August 7th, 2019
Wednesday morning, Doug went for a long walk while Fran hung back to try and catch more pics of the macaws in the morning sun.
Then O’Neill asked if she wanted to join him, Rosie & Ben and a family of four also from Britain (Mike, Aly, Adam and Emily) on a walk through the trails out back looking for monkeys, tapirs and maybe foxes. It was a pleasant hour and a bit but other than a couple of tiny frogs and a spider, we didn’t see much.
Upon returning, we hung out in the common area chatting with the all the Brits, before we saw our overlanding friends, Stacey & Joe, drive up in “Heffalump” from Porto Jofre. We knew they were down there and we had planned to join them later today but they’d messaged that the boats are all full for the next week and they were leaving. We had really had a good tour the day before, saw a lot and we were not very happy with the practices followed by these boat guides; too much stalking of the animals and at times with far too many boats. We had understand that two years ago, a “meeting” had been held where an agreement had been reached to be more respectful of the animals, but we can honestly say there is room for improvement. We would recommend the best way to go it on a private tour (doesn’t cost much more) and that way you can dictate how long you hang around and where you want to go
We arranged to meet Joe and Stacey in the spot we slept at on Monday night up near the park entrance later today.
After our late breakfast, we packed up and began the drive to meet them, taking our time spotting wildlife:
We spent a quiet night with them and planned our next couple of days and will stay in touch to see if we would meet up again.
We arrived in Poconé to air up Tigger, blow out the carb on the Gennie (it’s been giving us a few headaches lately), get Tigger washed, hit a hardware store for some bolts Doug needed and an electrical adapter for Brazilian sockets (we only have one small one and we’ve learned our lesson to always have at least two).
After the successful stops in that town, we continued on to the capital city of the state of Mato Grosso: Cuiaba (enroute we stopped nearby for showers at a petrol station) where Fran got us stocked up on groceries while Doug did a few repairs on Tigger.
We continued northeast; destination today was the Chapada dos Guimaraes National Park and the surrounding area. We stopped before the park at a spot with a small waterfall that was supposed to have a bunch of restaurants for lunch; it had only one it turned out with not much of a view of the surrounding red cliffs or the waterfall – which was the point of stopping for lunch there….. We ate lunch and did a short walk around the site.
Next was the park itself where we did a 1200 m hike in the heat of the day to the Bridal Veil waterfall.
We had planned to do sunset at the City of Stones at another part of the park, but the road was under construction and we didn’t want to drive in red dirt after just washing Tigger!; besides the photos we found online were not that spectacular.
We heard from Stacey and Joe and told them where we were headed for a camp spot – the geodesic centre of the South American continent and we met them there.
The place was underwhelming to say the least; just a marker on the ground that looks like a manhole cover (see photo of Doug above)!
There we met a local man named Rodrigo and his son who now lives in Texas. They convinced us not to go to the tourist attraction/trap of a town called Bonito but rather to check out a similar sight north of here as well as a lake where you can watch lots of blue and gold macaws at sunset.
We did a bit of research and decided that sounded like a good plan, more driving but less expensive sites. We spent a relatively quiet night in the parking area of the aforementioned centre of the continent, and we left the next morning to head north to Bom Jardim. First we went to the crystal clear river snorkel/swim place. Stacey & Joe arrived after us and then booked the tour.
You get in your swim suit, they give you a life jacket, snorkel, mask and footwear if you need it. You get in the back of a tractor and take a five minute ride to the first spot.
There you put your gear away and get out on the boardwalk to hear the rules. There were 7 of us on the tour, us four, a Portuguese couple around our age and a young Portuguese man named Daniel who spoke very good English and was our interpreter.
We then were allowed in the crystal clear pool to float with the fish.
There were Capuchin monkeys in the trees around us.
We spent 25 minutes in the water with the fish and a coral snake!
Next we walked down the boardwalk about 200 m and then entered the river for an 800 m float with the current.
Upon exiting the water, we returned to grab our gear and returned on the tractor again.
After showering and packing up, we drove about 15 km into the village of Bom Jardim, got gas and then met Stacey & Joe at the entrance to the Lago das Araras (lake of the macaws in Portuguese) before the sunset. We learned there was an entry fee and that camping would be costly without a view of the lake so we passed on the latter. It was a 3 minute drive to the lake where we parked and walked down to the water. It’s quite a picturesque spot an there are two decks to watch the birds come in from.
We returned to “Aquario Encantado” and spent the night there since they said we could camp for free as we’d booked tours (and they had Wifi).
We did not sleep well between barking dogs and roosters going off all night so we were up early and made our way back to Cuiaba to get gas and continue to the southeastern part of the Pantanal. Many overlanders do the southern part as they return to Bolivia but we are heading into Paraguay next so we’ll miss a part but understand it has fewer animals to see.