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Found 27 results

  1. We traveled 3 weeks in August 2016 to the Brazilian Pantanal. As Chilean residents, we have already traveled in the South American tropics (Madidi National Park in Bolivia, Amboro National Park in Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Iguazu Falls in Argentina, Mata Atlantica in Eastern Brazil). We had already seen pumas (at Torres del Paine in the Chilean Patagonia and at Madidi NP in the Bolivian Amazon) as well as jaguars at Madidi. We had also seen giant anteaters, giant otters and much more. But we were totally aware that Pantanal would offer us outstanding possibilities of spotting the largest cat of the Americas, the mighty jaguar or onça pintada. And contrary to the rainforests, it would be much easier to see wildlife in Pantanal. Animal densities are really high, and the Pantanal is an open habitat, rather good for observation, while on the other hand it is much harder to clearly see wildlife in the Amazon. We decided to focus our safari on jaguars, tapirs, giant anteaters and giant otters. We thought it might be a great idea to visit Northern and Southern Pantanal at the same time. For jaguars, we had to take a decision if we would go to Porto Jofre, as 95% of the travelers do. I was really afraid of seeing a jaguar with 15 to 20 other boats, I really like exclusivity when I want to meet wildlife or to be in contact with nature. I have seen on ST that there was another destination with some reasonable possibilities to spot jaguars on the Rio Paraguay, at Taiama reserve. For tapirs, I was clear that Pouso Alegre was the right place to visit. There are some remarquable sightings on the web from this lovely place. For giant anteaters, chances are larger in Southern Pantanal. I was considering different fazendas, but eventually decided to visit Fazenda Barranco Alto (FBA) after reading the amazing reports on ST. I might have chosen Bahia das Pedras too. The are many differences between Northern Pantanal, which is located inside Mato Grosso state, and Southern Pantanal which is in Mato Grosso do Sul. Safaris in both regions are largely done on private land. But one main difference is that most fazendas (such as FBA) in Southern Pantanal, provide all inclusive service (food, accommodation, guiding) with the exception of transport. On the other hand, most places in Northern Pantanal, need to contract a guide, that is not included with accommodation and food in the Fazendas. We decided to use Pantanal Jaguar Safaris agency from Andre and Leen. There were really nice comments about there small agency, based at Chapada dos Guimaraes. We exchanged few mails to set our program, according to our dates and to availabilities. We were offered two alternatives to track jaguars: Porto Jofre, or the new Pedrinho floatel at Rio Paraguay. I decided to try the second option. I also asked for one night at Rio Claro. We ended booking one night at Mato Grosso Hotel, based on the bank of the Pixaim river, not so far from Santa Tereza Fazenda. We were told by Leen it would should a good place to see the giant otters. Well, the program was decided. We would stay one might at Cuiaba, 1 night Pantanal Mato Grosso Hotel, 4 nights at Rio Paraguay, 4 nights on the Paraguay River, 1 night at Chapada dos Guimaraes. We would then fly with Azul to Campo Grande, from where we would drive to Aquidauna and take a short flight to FBA, where we would stay for 5 nights.
  2. We recently just returned from an independent five night trip to the Pantanal and thought we'd share some tips (a photo report should hopefully follow in due course!). All the hotel rates are per night for two people as of August 2017, on a full board basis-sodas and juices were an extra 5 BRL a time. We arrived late into Cuiaba and picked up a car from Unidas, who had to be called to pick us up from the airport (though it is within walking distance). Long, very thorough inspection of the car, including underneath, as well as taking fingerprints. Stayed nearby that night in Varzea Grande. Our first stop was Piuval (620 BRL), a very comfortable place with good rooms and facilities. Definitely the best birding we had anywhere, as well as two crab-eating foxes returning to the jeep after the complimentary boat trip and two the next morning. The night safari was disappointing (150 BRL) with a couple more foxes and a crab-eating raccoon, but we very narrowly missed a giant armadillo in the car park. Food was the best we had in the Pantanal, but the place is clearly set up for tour groups so that is a consideration. English is well spoken by the staff. Our next stop for two nights was Pouso Alegre (650 BRL), which has simple but nice enough rooms. Luiz was tremendously helpful, personally taking us out for free on two drives and a walk with a fellow independent-travelling guest. He is clearly very supportive of self drivers, and was happy to give us information both before and during our stay. Great mammals here with more foxes, coatis, three species of monkey, agouti, capybara, six brocket deer, wild pigs etc. (though only a distant sighting of a tapir at night) as well as some nice birds with good macaw viewing and an excellent feeding station for toucans and aracaris. Food had more flavour than Piuval but less variety-good for veggies however like myself. Leaving Pouso Alegre, we drove down to Porto Jofre (nearly three hours) planning to go on a jaguar trip with Eduardo from the Jaguar Ecological Reserve (BRL 880). However, after two hours of trying to find him we found out that he had already taken his boat out full with other people despite us confirming the previous evening. He then lied to us in the follow-up conversations, even though we saw his boat out on the river full of people. Understandably, not recommended. However, eventually we reached a deal with the Hotel Pantanal Norte to go out for six hours for BRL 575 (reduced from 792). We had four separate jaguar sightings, all of which were excellent for photography, within an hour or so late morning. Then it slowed as all the boats went off for lunch, and we only saw one in the afternoon, as well as six otters, an iguana and a buffalo. We were very happy with the results, but our guide was pretty poor, only really following the crowds of boats and not spotting much himself. He also just parked up and chatted with his 'mates' on the other boats in the afternoon for an hour, and as we don't speak Portuguese, it was difficult to communicate our frustration. To his credit however he was a good driver and manoeuvred us well for photo opportunities, and our tally of five jaguars was an excellent result. We were going to go out the next day, but as we were staying at the Hotel Mato Grosso (BRL 730 for what the triple booked, but actually 573 at its double rate), two hours drive away, and didn't want to mess around with Eduardo again we decided to leave it, happy with our tally. The hotel is in need of a bit of repair, with too many wasps around and flies allowed into the dining area. However, the rooms were spacious and because we had booked for three people (the others we had managed to change), we ended up with an extra boat tour for the two of us. Of the three organised, two were private and gave us nice viewings of otters and various birds fishing, as well as an iguana. Macaws, capybara and a deer were also found within the grounds, as well as close up views of a monkey and an orange-backed troupial. We also went to the Ocelot Hide at South Wild at 7:20 pm that gave us nice photos but was expensive for twenty minutes of viewing (400 BRL, negotiated from 500). However the crown jewel here was on the last morning when we got a knock on the door that there was a jaguar on the river and we could take the speed boat up. So up we went and after waiting a bit, us and two other boats saw not one but two jaguars, with a male aggressively pursuing a female. This was a fantastic way to end our Pantanal trip before heading back up to Cuiaba. Self-drive is entirely possible here and with a non 4X4 car too. In retrospect, we should have stayed down at Porto Jofre rather than Pixaim, as if we had returned for a second boat trip for the jaguars fuel would have been tight-Brazilian cars usually run on ethanol which is a lot less fuel efficient than petrol. I'm not convinced we would have seen much more with a guide, but it would have allowed us to do proper night drives with a spotlight ourselves rather than using our rather pathetic torch. However, we were certainly lucky with the weather and that no doubt helped our haul of photos from the trip. Re. other wildlife places in Brazil, we went to Caraca (think we paid about 320 BRL) which is excellent and not commercial at all, with two wolves seen for about 40 minutes, though photography isn't fantastic with the chairs and people in the way. Probably some good birding there too. Iguassu had some nice birds and coatis, and Brasilia's National Park some decent birding too (as well as some good birds nearby towards Anapolis and Pirenopolis in the Cerrado). There is also a park in Centro in Rio that has a large population of agouti; we found it by accident as it's next to a huge sixteen lane highway. They're fed and it's not exactly wild by any means as if they leave the park they'd have very slim chances of making it to the other side of the road, but for a species that is usually very difficult to photograph (I failed in the Pantanal and also with more than a dozen sightings in Corcovado, Costa Rica in December) it may be worth a look. EMAS and Canastra also looked interesting but were a long way to go from anywhere and sounded like they could potentially be very frustrating. Brazil as a whole was a good trip, though we both agreed that our previous trip to South America in Chile, a less wildlife-focused trip 1.25 years ago worked better as the country is much more developed. You will run into problems in Brazil, but most of them were eventually solved in our case, and the people were enormously helpful. Our lack of Portuguese made life difficult, and unfortunately Spanish wasn't that widely spoken either; often when people said they spoke Spanish they would quickly revert back to Portuguese after a few words! But it's certainly doable independently even without the language, and in the end we got pretty good results.
  3. First of all, thanks for being interested in my Pantanal trip report! I would like to preface this by saying that my photography skills are still under development (I'm still just doing trial and error in manual mode, how embarrassing!!), but I hope you will still get some enjoyment from the pictures anyhow The decision to visit the Pantanal was somewhat kismet as we had locked in and booked Botswana and Zambia for the end of May to mid June. Originally we had planned to go to Iceland and Hungary but the stars didn't align for this plan and upon researching we found that June onwards was a good time for the Pantanal. We knew May wasn't totally ideal, particularly for the jaguars, but we decided to roll the dice anyway. This story has a happy ending so not to worry! Initially our main objective was to see jaguars around Porto Jofre but after seeing pictures of giant anteaters on Safari Talk, my desire to see them grew and grew which led to expanding our trip to the southern part where they are apparently more reliable. Here was our itinerary for the Pantanal component of our trip: 1 1/2 days commuting 5 days Barranco Alto (Southern Pantanal) 1 day commuting 2 days SouthWild Pantanal Lodge (Northern Pantanal) 3 days SouthWild flotel (Northern Pantanal) 1 day SouthWild Pantanal Lodge (Northern Pantanal) We actually selected Barranco Alto based on the glowing reviews on this forum so there was no doubt that the South would be fantastic. And it was! For the North, I will say that while there were great reviews for SouthWild on the internet I was extremely apprehensive because I had started to read some not so nice things about them after we had booked. Since then we've learned that many historical, deep-rooted and complex issues exist between the fishermen, farmers and ecotourism companies which can be the source of some tension so I think it is necessary for anyone interested to try to understand some of these issues and make up their own minds before making any judgements. Prior to this trip we were also a bit more snobbish about feeding habituated animals like the ocelots, but now that we are on the other side we can say that there are certainly shades of grey to everything, particularly when it comes to conservation. Our incredible guide Paulo really opened our eyes to some of the behind-the-scenes issues (more on him later). Visiting the Pantanal was such an incredible and worthwhile adventure, I would recommend it to anyone interested in wildlife! My story begins with the typical delays on flight #1 from Sydney to Santiago and fretting over making the connection from Santiago to Sao Paulo. Thankfully we made the connection on time and overnighted in Sao Paulo before taking a flight out the next morning to Campo Grande where we were picked up for our transfer to Aquidauana and subsequent flight to Barranco Alto. Upon landing we were greeted by Ben and taken on a short tour of the main areas and our room. Immediately we were struck by how picturesque the ranch was. Our room's sunroom(!!) overlooked a large tree with a variety of cows grazing and resting in its shade, next to an expansive lake. Outside our window there were hummingbirds chasing butterflies away from their precious flowers, and walking around the main areas we noticed more dragonflies than we had ever seen before. Birds were everywhere and the sun was shining! We just knew it would be amazing here. For now here is a picture of a caiman outside our lodging
  4. This article was published a month ago, its main purpose is to value the jaguar.
  5. Ever since venturing to South America and the Brazilian Pantanal a few years ago (there's a 2010 trip report on here somewhere) I've had a hankering to go back. The goal then was jaguars and tapirs, but really any of the amazing wildlife of South America was on my list. I had visited the Peruvian Amazon years before, and then the Galapagos Islands in 1991, but my trip to Brazil left the lingering impression that if I wanted that "big game" feel that I get in Africa and India, then I needed to get back to the Pantanal! I had used Carlos Grandes and Pantanal Ecoexplorers in 2010 to organize the trip, and me and some buddies took the less traveled path to the Paraguay River and the Taiama Jaguar Reserve. It was adventurous for sure and we had a great time camping along the shore of the river across from a huge wood stork and roseate spoonbill rookery (noisy!) and our goal of seeing jaguars was realized with a fleeting glimpse of a female poking her head out of the reeds and disappearing moments later (but not before we snapped a quick picture!)...needless to say, I wanted more! (As a pretty important side note, I reached out to Carlos again to organize my trip to the Pantanal but the entire trip for me was dependent upon receiving a work bonus---when I finally got confirmation about a month prior to when I wanted to depart (I was in a race against time for jaguar "season" was wrapping up in late October) he had disappeared off Facebook and his website was down...I was forced to frantically begin contacting other potential organizers and learned when I was in the Pantanal that he had skipped the country and left a number of folks high and dry! Lodge owners, guides and tourist deposits! I was pretty shocked because my trip in 2010 went perfectly well, but I dodged a bullet apparently!! So, as I said, I was waiting for the green light on my bonus which gave me about 30 days to book flights and my trip. I googled cheap flights and bought them one at a time---a TAM flight from Orlando to Sao Paulo direct---a round trip Sao Paulo to Cuiaba on Gol---a Qatar flight direct to Buenos Aires---then a round trip to Trelew on Aerolineas Argentinas. The thought occurred to me that I might buy all of these single leg flights and get stuck in South America on the last one to the US! But I found a reasonable flight on Avianca back to Florida. I was able to join a small group staying at the Pantanal Jaguar Camp, two independent couple from the UK for a three night stay. So upon arrival in Cuiaba I had to stay one night at the Amazon Plaza (curious name for a hotel in the gateway city to the Pantanal but I digress) and then Pantanal Nature took it from there! They picked me up from my hotel, then two more stops at the hotels where the other travelers were staying and we were off... The Transpantaneira Highway was a safari unto itself....we had barely pulled out of Pocone under the famous sign and onto the dirt road before we were stopped by a yellow anaconda stretching across our "lane"...rather that twist and slither like I assumed all snakes did, this one was content to ripple his belly muscles and move in a long straight line across the road in no particular hurry...we piled out of the car and watched it make its way into the brush on the other side of the road. We were at times way-layed by groups of capybara and the occasional agouti. Even some caracaras picking apart a brilliant green snake. The sloughs along the side of the road were teeming with birds of all kinds and caimans by the score. Kingfishers were perched on the telephone wires and nosiy parakeets occupied these great shaggy nests in the palms. We crossed dozens of rickety bridges (there seems to be some effort to replacing the wooden ones with concrete ones) some so bad off we drove around them! We stopped off somewhere along the way for a pit stop but the overall trip to Pantanal Jaguar Camp took about five hours I'd guess... Pantanal Jaguar Camp and Pantanal Nature is owned by Ailton Lara. He has made a real comfortable place on the edge of the wilderness. Accommodations were basic, but clean and with AC. The food was excellent. I would definitely stay there again and highly recommend it. Ailton was doing an exploratory guided trip to a very wild area further to the south with a visitor that had been multiple times to visit the Pantanal. I wish I could remember the name of the national park but it had mountains and was beautiful. He arrived our second day and was a great host, serenading us with pantaneiro (cowboy) songs after dinner one night. Porto Jofre is not cheap because simply put, it's the best place in the world to see and observe jaguars...that's what you're paying for...a pair of hyacinth macaws visited us twice during our stay---such a charismatic bird! As an aside, the Pantanal is on par with Africa when it comes to bird fact, it may surpass it with it's toucans and macaws, rheas and jabiru storks and roseate spoonbills!
  6. Brazil Birds, Beasts and Big Waters From watching the incomparable sight of thousands of wildebeest leaping headlong into the Mara River to approaching a majestic bull elephant on foot, from bhundu bashing at speed after wild dogs hunting impala to sitting quietly amidst a family of mountain gorillas, Africa undeniably offers some of the greatest wildlife experiences you can have anywhere. However for me even the finest black-maned lion cannot compare to the beauty and majesty of a wild tiger nor can any wildlife experience on mainland Africa compare to standing in an Asian forest listing to the wonderful duetting song of gibbons. So inevitably at some point the wildlife enthusiast has to venture away from the wild shores of Africa to enjoy some of the amazing wildlife experiences that the rest of the world has to offer. At first thoughts turn perhaps to Asia after experiencing some of the best that this continent has to offer the mind inevitably turns to the Americas and in particular the world’s third largest species of cat. To stand the best chance of tracking down a jaguar there is really only one place to go which is why last October I found myself on a TAM flight to São Paulo in Brazil. Although my primary reason for choosing to go to Brazil was to see jaguars as quite a keen birder it’s hard to ignore the fact that the country has over 1,800 species of birds so seeing a good number of these was another major reason for wanting to go to Brazil. It’s not too surprising there are so many birds given what a huge country Brazil is, though to put things in perspective thanks to the Andes Mountains Ecuador despite being just a fraction of the size has over 1,600 species. Having such a huge list of birds makes Brazil a great country for birdwatching but also a very challenging one certainly for the amateur birder. As is true of most of the rest of South America, to stand any chance of seeing a lot more than just the commonest most conspicuous species you really need to be accompanied by a good bird guide. Unless you’re an exceptional birder and really know your stuff you’ll most likely be lost without a really good bird guide. This is why I opted to do a serious Brazilian birding and jaguar trip with Tropical Birding and then follow that with a brief look at one of the greatest natural wonders in the world Iguaçu Falls. From past experience serious birding trips can be very good for seeing all kinds of interesting mammals as well so I had high hopes of adding quite a few new species after all Brazil has I believe more species of mammal than any other country in the world. Aside from jaguars and other cats I was particularly keen to see giant otters an animal I’d previously only glimpsed once in Ecuador and maybe with luck a giant anteater or two and some armadillos or perhaps a sloth to name just a few.
  7. Searching for a tall leggy Brazilian beauty Wild adventures in Piaui and the Pantanal 20th of August to 3rd of September 2016 Introduction Tall and tan and young and lovely the girl from ... although the thought of sitting in a cafe in Rio drinking coffee or maybe caipirinhas watching beautiful Carioca girls walking down to the beach has some appeal, the girl from Ipanema was not the object of my quest. Instead as I'm sure most will have guessed the Brazilian beauty I was searching for while certainly foxy albeit in a more literal sense has four long legs rather than two. It is commonly known in English as the maned wolf and while not the weirdest of South America’s weird and wonderful creatures it is nonetheless an odd beast. Its name in Guarani is aguará guazú meaning ‘big fox’ this gave rise to its common bilingual Brazilian name Lobo-guara ‘wolf-fox’ but of course it is actually neither. In appearance it does look very fox like but its resemblance is not really to the foxes of South America but to the red fox of Eurasia and North America, in colouration at least. The maned wolf’s most obvious feature is its very long legs it is the world’s tallest wild canine which has led to it being nicknamed ‘a fox on stilts’ this is clearly an adaption to living in grassland. Of course as its name suggests it does have a mane which it can erect when threatened to make itself appear larger. Although referred to as a wolf it is remarkably un-wolf like in its behaviour being solitary and very timid and while clearly a carnivore perhaps more than half of its diet compromises vegetable matter. Especially fruit, its favourite food is the wolf apple Solanum lycocarpum. However it does put its large ears and pointed snout to good use catching rodents and rabbits and other small mammals and will take birds. Primarily it hunts at night and at dawn and dusk resting during the day, this combined with its solitary and timid nature makes it a very difficult animal to see in the wild. Maned wolves occur in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and the far southeast corner of Peru and formerly Uruguay where the species may be extinct. However by far the largest part of its range is in Brazil south of the Amazon Rainforest in the savannahs known as the Cerrado and in the Pantanal. Brazil is therefore the obvious country to visit to go and look for one but on a typical trip certainly if you were just going to the Pantanal you’d have to be extremely lucky to see one. The most you can possibly hope for is to chance upon one and catch a glimpse of it as it runs away. One place where you do have a very good chance of seeing one is Emas National Park in Goias and Matto Grosso do Sul. The habitat in this park is predominantly open grassland so if one is out and about you have reasonable chance of spotting it. However you still need a lot of luck, to be almost certain of seeing one you have to go to somewhere where wolves have been habituated. For some years most tourists have visited the Monastery at Serra da Canastra where the monks put out scraps of meat every night to feed the wolves. This was regarded as the best place to see maned wolves but apparently they no longer come quite so often after it was decided to put radio collars on them, (I don’t know for absolutely certain that this is true). In the last few years another site with habituated wolves has emerged in the recently created Parnaiba Headwaters National Park which straddles the borders of the states of Bahia, Piaui, maranhão and Tocantins. It was to this park and the so called ‘Wolf Camps’ that we decided to go to find our maned wolf. Mainly because In addition to an almost guaranteed view of a wolf, we would also have the chance to view bearded capuchin monkeys cracking palm nuts and get a close up view of some hyacinth macaws. We hoped to see other wildlife as well and also have a bit of an adventure in a part of Brazil that very few other tourists ever visit. From this little known corner of Brazil we would move on to the more familiar territory of the Pantanal in search of more of Brazil’s weird and wonderful wildlife. Not wanting to give too much away I decided not include any photos in this part, to make up for it I thought I would add some music. This version of Brazil’s best known song is by Bebel Gilberto, daughter of the famous João Gilberto who pioneered Bossa Nova music and played guitar and sang on the original recording. One last thing before I start the main report. Since I mentioned caipirinhas at the start, for the benefit of anyone who has not yet visited Brazil, a caipirinha is Brazil’s best known cocktail. It’s classically made with crushed lime, sugar, ice and cachaça a type of rum made from fermented cane juice that is Brazil’s national drink. If you visit Brazil you have to sample a caipirinha or two, it’s a very nice drink, but every mix is slightly different, so if you’re given a jug, it pays to be a little cautious if you don’t want to end up under the table.
  8. I hope some prior Pantanal/Brazil travelers can help with this question. We are heading to the Pantanal in late August for jaguar and birding and then on to Alta Floresta for more birding. I am getting worried because I am reading that the domestic flights only allow 5 kg (11 lbs) carry-on. Of course my camera bag weights much more than that. There is no way I can get it under about 20 lbs, with two bodies, 200-400 lens, etc. My husband carries a similar weight bag. They are within size limits (GuraGear 22L and a Lowepro) but definitely overweight. We are flying on Delta to Sao Paolo, so that's no problem, but then GOL between Sao Paolo-Cuaiba. And then we are on Aero Azul to Alta Floresta. Am I going to have a problem?? I am reading on Flyertalk etc that they are really strict in Brazil with the weight. Starting to panic! We've been to the Pantanal once before but it was back in 2006 and I'm sure there weren't such tight restrictions. Thanks for any advice/reassurance!
  9. First off, I have to thank all the other Safaritalk members who have posted such great Pantanal trip reports over the years. I learned tons of information from folks like Janzin, Cheetah80, Treepol, TonyQ, Bush Dog, and Atravelynn. I don't think that I would have pulled the trigger on this trip without their inspiration. I need to especially thank TonyQ who went out of his way to help me with the electrical adapters that I would need in the Pantanal. Here was our Itinerary: 26 hour door to door travel on American and Avianco airlines 1 Night Hotel Prime Deville Cuiaba 2 Nights Pouso Alegre 5 Nights Hotel Porto Jofre Chartered flight to Barranco Alto 4 Nights Barranco Alto 27 hour door to door on American and Azul The two travel days were not fun. But, what was in between certainly was . With that said, here is a link to day 1 of the report: Alan
  10. When speaking of the Pantanal, jaguars are still in the spotlight and to a lesser extent giant anteaters, giant otters and tapirs while macaws are barely mentioned. The jabiru is even more popular than them. I think this is totally unfair and that perhaps it’s them who are the real stars, especially the three major species. Indeed, these magnificent creatures are a feast for the eyes and they are always moving. You can spend hours watching them and never get bored. To do them justice, here is a selection of photographs, all taken at Barranco Alto. Honour where honour is due, let’s start with the biggest one and also the most spectacular, the HYACINTH MACAW. Here is to begin a series of some of their stunts and antics, seen in July 2010. To be continued
  11. As usual, I'm a bit behind in my trip report and I thought the time to do it is now, before I leave on my next trip (India, in February.) As before, I don't keep a day by day journal and so this report will likely be a few anecdotes and lots of photos The Prologue: This was our 2nd trip to the Pantanal; the first, in 2006, was before the jaguar "tourist industry" really was in full force, and at that time we didn't even consider the possibility of seeing jaguar (although our guide for that trip, Paulo Boute, did tell us it was possible "further down the highway.") We had a great trip, and fell in love with the area, and the ease of bird photography! But back then, we didn't venture further along the Transpantaneira then about half-way. So for this trip, heading all the way to Porto Jofre, and finding jaguar was the primary goal! We attempted to hire Paulo Boute again, but he was already fully booked for our preferred time period. (Keep in mind, we were inquiring over one full year ahead--in July 2014!) We really wanted to go late August 2015, as late August into September is the prime period for jaguars. Looking around for another option, I contacted Pantanal Jaguar Safaris. I selected them based partly on the fact that they were locals, but also trained biologists, and they seemed to be well versed in birds as well as mammals. I was immediately very happy with their communication and didn't hesitate to go forward with was a great decision. I'll say more about them at the end of the report; but the company consists of a husband and wife: Andre, who is a native Brazilian, and Leen, his wife, from Belgium. Both do the guiding, and Leen does the back-office work and organization. Since flights to Brazil are long and expensive for us, we'd also decided we wanted to visit a 2nd location. We'd been to Iguazu on our previous trip, and after much back and forth with Leen, looking into adding the southern Pantanal, or Emas National Park, or...we settled on ending our trip at Cristalino Jungle Lodge, in the Amazon. In the end our dates were determined by who had rooms available when---the Porto Jofre Hotel and Cristalino were already very booked for this time period and we only had very few dates we could choose from. This was our final itinerary: Arrive 8/24 in Cuiaba 1 night Curicaca Lodge 2 nights Pouso Alegre 4 nights Porto Jofre Hotel 1 night Piuval Lodge Fly Cuiaba to Alta Floresta 4 nights Cristalino Lodge Fly back to Cuiaba, overnight at Hits Pantanal Hotel September 6 Fly home Our original flight was to arrive in the morning, and we'd have a full afternoon to drive to our first lodging. Unfortunately, Delta changed the schedule and we were not to arrive until almost 4 p.m. By the time we got to the Transpantaneira it was dusk, and there was not much opportunity for photos. The shot everyone takes, although this was actually taken on our way out many days later as the light was wrong on the way in! It felt amazing to be back here! We did make a few stops and the pools filled with egrets, herons, ibis and storks immediately brought back how much we loved this place! But the real birding would have to wait until tomorrow, as it was nearly dark.
  12. Dears ST members, I am currently planning a trip to Pantanal for July 2015. I was initially considering Pouso Alegre, Barrenco Alto and Jaguar Extreme with South Wild, but the price is really high (4200 USD per person) and I would like to consider any other solution in Puerto Jofre. What could you recommend me as an alternative to South Wild in order to see jaguars and giant river otters? Does staying at Puerto Jofre and taking tours or guides allow to visit the same areas than the ones South Wild visit? I would like to understand further more the options, areas, pro and cons of any solutions. Thanks for your help! Jeremie
  13. Part 1 - Pouso Alegre Here is the first part of our "visual" Pantanal trip report - for those with short attention spans ;-) I'm sorry I don't have the time for a day by day journal, but this is better than nothing I suppose! I know, I am a bad bad STer. Anyhow, lets get started! Our trip was organised by Brazil Nature Tours - John was very responsive to my emails and organised everything to perfection for us - he was also great help in deciding on our itinerary to ensure we saw a wide variety of fauna. I definitely recommend his services. Our first stop was Pouso Alegre. Very wildlife rich area which we enjoyed a lot. Hyacinth Macaws hang around in the property as well as a variety of other birds, mammals and reptiles. The property is large so game driving also needs to be done to fully appreciate the area. The game driving was very productive for us, especially near the waterhole where we saw Giant Anteater as well as Tapir. One day we even saw a mother and baby tapir - the baby tapirs are incredibly striking and cute. The accommodation at Pouso Alegre is very rustic and basic - but perfectly adequate. The rooms were clean, beds comfortable and there was a/c and hot water. What more could one want? There were also some tiny frogs in the bathroom for entertainment Food was ok - served 3 times a day buffet style. There is a fridge with drinks available all day - operates on an "honesty bar" basis, so you keep track of what you take yourself and then pay the tab before you check out. Drinking water was available for free all day (as long as you have your own bottle for it) Let me just comment here that in the Pantanal prices are similar to African safari destinations but you relatively won't get much as regards accommodation and level of service. It's just the way it is ... Horse riding is available and I would recommend this activity as you get to explore the areas where you can't go by car or on foot. It is not the best way to see the animals, and definitely not good for big lens photography - but it was fun. One favourite moment of mine is when we were riding in the water through the swamps and then thousands of white egrets took flight in front of us - a magical moment (see last photo). Ok that was it with the words for Part 1, I think the video can show things much better than I can explain them! Next instalment might take a while as it takes time to process the video. (Video shot and edited by my partner) Here are a few of my photos: Hyacinth Macaw Tapir with Baby Giant Anteater with baby. It's facing the other way though Lesser Anteater/Southern Tamandua. This is a bad photo but it was in very thick bushes and I stupidly went in with only my big lens. I was all scratched and my shirt torn but it was still worthwhile to get a bad photo of this fantastic sighting Rhea Agouti - eating a piece of manioc it found in the "compost" pile at the back of the lodge Chestnut Eared Aracari Crab Eating Fox '' Horseriding magic!
  14. The goals of this year’s South American safari were good weather and jaguar in the Pantanal and to explore ‘wild’ Peru in Manu, Tambopata and Chaparri Reserve. We opted to island-hop our way back to Australia via Easter Island and Tahiti as it was a good opportunity to visit these remote destinations. The highlights: A giant anteater with a baby on its back Walking up to an armadillo as it snuffled along Jaguar, jaguar, jaguar – 11 different animals Black collared anteater The drive over the Andes and down the Manu Road Hummingbirds River trips in Manu and Tambopata Macaw licks 3 wild sloth Spectacled bears at Chaparri Lodge Moai, Easter Island The itinerary was: Southern Pantanal 3 nights Fazenda Baia das Piedras Northern Pantanal 4 nights Porto Jofre Hotel 1 night Jaguar Ecological Reserve 2 nights Rio Clara 2 nights Pousada Alegre 1 night Pousada Piuval 3 nights Hotel Baiazinha Southern Peru 2 nights, Casa Andina Arequipa 1 night Colca Canyon Lodge 1 night Palacio del Inca, Cusco Manu and Tambopata 2 nights Cock of the Rock Lodge 3 nights Manu Wildlife Center 1 night Refugio Amazonas 2 nights Tambopata Research Center Northern Peru 1 night Casa Andina Grande, Chiclayo 2 nights Chaparri Lodge Polynesia 2 nights Hotel Tauraa, Easter Island 2 nights Pension de la Plage, Tahiti Photos from the Pantanal, Peru and Polynesia are online together with accommodations from South America. This trip began with extraordinarily long flights from Sydney to Sao Paulo via Auckland and Santiago – I gave up counting the journey time after 30 hours. Anyway, we finally arrived in Brazil and made our way to the Airport Marriott for a short sleep before the flight to Campo Grande and the beginning of our Pantanal adventure. PANTANAL The Pantanal is a land of quiet rivers that encourage both types of reflection – here’s one type: and here's the other Along these waterways, caiman lurk capybaras graze jaguars snooze and cocoi herons stand sentinel at the water’s edge The Pantanal is also a land of cattle And cowboys In this land of water, wildlife and cattle, horses breakfast with chachalacas And drink with caiman
  15. The color coded sections are: Muriqui Monkey Mania Pantanal Pumapalooza Itinerary Agents, Accommodations, Arachnids Fazenda Barranco Alto How I spent my 6 nights at Fazendo Barracno Alto Muriqui Muriqui Monkey Mania The Muriqui or Woolly Spider Monkey is the largest primate in the Western Hemisphere. It is one of the most endangered monkeys in the world with a remaining population of about 1000. Muriquis live in the Atlantic Forest area of Brazil, an environment with 40 times the biodiversity of the Amazon basin. In 2007 I visited the Caratinga Research Station in the Feliciano Miguel Abdala Reserve, located in the state of Minas Gerais, to observe Muriquis, among other species. As luck would have it, I saw only a few of the approximately 320 resident Muriquis, and those were only visible at a great distance through a spotting scope. Hoping for a better encounter, I returned to the research station in Sept 2013. A Caratinga researcher/tracker accompanies all guests now, an excellent policy which increases not only the odds of Muriqui sightings, but of Brown Howlers, Black capped Capuchins, and Buffy headed Marmosets. Our brief marmoset sighting (no photos) took several hours of hilly hiking, but the other species were easier to find. Black Capped Capuchin Brown Howlers, adult and juvenile I was particularly thrilled with the relatively close views from 8:00 am to 9:00 am on our first day, where about 30 members of one of the four Muriqui groups residing in the reserve, were very visible. Since Muriquis prefer upper canopy or mid-canopy, it can be difficult to see them clearly. Muriquis Piece of Advice: For anyone with neck or back trouble, get your neck in shape before going by looking straight up, binocs resting your face, for a couple of minutes at a time. I’d suggest 3 sets of 6 reps. Only about 350 people visit the 2,365 acre reserve annually and that includes local school groups of 40-ish at a time. In fact I was told that there would be 40 kids visiting the day after I left. School visits are on scheduled only on days not booked by others visitors, so no chance of inadvertently becoming a member of a 4th grade field trip. Mother and baby muriqui
  16. We have just returned from a wonderful trip to the Pantanal – a trip inspired by and informed by Safaritalk. (You wait a year for a Pantanal Trip Report and two come along on the same day!) Itinerary (26th August 2014 – 12 September 2014, UK-UK) South Pantanal: 4 nights– Barranco Alto North Pantanal: I night Cuiaba 2 Nights Pouso Rio Clara 3 nights Hotel Porto Jofre 1 Night Jaguar Ecological Reserve 3 nights Pouso Allegre I night Sao Paulo Why the Pantanal? We obviously hoped to see jaguar, but it is clear from the reports that there is so much more to see – and in fact our main inspiration was the hope of seeing Giant Anteater, and the variety of birds. We are not really birders, but it looked like there were a lot of large, colourful birds that even we could see! This was a trip inspired by Safaritalk. A year ago, we had returned from Zambia and were looking at a variety of trip reports when we saw the report by @@Treepol and thought it looked wonderful. We then looked at report by @@kittykat23uk of their trip with Julinho in the north Pantanal. We also enjoyed and were helped greatly by reports of @michalibk, @@inyathi, and @@pedro maia ,@@Jochen and two reports by @Atravellyn with lots of practical detail It was also informed by Safaritalk in many practical details from the trip planning section, with many helpful responses to questions and the trip reports mentioned. Treepol was also extremely helpful in giving detailed advice through email and we are very grateful to her for that.
  17. I am just back from a 10 days stay at Fazenda Barranco Alto (FBA), my favorite place in the Pantanal, north and south mingled.. It was my 8th (3 only dedicated to FBA) trip to this fantastic region of Brazil and once more, I was not disappointed. As I only joined ST lately, this trip report will include pictures and impressions of the previous 7 other trips also. I would also like to show that the Pantanal is not only the jaguar, but also a lot of other fascinating species and I think in particular of the magnificent macaws. I will not repeat datas, already mentioned exhaustively, last year, by Lynn in the report she made on account of her September 2013 visit ; things did not change dramatically in one year. I arrived, with my wife, at Campo Grande (CGR) airport, on September, the 4th. Lucas, the husband of Marina, owner of FBA, was waiting for us. We went by road to Aquidauana and then flew (about 30 minutes) to the farm. You can see this from the plane, on the way to FBA, the yellow trumpet tree (ipeh). We left FBA on the 13th with Vavah, their main subcontractor for road transfers. It took us about 6 hours to reach CGR. As our flight was scheduled for the next day, we stayed at Vale Verde Hotel. The transfer by road is termed an adventure, because of the bumpy dirth part section between the farm and the gravel road. This is proved when it is made in awful weather conditions, like we had last year in October, on our way back. Indeed, soon after we left the farm, a thunder storm broke and it did not stop raining until we reached CGR. The brave Vavah had to open and close the some forty gates under pelting rain. Luckily, he was well equiped, he had rubber boots. There has been some changes since last year. In the main building, the wall between the common library and the computer room was demolished. A new construction with 2 new rooms was built. There is a small entrance hall with one room on the right and one on the left. The rooms are a bit bigger, as well as the bathrooms, and especially more luminous, with a great view on the pool, behind the lodge. The following pictures were taken from the gate next to the lodge, at dawn. The new rooms are now between the gate and the 2 caranda palm trees in the foreground The beautiful taruma close to the gate
  18. The jabiru is a large stork that is numerous in the Pantanal where they are usually seen in pairs on grasslands or in shallow water. The jabiru's nest is a large untidy construction of sticks. Fazenda Baia das Pedras, Pantanal, July 2013. Pousada Alegre, Pantanal, July 2013 Paraguay River, Pantanal, July 2013.
  19. The Campo flicker is a member of the woodpecker family. It commonly occurs in open areas where it forages for ants and termites. Fazenda Baia das Pedras, Pantanal, July 2013
  20. The Wattled jacana is a common wading bird found around marshland and ponds and easily distinguished by long toes and nails that enable them to walk on floating vegetation. In flight, the greenish yellow flight feathers are conspicuous. Juvenile Wattled Jacana, Black Channel, Pantanal, July 2013.
  21. You´re right, I´m not very creative with titles. Calm waters, moist lush green meadows, fish fighting for air and being feasted upon by myriads of birds, jaguars silently prowling the riverbanks, always on the search for a careless capybara or a caiman – it was a TV nature documentary with these images that made me interested in the Pantanal, the great wetlands of Brazil. At first I didn´t even think that one could see jaguars there. A secretive cat, mostly staying deep in the undergrowth and avoiding humans who had always been its deadly enemy – and therefore mostly invisible, that´s how I pictured the chances. When researching a bit more I was delighted to learn that there are places where the chances of seeing this magnificent cat, surpassed only by tiger and lion in size, are surprisingly good. Reading reports here by the likes of @@Atravelynn or @@kittykat23uk further proved that apparently one doesn´t have to be all that lucky to see jaguars but has to be rather unlucky missing them if you go to the right places. With that in mind, and the prospect to see as interesting animals as capybaras, giant otters, anteaters, tapirs and their likes, and my newfound (thanks to India) interest in birds, the decision to travel to the Pantanal was made. We finally booked with the agency . Based in Poconé, the entry gate to Brazil, run by a German, Mr. Stysch, who answered to all our questions quickly and competently, lots of very positive clients feedback on the guestbook , a German-speaking guide (not a necessity but a nice plus) and a very informative and extensive homepage convinced us. A good choice, we had a wonderful time, everything was perfectly organized, communications ran fast, information accurate. We will definitely go with them in the future. As with India, we decided to include some of Brazil´s most famous sights into the trip and so came finally up with the following itinerary. (I included travel times and our activities.) Sept 20 Departure in Austria at 09.00 Sept 21 Arrival in Cuiaba at 14.00, overnight there at hotel Gran Odara. Sept 22 Drive to Fazenda Sao Sebastiao (~ 6 hours), afternoon walks and (evening) game drives Sept 23 Fazenda Sao Sebastiao, boat trip, walks and (evening) game drives Sept 24 Fazenda Sao Sebastiao, boat trip, walks and (evening) game drives Sept 25 Fazenda Sao Sebastiao, boat trip to Isla Tamaia, (evening) game drive Sept 26 Drive to Poconé (~ 5 hours), lunch at Pousada Ueso, proceed on the Transpanteira with many stops and some walks (~ 6 hours), arrive in Porto Jofre at about 20.00 Sept 27 Porto Jofre, all-day boat trip Sept 29 Porto Jofre, all-day boat trip Sept 30 Porto Jofre, all-day boat trip, night game drive (00.00 – 03.00) Sept 31 Breakfast at Porto Jofre, walk, depart at 09.00, drive on the Transpantaneira to Rio Claro with many stops (~ 4 hours), lunch there, afternoon boat trip, evening game drive Oct 1 Rio Claro, Walk through the gallery forest, afternoon boat trip, night game drive (23.00 – 02.00) Oct 2 Breakfast at Rio Claro, drive at 08.00 on the Transpantaneira to Pousada Piuval with a stop at Pousada Curicara, lunch at Piuval, afternoon walk in the gallery forests, view tower, evening game drive Oct 3 Pousada Piuval, morning game drive and walk, at 08.00 drive to Poconè and one-hour scenic flight from there, afternoon horse ride, game drive and walk Oct 4 Depart at 02.30, flight from Cuiaba (05.55) to Brasilia (about 80 minutes flight time), city tour, overnight there Oct 5 Flight to Iguacu via Sao Paolo (Departure 08.00, arrival 13.40), visit to the bird park in Iguacu, overnight in Hotel St. Martin Oct 6 Iguacu Falls (Brasilian side) with helicopter flight, visit to the Itaipu dam in the afternoon Oct 7 Iguacu Falls (Argentinan side) with boat tour Oct 8 Visit the bird park, flight to Rio de Janeiro (depart at 14.00, arrival 15.30), Copacabana Beach, overnight Hotel Copacabana Mar Oct 9 Corcovado, Sugarloaf Mountain, Tijuca Forest Oct 10 Old Town, City, Copacabana Oct 11 Copacabana, depart at 13.00 for airport Oct 12 Arrival back home at 22.00 We flew with TAM airlines since they offer an international and domestic flight package for a reasonable price. All flights were dead on time, and baggage always arrived safely. Meals were alright, and the entertainment programme would have been wonderful if their headphones would be compatible with the seat-plugins. Unfortunately they aren´t, and so you have to decide – do you want to have sound on your left or your right ear. *grumble* Getting there from Austria was a long travel, we left for the local airport at 09.00 a.m. and finally arrived in Cuiaba at 14.00. The stopover in Sao Paolo particularly wouldn´t pass. But we could see palms from the airport, the different vegetation, and some Black Vultures were around, so the excitement of being in a foreign country again outbalanced our fatigue. In Cuiaba the sudden heat outside after so many hours in climatized rooms was a bit of a shock. We met our guide Ariberto. First impressions were very positive, a likeable gentleman, and his charming accent when speaking German would often made me smile. After check-in we went for a little walk in the city but our impressions from our drive to the hotel and what Ariberto had said only confirmed: Cuiaba is totally unnoteworthy, and presently half the city seems to be under construction in preparation for next year´s soccer mania. So we soon returned to the hotel. (Gran Odara, To be recommended, nice rooms and the best breakfast buffet we had during our trip.) When trying to get down to dinner we waited nearly 20 minutes for elevators because apparently every single guest tried to do the same thing at exactly the same time. From the way everyone dressed there was a wedding party going on (or Brazilians seriously overdress for dinner). Quite unnerved and pretty fatigued we just gave up on the elevators, decided to ditch dinner altogether and crashed. Not the worst decision, we slept through till next morning and so jetlag was defeated. Cuiaba We left Cuiaba at 07.00. The drive to Cáceres was quite nice, a straight smooth tarmac road, traffic wasn´t to bad and way first leads through a beautiful Cerrado area, the wooded savanna that once dominated much of Brazil but is quickly diminishing because of the demands of agriculture. The Road to Cáceres Later on we reached the foothills of the Chapada dos Guimarães, the local table mountains, a particularly interesting landscape with a mixture of rolling hills and steep rugged rock. Seemed very fitting for Pumas, and against better knowledge I always half-expected to see one. (I didn´t, of course.) After a fuel stop in Cáceres the Pantanal – and with it the trip – started properly. The first little ponds materialized, we crossed Rio Paraguai, our grand companion for the next four days. Soon we left the main road behind and proceeded on a small sandy and very bumpy driveway, leading to Fazenda Sao Sebastiao. You really need a good car here. Our Car was fine. Greater Rheas were our first sighting, almost immediately after we had left the main road. A sight quite common in the common day, though they are not particularly approachable. Soon after we had our first classic Pantanal image. A Savanna Hawk perching on a fence post, and a small drying-out water pool with all sort of birds. Here we saw Brazilian Teal, Snowy Egret, Bare-Faced and Plumbeous Ibis and Yellowlegs. As we were already leaving the hawk decided we deserved a closer look and flew on to the very fence post closest to the car! Savanna Hawk We soon left this open terrain, surroundings got more thickly vegetated, and drier and drier as we proceeded. (Open windows were not a good idea, way too much sand!) We saw Rheas again, two Red-Legged Seriemas and one Six-Banded Armadillo shuffling across the road and quickly disappearing in the shrubbery. Greater Rhea Then our first caiman sighting – but not exactly like we had imagined it: Very dead Yacaré Caiman and Black Vultures Caimans can survive for a long time without food, and when their pools dry out they are capable of migrating considerable distances to the next water. These ones weren´t, for whatever reason, and the Black Vultures were having a field day. We took some time to watch Black-Backed Stilts, Sandpipers and Gray-Necked Wood Rails, but then the wind turned. Wow, dead caiman can stink! Definitely time to move on. After more Rheas we got our first sighting of Toco Toucans. Magnificently beautiful birds, and their enormous beak has been the topic of much debate in science. A cooling system to better regulate body temperature seems to be the prevailing opinion. Ariberto thinks differently, and what he said made the Toucans immediately appear a little less friendly: The like to eat little chicks, and their long beaks come in handy for getting into the sometimes intricate nests of species like Rufous Hornero or Caciques. Toco Toucan Just in time for our arrival at the Facenda we had the pleasure of also seeing the Pantanal´s heraldic bird, the Jabiru. The first of many, many sightings, I was delighted what an almost ever-present sight this wonderful bird is. We settled into our accommodations at Fazenda Sao Sebastiao ( Entrance Gate Rooms a bit rustic, but the surroundings were fantastically beautiful. (I will write a bit more on the Fazenda in coming chapters.) Fazenda Sao Sebastiao After a simple but very good lunch the first mammal highlight of the trip materialized. In fact, next to the kitchen! So unexpected, and so extraordinary, I could barely believe my eyes when I saw her – Ninha! Who´s Ninha? That´s Ninha! A young female tapir, her mother taken by a jaguar about 1 ½ years ago when she was just a few months old. The farm workers saved her from starving in the wild and brought her up. She has mostly returned to her natural habitat and wanders around the gallery forests but about every 2 weeks or so she returns “home” to the Fazenda. And promptly tries to get into the kitchen where she can always expect to be fed with a few delicacies. What an unexpected delight, and what a gentle and beautiful animal. We could feed her with fruit (she would share with a few hens), even pet her, and she would patiently permit it and bear our overbearing enthusiasm for her. She even seemed to quite enjoy it. Only after half an hour or so she had enough and after taking a quick look through the kitchen again to make sure she hadn´t missed anything she wandered off again. Ariberto smiled. He hadn´t told us of her because no one could know if Ninha would show up for our stay. We were really lucky she did. I wasn´t even sure we would see a tapir at all, and now we had even touched one. Great start! Thanks Ninha, for a great surprise!
  22. As a direct result of reading wonderful trip reports on Safaritalk, we have decided to go to the Pantanal in August/September 2014. (These have included reports by @@Treepol , @@Jochen , @@Atravelynn , @@michael-ibk , @@inyathi , @@kittykat23uk , @@pedro maia We have also looked at planning notes that others have done. I have already received invaluable advice from Treepol and would be interested into tapping into the experience of others. We are most interested in mammals - we like birds but are not birders. We will probably go to the South Pantanal first (Barranco Alto) for 3 or 4 nights We will spend the rest of our trip in the north - probably 9 nights We think we will stay at the Hotel Porto Jofre (poss 3 nights) to have a chance of seeing Jaguar The rest we will spend at lodges along the Transpantaneira Highway We wondered which lodges do people like - and why? Are there any you dislike - and why? Thank you
  23. The red-billed scythebill is a large woodcreeper that is uncommon in deciduous, gallery and riparian forest and woodland. The decurved bill grows to 7 cm long and is used to uncover insects from tree trunks and limbs. Fazenda Baia das Pedras, Pantanal, July 2013.
  24. Had to post from the Barranco Alto guest computer! Such a thrill! 1 on night drive, too quick for a photo mother and 2 cubs on a walk, couple photos taken Great place. Rains started a little early this year--today. I was told it was a privilege to be here for first of the rains. It lasted about 4 hours. Full report with photos in Oct.
  25. Hello everyone, Time is absolutely flying and in just over three weeks I will board the Swiss Intl. Airlines flight from Zurich to São Paolo for a lengthy visit to some of Brazil's wild places. In a nutshell: 3 nights Iguaçu Falls 4 nights Atlantic rainforest 4 nights Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge (on the Transpantaneira road) 6 nights Porto Jofré Hotel 5 nights Bonito 1 night São Paulo I will be travelling with Brazilian professional photographer Octavio Campos Salles. Octavio also arranged all accommodation, transport, boats, vehicles, air charters and domestic commercial flights for me. Just to catch up on some of this (images from my 2011 trip to Brazil): Best wishes, Patrick

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