Our route now took us north to Miranda – this town used to be the capital of Matto Grosso do Sul in its heyday – now a relatively rundown town with little to show for.
So we carried on and decided to camp at the Hotel Passo do Lonta on the Miranda river for two nights.
Since they do not normally cater for campers we could use the ablutions at the entrance. Again, in South American style, the toilets were suddenly locked at night and we really had to negotiate to be allowed to shower the next day. A morning boat tour took us up to the tributary Red River, where the Pantanal reserve starts – however, we did not see too many exciting birds we did not know already. Howler monkeys provided the early morning wake up call.
As we continued north, the next camping spot was at Camping and Pousada Santa Clara – a pleasant pousada with a camping site about 500m away.
Here we stayed for another two nights and during the day we followed the main track leading north towards Corumba –this road was the main game drive opportunity in this area and was passing over many wooden bridges with lagoons.
We observed many different birds, as well as giant otters and a special highlight were our first sightings of Hyacinth Macaws and Jabirú storks. On a side road we saw many Roseate Spoonbills gathered at a pan lined with Caymans.
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We also briefly observed a juvenile Boat-billed Heron, spotted a Tapir and even caught a glimpse of a Cougar (Puma).
It was time to proceed further north, via Miranda we drove in the direction of Campo Grande but then turned of at Aquidauana onto a dirt road dubbed “anteater road” as other overlanders had reportedly seen five anteaters on this stretch. We were not so lucky –however it is a scenic back road passing many fazendas at the foot of a mountain range, we could observe gaucho catching young bulls and ended wild camping near a wooden bridge, hidden from view but then had rain throughout the night.
The following day was a long day driving through the agricultural fields of Matto Grosso via Rondonopolis, Juscimeira towards Cuiaba, where we found a camping opportunity at a restaurant and playpark called Sinuela. Very friendly owners, we were allowed to park approx. 300m off the highway next to their house, clean ablutions and showers – all for free as we ate dinner at the restaurant! A busy highway, trucks from Bolivia as well as Manaus seem to pass Cuiba at a rate of at least 600 per hour in this region, so driving was strenuous.
We were now reaching the edge of the northern Pantanal – 5200km since we started from Montevideo about a month ago.
This post covers 25th Sept to 1st October 2017