The pampas has many strange and wonderful animals — monkeys, dolphins, and alligators among them — but what most people really come here to see is the anacondas. The legendary water-snake monsters — that can (in parts of the Amazon basin) grow to as much as 10m in length, and that have long been the subject of adventure books and horror movies — are certainly a sight to see. And this morning, our group went on a romp through the swamplands, and found two little baby ones! Even these young critters had a formidable mouth of teeth, though.
Holding a baby anaconda around my neck. These guys can squeeze.
Anacondas are generally not that easy to find — not everyone who goes to the pampas ends up seeing them — but we were fortunate enough to have very few problems finding our two. We headed up the river a little ways in our boat; and then we got off, and started trekking into the swampy grasslands. The terrain was so swampy, we all had to get equipped with knee-high Wellington boots before starting out; and even with those, I still got a bit of water seeping in and wetting my feet.
Our guide, Juan Carlos, found the first one, literally about 30 seconds after we reached the really swampy area. "Muy suerte — muchas veces, no puedes encontrar nada anacondas" (lit: "very lucky — often, you can't find any anacondas at all"), he explained when he caught it and showed it to us. We all held the baby monster for a bit, put him around our neck, and got plenty of photos of him trying to bite us (which he couldn't do, as long as we held his head steady). We couldn't help feeling a little bit like a bunch of Steve Irwins, romping through the swamp, purposefully looking for animals that could kill us if we gave them the opportunity.
Juan Carlos pointing out the features of the Anaconda to Matt and Dave.
Juan Carlos reckoned that we were lucky enough to find one anaconda; but no sooner had we released the first critter, than Matt and Dave wandered off deeper into the swamp, and quickly announced: "here's another one!" Absolutely amazing luck: we didn't find any big ones; but we did pretty damn good to find two baby ones. The second one looked pretty similar to the first, except that it had its battle scars in different places, and that it was a bit smaller. Maybe they were brothers?