Cuiaba and Back
The 80-something Traveler

The Pantanal

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For years, I have wanted to visit south-central Brazil’s Pantanal region. My favorite vacations have involved animals in their native habitat, and I yearned to come (almost) face-to-face with a jaguar.

My son Seth, who lives in Brazil six months of the year, agreed to join me (i.e., take care of me).

We flew from São Paulo to Cuiabá in the state of Matto Grosso where we met Seth’s friend Adam who was joining us for the three-hour drive to our “ranch”, mostly on a very bumpy dirt road.  It was hot, and we eventually had to turn off the air conditioner to conserve gas.  But Seth and Adam are very entertaining, and I loved having no responsibility for anything.

For six days, the three of us spent three hours in the morning starting at 6:00 a.m. and three in the afternoon in a motorboat on winding rivers.  One of our two boat drivers had never been in a city. But he knew where the animals were. We saw jaguars, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs. We saw lots of otters up close, including diving for and chewing fish.  We saw snakes, in fact an otter who caught a snake who was twisting and turning in the air to unsuccessfully escape.  We saw elegant birds.  I fell in love with the capybaras, one pictured above with a bird on his back, just feet away from me.

I am thrilled that I can still do adventure travel.  I’m not so agile at climbing in and out of rowboats, and I struggled with my carryon up the stairs to the small planes, but otherwise I did fine.  And people want to help.

I feared that Covid or an inconvenient fall might get in the way of this trip.  Once I boarded the plane for the 10-hour flight to São Paulo, I knew it was a reality.  My take-away—plan the good stuff, and if you are lucky it will happen.

I am lucky.


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Oh my, that sounds like an incredible adventure. So glad you were able to make it. What a thoughtful son.

Becky in California

What an inspiration you are.


What a wonderful trip! I have never even heard of this area in Brazil, but now I want to go see it. Did you get any photos of jaguars?

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