. Rainbows and sparkles everywhere. Perhaps one of the most beautiful things we have ever seen. We are almost a little moved. We have a nice conversation with the guide about the sun that makes everything so much more beautiful and we refer to the primal Dutch proverb: The sun rises for nothing. He tells us that people in Brazil look at it in a different way. They say: "A nice day for nice people". Well, we fully agree with that.

The next morning he comes to pick us up again, this time early, so we can take a good look at the Brazilian side before we fly home again. Our hotel is in the national park, so we can enjoy all that beauty in front of the big crowd. On the boardwalk, where an hour later thousands of people will be walking again, the two of us enjoy the violence of nature and the rainbows one more time. And then on our way home, with a head full of beautiful experiences and a memory card full of beautiful pictures.

Warm regards from Wim and Sandra Berends

Travel through Brazil?

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