In mid July 2012 a small group of Londolozi staff members embarked on the trip of a lifetime. A seven night expedition into the heart of South America. Coming from Londolozi, one of the most majestic wildernesses on earth we were bubbling at the prospect of seeing ‘the other’ ecological haven. Enthused at the opportunity to witness first hand the flora and fauna that we had all heard so much about. Entranced at entering the land of the other spotted cat: the Jaguar.
The destination was the exquisite Caiman Ecological Refuge in the southern regions of the Pantanal. The Pantanal is one of the most immense and biologically rich environments on the planet. Often referred to as the world’s largest freshwater wetland system, it extends through millions of hectares of central-western Brazil, eastern Bolivia and eastern Paraguay. In 2000, the Pantanal was designated a World Natural Heritage and World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
The imposing and magnificent scenery is the habitat of the largest concentration of wildlife in the Americas. It shelters over 650 species of birds, 400 species of fish and 80 species of mammals, many threatened with extinction.
Caiman Lodge was established in 1985 as the first ecotourism operation in the Southern Pantanal of Mato Grosso do Sul. Since then, it has aimed at creating and offering visitors a means of getting close to the Pantanal’s nature and culture, while pursuing excellence in hospitality services and gastronomy. It is a 53 000 hectare ranch that seeks ways to pioneer wild animals living in harmony with the cattle in a working ranch.
Cattle ranching, introduced into the region more than two hundred years ago, is the main economic activity in the Pantanal, facilitated by the vast natural grasslands and slightly salty water, ideal for these animals.
This activity has profoundly marked the landscape, customs and Pantanal soul, creating a rich regional culture, a blend of the Portuguese, indigenous and Paraguayan. The result is an experiecnce so multi faceted that the actual wildlife viewing is just one aspect. It is a unique cultural and sensory overdose.
Join us as we review our trip and experiences at the Caiman Ecological Refuge in the Brazillian Pantanal. Through the use of video, photography and writing we hope to paint a picture of what is truly one of the world’s great wonders. The Pantanal Series will explore various aspects, in a series of posts, that will mention how this is a key player in a mentality and approach known as ‘Restoring Eden‘… making giant leaps towards restoring the wild lands on planet earth, expanding protected areas, creating connectivity corridors and ensuring that animals are provided with SPACE to live and thrive. An approach solidly supported and endorsed by all at Londolozi.
Keep a watch out for the next post in The Pantanal Series where we take a bird’s eye view of the Caiman Ecological Refuge (http://en.caiman.com.br)
Written and photographed by Adam Bannister