Fighting Crocodiles for Piranha in The Pantanal

Arriving in the Wet Lands

We arrive at Santa Clara Guest House, and are checked in by a friendly Macaw. All around us are giant Hyacinth Macaws. This part of the Pantanal is one of the only regions in Brazil where you can see the this large Macaw species in the wild.

It’s not just the Hyacinth Macaw around here. Hundreds of birds and dozens of species fly all around the farm grounds.  Another macaw welcomes us at the check-in desk.  Hawks patrol the garden.  Parakeets fly by in pairs. A toucan in the distance. But it wasn’t the birds that really surprised me.

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Getting Lucky with The Queen

I was welcomed into the 4th region of my journey (Central) by local expert, photographer, journalist, and author Fabio Pellegrini.

I’d taken an overnight flight, and Fabio met me at the airport.  We spent the day planning my next 7 days in the region, discussing must see sights and Eco-Tourism activities. He was able to connect me with the right people at the right time.  Fabio knows everyone, and is certainly the go-to person in the Pantanal area.  If you are planning a trip, get in touch with him.  Fabio

After a morning of phone calls and making plans in the Pantanal with Fabio’s connections, we had received one strange request, which turned out to be the best of the day. Continue reading

Staying Eco in the City – Belem, Brazil

I arrived in Belem, the northern port city of the Amazon region. I was not sure what to expect.  I had been deliberating whether to go to Manuas, in the heart of the Amazon, or this less well known city on the Amazon Delta, where the river meets the sea.

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In the end, I chose Belem. Why? There were 3 excellent reasons.  Fernanda from 100% Amazonia, Sergio from Preserva Mundi, and Leonilda from Bio EcoBrazil.  I talk more about them in following posts.

In Belem, I chose to stay at the EcoPousada Miriti.  A tranquil, peaceful guesthouse, designed with sustainable values in the heart of the city. I decided it would perfect base from which to explore the city, and meet local social entrepreneurs.

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I wanted to learn more about why it was an “Eco” guesthouse, so I spoke with the owners, Geraldo and Priscila Barata, to learn more.

Pricila was a tourism student, who wrote her final dissertation on sustainable guesthouses.  With advice from her at that time boyfriend Geraldo, they wrote what would become the future business plan for EcoPousada Miriti. After graduation,  Priscila’s mother bought a property in need of renovation, and Geraldo and Priscila set about the task of converting it into a eco-friendly guesthouse.

Geraldo talked me through the reasons they chose to renovate the existing building, instead of demolishing the old one and starting again.  Demolishing and rebuilding is easier, cheaper and faster.  So why not do that?

If you demolish, the waste must go somewhere, and that means landfill. Rebuilding after complete destruction means using and buying more new materials.  Renovation means you spend less on materials, but more on human labour.  For Miriti, it was better choice to reinvest the money in the local workforce, than in new materials.  The materials they did use, were sourced locally.

Apart from this example, Gerald gave me many more.  The water filtration system cleans 70% of the chemicals out of the water, before it is returned to the water table, where natural processes can filter the remaining 30%.  Most guesthouses don’t filter at all. Solar power is installed to heat the water, and the system will have paid for itself in 6 years.

Miriti also supports native artisans, who create toys from the leaves of the plant from which the guesthouse gets it’s name. These toys have a long tradition, but without a place like EcoPousada to sell them, the toys don’t get bought, and the skills used to make them get lost.

If you are looking for an ecofriendly guesthouse in Belem, I recommend you check out Miriti.  And don’t forget to try their tapioca with banana and cinnamon for breakfast!

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