A Brazilian wildlife trip, 2015
Our first stop was to REGUA - a reserve on the Atlantic Coast comprising Atlantic Rainforest. REGUA was once a large farm that was deliberately, and with great care and forethought, returned to a natural state, and the birds came back! We were met at Rio, and a couple of hours (or so) later, were at REGUA. It has a lovely old accommodation with open aspects, in a part of the reserve that includes multiple walking trails around the water. Here we saw our first Jacamar, and a Frilled Coquettte, as well as host of other birds. [REGUA images]
After a few days at REGUA, we returned to Rio to pick up our first flight to Cuiba, via Brasilia. Didn't quite work out that way, because Rio was fog bound, and we were routed differently, but to be fair, GOL rose to the challenge very well!
Quoting from our agents (Naturetrek)..
"The Pantanal is a vast, seasonally inundated freshwater ecosystem that covers much of the western side of Brazil. It is a site of international importance and plays a significant role in regional climate stabilisation and groundwater purification and extends southwards from the plateau of the Mato Grosso to Brazil’s borders with Paraguay and Bolivia. Roughly the size of France, the Pantanal is accessed from the north via the Transpantaneira road which passes at first through a sparsely populated land of cattle ranches and wetlands. The northern Pantanal is marked by low dry woodland, damp grasslands and gallery forest along the banks of a large system of meandering rivers, creating a mosaic of different habitats rich in all manner of wildlife. The central region, near Porto Jofre, has gained a reputation as one of the best areas in South America to see Giant River Otter and Jaguar; indeed, to date, no Naturetrek tailormade client has returned from this area in the dry season without a Jaguar sighting – a record we are determined to maintain!
We drove from Cuiaba into the Pantanal, initially on tarmac, but for most of the journey, on a dirt road (the Transpantanaria) until we reach South Wild Lodge, our home for the next three days. THis was a mixture of birding around the lodge, including a tower to climb up alongside a wood stork nest with three profoundly ugly juveniles! The boat trips were excellent, and abounded with otters, kingfishers, herons and some rarities. [South Wild images]
Again, from the agents:
"SouthWild is a conventional land-based lodge with a rustic feel, its 12 air-conditioned and en suite rooms being bright and comfortable, most having a hammock and outside seating area. Its staff are welcoming, the meals are good, and there’s an inviting little pool to cool off in. Brazilian Tapir are a highlight here (best sighted in late September and October), whilst Jaguars can occasionally be seen close to the lodge at dawn and dusk. Ocelot are relatively frequently sighted on night-drives ... and the nocturnal Boat-billed Heron seen on most!
We left SouthWild early in the morning and drove towards the end of the Transpantaneira Road, to “Porto Jofre”. We immediately took a boat to the Jaguar Flotel, which as the name implies,is a floating hotel.
"It has 10 air-conditioned standard rooms and six new luxury suites, all en suite, and on the Flotel's expansive top-deck guests may relax in hammocks and enjoy al fresco meals. This is the brain-child of conservation biologist Charles Munn who operates the hotel as both a Jaguar research base and eco-tourism venture. Sightings of Giant River Otter are good here too, while a large number of birds include Large-billed and Yellow- billed Tern, Black Skimmer and all five of South America’s kingfisher species.
This morning transfer 13 km downstream to Porto Jofre and then by road to Pouso Alegre lodge. As we drive back north along the Transpantaneira we will take the opportunity to stop on route and admire the massed ranks of wetland birds that inhabit the open wetland areas around ‘Campo Jofre’. The will surely be reason to stop many times along the way at good local birding sites. However, the last 7 km of the drive is down Pouso Alegre's private, wildlife-rich driveway. Here you will see a transitional forest grading from dry “Cerrado” to more wet woodland typical of southern Mato Grosso region, and the birdlife is both colourful and plentiful with representatives from some of the Neotropical families, such as toucans, tanagers and hummingbirds. Slow drives on this long entrance road often yield good views of mammal species such as Red Brocket Deer, Lesser Anteater, White-lipped Peccaries and even Giant Anteater! Evening spotlighting session. Overnight: Pouso Alegre The Pouso Alegre lodge sits on a 7,000-hectare plot of grassland, woodlands and permanent water bodies that can be explored from a network of trails. Its 20 air-conditioned and en suite rooms are spacious and comfortable and its atmosphere is a cheerful and welcoming one; its small swimming pool is also ideal for a midday dip! The beautiful Hyacinth Macaw, one of the symbolic species of the Pantanal, is present here, as well as a wide range of raptors such as Southern Crested and Yellow-headed Caracara, Pearl Kite and Laughing Falcon. A boat trip on Piuval Lake will allow close views of plentiful waterbirds, including the exquisite Least Bittern, while night-drives can reveal such nocturnal specialities as Great Potoo, Great Horned Owl, Tropical Screech-owl, Mottled Owl, Black-banded Owl and perhaps even an Azara’s Night Monkey.
Pouso Alegre - Cuiaba - Alta Floresta - Cristalino This morning transfer to Cuiaba for an onward flight to Alta Floresta. AD 2610: 12.35 - 13.45 hrs Here you will be met and transferred by road and boat to Cristalino Lodge. Time permitting enjoy some afternoon birding. Overnight: Cristalino Lodge (Special Bungalow) Cristalino Lodge from the air and Painted Parakeet Cristalino Full day of wildlife activities. Whilst at Cristalino you will join the local lodge guides and other guests (max. 8).
Set deep in the heart of the Amazon Basin, on the banks of the Cristalino River, this lodge is only accessible by boat, giving it an exciting feel. Despite this, the lodge is extremely comfortable; its luxurious rooms are all en suite and there is a pleasant restaurant and dining area together with a floating deck on the river, perfect for a ‘sun-downer’! Guests have the opportunity to view wildlife on foot along 35 kilometres of trails, with species such as Neotropical Otter, Pacha, Brazilian Tapir and Tayra all possible. Several species of monkey may also be seen crashing through the canopy and these include the endemic White-whiskered Spider Monkey, Night Monkey, Dusky Titi Monkey, Brown Capuchin, Red-handed Howler Monkey and the handsome and endemic Red-nosed Bearded Saki. Cristalino really comes into its own for birders, with close to 600 species identified to date! There are a number of sought-after bamboo specialists such as Rufous-capped Nunlet, Manu Antbird and Chestnut-throated Spinetail whilst larger forest birds include Red-throated Piping-guan and Razor-billed and Bare-faced Curassows. The understorey is the niche of antbirds, antwrens, antshrikes, antpittas and manakins while six species of macaw regularly add a splash of colour overhead. The possibility of Harpy Eagle and Crested Eagle makes the birding here all the more special! designed by: Robin Smith tel: 01962 733 051 email: email@example.com Day11 Fri2Oct Cristalino-AltaFloresta-Cuiaba Page 5 of 6 This morning transfer to Alta Floresta for your flight to Cuiaba. Connect with onward flight to Rio de Janerio. AD 2611: 14.15 - 15.27 hrs G3 1877: 18.40 - 21.55 hrs