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Cruisin' the Rio Claro

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While we'd do early morning and late afternoon walkarounds, during the heat of the day we cruised the Rio Claro by boat.

We weren't the only critters cruisin....

Rio Claro means "clear river"...and you can see why!

 

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Benedito met us at the dock each day.  He knows these rivers and tributaries like the backs of his hands...

 

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...and the caimans know him too....

 


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...and come swimming in when he slaps the water and calls their name.

I think perhaps he's fed them a time or two...




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We loved being on the river...so much easier and COOLER than hiking!

 

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Benedito was also friends with a family of giant river otters, the largest members of the otter/weasel family that are as large as people, some growing to 6 feet long!


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When Benedito smacked the water with his oar, the family came swimming out to see us.

 


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We were thrilled!  Giant river otters are only found in this part of the world and they were on the verge of extinction 30 years ago due to the fur trade.  Now, while still endangered, they are making a comeback and Kim and I would see lots of them over the next several days in both areas of the Pantanal where we were.  Super-cool critters!

 


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Those sharp teeth come in handy....


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...to crack open shellfish and crabs.  They are voracious hunters, often diving down to resurface with a fish or clam.

I could sit and watch their antics all day!

 

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We saw a few other animals from the boat...coatis digging for insects along the shore....

 


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...and capyberas.  You big old rodent, you!

 

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Slowly cruising along, occasionally we'd see or hear rattling leaves in trees along the shoreline only to find monkeys watching us as we watched them.

This is a black-tailed marmoset, found only in the Pantanal.  



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So ugly that they're kinda cute....

 

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Or capuchin monkeys.  The only monkey species from the Pantanal that we didn't see was the howler monkey...we heard them a few times high in the treetops, but never could spot them well enough for a photo.

But mostly we saw birds.  LOTS of birds.  Some of the most beautiful ones I've ever seen.

 

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Hard to beat the loveliness of the irridescent jacamar...

 


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Oodles of herons, flying alongside us....

 

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...or perched high and watching.



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Beautiful irridescent-feathered green ibis...

 


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Several different kinds of kingfishers....

 

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One of Kim's favorites, the rail bird....look at the gorgeous coloring!

 

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Community-nesting oropendolas...

 


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A snake bird (also known as an anhinga)...

 

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Muscovy duck....

 


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Hawks...

 

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Tiny twitchy swallows...


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Majestic osprey clutching a fish in its talons flying overhead...

 

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But my very favorite (perhaps because I spotted it first...a rarity since I'm competing with the keen eyes of Nicolas and Kim)...our very first toco toucan!

 


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He was eating berries from a tree along the river!

We would see several more tocos in the following days, but there's always something special about the first one.

And I spotted it!!!

 

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And, of course, there are the random parrot fly-bys...

 

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I can't get enough of the parrots!

Can you even imagine having parrots fly around wild everywhere???

 

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We even did some cruising in the dark...now that is a awe-inspiring experience!  No light or sound pollution out here...only the night sky filled with a gazillion twinkling stars and the sounds of caimans slipping into the water as we meander by.  Wow.

 

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A new sight awaiting around every bend...

...cruisin' the Rio Claro.

 

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