Travel store & Experiences

Head-to-head with a jaguar in the moonlight

experienceWild Attitude

For a long time, I’ve been passionate by animals and above all by their looks. In my life, I had a chance to meet the deep look of elephants staggering me due to human error, lionesses hunting or leopards with intelligent and insightful eyes. I missed that look of a star animal. The one that’s so captivated by the habitants of Central and South America have deified: the jaguar. Here, I’m out on the border of French Guiana and Brazil, at the other end of the world, in a village of four homes including a bar and war monument for the dead in the 14-18 War.

A contact organized a guide for me in the region. I was expecting to meet a Amerindian, I end up meeting with a former legionnaire. He’s just as passionate as I am about this animal, but he takes me high. He first explains the difficulty of crossing a wild jaguar and in military language, tells me that a man of the city like me, who smells of aftershave and shower gel, is likely to scare away all the animals of the forest.

That evening, he handed me a used overall, filthy, foul-smelling and asked me to cover my skin with mud from the nearby river…I clench my teeth…and only think of my jaguar.
At rising moon, we leave for an hour on a dugout canoe with a Amerindian as the pilot. The canoe is docked at the foot of a small waterfall. Next, departure for a one hour walk in the middle of the forest. I start getting a little anxious. I’m alone with these two guides that I didn’t know that same morning, no phone and at the end of nowhere. Like a good city-dweller is accustomed to living permanently connected, I start to imagine disappearing bodies and very well in this part of the world. After an hour, my guides stop and station themselves at a hundred meters away from me. They ask me to wait silently…It’s almost midnight and the forest is more awake than ever, it growls and screeches with sounds of screaming. As someone who doesn’t know the rainforest, which is more humid and stuffy, it’s a real experience.
Two hours later, I understand everything: the accoutrement, the canoe, the walk…I see it approaching, gently, with infinite tenderness, a magnificent jaguar that I would never know if he was being hunted or if it was simply strolling around its territory. I didn’t move, torn between respect for this creature and anxiety gnawing me.
Luckily, this jaguar stopped. He just sat watching the water of a small stream, then observed around him and in all directions… If I saw him as distinctly, it should have seen me also. The scene lasted 10 minutes and was a moment of serious happiness in my memory. An experience I wish for everyone because it refers to our behavior, our lifestyles and instead we forget the wildlife.

Overnight lodge nearby from 40 euros per day.

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