What about the capybaras? Oh yes. Herds--yes, herds--were constantly appearing around each bend of the river. All the capybaras I could want to see, observe and photograph, and then some more. Although most South American natural areas are not known for their mammal viewing opportunities, here we saw a tremendous number and variety of strange and wonderful creatures--giant anteater, tapir, howler and capuchin monkey, peccary, swamp deer, armadillo, giant otter, crab-eating fox.
And then: Deep into the Pantanal, camping on the front yard of a family that lived 8 hours by boat and car from the nearest town. In this area, we were looking for that most elusive of Pantanal animals: the jaguar.
But this jaguar is just the beginning. Within an hour, we see three more. Julinho Monteiro, an independent guide who started his own company, Pantanal Trackers, has an almost supernatural ability to find the spotted cats.
The next day, we see another: a mature female that falls asleep with us watching. We take photos and watch it, and then it's time to drift away, on to see what else the Pantanal has in store.--Matt Miller