We spent three weeks exploring Brazil, from Rio de Janeiro's legendary Maracana stadiium to the idyllic beaches of Ilha Grande, ending up in the depths of the Pantanal, near the border with Paraguay, where we spent time with giant otters, capybara, caiaman, rheas, anteaters and crab-eating foxes.
One day I will travel to the Amazon, but I'd been told by a number of other snappers that the Pantanal is the more rewarding destination for wildlife photographers, especially in the context of a relatively short trip, so this was top of my hit list. We stayed at Fazenda Rio Negro, which really is in the heart of the swamp - the Pantanal is one giant wetland, covering 88,000 square miles (the entire United Kingdom covers 94,000). We were there in the dry season, which meant we were able to explore our immediate surroundings by foot, horseback, jeep and canoe - in the wet season I was told those options are limited to just canoe (or other water-borne modes of transport).
As the name of the lodge suggests, it is on the banks of the Rio Negro, a piranha and caiman-infested river that runs through the Pantanal. It is an exceptionally diverse area for wildlife - with the headline-grabber being the elusive jaguar. Unsurprisingly, the closest we got to one of these beatiful big cats was a footprint. Sightings are rare - although that didn't stop me obsessing for the duration of our trip, and ensuring that I will return to complete the mission one day.