If you’ve surfed our web-site for more than 5 minutes you should already know what destinations are worthy to be in our Bucket List. Loaded with fish, beautiful landscapes, best available accommodation and equipment, highly trained staff – this is what a short version of Rob Anderson’s standard of fishing destinations looks like. For me, as a, modesty apart, experienced eco-tour guide, the bar gets raised even more: wildlife and flora diversity are essential, a historical background doesn’t hurt either. So, when I was invited to the fishing camp for the first time I wasn’t sure what to expect. Let’s face it: I had to deal with demanding birdwatchers and naturalists that don’t give you much space for a mistake.
So, I arrive to the North of Xeruini River Preserve. For someone who lives in a place where everyone believes there’s no match for Tapajos River, as “Brazilian Caribbean” with hundreds of miles of desert sandy beaches, Xeruini river humbled me. It doesn’t look like a postcard, no. More like a dream. Unlike the anglers, we reached the camp on the river in a fishing boat leaving Terra Preta – the last inhabited place on Xeruini River you’ll see heading north for 7-9 hours. What a blast! That river is narrow, in many places almost blocked by overhanging jungle. At the peak of the dry season it’s shallow and looks like a snorkeling paradise. Fish shoals pass by all the time and the variety of colors is incredible. It’s like going to an oceanarium, a 200-mile-long one. Macaws, which are very territorial birds would fly over our boat all the time, not just in pairs – in dozens.
Then, over the three weeks we spent in the camp, I got to see anteaters, tapirs, stacks of Jabirus and Spoonbills – what I wasn’t used to see even doing expeditions year-round.
Fishermen have something we don’t get in eco-tourism very often – time in one spot. When you do wildlife observation, most of the time it’s not about chasing monkeys around the forest – it’s about staying quietly in one spot. That happens naturally in fly fishing world. At some point, while you’re casting into a honey hole (which are abundant at Rio Novo) there will be something flying or running by. This was a huge change in concept for me, as I used to be a tour leader that would always rush everyone to the next stop – you get to see what you get to see on the way and that’s pretty much it.
So, January 2019 experience was inspirational. What I was curious is how someone from the outside of fishing world would take it. In August 2019 Rob and I went to Pantanal. While we were exploring and putting together our “Fishing with Jaguars” program, Rob shared with me he’d miraculously have an available spot in January 2020. So, I run to my contact list and invite someone I was sure would give me a great honest input on whether it’s worth dragging an eco-tourist to a fishing trip. That person was Barbara.
I laid the whole thing out to Barbara and she just sent me an e-mail 2 days later confirming she’d be joining us. Stakes were high: even though Barbara is an easy-going traveler, I knew how much she appreciated wildlife photography. Plus, It would be Barbara’s FIFTH time in the Amazon, plus a trip to Pantanal she had done in 2018. What new could we possibly deliver? Well, you can find it in 2 ways: the lazy one – watching a 40-minute long documentary I made about that week, or reading Barbara’s story below. I’ll just say, I had a great time!