If you’re only vaguely familiar with the Pantanal region of Brazil, that’s understandable—it’s been a tourist destination for less than 15 years. Ricardo Casarin, the guide assigned to us for the Pantanal portion of the trip, told us that the region was originally known for its great sport-fishing, and then in about 2006, fishermen started reported seeing jaguars—jaguars!—along the river banks. There aren’t too many places where you can see those in the wild. Word spread, tourism grew, and today if you Google “Pantanal jaguar tours,” you’ll find plenty of tour operators eager to take you out on the rivers to find the big cats.
National Geographic has a good overview article on the Pantanal, which it calls “Brazil’s best-kept secret.” The Pantanal is an enormous wetland, 10 times the size of Florida’s Everglades. It floods in the rainy season, and most people visit in the dry season—roughly May through September—when it’s more marshy and more accessible. Plus, when the water recedes in the dry season, the wading birds and other wetlands species crowd into the water that remains, which makes the wildlife really concentrated and Read more
We packed up and left Ecolodge Itororó around 6 o’clock on Sunday morning, July 8, and it wasn’t until late Monday afternoon that we were holding cameras in our hands again and photographing wildlife. It was only 36 hours or so, but it felt like forever.
The Glenn Bartley workshop is somewhat distinctive among Brazil photo workshops, in that it offers four days of shooting in the Atlantic Forest followed by six days in the Pantanal. That was part of what appealed to me about the trip; many other trips focus entirely on the Pantanal. But Brazil is a big country, and getting from the Atlantic Forest to the Pantanal makes a travel day inevitable. You can see from the Google Map I created for myself for the trip that there’s a big gap between the two regions—they’re about 1,000 miles apart.
So a van picked us up at Itororó and drove us to the domestic airport in Rio de Janeiro, about two hours away. There, we took a GOL Airlines flight to Brasilia, and, after a layover, another GOL flight from Brasilia to Cuiabá—a city of nearly 600,000 people that is essentially the gateway to the Pantanal region.
Andy Foster, Glenn’s co-leader, was invaluable in many ways throughout the trip, and especially so as Read more