Brazil: Rollin’ on the River

Brazil Travel post #11: Rollin’ on the River (intro post is here).

Today we see the river by boat. We towed along smaller watercraft to use on sightseeing expeditions, like the one you see below. Plenty of wildlife can be seen in the trees from the banks, and the river itself is teeming, so get ready for some fantastic pictures.

There were a pair of these boats, which fit all the passengers. I took this shot from our longboat.

Overall, you get the feeling that you’re surrounded by life, but that the jungle is very shy. Animal noises echo out from the canopy, birds shriek, yet it’s difficult to spot just who you’re hearing. The trees will stand still–the jungle an unbroken curtain–until suddenly, it’s not.

Go ahead and click to full screen. If you look closely, you might see some jungle life….

When you travel by riverboat in MURDERED, your experiences are much the same:

A monkey’s ululating howl comes from somewhere in the treetops and branches sway in reaction to movement that can’t be seen from beneath the thick canopy. A nesting family of egrets calls out as a fledgling egret loses its balance and falls into the river below. The bird is quick to come to the surface but, not yet able to fly, it squawks and flails its wings in a panicked swim.
The river suddenly explodes in a cacophony of fish and churning water so powerful that the bloody spindrift hits the boat. The egret doesn’t have a chance against the piranha feeding frenzy and you watch in awestruck terror as the bird disappears in only a matter of moments.
“Do not worry; the piranha don’t eat people. They can take a finger, but he is what you need to be careful for: Caiman.”
You follow Neto’s outstretched finger toward the far bank, where a crocodilian animal at least ten feet long slips into the river and silently swims toward the commotion, which is over before it gets there.
“They eat people?” you ask.
“They drown people.”

For this reason, one of my favorite excursion-types on the riverboat Tucano was early morning Kayak. Without an engine, it made it much easier to “sneak up” on wildlife.

The best way to see the river! (photo by Jerry Peek)

In fact, on one such kayak trip, we saw something swimming in the water…

What is that? A turtle? Let’s follow.

It seemed we spooked it, because it started away from us at a high speed. We tried to catch up to get a better look…

Michaela says, “I don’t think that’s a turtle.” (photo by Jerry Peek)

That’s when we realized just who’d we had been chasing….

A caiman. We’d been chasing a river dinosaur! (photo by Jerry Peek)

The guide later informed us that the caiman we saw was probably 4 meters long, or roughly as long as our kayak!

Bring a good pair of binoculars.

If you ever decide to take a trip like this one, make sure you have some way to see the shore from the boat. We got some great views from our binoculars, but check out what our new friend Jerry caught through his camera lens.

Egret taking flight (photo by Jerry Peek).
Birds we called “squawksons” (photo by Jerry Peek).
Fishing bird (photo by Jerry Peek).
Kingfisher (photo by Jerry Peek).
Toucan carrying a seed (photo by Jerry Peek).
Eagle (photo by Jerry Peek).
Macaw (photo by Jerry Peek).

Now the hunter becomes the hunted.

The caiman may be the most dangerous animal in the river for people, but this powerful saurian is far from king of the river. That title goes to the “water jaguar” — the giant river otter. Not quite as big as a seal, these guys owned the waterways and they knew it. When we approached with our cameras, they responded by showing off their teeth.

Here are some of the amazing shots captured by Jerry Peek:

I actually saw a few river otters tangle with a caiman. The otters swarmed around the caiman in the water, nipping at the crocodilian’s tail until the caiman burst forth from the water, its legs practically windmilling as it sprinted ashore for safety. The whole thing happened so fast that my camera wasn’t able to capture the moment, but I did find a video of a similar situation online. It’s from “Plizzanet Earth” narrated by Snoop Dogg, and it’s certainly worth your time.

I think that’s probably the perfect note to end today’s blog post. Tomorrow, we’ll continue on the river where we’ll see dolphins, get a special tree frog sighting, and go piranha fishing!

Click to continue to: Brazil: A River Runs Through It.

Thanks for reading! What do YOU think? Are we lucky we weren’t caiman food?

Feel free to comment below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe!

Brazil: Sightseeing (Part 1)

Brazil Travel post #6: Sightseeing 1 (intro post is here).

From the outset, I can tell you I’m going to have to split this topic into multiple parts. There were sooooo many sights to see, especially with a “MURDERED Bucket List” in my back pocket.

Jardim Botãnico — The Botanic Garden

Rio de Janeiro was once home to the expansive Atlantic Rainforest, a different type of jungle than its more famous Amazonian cousin. Once Rio was declared the capital of Brazil, the city flourished and the rainforest dwindled to roughly 10% of its original size. This was largely intentional, as Brazil became an important produce exporter, and as demand grew, so did the demand for farmland.

The botanic garden was founded in 1808 by King John VI of Portugal (Brazil was in the Portuguese empire at the time) who decreed that a garden should be built to see which foreign plants might best thrive in Brazil’s climate. Thus, the botanic gardens were born, and once that job was completed in 1822 they became a public site.

Today it is a beautiful park full of exotic flora, including 900 varietals of palm, as well as wild monkeys and hundreds of jungle birds. Here are a few of the fantastic images we captured:

Shall we?
Shall we?
A beautiful spot for locals and tourists alike.
Dr. Seuss would be proud.
Monkey in a jackfruit tree.
Monkey in a jackfruit tree.
Just one of a billion flower photos Michaela took.
Just one of a billion flower photos Michaela took.
Serenity before lunch.
Serenity before lunch.
See the statue on the hillside? I'll give you three guesses what the last stop on our sightseeing tour will be....
See the statue on the hillside? I’ll give you three guesses what the last stop on our sightseeing tour will be….

MAR — Museu de Arte do Rio

From natural beauty to created beauty. The MAR holds some of Brazil’s most impressive artistic pieces. Let’s see a few.

Shall we?
Shall we?
Hashtag seen in real life. #CIDADEOLYMPICA
Theres something about a painting I dont understand captioned in a language I dont understand.
A painting I don’t understand captioned in a language I don’t understand.
Slice of life from 1940s Brazil.
Powerful perspective.
Disney’s short-lived Brazilian character, Jose Carioca, which roughly translates to “Rio Joe.”
These were actually TV shots of monkeys arranging bananas, meant to look like they were spelling…something.
Quite stunning.
Brazil’s take on “The Thinker.” It’s a monkey contemplating a turtle.
Not creepy. At all.
Patently bad-ass.
Ostrich selfie?
Does this guy trot? Because that would be amazing.
Does this guy trot? Because that would be amazing.
Presumably found in a serial killers basement.
Presumably found in a serial killer’s basement.

Click to continue to: Sightseeing Part 2.

Thanks for reading! What do YOU think? Are you more a museum type or a garden type?

Feel free to comment below, and don’t forget to share and subscribe!