One of the great things about overland adventures is leaving big cities behind to get off the beaten track. On her Rio to Buenos Aires Overland trip, Intrepid’s Erin Farmer did just that and the result was a dream-come-true wildlife experience…
“After 5 hours on a bumpy road through the Brazilian forest, we finally made it to the Estancia. Truly in the middle of nowhere and called 24th de May (ingeniously named after the date the ranch was started), this ranch was to be our home for the next two nights. The ranch is a fully working operation with gauchos, cows and caiman crocodiles. With the luxury of our own truck transport we could reach this remote spot and over the next two days would have an amazing time piranha fishing, jungle walking, cow milking, horse trekking, cow herding and snake hunting.
On the final night we took our beloved truck (ours was called Elle, and she was beautiful!) on a night safari. Armed with a bright light and accompanied by the local gauchos we cruised the cattle trails in search of Brazilian wildlife. The one animal everyone was dying to spy was the jaguar. That almost mythical beast of legend and folklore is revered and worshipped by indigenous people all over South America. We saw the bright red reflections of crocodile eyes and nearly invisible ground-nesting birds, but with every patch of shadow we were imagining feline shapes and getting more excited.
Our guides were desperately searching for the tell-tale yellow eye reflection, without success. With some of our groups dozing off and others getting serious eye strain, we headed back to the farm. Then our truck stopped abruptly and the guides jumped up with their torches to shine on a small jaguar slinking through the long grass. The big cat turned to cast us a steely look of contempt before prowling out of sight. We certainly felt put in our place and knew exactly who was in charge of the Brazilian Pantanal with that one glance. Incredible!”
* photo by Louise Barker – Intrepid Photography Competition