Thursday, 14 June 2007

Pirhana Supper!!!

The Pantanal is one of the best locations in the world for spotting wildlife. I had always wanted to come here having watched many wildlife documentaries shot in this fantastic location.

I took a public bus west at 07.30am and arrived at my drop off point about 4 hours later. There I waited til a 4wd truck came to take me the 40km north into the Pantanal. This 40km was up one of the most bumpy tracks I have riden on. I was bounced and shaken endlessly for one hour before arriving at the remote farmstead where I was to sleep for the next four nights. I had chosen my agency for the fact that their location is more remote than all others, and all activity was by foot rather than bumping around in a vehicle.

The Pantanal is the worlds largest fresh water wetland area. Larger than Scotland and Ireland combined, each year from October to March, rains in the surrounding mountains fill the lowland Pantanal with 3m of water, leaving small forested islands in what becomes one large lake. During the dry season the Pantanal slowly drains into the river Paraguay leaving behind endless small ponds and lakes. During the wet season the fish and other aquatic wildlife scatter within the flooded area, but during the dry season this life is concentrated in the remnant ponds, attracting the birds and mammals that feed on the fish.

I arrived at about 2,00pm and met the two others staying there, Sandy and Ryan from San Francisco, had a quick lunch and then we set out. Armed with a simple bamboo pole, fishing line and hook we were off piranha fishing.

We did not have to go far. Surrounding the farm were three large ponds. In one we waded in (surreal that we were fishing for one of the most dangerous and aggressive fish known) baited our hooks with small pieces of beef, and were soon landing many many pirhana. The guide was responsible for removing the fish from the hooks, but even he made a mistake and got badly bitten by one fiece fish. The blood dripping from his finger into the water helped make subsequent fishing even easier.

Our catch was taken back to the farm where they were cleaned and fried for our supper. They were surprisingly tasty, although very very boney.

It get darks here very quickly, with dusk came the bats and then the sound of the numerous frogs from the ponds. There were many, too many mosquitoes here, and even with the deet spray we could not avoid being bitten.

We lit the fire and watched the stars, exchanging piranha fishermans tales before heading to our bed early.