One of the activities offered at Caiman Ecological Refuge is canoeing on the largest stretch of water in the ranch. It is a delightful change from the intensity of the Pantanal and allows one to sit back, unwind and enjoy a unique intimacy with the watery habitat. Best done in the late afternoon when the day is starting to cool off and the lighting becoming magical. If you manage to catch the right amount of cloud cover you could be in for one of the most spectacular sunsets of your life.
Your expert guide will accompany you, pointing out the unique flora and fauna, but also allowing you to enjoy the simplicity and calmness of the paddle. Birdlife aside, one of my favourite aspects of the canoe trip is how close you can get to the Caiman. Coming from Africa, where the Crocodiles are quite ferocious, I was cautious at first to not stray too close to their South American cousins. However, once I had seen the others do it I decided to try my luck. We slowly drifted towards a large Caiman and I watched in awe as he gently swam in front of us. There was not an ounce of aggression from this animal. The water was dark, but clear enough to allow us to watch his body glide along. Gentle flicks from his tail propelled his body like a torpedo. It was incredible.
As the sun kissed the forest canopy ahead, we turned back and headed for the shore. A pair of Hyacinth Macaws flew noisily over our heads…this place is heavenly in so many ways.
Written, photographed and filmed by Adam Bannister