Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Fish and Birds of the Pantanal

We recently returned from a month in Brazil. With life-long passions for wildlife and fish and birds in particular, a visit to the Pantanal has always been on our wish list.  From Sao Paulo, a couple of hours flying west to Campo Grande, then two hours driving further west towards the Bolivian border, then the real journey started ! Fifty kilometres down a muddy track (took a long time as we kept stopping to look at birds, racoons, anteaters etc) to Pousada Aguape where we were staying for the next 10 days. The ranch breeds superb horses, as well as cattle, and during our stay we saw many fine feats of horsemanship, involving catching and breaking-in young horses.

Rancheros are full of skills, as in addition to being fine horsemen, they double as fishing guides, boatmen, birding guides, carvers at the weekly churrasco (ox-roast) and drivers of the various vehicles on the ranch.

We fished the River Aquiduane.  Pirhanas are abundant and we rapidly developed techniques to avoid hooking them.  We caught many species of catfish. The wildlife of the Pantanal was interesting, capybara, marsh deer, giant anteater, giant otter, crab-eating foxes and caiman. We went out one night to try to bait an ocelot with piranha carcasses. No ocelot, but we saw a puma instead ! Also, late one evening, just before we packed up fishing, we heard a jaguar roar.

The bird life was well up to expectations – Greater Rhea, Seriema, Toco Toucan, and Hyacinth Macaw were obvious and spectacular, and a host of smaller birds kept us busy with identification. The Pantanal itself has that aura of spaciousness that we so love in wild places and we were sorry to come to the end of our stay.

Dave and Norma Park
Sussex UK

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

An interactive guide to Bonito.

In cooperation with our colleagues of Reef & Rainforest, Brazil Nature Tours organised the succesfull visit of UK journalist Daniel Allen to Brazil. Several pieces of his journey have been published, including 
An interactive guide to Bonito which you can find here.

Pantanal & Bonito trip

I wanted to write a quick note to thank you for your help in coordinating our trip to the Pantanal and to Bonito. The accommodations were wonderful, the guides were very good, and our driver, Isaac, was extremely friendly and helpful. We really appreciated the expertise of all of the guides- beyond their knowledge of the areas that we visited, we appreciated the photography help from Ándré and the pictures and videos that Sergio gave to us. We especially appreciated Manoela both for her bird knowledge and for the interest that she had in our kids. She played and swam with the kids between excursions, and she helped to get them more of the sweets that they really liked from the staff at Refúgio da Ilha. She even got the recipe from them and emailed it to us!

I would be happy to provide more details if you want specific information. I would also be happy to provide an endorsement for your services, and I would be happy to provide detailed endorsements for each of our guides.

Muito obrigado!


Sunday, 7 October 2012


We returned from our Brazilian holiday yesterday, and want to say a huge Thank-You.

The birding/wildlife part of our trip was truly amazing. We saw the Harpy Eagles, jaguar, tapir, giant ant-eater, capybara, caiman, crab eating fox & above 200 bird species. Santos, our guide was brilliant & we would highly recommend him. His passion for wildlife & The Pantanal shone through.

In contrast Iguassu Falls were not to be missed, and we thoroughly enjoyed visiting them.

Every aspect of our trip ran smoothly & there were no problems. Our time in Brazil will be remembered for many years to come.

Thank-you again,

Alan & Janice Binder

Some photo impressions:

Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja)

Tapir (Tapirus terrstris)

Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)

Jaguar (Panthera Onca) 

Jaguar (Panthera Onca) 

Giant River Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Trip report Cristalino Lodge and the Northern Pantanal

The following is an account of a trip that long-time friend (a colleague of my wife), Bill Birkhead and I took to Brazil from August 24th to September 6th, 2012.    Bill is a semi-retired vertebrate zoologist with a specialty in fishes and herps.    I’m an obsessed birder that also likes primates and big cats.   But we both like to observe all types of stuff in nature, so this itinerary suited us well.
The trip started at Hotel Amazonica in Alta Floresta.   It was a nice introduction to Brazil and our main target was the Harpy Eagle.    We were fortunate that the immature bird was still in the area (at its nest) and we got extended looks at the fully grown, but not yet fully molted individual.
Things really got cranking when we headed to the ‘nearby’ Cristalino lodge in the southern Amazon the next day.   We stayed there for 4 nights and we were primarily doing some hard-core birding, but we kept an eye out for anything else such as primate, snakes, etc.    We were fortunate to be paired up with Brad Davis as our guide.   He is a good as they come.   We had some great birds including Amazonian Umbrellabird, Blue-cheeked Jacamar, Curl-crested Aracari, Black-girdled Barbet, and a very rare for the region Paint-billed Crake.    Mammalian highlights included primates such as White-nosed Bearded Saki Monkeys, White-whiskered Spider Monkey, and Azara’s Night Monkey, as well as great looks at a Brazilian Tapir.  Bill was thrilled to see a Yellow-footed Tortoise come to a watering hole.
Cristalino is a great place with good facilities and a nice swimming area in the river to relax between outings.  The two 50-meter towers were great as well.   This lodge is highly recommended, especially if you like birding.

The  next part of the trip was spent in the northern Pantanal, switching more to ‘mammal mode’, although we were still looking for any vertebrates we could find!   Our guide was Jean Duval, a free-lance guide originally from Haiti that has been leading trips in the Pantanal for 15 years.   More of a general wildlife guide,  he was very good, very accommodating and a pleasure to be around.
We started off with 3 nights at Araras  Eco Lodge.   Great stuff around the property, which was crawling with Caiman, Coatis, Capybara, and many birds, including nesting Hyacinth Macaws.    The property has 3 towers for viewing.   The most productive is the largest tower, or more appropriately the board walk to it…Along this walk during our stay we had 1 Brazilian Tapir, 1 Southern Tamandua, 2 Giant Anteaters, a troop of Black Howler Monkeys, and several Brown Capuchins.   Other mammals in the area included 6 Crab-eating Fox and 3 Crab-eating Raccoons as well as several Marsh, Red Brocket, and Brown Brocket Deer.   We were lucky to be there on a Wednesday as well, as they do a barbeque once a week after a canoe trip on the Rio Claro.   Here we had great views of Black-tailed Marmosets and a Crab-eating Fox…and the food was good, too.    Araras is a great place for wildlife and a great staff…like Cristalino , highly recommended.
The next phase of the trip was mainly to find Jaguars.   So we headed south from Araras to stay at Hotel Porto Jofre for the next 4 nights.    We were lucky to watch an Ocelet walking down the road in broad daylight on the way down.   We also had many good birds, especially raptors and waterbirds.   Once in Porto Jofre, you set out in a boat and scan the banks of the rivers and tributaries all day and see what you  can find.    The hotel also has its own radio frequency for calling in Jaguar sightings…this helped!   The first day on the Cuiaba River got us 2 Jaguars , including a large male that was actively hunting.   We also saw several Giant Otters.    Day 2 unfortunately produced no Jaguars (I think only one group saw 1 that day).   But we had another Tapir and several more otters.   Day 3 was great…we had 6 Jaguars on the day, including a mother and 2 half-grown cubs (our boat driver spotted these), and a large male that sprawled out on a sandy bank that allowed great viewing…nice!     If you want Jaguars, come to Porto Jofre, namely in the dry season.   It’s that simple.
Our last night was spent at Pousada Rio Claro – this is located not too far south of Araras on the Transpantaneira.    Once we arrived from Porto Jofre, we had lunch and relaxed a couple of hours before taking an evening boat ride on the Rio Claro.   We saw plenty on the ride as we were entertained by Black-collared Hawks taking piranha out of the water, Giant Otters by the boat, a Jacare Caiman that jumped out of the water to take a fish off a stick, and great looks at an Agami Heron.    We also got nice looks at Band-tailed and Nacunda Nighthawks before got back to the dock.   A nice end to a great tour…
On this trip we saw nearly 400 species of birds and at least 30 species of mammals.  The Pantanal is especially good for photo opportunities as well…
Many thanks to John Willemsen of BNT for answering a million questions and organizing this for us!

Walt Chambers
Ellerslie, Georgia

Friday, 14 September 2012

Great time in the Amazon & Pantanal

We had a fantastic time and enjoyed the trip immensely. Thank you for organizing everything so well. The lodges were great and the guides were excellent. (All but one which I'll get to in a moment.) I can't think of anything I'd do differently. Rio Mutum to Juma Lodge to the Amazon Clipper was the perfect order. It was great to be on the boat and have more time to relax at the end of the holiday. The tree climbing was a really fun adventure and the American guy who led it (can't think of his name at the moment) was excellent. The guide, Silvio, at Posada do Rio Mutum was also really excellent. Elcio was an incredible guide at Juma Lodge and Christoph was fantastic on the Amazon Clipper. I would not hesitate to recommend any of them to your clients in the future. 

Thanks again. I have already recommended you to several couples here. 


Phil Mastores

Friday, 31 August 2012

Wonderful Pantanal trip staying at Pousada Xaraes

I as just emailing you to let you know that Jeff, Scott and I (the three Canadians) had an absolutely amazing stay in the Pantanal, and it was not due to all of the animals that we saw but the wonderful staff that work at the lodge! Fernando was a fantastic driver and great to talk to on the way out there and on the way back in to catch our flight. And we cannot say enough about Carol, Karen and Wesley, the three of them made our stay and tours during the day absolutely memorable. They are fantastic guides and hosts, and you are extremely lucky to have such knowledgable and fantastic people working at the lodge.

We will definitely recommend this tour to any of our friends who consider going to Brazil!

Thanks again for everything!

Tim Wozney