The amazing Pantanal is one of the most beautiful and biodiverse places on earth, intertwined with rivers and more than 120 bridges along the Transpantaneira Road to Puerto Joffre.
Steeped in history, the Pantanal, formerly known as the Xarayes Lagoon, was first explored by Spaniard pioneers in the 16th century. Two centuries later, the “bandeirantes,” or explorers, from São Paulo began to advance beyond the imposed limit of the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) and when they reached the floodplain of the Upper Paraguay River, they called it «Pantanal.» Then came the demarcation of boundaries between the countries and the mystery of the lagoon disappeared. By the 19th century, it was a geographical myth generated by the overflow of the Paraguay River due to the characteristics of the terrain.
Mysterious and geographically significant, the Pantanal is home to many natural wonders that change throughout the year between dry and wet season. In between this temporality, there is a time where its main wonder appears frequently, the mighty jaguar.
The Jaguar is a feline that holds the record of the most powerful bite among big cats, something around 1500 psi (pounds per square inch), making it capable of feeding on a 170-pound Caiman, easily killing, and dragging it up the riverbank. Despite this astounding power, this feline shows itself as a calm and controlled animal in the presence of humans. Uninterested in the noise and rumble of the boats and excited whispers of the nature-loving, ecotourist passengers, the magnificent cat comes close, revealing itself in all its splendor for a once-in-a-lifetime, intimate moment.
I remember the first time I took a picture of a Jaguar, some years ago. I had recently bought my photographic equipment and was eager to see this beautiful animal. Traveling through the calm waters of the Cuiaba River, I was prepared for the event I was wishing for, and finally, it happened. One lonely Jaguar started to swim across the river, but to see and to share the same space with this animal, hypnotized me and I found myself admiring this powerful cat instead of taking photos. Once I was able to remember my camera in my hands, I was able to take my first picture of the “Onca,” as the Brazilian people call it.
Since that powerful experience, every time I have the chance to see a Jaguar, this feeling of admiration and peace runs though me, and makes me look first, then “shoot” with the only equipment that nature should be shot with, a camera. Those feelings are the ones I try to imprint on every photo I capture.
My main goal when I guide wildlife explorers on our tours is that by the end of the tour, they feel the same passion and respect for nature and all its inhabitants, be it the little fish in the river to the mighty Jaguar patrolling the banks.
The whole experience in the Pantanal, being able to interact in such a close manner with its biodiversity and to be part of it for at least one moment, makes you think about how you do things in your day-to-day life. All of it makes you realize that you can always look back at nature, and your experiences there, for answers.