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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.

 

 

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Can't wait to hear more about your trip and see some pictures :-)

The Pantanal will be our 2019 trip....so this is great timing. How far in advance did you have to book?

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Temperature is rather cool at Santiago, Chile in August. It was hence quite hard for us to get used to the 40 celsius degrees of Cuiaba.

After a short night, we met Andre at the hotel who presented us our guide for the following two weeks. We will have Arthur as a guide. If he is not a biologist, he is very experienced, understand perfectly animals behavior and has worded with many photographed before. He also fluently speaks Spanish, this would be better for Karina who ware not totally confident speaking in English.

 

We drove 3 hours to reach Mato Grosso Hotel, took lunch and rest a couple of hour, before taking a short boat safari on the Pixaim river. Many birds, no jaguar (we were said some people spotted some in 2015), and a lovely clan of giant otters.

 

29441942106_2b5dac8d78_b.jpgBigua Tinga - Anhinga - Anhinga anhinga by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29481551545_0d2235c1c9_b.jpgCaurale soleil - Sunbittern - Pavãozinho do pará - Eurypyga helias by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29200566270_62c33d7eb7_b.jpgSaracura - Slaty-breasted wood rail - Aramides saracura by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

28858181294_da7b9f3628_b.jpgLoutre géante - Giant otter - Ariranha - Pteronura brasiliensis by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29197599870_3b499e2a52_b.jpgLoutre géante - Giant otter - Ariranha - Pteronura brasiliensis by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29400259454_5ba176b282_b.jpgMilan des marais - Snail kite - Rostrhamus sociabilis by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29428398571_d743997a48_b.jpgAraçari a oreillons roux - Chesnut-eared araçari - Pteroglossus castanotis by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

28885538874_00bda4039d_b.jpgAraçari a oreillons roux - Chesnut-eared araçari - Pteroglossus castanotis by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29535571066_8ee746fa72_b.jpgChestnut-eared araçari - Pteroglossus castanotis by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

It was a good start. But we were a bit disappointed discovering that people from the hotel used to feed the otters. I have really no problem with feeding birds at feeding platforms, but I have some strong doubts if feeding otters is really necessary. They are largely seen in Pantanal, and we actually saw them at every places we visited (Pixaim River, Bento Gomez River on the Transpantaneira, Rio Paraguay, Rio Negro). I am also strongly against feeding ocelots as Southward does.

 

After dinner, we went on the Transpantaneira to look for wildlife. We found 3 pairs of crab eating fox and our first tapir! It was on access road to Fazenda Santa Teresa, which belongs to South Wild.

 

We had a very good night at the hotel. After breakfast, we spent an hour with the chestnut-eared araçari (one small species of toucan), which proved to be the best place to shoot them (with cameras of course), and then took the road North to reach Fazenda Pouso Alegre. We quickly saw a jaguarundi crossing the Transpantaneira few minutes after leaving the hotel.

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Looking forward to the full report and especially to hear about the Rio Paraguay area and if you were successful there with jaguar. And happy that you used Pantanal Jaguar Safaris, we were so pleased with Andre and Leen.

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Can't wait to hear more about your trip and see some pictures :-)

The Pantanal will be our 2019 trip....so this is great timing. How far in advance did you have to book?

 

 

@ xyz99 It is recommended to book a year before travelling. In our case we booked more a less 8 months before our safari

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Looking forward to the full report and especially to hear about the Rio Paraguay area and if you were successful there with jaguar. And happy that you used Pantanal Jaguar Safaris, we were so pleased with Andre and Leen.

 

@janzin: your TR was a real golden mine for us! We got some good ideas thanks to you!

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Posted (edited)

The Fazenda Pouso Alegre has simple infrastructures, bedrooms are all fine, but do not expect luxurious accommodations.

The Bento Gomez river crosses the property, but access is very difficult to get to the river. The property is located inside an open gallery forest of lapache and palm trees, surrounded by plains that must be flooded in the rainy season. In August almost all the lapache trees were in bloom, giving wonderfull landscapes.

 

I think this fazenda is the best place to spot mammals in Northern Pantanal. If jaguars have not been seen for years around, it is posible to spot pumas.

If you try to get up very early (4:00 am) to go for night safaris, and go back after dusk, you have good chances to spot tapirs, which have nocturnal habits.

 

We have seen a total of 11 tapirs, but is is clear that we have seen some more than once. tapirs were all found along the main road between the Transpantaneira and the fazenda. 3 of 11 tapirs were seen by day, another one at dusk. There was a pair we saw twice, that were clearly mating. First time we saw the pair was by day, they were bathing in a pond located on the edge of the main road. Second time was by night, they were located only 100 meters from the Fazenda restaurant. I guess they were looking for palm nuts that capuchin monkeys let on the ground.

 

Well, tapir was our main target at Pouso Alegre. But after spotting them many times, we decided to make things harder and looked for giant anteaters. They are commonly found in there, but it is much more difficult to spot them compared to Southern Pantanal. We knew a female with baby had been seen several times in 2016, something I was really looking for.

We tried hard, we went off road in the large open plains South to the main road and missed it twice. Anteaters show to have same habits. They often come drinking at the same spot. We then decided to wait for it at dusk at the pond located to the south of the road. Guests actually saw it 2 minutes before we got to the place on at dusk on the very first day, Arthur then decided to spend at least an hour daily at same hour of the day, then temperatures go down.

It appeared to be a great strategy, on the third day, it appeared, crossed the open plain, and went drinking at the pond!

 

We have also been lucky enough to spot an ocelot at night, a pair of rufous pigmy owls, many coatis, a southern tamandua just behind the restaurant at night, bot species of brocket deers, capuchin monkeys and marmosets. Capybaras and caimans are very common. There is a pair of hyacinth macaw nesting at the lodge. Touco toucans come daily at the mango trees meters from the restaurant. Tegu and curassows are just everywhere around the lodge.

 

Pouso Alegre is a perfect haven for wildlife!

 

28838072165_c692b7efdb_b.jpgOcelot, Fazenda Pouso Alegre. by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

28509682724_c752010f38_b.jpgLobinho (Crab-eating fox) by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29380091636_796f32e366_b.jpgHéron coiffé - Garza real - Pilherodius pileatus by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29043327306_04709a0f7e_b.jpgAnta, Fazenda Pouso Alegre by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29258503100_024369c2dd_b.jpgTegu - Argentine black and white tegu - Salvator merianae by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29383272384_2cd0ca4380_b.jpgCaiman yacare - Yacare caiman - Caiman yacare by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

30013540905_be6c32bbab_b.jpgJabiru - Tuiuiú - Jabiru mycteria by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29722085840_6c6190c79c_b.jpgCaiman yacare - Yacare caiman - Caiman yacare by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29940740361_bce51d2bc5_b.jpgTyran de Cayenne - Rusty-margined Flycatcher - Myiozetetes cayanensis by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29996057356_ffe024e2a3_b.jpgTegu - Argentine black and white tegu - Salvator merianae by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

30261936711_d9e7ec017e_b.jpgCourlan brun - Limpkin - Aramus guarauna by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

30312722596_5f9bc10456_b.jpgMilan des marais - Snail Kite - Rostrhamus sociabilis by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

30378500766_c9af0e7dcd_b.jpgHocco à face nue - bare-faced curassow - Crax fasciolata (femelle) by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

33960428366_392f902437_b.jpgBrazilian tapir at Fazenda Pouso Alegre by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29785379613_f5854d0204_b.jpgHirondelle à ailes blanches - White-winged swallow - Tachycineta albiventer by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

33960382806_637d0e8ae6_b.jpgFazenda Pouso Alegre by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

33189078953_7458b745b9_b.jpgSouthern Tamandua at Fazenda Pouso Alegre by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

34001966765_62be0e4025_b.jpgFazenda Pouso Alegre by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

I definitely have dozens more of great pictures... One day I will take the time to edit them properly...

Crab-eating foxes and Brocket deers are easily seen at the fazenda. I was also expecting to see peccaries but it appeared much easier to spot them in Southern Pantanal or in the Amazon than at Pouso Alegre. At night, I was always in the backside of the truck of Artur's 4x4 wheel car with the spot light. I have found many mammals like this. One night, I found many red eyes spots hundred meters from the road. The got by foot and were lucky enough to get really close to a clan of something like 20 to 30 collared peccaries. We were able to get really close to them, let's say something like 4 meters.

Edited by jeremie
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Excellent sightings for a first trip to Pantanal and pictures also. By rufous pygmy owls, I guess you mean ferruginous pygmy owls? Looking forward for the Barranco Alto part of your trip.

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Wonderful photos and fantastic sightings at Pouso Alegre! Ocelot is something we missed! And we got only fleeting looks at Giant anteater, with no photos :( Can't believe how many tapirs you saw, wow! And so close to the Tamandua!!

 

I see the Nikon 200-500 on your wife's camera ;) What were you shooting with?

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Fantastic sightings! I am planning to go back next year and this lodge is on my list. I will most likely be looking for one or more people to join me if this trip report whets the appetite then please drop me a PM! :)

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Excellent sightings for a first trip to Pantanal and pictures also. By rufous pygmy owls, I guess you mean ferruginous pygmy owls? Looking forward for the Barranco Alto part of your trip.

 

 

@Bush dog: You're right, ferruginous pigmy owls is the correct species name!

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Posted (edited)

Wonderful photos and fantastic sightings at Pouso Alegre! Ocelot is something we missed! And we got only fleeting looks at Giant anteater, with no photos :( Can't believe how many tapirs you saw, wow! And so close to the Tamandua!!

 

I see the Nikon 200-500 on your wife's camera ;) What were you shooting with?

 

@Janzin: We were both shooting spoonbills storks with our 80-400 VR II Nikkor lens. Karina's camera is a D7100, I had a D600 (I have now a D4S). I largely prefer my D600 full frame than Karina's D7100. It is less noisy. Well, my new D4S is much better than the D600. I am able to shoot 10-12 frame per second, and the buffer is just amazing. I once tried to shoot as long as I could, It lasted more than 5 seconds, I got more than 60 pictures. This is just perfect por action pictures.

 

Ocelots are not uncommon at Pouso Alegre, but we are aware that we have been extremely lucky. One place to have good chances for ocelots is Fazenda Sao Francisco in Southern Pantanal.

 

We have actually seen 4 different giant anteaters, apart from this Pouso Alegre remarkable sighting, they were all in and around FBA.

Edited by jeremie
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@@jeremie, fantastic images! Looks like you had some great sightings in the north. Can't wait to read the rest of your report.

 

Alan

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Fantastic sightings! I am planning to go back next year and this lodge is on my list. I will most likely be looking for one or more people to join me if this trip report whets the appetite then please drop me a PM! :)

@@kittykat23uk that is so tempting...even though it seems like we were just there! Our visa is still good :)

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You've got several fabulous shots.

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Fantastic pics!!! Wow! I would have loved to see an ocelot or a tamandua----something I've missed on two trips to the Pantanal----reckon I'll have to go back one more time! I agree Pouso Alegre is a wildlife haven! :)

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Wonderful Ocelot!

 

Something I really have to go to Pantanal for.

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@@jeremie

 

As others have said, beautiful photographs. That ocelot is very special. I would have loved to see that. Your bird portraits are also lovely.

 

I'm looking forward to more of your thoughts on the North. We spent a week at Barranco Alto last July (I know, extremely tardy on my trip report), but I was hesitant to go up north for the jaguars until I could research the issue with crowding more sufficiently for a future trip, which we are now looking at.

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Great stuff @@jeremie - thanks so much for sharing. I am really taking notes from Safaritalkers going to Brazil!

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@Jeremy I see you used your own guide but do you know anything about the lodge's own guided walks and night drives? Like how long they go out for and whether they use an enclosed car, open safari truck or pickup like the one Athur had? Thanks!

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@kittykat23uk: if you are refering to Northern Pantanal and more especifically to Pouso Alegre, the fazendas usually do not provide guides and transports. I understand that South Wild (Santa Tereza) is the only Fazenda that provides its own guides.

 

There were many low budget travellers at Pouso Alegre without any car and without guides. It seems they didn't see so much wildlife. The problem is that you need to get a bit far from the fazenda to see mammals, and the best strategy for tapirs apeared to drive a lot on main road.

 

Agencies usually go back to the lodge an hour after dusk extending the afternoon safari, but it is clearly posible to go back after dinner!

 

At FBA, they have open truck jeeps covered on the top, to protect the pasengers from the sun.

We always stayed inside Arthur jeep but I decided it would be better going in the back of the truck in order to see better (much higher and light go farer than from the window).

 

With Arthur, we usually did a 2,5 to 3 hours safari before breakfast, we then continued for another 2 hours until 11 am. We usually go back at 3:30 pm until 7:00 to 8:00 pm.

 

Hope that helps!

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Thank you. My friend who I am planning with received a quote from alegre and they included costs for optional guided activities including night safari, bird walks, horse riding etc. So it seems they do some activities there.

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@@jeremie Wow! Wow! Wow! I love how crisp your photos are. You are quite the talented photographer!

 

I am going to both North and South Pantanal too in about 3 weeks. Seeing your amazing trip report has fueled the excitement. I can't wait :) Thank you for sharing!!

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Posted (edited)

On the last morning at Pouso Alegre, we decided to go early on the Transpantaneira instead of staying inside the fazenda. It appeared to be a a good idea. If we didn't see as many animals (in particular brocket deers) on the Transpantaneira compared to inside the fazenda, we had a brief sighting of our first and last raccoon.

 

Just before, we were witness of a fantastic phenomenon. The claims at the main pool at Pouso Alegre, started moving all together, stressing and pushing fishes on the banks of the river. Fishes were jumping everywhere to escape to the caimans. I before had no idea that caimans had such a collective and efficient strategy. How did this start we have no idea. We all had the impression that they all started together. Nature is just amazing!

 

We arrived at the Bento Gomez bridge, it was literally covered by hundreds of egrets and herons. Skimmers and terns were fishing in the river infested by yacare caimans eating piranhas and further fish species. This was a spectacular time and a great ending of our Pouso Alegre experience. We even had a short sighting of giant otters fishing in the river, a rare sighting which shows that Pantanal has well recovered since the poaching era decades ago, and that is can be considered as a major refuge for the largest and most endangered species of otter on earth.

 

We went back at the lodge to have a good breakfast, enjoy the last minutes with the hyacinth macaws pair nesting close to the farm (we saw another pair, more skittish, inside the gallery forest when looking for the marmosets and the owler monkeys days before.

 

Pouso Alegre was indeed a very good place, thriving with wildlife. Nocturnal safaris were highly productive. I guess we had great sightings. We have been said by Arthur and Luiz (the lovely fazendy owner), that there is a small possibility to see giant armadillos. People see them once a year. Pumas can also be seen in a larger occurrence, let's say four time per year. Luis told me he has personally see once a Pantanal cat, which seems to be larger than it's chilean cousin, the Colocolo cat, according to its explanations. I would recommend everyone to visit Pouso Alegre if visiting Pantanal and more especially Porto Jofre. It is indeed located on the road from Cuiaba, staying a night at this fazenda can be enjoyed after a generally long and tiring trip to get to Porto Jofre.

 

We then took the road East to Caceres, we left Pantanal to get back to the Cerrado biome, which was really dry in this season of the year.

About 15 kilometers before reaching Caceres, we took a small, dirt road to the South, in a small valley surrounded by hills covered by Cerrado. We quickly had a sighting of a "caninana" snake (Amazon/Yellow Bellied Puffing Snake) crossing the road. It is a 2.5 meters long, nonvenenous culebrid species of snake.

 

We then stop below a huge tree, well known to host a red and green macaw nest. This species of macaws is absent from the Northern Pantanal flood plains, but is largely presents on its fringes covered with Cerrado savannas. They are nesting in trees in the Cerrado, and like to nest in the red cliffs of the Chapada dos Guimares.

The fields along the road seem to be a good habitat for red legged cerium, as well as for great rheas. We saw three different six-banded armadillos or "tatu peba". The two first ones escaped, and the fird specimen offered us an amazing experience. He came as close as a meter from us without seeing, hearing or smelling us thanks to a great approach from our guide Arthur.

We had another brief sighting of a large tapir crossing the dirt road in front of us, here, in the middle of the dry Cerrado, before it disappeared in the dense forest. If I remember well we had 3 sighting of grey brocket deers.

At one moment we arrived in one place close to a Fazenda (the dirt road crosses different private properties at its ending) where hyacinth macaws were eating some palm nuts, bending in the wind. There were further red and green macaws resting in large trees.

 

We then arrived at the end of the road at the San Antonio das Lendas Fazenda, located on an dead harm of the Paraguay river. We had another great day, a bit long and tiring due to the distance from Pantanal (or Cuiaba). But we were continuing seeing tapirs! and had our first great picture of armadillo. Another asset of this scenic road is the fazendero life.

 

30099453325_cd69ebff87_b.jpgTatou a six bandes - Six-banded armadillo - Euphractus sexcinctus by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

29804819420_b247540b54_b.jpgTatou a six bandes - Six-banded armadillo - Euphractus sexcinctus by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

30065058356_9a5ab78c1a_b.jpgTatou a six bandes - Six-banded armadillo - Euphractus sexcinctus by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

 

34148873412_cc58530c7c_z.jpgRed legged siriema - Cariama cristata by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

Edited by jeremie
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