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Trip Reports:

Jaguars and the Wildlife of the Pantanal
Trip One

Read the reports for
The Summary of all three trips
Trip Two
and the
Southern Pantanal Extensionn


Receding high water characterized the first tour, caused by unusual heavy rains in both June and July. Although the river level fell continuously during the tour, ponds and wetlands in the flats beyond and between the river banks kept most of the Caiman and Capybara away, and Jaguar sightings were more difficult as the cats had no reason to hunt the river shoreline. Still, we had a total of 14 Jaguars, and a few very good sessions, but we were also encumbered by the high-speed power boats that would zoom along, racing from one reported Jaguar to another. Some of these boats approached too closely to Jaguars, apparently as the guide attempted to please their tourists, and the normally uncaring cats often retreated away from the river banks.

kingfihFor the first time in seven years we had participants arrive without their luggage, as their US flight was cancelled. In their rerouting one person's luggage arrived two days later, while another's arrived on the morning that she was leaving the Pantanal for home! That, obviously, was the low point of the tour as we received no satisfaction from anyone about the location of the missing luggage. The airlines were terrible in that regard.

Despite these setbacks the trip was quite successful, with two people, Mike and Steve, getting the best Brazilian Tapir pictures we've ever had, and everyone photographing both a Lesser Anteater, aka Tamandua, and a Giant Anteater, the first time in all these trips I've photographed either in the northern Pantanal. In fact, for the Tamandua, I'd only seen one previously, and that was in Panama. The Giant Anteater was incredibly tame, and would approach so closely that we had to back up to avoid this improbable-looking creature from actually sniffing us!

Check out our Jaguars and the Wildlife of the Pantanal book.

The following is the daily journal of the trip:

Day 1 – Arrival in Sao Paulo to Cuiaba to Curicaca, Pantanal

7 of our 10 passengers arrived on time, but Tom, Kathy, and another participant whose flight was scheduled for just an hour after mine from Atlanta, was cancelled, perhaps because of storms. They had only three hours sleep before returning to the airport for an expected 8AM departure, but that was cancelled, too. Tom ended up having to fly back to New York for a flight that evening to Sao Paulo, while another participant, in frustration, simply cancelled, and Kathy flew still another route. What a mess!
Our drive to the Pantanal went uneventfully, as Marcos filled me in on the odd weather, concerning the two big rain storms that occured in June and July, during what should have been the height of the drought. Consequently, as we neared the Pantanal there was water everywhere, and when we reached the Park entrance only a few baby Caimans greeted us. Normally there are only small pools and plenty of concentrated wildlife here, but today water was abundant and the usual game was scarce. After a quick stop for a photo of the entrance we continued on towards our lodge.
A vehicle that had stopped ahead of us caught our attention, and we soon saw why. A Giant Anteater was mossying along through the wet pasture, in great afternoon light in a low grass field. The anteater continued to move away from the road but we were treated to a great look, showing the huge, brushy tail, and the vivid black collar band that extends down behind the neck. We’d seen a few tantalizing short, vegetation-obstructed views of anteaters on a few trips in the past, but never like this, the best we’d ever had in the northern Pantanal.

We arrived at our lodge just at dusk, around 5:30, with a huge orange full moon rising between the distant silhouetted trees. Darkness fell quickly, and I quickly disassembled Mary’s packing to find one of my Range IR camera traps, which I set out on the same trail I tried last year. Then, I only had one poor, backend view of a crab-eating raccoon. I positioned the camera on the opposite side of the trail this time, but perhaps too much into the trail itself. We shall see. Dinner, great roasted chicken, was served at 7:30 and at 9 I was finished reorganizing the equipment and duffles, and Skyped Mary for a wonderful evening recap.

Day 2 - Curicaca to Pouso Alegre

wMy game camera had nothing – no activity at all, and ants were around the bait I’d placed by the Range IR. With the high water, the Spectacled Caimans that are usually clustered on the shores of the lodge were absent, and oddly, the Coatimundis that usually are here were gone as well. A shy Agouti would come in but scampered off before we could photograph it, but we did have luck with Bare-faced Currasows, and a Chestnut-bellied Guan was about, but not while we were shooting. I walked down to the trail head where I’d set the Range IR and en route found a lone but quite visible Brown Capuchin Monkey, and a bit further along an Owl’s Eye Butterfly that perched on a sapling along the roadside.


After breakfast we took the open truck to head back to the main road and the open water, hoping for some bird life. Along the way Steve spotted a Lesser Collared Anteater, or Tamandua, along a fence line, and within seconds it almost disappeared into an isolated cluster of small bushes and a scraggly tree. We got out of the truck and approached, circling around the tree as we tried to get a good look at the anteater. We managed some poor views, but when we backed off it climbed out of the tree and, unexpectedly, walked away from us and into a fenced tpasture. Fortunately our guide, Marcos, saw it, and he and our bus driver got over the fence to head the tamandua off before it disappeared. It immediately stood on its hind legs, forelimbs outstretched, in the classic pose of defense – a posture that says, come close, and I’ll rip a hole through you! That didn’t work, so the anteater started walking again, right to us, barely pausing when the driver held his hat out a few inches from the animal. We decided to leave it be, but the anteater turned around and walked back along the fence yet again, and finally out into the pasture, providing another great round of shooting. This was only the second tamandua I’ve ever seen, and the first in the Pantanal, and it was superb.


We checked out the open water but it was practically vacant of birds, so we returned to the lodge early enough to pack for the next leg, Pouso Alegre, where we’d spend another night. We hadn’t even unpacked when our driver ran to my aroom to tell me a Giant Anteater was out in the open. When I arrived, it was nosing about next to a bicycle, and a few minutes later it almost walked right into me. A friend of mine was there with another group and he said the anteater had been there for the past three days, incredibly tame. We spent the next 45 minutes with it before we too had to leave to check out a pond where, in the past, we’d had good luck with Tapirs.
Unfortunately two different groups of hikers were roaming the forest where the tapir might appear and we waited 1.5 hours without anything but a few birds awarding our vigil. Some of the hikers sat down, in the open, a short distance from our truck, and talked quietly – but loud enough that I could often hear their voices at 50 yards. As you’d expect, no tapirs appeared.
We left at 5PM to drive towards the main road to start a night game drive, passing another Giant Anteater along the way. We didn’t even bother shooting – something almost unheard of before this afternoon's session. Later, as darkness settled, we had a small band of Collared Peccarry feeding in an open field, and a band of Coatimundis right at dusk, but neither presented good photo ops.

rHowever, a Crab-eating Raccoon certainly did offer shooting opportunities, returning again and again to a small area of pond where, it seemed, he had cleaned out the vegetation for a fishing hole. The raccoon would wander a short distance off, turn around, and behind rooting in the open patch again, as if he might be driving prey into the open pool. We managed some very nice shots, the best I’ve ever had with that mammal.
At dinner we were joined by Tom and Kathy, who finally arrived, and both of them were missing luggage! Tom’s route went from Pittsburg to Atlanta, then a cancelled flight there, then a flight to LaGuardia, then to JFK, then to Sao Paulo. Kathy went from Las Vegas to Atlanta, then to Orlando, then to Miami to Sao Paulo! It was a terrible ordeal, but they arrived, and the rest of the trip will go far more smoothly from here!

Day 3. Pouso Alegre to South Wild Lodge

I awoke at 5AM, tired from an unexpected and extremely painful bout with a leg/foot cramp that had me awake shortly after I had fallen asleep. Although the sun was up it was still pre-sunrise in feeling, as some clouds in the east masked the sun. I checked out the long elevated walkway over a swamp where I was told Marsh Deer are often seen, but none were present.
Returning, I worked the grounds, along with everyone else, as various folks chased Hyacinth Macaws, giant Woodcreepers, Brown Capuchin Monkeys, and several parrots. We went for a hunt of Black-tailed Marmosets and although we saw several, they raced through the trees and offered no opportunity for photography. sAfter breakfast, the lodge owner brought out a Bothrops Viper, related to the Fer-de-lance which we positioned on a bed of leaves and got some very nice portraits. At 9AM we headed to one of the few active Jabiru Storks present this year, and after an hour’s wait an adult came in and regurgitated a slurry of water and small fish for the two huge chicks.
We lingered at the lodge, hoping that the Giant Anteater would return before we left, but it did not, although as consolation we had a small group of Greater Rheas that foraged right by us, too close even for a 200mm lens.

We arrived at South Wild by 3PM, and I suggested that if anyone needed a rest afternoon, this would be the time, as on the river, for jaguars, no one would wish to miss a day. Everyone, but especially Tom and Kathy who had the ordeal of missed flights, took the rest. Only Steve and Mike went out, to photograph a Greater Potoo, while the rest stayed behind. They succeeded in photographing the Potoo, but also enjoyed the Kingfishers in the quiet water of this river. However, the highlight was a Brazilian Tapir that swam across the river and moved about near the shoreline, sometimes only 15 yards away! We’ve never had a tapir on the river here, although we have seen them on night game drives and I’ve seen tracks in the forest. That was exceptional, the shots were superb, and they were thrilled.

Brazilian Tapir Photos by Mike Johnson

I headed to the forest to set up two Range IR camera traps, but stupidly left wearing a T-shirt, not a long-sleeved shirt, and when I attempted to set up in the forest I was swarmed by mosquitos. I evacuated, going to the forest edge where I’ve had luck in the past and there Iset up two cameras at different locations, sometimes swiping away as many as ten mosquitos at a time from my bare arms. It was an ordeal, and whereas I normally stay to dusk to check, once the gear was working I left!
I arrived in time to still catch a boat to check out an Ibis and Cattle Egret evening roost, and although the Ibises were a bit disappointing, the egrets swirling around against a colorful western sky were very good. I returned to a lodge in darkness, with an unexpected power failure, but as I showered, via a headlamp, the power came on. Tomorrow, after retrieving the cameras, we’re heading to the Jaguars!


Day 4. South Wild to the Flotel, and Jaguar country

I left the lodge at 6AM with Marcos to collect the camera traps. Nothing had fired the beam, except some insects and a Southern Caracara, probably shortly after I left. One Range IR had flopped down from the flimsy tabletop tripod I was used, triggering misfires that finished the card but the bait wasn’t taken and I know I missed nothing. Disappointing.

As we walked back I noticed the strange murkiness of the sky, which only increased through the morning. Shooting around the lodge was marginal with the low light, and at 8AM we headed southwest to Porto Joffre, for our boat to the Flotel. Hyacinth Macaws were at the nest, but with rain threatening and with the poor light we headed directly to the Flotel instead. By now it was clear an Antarctic Front had moved in, and the hot weather of the last few days has suddenly been replaced by cool, if not cold, air.
We left at 1:30PM for our afternoon boat safari, figuring that with the overcast and coolness that animals would be about. The Black Lagoon had a family of 6 Giant Otters that we followed, but they rarely paused long and most of the shots were of otters swimming or, in the distance, eating fish. The wind had blown shut the narrow boat corridor through the lagoon, so we headed up river along the Three Brothers looking for jaguars.
We saw nothing for hours, noting that the high water had begun to recede, with brown leaves spanning the river and marking high water and dark horizontal bands across trees where, just days earlier, the river was four feet higher. By 4PM the light, always extremely poor today, was very low, and the air surprisingly cold – justifying Mary’s packing list where we tell people to bring cold weather gear. Yesterday afternoon, the thought of cold weather would have seemed impossible – I baked in the forest as I fed the mosquitos while setting the camera traps. By 4, I was wearing my down jacket, windbreaker and rain pants, and I was still cold. The wind had kicked up and the wind chill, with the motor boat moving, made for very chilly conditions.
JAt 5:10PM we found a Jaguar, a female that walked along the bank and appeared for a few seconds multiple times. The river has dropped since my friend was here, and we were now looking up at the cat, but not at a very steep angle. The light was horrendous, and I was shooting at 1/250th at f4 with ISO 8000 to 3200, so the quality won’t be anything. However, we did get a jaguar on our first day, so the ice has been broken!

Day 5. Jaguar Country

KAM. We had 5 jaguar sightings this morning, but no photos. Val and Mike saw two, a juvenile and an adult in separate areas, while I had three – a quick sighting of a head of a jaguar swimming across the river soon after we started cruising, and a collared male following a female far up the Black Water lagoon. We had raced for about 15 minutes to get there, only to find about 15 boats a head of us jammed in the narrow channel in a long line. In a small clearing we saw the cats pass by, but the canopy of another boat quickly cut off that view. Disgusted by the crowd, we left.
The morning, however, was a good one, and we spent time with a Capybara family, and had the best shooting opportunity I’ve ever had with a American Pigmy Kingfisher, perched out in the open and oblivious to us.

PM. We headed back up the Lagoon, and this time our four boats were the only ones there (another smaller boat backed off to let us in). The female jaguar was lying asleep in the open, in partial sunlight, while almost unnoticed the collared male sat sphinx-like behind her. Steve didn’t even know the male was there until the female finally got up!
JThe female slept for 15 minutes or so, then awoke and rose to the sphinx position where she looked about, and looked quite concerned, actually, when the small boat’s tourists climbed the bank behind us for a better look. Luckily the jaguar didn’t run off. Instead, she finally walked over to the male and began nuzzling him, and he responded with an open mouth, growl-like pose. After several minutes of this she walked behind his tree, he followed, and they mated. Afterwards, he jumped off as she swatted at jhim, and then, after a few minutes of lying on her back, paws akimbo in the air, the female led the male into the forest. We left, but another group came in and waited, and we heard that eventually the cats reappeared for some photos.
The rest of us continued on, and Kathy, Cheryl, and Sue spent over an hour at the Tern/Skimmer sandbar, photographing the birds and the caimans. My boat worked on a small Capybara family, but the young never climbed atop the adult as we hoped. In the morning this did happen, but the male Capybara blocked our view! A good posing Anhinga, and later a Prehensile-tailed Porcupine, in another slow, black water river, completed our day.

Day 6. Jaguar Country

AM. The front was gone, and the skies were cloudless but surprisingly the river wasn’t in fog, as I expected the warmer water generating a low fog layer in the cool air. Apparently it has been such a cold winter that the river, too, is cold, and hence produced no fog layer.
We headed up the Black Lagoon to check on the mating jaguars, but as I expected they were gone. Heading back out we encountered a group of six Giant Otters that were fishing, catching a fish every few minutes. Sometimes three or four otters would submerge, with every one coming up with a fish. Unfortunately there were no Ogood haul-outs and the otters ate either in the shade of tree roots or on the fly, making the shooting more difficult. Still, we spent the majority of the morning with them. As we were leaving a lone otter was on top of a bank, probably scent marking, and rolling about in the dirt, coating its fur with mud and dust. A few times the otter loped into the open, where it would inspect a tree, or leaves, or groom, offering some nice shots.
When we reached the main river we headed upstream, and soon encountered about ten boats parked mid-river. A few minutes later a Jaguar appeared, but the shooting was tough, and we had only a few windows between the heads of other tourists that were between us and the cat. jAfter it disappeared back into the reeds we parked on the opposite bank and waited, over an hour, but the cat never reappeared and we headed back for lunch.
Two of our boats had another Prehensile-tailed Porcupine, our fourth or fifth, and others did well with Giant Otters, too. My boat was the only one to see a jaguar this morning, but our count is now:
1 the first afternoon
5 in the morning of the 1st full day
2 in the evening (same mating pair – but new sighting)
1 in the morning of the 2nd full day
Total: 9
PM. We added another Jaguar sighting but those who saw it, including me, had only a brief view of its head in a shadowed opening along the river bank. Prior to our arrival two speedboats were within meters of the cat, and that proximity apparently drove the cat deeper into the bush. This is becoming a major problem. George, one of the most laid-back cats we’ve had – so much so that folks last year said they didn’t want any more photos of George! – hasn’t been seen, and supposedly had become shy because of the boats getting too close. Tonight there were 15-20 boats jockeying up and down the river, as someone reported another cat ahead. Each time the racing boats probably drove the cat from the river’s edge.

I really wonder if the wonderful habituation that the Pantanal fishermen inadvertently did, as they quietly fished along the river and ignored the cats, thus giving the cats growing confidence, is now being undone. When I first started visiting the Pantanal jaguars were still rather hard to see, and the first one I saw we practically crept up on byslowly and silently paddling up a quiet lagoon. Over the years the cats have become increasingly tame, and common, but as tourism seems to have exploded the competition to get close, to see a cat, is too reminiscent of India’s tiger fiasco, which was finally addressed with a whole new set of regulations. Charlie Munn has tried to initiate some type of guidelines with the various outfitters, but it looks as if, so far, he’s had very little success.

HOur afternoon started with another trip up the Black Lagoon to check on the mating couple, and while we were returning from that unsuccessful endeavor we received a radio call that a cat had been seen on the main river. We, too, sped up river for 20 minutes, where we met the traffic jam. We didn't see the cat.
We eventually abandoned that crowd, heading to Caiman Island where we photographed a large Caiman with its mouth open, yawning, and later, as we returned up river to scout, a beautiful White-necked Heron in Rembrandt light, and towards dusk, a nest with two juvenile Tiger-Herons sitting inside. I shot some landscapes/sunsets on the way back, and perhaps it was still too cool, for I saw no bats as we headed back to our boat.
Jaguar Count: 10

Day 7. Jaguar country

No jaguars this morning, although two different cats were spotted but by the time we arrived both had vanished. At lunch, some of the participants were lamenting about the lack of jaguars, and one did not believe me when I said we’ve had 10 sightings, although we have not been able to photograph them, except for three, and those shoots were marginal for most. The speedboats, and their insistence on getting close, seems to be spooking the jaguars and we are not seeing cats walking the river banks, although this may also be a function of the unusually high water we have this year.


SFor most, the morning’s shoot was very slow. My boat went up the Black Lagoon to look for the mating pair, which we did not see, but that was one of the cats that was later seen. Still, my boat did very well, as we lingered to photograph several subjects, including frame-filling Ringed Kingfishers which we found nesting in a streamside hole. The birds flew in several times, despite our closeness, and I managed a few shots as one of the pair stuck its head out of the nest hole. Normally, kingfishers just blast out of the bank, but this one paused!
Another round with the Green Tree Iguana we’d seen yesterday, White-necked Herons, a close Greater Black Hawk, Black Skimmers, and various Caimans occupied our morning. Steve’s boat found a roosting Long-Nosed Bat, an animal I’ve only Bseen once and photographed poorly. We received directions and headed upriver, finding the lone bat hanging from a large tree trunk over the river as we were occupied photographing a Caiman. Our boatman must have recognized the log landmark and stopped for the bat, while we thought he was doing so for the caiman. So, we shot both! We almost got shots of a Lubber Grasshopper riding a Caiman’s back but our boat wash swept over the caiman when we stopped, which also happened with a Butterfly on a caiman’s nose. Problem is, by the time you see an insect for a shot the boat has passed, and the wake covers any caiman lying in the water.

nAlthough I constantly preach about ‘smelling the roses’ and shooting everything, and jaguars will come when they come, it is frustrating for those who still need a good jaguar shot. However, those that only motored about all morning have nothing to show for it, no birds, iguanas, caimans, or whatever, and no jaguars either. The result was frustration, understandable but avoidable, too.

PM. Although we normally head up the Black Lagoon first thing, this time we did not, and as we headed up the Three Brothers River we received a radio call that a jaguar(s) was seen at the lagoon. By the time we arrived boats were already heading back, so we figured me missed the cat and we did. No one in our group had a jaguar this evening, or today, marking the first day without one, although yesterday’s cat was a very poor glimpse.
Nonetheless my boat had a very good afternoon. We stayed in the lagoon, doing two full circuits, and photographed a Green-backed Heron, and two good sessions with Giant Otters. At dinner, I asked who would like to just concentrate on jaguars, that is, just cruise for cats, and three participants wished to, and so tomorrow they’ll be in one boat. Hopefully they’ll bring us all luck.

Day 8. Jaguar Country

jThis morning we had a fairly decent Jaguar, but unfortunately it was a collared male. However, we missed three before lunch, with the third of these actually walked by our Flotel during lunch. We abandoned lunch to relaunch the skiffs, and headed to a sandbar where the cat was headed, but it stopped or moved into the forest before we arrived. Except for a Tiger-Heron in the Black Lagoon, I shot nothing else except the jaguar this morning, which was the same for most everyone else.

PM. We first checked on the jaguar we had before lunch, but it was gone. Fortunately we did not continue up river but instead headed back towards the Three Brothers River, and, en route, we heard of another jaguar. We raced up and arrived as the jaguar began moving through the riverside trees. Fortunately all of our skiffs arrived before the jaguar stepped into the open, and we had several opportunities, including a long stretch where the jaguar walked along the river’s edge and across the sand.
jThe cat disappeared and we waited about a half hour, and meanwhile Sue and Steve’s boat left, heading further up river. Our other three skiffs headed down river, and into the Black Lagoon. It was 5:05 when Marcos told me he just heard that the collared male had reappeared along the river, but we were 25 minutes away, and it would be dark within minutes of our arrival, if we even made it by then. We didn’t go, and continued our exploration. Meanwhile, Steve and Sue started back, found the collared male, and soon after, George – the star jaguar from last year, appeared, and put on a wonderful show, walking across a sand beach and then swimming across the river. Sue’s beach shots were great, but Steve reported that the swimming shots were virtually impossible with the number of boats and the waves they generated. Sue’s the Cat Lady, and always has great luck with the cats, so it was appropriate that she finished off the day so well.
As of yesterday we had 10 jaguars. Today we added 1 in the morning (missing three others), and 3 in the afternoon (one being the collared male from this morning). The total sightings – 14.

Giant Otter; Capybara baby following mom.
Howler Monkey family; Southern Screamer

Caiman; White-necked Heron

Day 9. Jaguar Country to SWP

We had a last morning on the river cruising for Jaguars. All of the boats covered a lot of area, our boat half-circling the island to reach the Cuiaba River, then back-tracking along the same route. I was with Sue and John, who did not shoot the bat prior to this, and we did quite well with a very steady boat.
jNo jaguars, so we headed to the Black Lagoon. Cheryl and Kathy were one boat ahead of our’s as we headed up the narrow channel towards where we had the mating pair the first day. There, within 15 feet of them, another male Jaguar lay, but before they could react it got up and moved into thicker cover. I saw it there, and photographed it, discovering that it was a different male, Peter , that has been seen since 2010. It is distinctive, with a chewed off left ear. Soon, it moved off, and as we headed out our boatman spotted it again, this time under another bush, so hard to see that it took me several seconds to see what he was pointing at – and he was navigating a narrow stream when he saw it!
We hadn’t yet left the Lagoon when we received another radio call of another jaguar, on the main river. We raced to get there, arriving to see its shaded figure moving through the brush. Soon after the other boats arrived it finally appeared, sticking her head (she is the mother of George) out of the vegetation. It was a good shot, but fairly distant.
We headed to SWP after lunch, arriving around 4:30, too late for a boat ride. Marcos helped me set up my trail cameras, which we finished shortly before dark. For these setups I used Range IRs for firing the cameras, and inexpensive Phottix flash triggers to fire the flashes -- with three or four flashes per set. This year I finally got my act together with organization, and used Gura Gear Et Cetera pouches and cases for the equipment. Four flashes, small ballheads, and triggers would fit in the larger case, and the Range IR and cables in the smaller. I nsupported the cameras with the sturdy RRS TP-243 Ground 'Pod, that gave me eye-level, jungle trail perspectives. All of this, once you've done it a couple of times, gets set up reasonably quickly, but I'm always soaked with sweat, and bled dry from mosquitos, by the time everything is ready.

After dinner Steve, Mike, and I did a night game drive, getting shots of a good Scissor-tailed Nightjar, and some feeding Caiman.
Total Jaguar sightings - 16.

Day 10. SWP

bMarcos and I checked the game cameras but had no luck. I returned back to the lodge in time to catch the Toco Toucans visiting the feeders, and a Rufous Hornero pair that had an active nest in the same feeder tree. The Jabiru Stork nest, which was occupied when we drove in yesterday, was empty.
At 8:30 we did a boat ride, intent on photographing the Black-collared Hawks and Ringed Kingfishers that will swoop down for fish. We prepped our guides well beforehand, coaching them in keeping the boats together and facing the right way, and we probably had the most successful session ever. Several Hawks came down, and multiple Kingfishers, including twice with an Amazon Kingfisher – one of which we nailed. This is the first year Amazon Kingfishers have come for offered fish. Up river, a pair of Jabirus followed our boat, giving everyone good shots of the birds both when they were in flight and when they perched along the riverbank.

After lunch I set up three Trailcameras Tom brought along, and replaced the batteries in the two camera traps I set up. By the time I returned my T-shirt was soaked – it was a very hot day.



In the afternoon we worked on kingfishers and hawks again, then headed down river, hoping to repeat Steve and Mike's luck with the tapir, but without success.

Day 11. SWP to Cuiaba

sI left the lodge early to retrieve my cameras, this time having some luck, catching a Brocket Deer that paused at the bait. We loaded by 8 and headed east, and at the Curicaca lodge entrance Tom and I said goodbye to the group and settled into the truck that followed us for the mile long drive to the lodge where we would wait for the next group, arriving later that evening.

Although a few members of the group were frustrated at times by the faster boats in the river, and their sense that we were not seeing jaguars, in truth we ended up with more than the average. Our record is 20, and at 16 we were about 4-6 more than the usual count. On the positive side, along with having plenty of jaguars and some very good shooting opportunities (Sue and Steve's sand bar jaguar for example), we had exceptional luck with two species I'd never photographed before in the Pantanal, ever! The Giant Anteater and the Tamandua were truly special, as was the Brazilian Tapir Steve and Mike shot, and some were lucky enough to catch the 'bubble dance' of Caimans in their breeding display.

My only hope was that the next group would be as successful, that the Giant Anteater would still be around, and we'd have more jaguars. As always, I was very happy I still had another tour to do.

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