Campo Grande
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Cowboy up in the Pantanal
In the dry season, the distance from Campo Grande, Brazil to the interior of the Pantanal is only 100 miles, but will take 4 hours to arrive. You must hire an experienced driver as the roads range from potholes that would swallow a semi to mere suggestion of a trail. The Pantanal, in the state of Mato Grosso du Sol is one of the most wildlife dense areas in Brazil, with more open viewing than the more highly touted Amazon. Making your way into the interior, you will pass through many ranches or "fazendas" and will see many of Brazil's cowboys-- the pantaneiros. Pantaneiros are most often seen driving the creamy white, heat and disease-resistent Nelore cattle that are the primary livestock found on the ranches. They ride native horses that are descended from many breeds but valued for their toughness and ability to navigate flooded plains in the wet season. Mules are also used as they are sure-footed but the downside is they are independent thinkers. Most visitors to the Pantanal are there to see wildlife and it is rich and varied--from hyacinth macaws to giant anteaters. However, taking time to watch these pantaneiros can be as absorbing as watching wildlife. Their gear--from the brightly dyed sheepskin padding on a postage-stamp saddle to ornate bridles, reflect the pride taken in all aspects of their work. This pantaneiro and his mule had a disagreement on getting a start to the day, but provided some early morning excitement.
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