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Day 73: The Pantanal

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Morning on the lagoon. Heron and spoonbill friend.
Michael Palin - BrazilIt's still dark when we set out on a morning safari. The mosquitoes are worst just before the dawn, especially down by the water, but they seem to vanish with the sunrise. Birds are out in force, particularly waders like the roseate spoonbills, with their subtle pink glow and less subtle shovel-shaped beaks, the whistling ducks that pipe rather than quack and the little round jacanas which they call cafezinho here on account of their similarity to the dark brown coffee that all Brazilians seem to take at all times of day. Not much luck with the mammals. Two wild boar tear out of the undergrowth chasing cattle. Two capybara scoot into the water at our arrival, and that's about it.

Breakfast has been laid out for us in a great expanse of bushes, trees and grassland, with two jabiru in attendance nearby.

'They're dating,' Pollianna tells me, and points out their huge nests in the trees above. She looks around.

'In the rainy season we'd never be sitting here. The water will reach one and a half metres high. We have to come by boat.'

It seems almost unbelievable that so much water should spill across this plain each year. There are advantages, Pollianna thinks. One of them is that it makes it very difficult to build and maintain roads in the Pantanal. This saves it from development. To my surprise she tells me that ninety-eight percent of the Pantanal is privately owned.
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  • Series: Brazil
  • Chapter: Day 73: The Pantanal
  • Country/sea: Brazil
  • Place: The Pantanal
  • Book page no: 307

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