Pantanal to Bonito

Today we had some final activities at Lontra Pantanal Hotel before being transferred to Bonito (as part of our trip booked via Pantanal Viagens and Turismo).

We awoke at 6am and had breakfast around 6:25am. The scrambled eggs were almost gone, but we both opted to take the remainder. Katie’s had a good bit of eggshell, which was disappointing.

We left for our final activities at 8:05am: a boat ride up river and canoeing. We went 20? kilometers up river to a house where we were told to walk in a field and see capybara. We walked through a muddy (and probably snake-infested) field for a while while our guide prepared the canoes. We saw no capybara or – thankfully – snakes. Then we got back in the boat and towed the string of canoes upstream. JT was told to tie off the boat to a tree when we got to the launch spot. It seems that spot is a random spot in the bushes – as that is where we crashed into at a decent clip. JT got pretty beat up by the branches, but surprisingly didn’t bleed. From there, we loaded from the motor boat into the canoes. The canoes were lightweight and strangely shaped, so they felt very easy to tip. The paddles they gave us did not even have a T-grip! They looked more like row boat paddles than canoe paddles. At least we managed to get metal paddles instead of the wood paddle that looked to be splinter-central.

When canoeing we decided it was best if JT balanced the boat full-time in the front and Katie did all the paddling and steering from the back. It seemed it would have been super easy to flip the canoe – as each stroke by Katie would substantially rock the boat.

The man and boy from the Belgian family came across what they thought was a dead alligator (as it was belly-up) and decided to poke at it. Well, it was definitely alive and when they poked it with a paddle it quickly sprung to life, splashed around and swam under their boat and they somehow kept from tipping. Katie had to take very light strokes to keep from tipping. Even with the questionable canoe and paddles, she enjoyed being back in a canoe for the first time since guide school last January. JT on the other hand was stressed during the entire ride and was glad when it was over. The canoe part lasted for about 30 minutes.

Somehow we lucked into front row seats on the boat for the ride back to the hotel. The wind felt good and we had great views since no one was in front of us. We even saw five monkeys on the way back, as well as lots of birds and alligators. This was the first activity at Lontra Pantanal Hotel that Katie had wished would continue longer. We arrived back at the hotel at 10:30am and hence had 1.5 free hours before lunch. We sat by the river and watched the birds for much of this time, but bees kept swarming around us and bothered us. Meanwhile, the workers in the dining hall were playing music videos from the US – most of which made JT embarrassed to be from the same country. We tried to distance ourselves from the music by pulling out our Chromebook and putting on headphones listening to a Enhanced Sessions podcast

On a side note, the group going on the ‘jeep safari’ this morning actually got to go in the open air truck instead of the bus. Perhaps this is because the bus is broken, or maybe it is because a member of that group has openly claimed to be a tour guide for Germans and the hotel wanted him to have a good experience.

Lunch was served on time, and Katie had lettuce, cucumbers, black olives, rice, and a potato and eggs dish. We both agreed that the potato and eggs dish really needed seasoning, as it was terribly bland.

After lunch we went to the dorm, showered, and packed. JT joked that our shower had two settings – “on” and “dripping”. No one ever seemed to be able to turn the shower completely off. We paid our R$22.50 bill for water (5x 1.5 liter bottles at R$4.50 each), and left at 2pm along with one of the other couples from our group. The third couple and the family from our group were staying for a third night. It is now official that our dorm was not cleaned or trash emptied before our arrival or at any point during our two night stay – although housekeeping did enter to remove our roommates’ sheets after they left.

For the transfer to the Buraco das Piranhas transfer point we actually got to take the open air truck. It was quite dusty when we drove behind another lodge’s truck – which we hurried up to and passed at a high speed. The ride was a bit rough when we were going 67 km/hour in what seemed to be a 15 km/hour area of the dirt park road. But, it would have been much better than the painted bus for wildlife viewing as the truck was quieter and it gave you a taller, unobstructed view.

At the transfer point a toucan greeted us. We loaded into a van with 5 other people and the driver and set off for Bonito at 2:30pm. There was a German girl in the van who was on a 6 month trip through South America who had stayed in a dorm at Pousada Santa Clara and said it was great. We further regretted our choice of lodge.

We stopped at the Zero Hora in Miranda again, but this time it was a quicker stop. We picked up a family of 5 at this stop, leading to a more crowded (and very hot) van with 11 people in 16 seats. JT noticed that someone had stuffed trash in the AC vent that should have been blowing cold air to his seat. Using a pen, he was able to push the trash away, providing a less-hot ride.

Despite the transfer being run by a Bonito guesthouse, the van dropped us at our chosen accommodation: Papaya Hostel (R$200 for private double with private bath for two nights on We checked in with the UK-native owner with no issues, and walked into the city to find an ATM and some drugs for Katie’s sore throat. Then we headed back to use the hostel’s pool before it closed at 8pm. The pool was pretty cold, so although JT got in (eventually) Katie just put her legs in.

Around 8pm we changed and went to eat dinner at Gugu Lanches, which comically has a logo with a baby eating a hamburger (get it? “goo-goo”). We split a half order of french fries, JT had a chicken sandwich with bacon and cheese, and Katie had a cheese sandwich. It was good, and relatively cheap.

Then we stopped at the grocery store to get lunch for tomorrow and a large jug of water. We stored our sandwiches for tomorrow in the common refrigerator at the hostel.

This bird caught a fish!

This bird was in the muddy field we walked through

We picked up the canoes here

Monkeys in a tree

Parrots at a feeder by the dining area

 Toucan at the transfer point

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