From Fazenda Santa Tereza, we travelled south along the Pantaneiro highway for Porto Jofre. 80km by open truck passing through more wetlands and farms. The pantanal slopes downhill at approximately 10cm per km towards the south - only in the extreme south is there permanent wetland.
30min transfer by boat to Jaguar Suites, a floating barge or two anchored to the Rio Piquiri bank housing 12 rooms all with great glass fronted views of the river. This area of the Pantanal houses the highest concentration of jaguars in the world, and while we were hopeful as South Africans we understand the vagaries of spotting wild creatures in their environment.
Never could we imagine how spectacular our viewing of these cats was to be. 6 jaguar in 3 days, at least one per game "drive" (by boat). Jaguars are significantly larger than Leopard, with a large male topping 100kg or more. Unlike Leopard, there is very little variation in size between the male and females. In this area, they are active during the day, typically hunting along the river banks -either walking or swimming in search of Caiman or Capybara. 75% of their diet is Caiman - check out this link which was filmed in this area (https://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/news/jaguar-attacks-crocodile) We were incredibly lucky one evening to watch one of the resident males "Geoff" hunting for a half hour or so.
Apart from the Jaguar, some amazing interactions with Giant River Otters who are constantly playing, fishing and generally having a good time - remind me of young baboons. As Hanna says, they also make at least 10 different noises which spices up the entertainment. More incredible birds, but not a huge variety of mammals. Spent one fun morning in a vicious rain storm which had us all soaked, but otherwise we have been very lucky with remarkably cool weather.
This luck ran out when we left Jaguar Suites for Corumba. Hot is not the word to describe it - with temps running around 40'. However our 2 day trip down the Cuiaba and Paraguay rivers were truly spectacular. Very wild country, passing few houses on the way. 340km in total, over night at a truly basic fazenda where we were hosted by a couple who survive largely on a subsistence level.
Kids still enjoying - new food (lots of catfish which is extremely tasty), poco aprendendo Portugues, daily journals, swimming with the Caimans, etc.