The Pantanal – Death to the mosquitos!

I was absolutely dreading the Pantanal. The thought of being in one of the largest wetlands in the world where you can go piranha fishing while surrounded by hundreds of caimans while being attacked by thousands of hundreds of millions of mosquito’s did not get my blood pumping, and to me sounded more like a case of ‘I would rather watch my nail polish dry’…

T, to the local guide in Bonito – ‘So how does the Pantanal compare to Bonito?’

Local guide – ‘The Pantanal is very different from Bonito, it’s a different kind of beauty, but I wouldn’t go there now. (chuckles) It’s mosquito breeding season.’

Just a couple of hours drive from Bonito, we arrived into the Pantanal (which mean’s swamp), where you could slap your arm and end up with 6 massacred mosquito’s splayed across your hand.

Defence? Spray 96% DEET Insect repellent all over your body until you are shining. Wear long sleeved light clothing, and on top of that wear your waterproof rain jacket with hood and long pants, with thick socks and shoes, in this sunny 40 degree heat.

Imagine, 96% DEET is severe enough to melt your clothes away, melt through your nail varnish, and eat away at any plastic you touch (there were many sticky camera buttons), but was it strong enough to stop a Brazilian mosquito’s from penetrating your skin? Fuck no!

As we went on a river tour, scaring away all the wildlife with the echoing sounds of aggressive slapping and involuntary cheers whenever there was one less mosquito in the world, I wondered ‘What was the PURPOSE of these trillions of mosquito’s in the circle of life? Was it quantity control through the spread of disease?’

At that moment, as if in direct response to my silent question, an ant found the dead body of a bloodied mosquito that I had killed against the wooded frame of the boat. In seconds it had rallied all of it’s friends and family from deep within the cracks of the boat and barbarically carried the remains, piece by piece, back to their queen (I suspect).

And this was the most exciting thing that I saw at the Pantanal.