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Touring the Pantanal with the world’s most hardcore guide (Page 2)

Jonny Indiano climbing a tree in the Pantanal © Craig FastMinutes later, he led us straight to a Lesser Anteater, barely visible up a palm tree. When asked how he knew it was there, he explained that he smells the ants it eats. Plucking a Giant Hunting Ant from the ground, he ripped off its pincers and encouraged me to eat it. With some trepidation I did, chewing rapidly to prevent it crawling around my mouth. “Slow down, enjoy the juices,” Jonny scolded me. It tasted lemony, the Pantanal’s version of Smint. Jonny tracks the fresh breath of anteaters. I tried to imitate him but all I could smell was monkey poo.

To demonstrate the pinching power of these gigantic ants, Jonny attached it to the tip of his finger. It drew blood and he didn’t flinch. Instead, he explained how Indians use the heads of these ants as stitches to heal a wound.

Piranha fishing that afternoon, Jonny demonstrated how to hit a caiman with a fishing rod to scare it off. He caught piranha after piranha, using cow heart and other fish as bait. As the sun set over the river banks somehow piranha fishing with only caiman for company became a relaxing experience. We knew we were safe in Jonny’s hands

That evening he descaled and gutted the day’s catch with a few flashes of his knife, pausing only to show us the still-beating heart of a piranha, and served them up to us, seasoned and barbequed, for dinner.

Jonny Indiano breaking in a horse in the Pantanal © Emma FieldDay three: Horse riding
Just when we thought Jonny couldn’t get any more hardcore, he battled a caiman with his bare feet and a short tree branch.

Horse riding through palm savannah, Jonny, in the lead as ever, came across an aggressive caiman that, unlike the others, wouldn’t get out of our path. He was riding a young horse that hadn’t been fully trained – Jonny was breaking it in, with bare feet of course – so he took his steed close to the caiman to accustom it to the reptile, which is as common as pigeons in these parts. He then dismounted and jabbed, prodded and irritated the snapping caiman aside.

To top off his impressive record, Jonny demonstrated how his tribe hunt bareback, one arm raised with a spear as they gallop.

What. A. Man.

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Related features and reviews
Images: wildlife of the Pantanal
Video: giant otter eating a caiman
Video: Jonny directs - water cobra in the Pantanal
Review: Hostel Ecological Expeditions, Bonito


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4. The Ten Commandments for night bus travellers

5. Touring the Pantanal with the world's most hardcore guide

6. The two month slump: Colca Canyon, Peru

7. Images: South America roundup

8. Images: Panama - San Blas Islands (Kuna Ayala)

9. Video: giant otter eating a caiman

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Overland Traveller copyright © Emma Field 2010