One of the main doubts of my first-time clients for a trip to the Pantanal is which clothes and equipment to bring. Most bring a whole lot more than what is needed, and a lot of things just go completely unused during the trip. So I will make 2 blog posts with a checklist of what I recommend. Travelling light is always more comfortable and important for our chartered flights. So here are my recommendations based on my longest itinerary, the Complete Pantanal Tour with the optional extension to the Atlantic Rainforest:
Today I have a clear preference for the thin quick dry t-shirts used originally for sports but becoming more and more popular for outdoor use. They are very light and breathable, sometimes it feels like you are not wearing a shirt at all, and you can pack quite a bunch without adding any considerable weight or space to your bag. Plus they dry very fast so it’s quick to wash them. Get the long-sleeved ones and avoid very bright colors. Since they are so light you can pack around 7 or 8 of them.
It’s also good to bring 2 quick dry shirts of the kind pictured below, and carry this in your camera bag somewhere during our field trips. Here’s the explanation: although the t-shirts recommended above are great they have one drawback – because they are so thin and tend to have a tight fit mosquitoes sometimes can bite through them. During our Pantanal trips in the dry season mosquitoes tend to be a problem only in late afternoon, at other times they are largely absent. When they become a nuisance just pull over this thicker layer and you will be fine. For constant day-to-day use I find this kind of shirt much warmer though.
- JACKET AND FLEECE
Although the Pantanal is generally regarded as a warm place, it can get quite cold during cold fronts, with temperatures even dropping to around 10ºC some mornings! This is specially true for early season trips, so early morning boat rides can get really chilly! Pack 1 fleece and 1 good insulated jacket or warm windbreaker. For later season trips (mid-September and onwards) you might prefer a lighter windbreaker plus a fleece, if not coming to the Atlantic Rainforest as well.
- RAIN JACKET
Early dry season, from June to early September, rains are usually completely absent from the Pantanal. In any case, you might want to bring 1 light rain jacket in any time of the year. This is specially recommended for the Atlantic Rainforest, where we will find a much more wet weather. If your warm jacket mentioned above is water resistant than you should be fine with just that.
Any good quality light weight pants will do. Bring 2 or 3.
During the heat of the day and/or in our hotels you might want to wear a shorts. Bring 1 or 2.
We won’t be doing any difficult trails during the trip, so most people will do perfectly fine with a normal mid hiking boots. Prefer water resistant ones. If possible travel wearing it, so it won’t weight on your bag. Also bring 1 lighter shoe to use in the hotel or even during our boat rides or even a sandal or flip, which is great to wear at lunch break. You can also wear a sandal in the boat, but then we reccommend to bring a pair of socks along for when mosquitoes show up.
A regular light weight cap is the most common. Bring 2 in case you loose one. Some people prefer a booney, which offers more sun protection.
- GAITER AND BEANIE
A light neck gaiter is a must have, as it offers great protection from the sun, covering most of the face and neck, bring 2. Also bring 1 wool or fleece beanie, for the chilly early morning boat rides.
- SUN GLOVES
Bring 1 pair of sun gloves, specially for lighter skin.
And this is what I recommend for field use during my Pantanal trips. On the next post we will talk about photo equipment, stay tuned!
The Pantanal is famous for its Jaguar sightings, and rightfully so, but another great animal is also easy to photograph there, and offer (much) better opportunities than anywhere else in its range: the Giant Otter.
In the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s the Giant Otter was highly endangered due to poaching for the pelt market. It was, in fact, extinguished from most of its range. It persists in many areas of the Amazon and elsewhere, with strongholds in reserves and now, specially, in the Pantanal. Here they have grown used to people and boats, and will usually allow a very close approach.
It is aptly named, as it is the largest member of the Mustelidae family, comprising all of the otters and weasels. They reach 1.7m (5.6ft) in lenght and feed almost exclusively on fish, with the occasional crab here and there, or even baby caimans! Atypical of mustelids, the Giant Otter is a social species, and we often see them in family groups of 6 or more. It’s very fun to photograph them when they are hunting and feeding or playing in the water in front of their dens.
I’m starting again the blog on my website. I pretend to add mostly day-by-day photo trip reports here, but eventually some other content as well. So I’ll start on a positive note: on March the Wildlife Conservation Society released a statement saying that, “Jaguar populations have grown at an average annual rate of nearly 8 percent across field sites where the WCS works in Latin America from 2002 to 2016. In the sites analyzed, which include areas throughout Central and South America, the jaguar population either held steady or expanded, with a 3-fold increase in jaguar density in Bolivia’s Madidi National Park alone.”
This is great news and something that I have been saying for a few years, that jaguar populations are on the rise in a number of places, specially the Pantanal, where they are starting to be regularly seen in many areas, even places that no jaguars have been sighted for several years!
I think this is a result of a new culture emerging from younger generations of cattle ranchers, who can better appreciate nature and wildlife for what it is, so the hunting pressure on jaguars as retaliation to livestock kills is getting lighter. Also, ecotourism is a strong driving force in the Pantanal – your dollars spent on photo tours will pay people whose jobs depend on a healthy population of these cats.
Click here for the original WCS article.