The Road to Rio Claro
Cruisin' the Rio Claro

Welcome to the Pantanal

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We arrived at Rio Claro Lodge just as the sun was beginning to set...and these cute capuchin monkeys were there to greet us as we walked around our digs for the next 3 days.



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We've stayed at some very "rustic" places in our travels, and weren't sure what to expect from the Rio Claro.  But it turned out to be a very charming place to start our adventure!

 


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The all-important water...we had to bring our own in as there are no convenience stores for many, many, many kilometers.....

 


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Nicolas and Kim checking things out...

 

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Our rooms are the 2 doors on the left...

 


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Small but clean-ish...everything we need.  And the best part?  It was AIR-CONDITIONED!  

You can see my camera...I'm ready to rumble!

 

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And the next best thing about our room?  Oodles of these black-hooded parrots were hanging in the tree in our private courtyard.

Of course, at 100-degrees in the shade, who's going to be lounging in the courtyard?  But we could see them from our room too.

 

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The all-important dining room.  Which was not air-conditioned, so we had to find a table with a working fan blowing on us.  Note I said "working"...

 


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Sometimes it's best not to see behind-the-scenes.  This piggy showed up on the buffet for the next several days...

 


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Mostly, we ate beans and rice.  Every meal.  Lots of them.  Apparently they are a staple in the Brazilian diet.

 

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When the staff fed the guests, they also fed the birds just outside the dining room...

 

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These hungry, chatty cardinals made for wonderful dinner companions. 

 

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This area of Brazil is in the same time zone as Indiana, so at least we didn't have to adjust to the time (which Kim is terrible at...he refuses to change his watch no matter what time zone we're in...).  I'm an early riser, but even I didn't wake up before the many chachalaka birds.

About 4:45 am, they begin their morning racket...very loud chorus back and forth for the first couple of hours each day.  No one oversleeps at Rio Claro Lodge, that's for sure...


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The 3 of us were always up with the chachalakas and off to explore a couple of hours before breakfast.

 

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Beautiful sight to wake up to...a pair of hyacinth macaws in the tip-top of a dead tree on the property.  We saw them every morning...and then just when the light became decent for photographing them, they'd fly off for the rest of the day. 

 

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Nicolas was astonished at how bold the caracara birds were. 

 

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He sees them all the time in Peru, but they are very skiddish.  Not so here...we could almost have reached out and touched them!

 


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Nicolas, our fearless leader, always looking for something interesting.  He's a great guide who has now become a friend and our go-to South American travel person.


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Noisy parakeets on the fly....

 


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The Rio Claro, just behind the lodge.  Rio Claro means "clear river" and the waters are amazingly clear!

 

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Not to worry.  Caimans, pirahnas, anacondas...ummm...no thank you...

 

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The lodge did have a nice pool, but the only person I saw in it was Brazilian.  Who wants to swim in boiling water???  You know it's hot when it's too hot to get in a pool!



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Lots of flickers around the lodge...such gorgeous markings!

 


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And I was struck by these deep-purple blooming trees!  Such a beautiful surprise in a landscape of greens and browns...

 

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And a few yellow-blooming trees in the mix too!

 


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Along with the occasional random cactus....

 


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Amazing flora as well as fauna in the Pantanal.

 

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Big tree!!!  

 


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Benedito was our Rio Claro guide...and we really liked him!

 

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Benedito was also our boatman during our Rio Claro stay (more about that in tomorrow's blog post) and Nicolas requested to trade him out for Mr. Grumpy Pants as our driver too.

 

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The original home of the original lodge owners...

 

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Doesn't everyone have a caiman head hanging on the wall???

 


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I just love these two!  They took good care of me the entire time.  And both are much better wildlife spotters than I am...they spot, I photograph.

 

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I've never found a place where palm trees grow that I didn't fall in love with...

 

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...and this amazing spot on the globe is no exception.

 


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Welcome to the Pantanal.

 

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