The floating Mystery – The Pantanal Expedition

The floating Mystery – The Pantanal Expedition

6 October 2016
Brazil

I never imagined that a single photo would change my life…

I am Adarsh Prathap, I recently won the 2016 World Wetlands Day youth photo contest and got a chance to visit the World’s best preserved wetland, the Pantanal in Brazil, courtesy of Star Alliance Biosphere Connections

There is so much out there in the Pantanal to learn and to talk about. Only a visitor holds the key to that treasure. It was a life transforming experience for me. An experience I never thought I will have in my life, changing my view of life, being able to experience love, affection and hospitality of the people there in Brazil.

The whole Pantanal was so fresh and beautiful. It’s a magical place where you can feel true nature at its best. The anticipation of seeing a high profile animal is always present in the Pantanal.

I have only a base model DSLR with normal lens (Nikon 3300, 18-55mm) and a Nikon Coolpix P900, which is a zoom camera, good for shooting movies and I am very contented with these cameras. Still there is a lot more to capture in the Pantanal but I think it would require more time.

There were so many island forests to be seen in the Pantanal and the vegetation at the river banks is very much higher than other areas. This was clear evidence of how wetlands become the vital entity for formation and development of life. 

Nature is an integrated system and its backbone is always the wetlands. Wetlands help to form forests and a lot of animals and birds inhabit them. The species concentration is very much higher in the Pantanal and this wide variety of flora and fauna is the treasure of this region. 

When I went for a morning boat ride to see the sunrise and to feel the breeze, the whole Pantanal seemed to be a life supporting hub. The Pantanal is a sustainable livelihood hotspot. A good amount of people rely on these wetlands to earn a living. I quickly understood that the Pantanal not only offers ecological diversity but also ample scope for healthy economic activity. 

 

SESC offered me an Eco-tour, which helped me a lot to enjoy the beauty of the Pantanal. Activities such as trekking through the forest, boat rides, horseback riding, bike riding through the forest etc. helped me to see and appreciate the wetland and forest much better. They will remain unforgettable experiences. 

 

On the first day of my visit to the Pantanal, I went for a boat ride in the evening to see the sunset. It was like something I have never seen before. It was an aesthetic panorama, beauty personified. The flora and fauna were enjoying the last rays of the sun. After the sunset the celestial images were excellent sights. Watching all these natural wonders from a boat at the center of the Cuiaba River gave me the best feeling which can’t be explained in words. 

 

The next day I went trekking through the forest to observe the flora and fauna of the Pantanal. Alessandra, the head of CIA, SESC Pantanal, detailed the facts in English. I had a fish-eye view of the Pantanal from a sight-seeing spot. The water, Islands and vegetation have been arranged in an artistic form by Mother Nature.

Recognized and conserved as the largest wetland, I did notice how the Pantanal is affected by the much talked about ‘climate change.’  The loss of biodiversity should certainly be taken care of, so as to uphold and enhance the livelihoods of the people, preserve the natural pristine and ecological balance of the entire system. 

 

Many people don’t realize that man is just one species among 1.5 million species on this earth. We came very recently onto this planet. Chief Seattle said many years back that, Man didn’t weave the web of life; He is merely a strand in it.

It was a few days of backward evolution- evolved back to the nature. 

 

I thank the SESC Pantanal team for giving me a chance to not only visit and enjoy the largest wetland, but also for the opportunity to appreciate the Brazilian culture, eye engorging delicacies, ethnic cuisines and dishes shared during the buffet with love, amidst geographical differences.

I am also thankful to Cristina and her family for being there for me all the time and letting me know and realize that someone can be loved unconditionally in such a short span of a week… I would love to say that I now have a home in Brazil. I felt humbled before their love and affection.  Today, when I look back, I have with me a page in my ‘book of life’ full to the brim with the love, passion and heart touching experiences. 

I started my journey from Trivandrum and went through different airports like Delhi, Dubai, Istanbul, Sao Paulo, Cuiaba and Chennai, all within 10 days! Star Alliance kept me safe with their best service throughout my trip. A special thanks to Star Alliance for never letting me down, even in spite of flight cancellations and delays which made my entire tour experience the best.

I would like to appreciate the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands for organizing such an event for young people and realizing that the youth of today are the designers of the future.

The water lights up our life…

We are dependent on its bounty for our health, wealth, happiness and progress. Deprived of it, we are in dark. Let’s keep the light burning. Let’s keep our wetlands safe..