Foz do Iguaçu to Fazenda Barranco Alto, Pantanal, Brazil 20 - 23 March 2006

Honeymooney attracts an anaconda!


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The landing fee at Foz do Iguaçu was the usual amount for a Brazilian international airport, US$ 90. We found out the expensive way that foreign aircraft should NOT refuel at small airports in Brazil (R$ 4.30 = US$ 2.10 per litre!), but refuel in major airports where tax-free fuel is available for foreign aircrafts for US$ 0.95 per litre if you pay in dollars. We had refuelled tax-free in Florianópolis but didn’t get any fuel in Foz do Iguaçu because Flemming thought we had enough to see us through the Pantanal. However, he hadn’t reckoned with the headwinds we experienced the whole way. So, to be on the safe side, we had to buy the expensive fuel at the small aerodrome of Aquidauana in southern Mato Grosso do Sul. At least at small airfields, the landing fee is much lower and sometimes non-existent as in the case of Aquidauana.
We flew low (1500 to 2500 feet) for the last third of the trip, zigzagging between showers and the last 8 miles before destination was scud-running in rain and marginal VFR conditions, 500 feet above the ground. Conditions weren’t good enough to take any aerial shots so we have included a photo taken by our host at Fazenda Barranco Alto, Lucas Leuzinger. Lucas and his wife Marina own and run the Fazenda. They were both born in Brazil of Swiss parents so they were delighted to welcome a Swiss-registered plane at their farm. They make their living chiefly from raising zebu cattle for meat and receiving a maximum of 7 guests at a time.
This was the rainy season and the only way to reach the fazenda was by aircraft. While we were staying there, an American couple stubbornly tried to drive there in a 4WD by a circuitous route to avoid the worst of the flooding. The winch broke as they used it to try to get out of the mud and they got stuck, luckily for them, near a farm from which they called Lucas. Like most farms in the Pantanal, this one had an air strip. Flemming offered to go and fetch them for US$ 100 but they refused. Thus, we were the only guests at the Fazenda for our whole stay.
The weather cleared up later in the day, and we had a great 'game' drive that evening with Lucas and Fernando, who helps run the 9,000-hectare fazenda and is also an excellent guide. We started off before sunset and finished in the dark. Fernando used a large flashlight to locate the wild life and we saw lots of it: rheas (seen all day from the house), caimans, capybaras (the world’s largest rodent), tapirs, a giant anteater, peccaries, several foxes, hyacinth macaws, jabiru storks, bare-faced ibis, plumbeous ibis, white-faced ibis, buff-necked ibis, roseate spoonbill, crested caracara, southern screamer, night heron, muscovy duck, wattled jacana, burrowing owls, great egret, cattle egret, great kiskadee (or bem te vi for the Brazilians), crimson crested woodpecker, white woodpecker, campo flicker, nacunda nighthawk, sand-coloured nighthawk, guira cuckoo, turquoise-fronted parrot, black-hooded parakeet, snail kite, chacalaca, piping-guan, wood storks, purple gallinule stilts, sandpipers, pied lapwings, southern lapwing.
We finished the day with a delicious and copious dinner, cooked by Fernando’s wife Rosa.

We stopped for some fuel at Aquidauana on the way to Fazenda Barranco Alto.

Barranco Alto seen from above with Rio Negro in the foreground and the grass runway in the middle. © Lucas Leuzinger.

Our view of the Rio Negro from the house

Tapir © Lucas Leuzinger

Jabiru storks © Lucas Leuzinger

Toco toucan © Lucas Leuzinger

The rare hyacinth macaw likes living at Barranco Alto. © Lucas Leuzinger

A caiman eats a piranha. © Lucas Leuzinger

Scarlet macaws © Lucas Leuzinger

Crab fox © Lucas Leuzinger

Wild life viewing on horse back with Marina

Capybaras - the world's largest rodents © Lucas Leuzinger

Capybaras contemplating going for a dip

Eddie, who flies in supplies to the Fazenda, inspects the first Swiss-registered plane to land there.

JAlbum 6.2 Copyright: Angela & Flemming PEDERSEN