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@@kitefarrago thanks for the useful info


A last morning at Porto Jofre


We started the morning with a quick look for birds by the lake.


Snowy Egret

Snowy egret (Egretta thula)


Buff-necked Ibis

Buff-necked ibis (Ceristicus caudatus)


Having decided that perhaps, we really had done enough boating, we left the hotel and drove through the neighbouring campsite and then leaving the bus, walked along a dirt road through an area of forest/woodland looking for birds.


Blue-throated Piping Guan

Blue-throated piping guan (pipile cumanensis)


White-winged Swallow

White-winged swallow (Tachycineta albiventer)


Yellow-bellied Seedeater

Yellow-bellied seedeater (Sporophila nigricollis)


As well as picking up a few new birds for the list, we also saw some coatis, some black-striped capuchins an Azara’s agouti and in the patches of mud on the track tapir spoor, so I wasn’t disappointed not to have gone back out in the boat one last time.



Tapir spoor


All in all, our time at Porto Jofre had been very successful and I had certainly seen much more than I’d expected, the one disappointment was that I had again heard black & gold howler monkeys, but did not see any, so having heard howlers numerous times, I would leave Brazil having not actually seen a single one, of any species. Returning to the hotel, we birded by the marsh for a bit, searching for seedeaters until it got too hot, I then retreated to the shade of a big fig tree and enjoyed the spectacle of a pair of hyacinth macaws, hanging upside down and fighting playfully, after filling another 8GB card, I decided to leave before I started to fill the next one.


Hyacinth Macaws

Edited by inyathi
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Accommodation at Porto Jofre


An American scientist, conservationist and ecotourism entrepreneur called Charlie Munn who owns a number of lodges around South America, including in fact the PWC came along and acquired some land inside the park and put up a bush camp, called the Jaguar Research Centre JRC. For a while this African style tented camp was the place to stay, if you wanted to go and see jaguars at Porto Jofre. Supposedly the camp would be a base for scientific studies of the jaguars, in order to help conserve them, as well as a base for ecotourism. However allegedly if there was any research going on it was purely to improve jaguar sightings, for the visiting tourists and it was also alleged that they were actually killing caimans to use as bait, to attract the cats in order to provide guaranteed sightings. Whatever the case, what is clear is that the JRC camp was put up without a licence, after demanding the camp be removed and imposing several fines which were ignored, the conservation authority SEMA came in and in 2009 took down the camp, confiscating everything. In response Munn attempted to reopen the camp on the other side of the river in Matto Grosso do Sul state, outside the jurisdiction of SEMA, however currently I believe this hasn’t happened and the JRC, now operates entirely from a houseboat on the river known as the Flotel.


A lot of companies including Tropical Birding use the Flotel because it’s somewhat cheaper than the Porto Jofre Hotel. The Flotel is moored on the edge of the park, close to the prime jaguar viewing areas which means you don’t have to spend too much time boating. However, I understand that when you’re not out boating up and down looking for jaguars and other animals, you are effectively confined to the houseboat, because you’re not really allowed to go ashore, at least not anywhere in the immediate vicinity of the Flotel. I imagine the 10 private rooms are somewhat cramped and really the thought of spending 3 nights on this houseboat, didn’t hold much appeal, nor the thought of not being able to go ashore, a distinct disadvantage for birding, this is why we opted to stay at the Porto Jofre Hotel. Boating past the Flotel, as we did on a few occasions, I really felt we’d made the right decision going for the hotel, but as I never went on board the Flotel I can’t say what it’s really like, for all I know it may actually be very nice.


The Porto Jofre Hotel


The hotel was originally established to cater for anglers, but since jaguar tourism has taken off, they get more and more wildlife groups. The hotel is quite a big place with 28 ‘apartments’ but everything is fairly well spread out, amongst extensive grounds. The garden with some good big trees along with the lake and marsh at the back, are what really made this a great place to stay, when not out on the river, I could just walk out of my room and find all kinds of wonderful birds, and perhaps best of all the macaws.


The rooms have a slightly unusual arrangement of 4 beds and 2 bathrooms, making them almost more like dormitories and with floors made up entirely of white tiles they are hardly cosy, with the air-con on it was like sleeping in a fridge.


Porto Jofre Hotel Room

The hotel cleaners who appeared to be almost all young men, seemed to have very strict instructions as to how the rooms had to be cleaned. When I returned from the first morning’s boat trip, I was unable to get in to my room, because the entire floor was being mopped, this seemed more than a little unnecessary, after just one night. One thing I really didn’t like, was that all the towels were sealed in plastic, after using a towel just once, I hung it up on a rail so that it wouldn’t be needlessly washed and I could then reuse it as most hotels ask you to do, but in this case it was still taken away, hardly eco-friendly.


Though this was not by far the worst thing about the hotel or should I say most disgusting thing, in Brazil you get used to seeing signs in bathrooms asking you not to throw ‘papel higienico’ in to the loo, but to put it in the bin provided, this takes a bit of getting used to. At the hotel the cleaner would go into the bathroom, tie up the little plastic bag full of used toilet paper take it out and place in a large bin bag, this they then left on the path while they got on with the rest of the cleaning. One of the most common birds in the region and certainly around the hotel, is the southern caracara a scavenging raptor, these birds have developed the revolting habit of extracting these little plastic bags and ripping them open, strewing used toilet paper all over the place. You would think that after having cleared up after the birds a few times, they would have found a different way of doing things, so that this didn’t happen, but apparently not. :(


Southern Caracara

Southern Caracara a beautiful bird with some disgusting habits


The food at the hotel as is typical, was always a buffet and the usual selection of fish, beef, chicken, potatoes, rice, veg and salad was generally pretty good. Though the selection of deserts, was very disappointing, bowls of brown, green and orange mush, these were very Brazilian/South American deserts, very sweet fruit paste/mash doce de goiaba (guava), doce de limau (lime) etc, which reappeared everyday and no one seemed to eat.


The only other accommodation option as far as I’m aware, is the camp ground next door to the hotel and this would certainly be the cheapest option.


On 4/13/2013 at 11:29 AM, michael-ibk said:

How many boats are around there? Is it only Hotel Porto Joffre that has this "onca spotting fleet", or others, too?


@@michael-ibk to my knowledge the Porto Jofre Hotel, the Flotel and the Campground are the only places to stay, this does help to limit the number of tourists and therefore the number of boats. While the hotel can accommodate quite a lot of people, a good few of the other guests will be fishermen, so not everyone going out on to the river is necessarily looking for jaguars. Even so if a bunch of the boats happen to arrive at the same spot, then it can seem a little busy, in the photo I posted in post 68 there are five boats and from memory, I think that was about the most we ever saw in one place. Most of the time when we weren’t alone there were only two other boats and I never witnessed anything like the sort of bad behaviour you see in India or some of the busier African parks. Of course if the jaguars decide they’ve had enough they’re free to wander off back in to the forest, where obviously the boats can’t follow them, so they can’t be harassed to quite the same extent that tigers, lions, leopards and cheetahs can be.



Edited by inyathi
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Wow, I have so enjoyed reading along with your Pantanal adventure.


Andrew was our guide at Tandayapa in 2010 and I'm pleased to hear that he is still with Tropical Birding and guiding in South America. You certainly had a feast of jaguar viewing and even a clear view of a tapir, and those hyacinth macaws are such a beautiful color, and so raucous when you are nearby!

Pousada Piquiri is 45 minutes by boat beyond downriver from Porto Jofre Hotel and currently offers 4 rooms for tourists and fishermen. I met a guy in 2010 who had been on the Flotel and he said that whilst they saw 3 jaguars, after 3 days he was pleased to get off the boat.

Thank you so much for this report, I've really enjoyed it as it brought back memories from 2010 and provides a spark of anticipation for July 2013 when we head down the Transpantanaeira once again.


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What a great trip and trip report. Those male jaguars are really hefty aren't they? Pleased to hear he did not decide to jump into your boat; it would have been mayhem. Thanks for sharing your experiences,@@inyathi.


Like you I never sleep at siesta time; like you I prefer to be outside watching life pass by.

Edited by wilddog
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For the record, I heard the same worrying things about Charles Munn from our guide. I wouldn't touch the flotel with a barge pole! We stayed one night at the Porto Jofre Hotel and then camped further down the river in the grounds of a little ranch. Not the most comfortable way of seeing the Pantanal but at least you feel like you are doing you're bit for the local community. :) Also, it's worth allowing extra time to account for these cold fronts, they seem to be a feature of this particular destination...

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@@Treepol thanks for the info on Pousada Piquiri


I should have guessed a little while ago when you posted your photo of the giant antpitta at Tandayapa that you’d been with Tropical Birding; with Andrew guiding you, I’m sure you must achieved a good haul of Ecuadorian species. :) I think there are probably still enough South American birds left for Andrew to find and record that he’ll be out there for a good while yet, presumably with Tropical Birding, although I think Cristalino are very keen to have him back as a guide there.



On 4/15/2013 at 10:33 PM, kittykat23uk said:

Also, it's worth allowing extra time to account for these cold fronts, they seem to be a feature of this particular destination...


Definitely, I think we were quite lucky that the rain and cold came in on the second day and the afternoon of that day certainly illustrated why allowing two whole days on the river was the right thing to do. So, I would say to anyone going to see the jaguars, you should definitely stay 3 nights just in case you have bad weather. Of course if you’re lucky and the weathers good throughout, then you might get an extra whole day’s jaguar viewing, this would hardly be bad thing :) and the extra time, will obviously increase your chances of finding other species as well. :)


For anyone who’s planning to visit the Pantanal and is looking for more information on the places I stayed and all the many other places I didn’t, I would recommend getting a copy of Bradt’s ‘Pantanal Wildlife – A Visitor’s Guide to Brazil’s Great Wetland’ by James Lowen.


Though I have to say unfortunately the most useful part of the book the ‘Where to Go’ section is now a little out of date, at least in relation to Porto Jofre. The book was published in 2010 before the Jaguar Research Centre closed, so it devotes about a page and a half to this now non–existent camp and doesn’t obviously mention the Flotel that’s replaced it or of course any of the controversy surrounding Charles Munn. Also I don’t know when Pousada Piquiri opened but it’s not covered in the book, this is why I’d never heard of it, it does makes me wonder a little bit if there are other places that may have been missed out.


I hope they might publish a more up to date edition before too long, because it is otherwise a good book, the main section has lots of good information on all the different wildlife found in the Pantanal. Also the book does have a little bit of info on Bolivia and Paraguay, because while nearly all of the Pantanal is in Brazil, it does just extend into these two countries.

Edited by inyathi
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I have the Visitor´s guide, too, and it IS helpful, but I enjoyed reading your report much more. :)


A good overview of available pousadas is here:




I was advised against the flotel, as well, btw.

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@@michael-ibk thanks


That looks like a pretty useful website.


After a final very pleasant lunch at the Porto Jofre Hotel we left the hotel and drove back to Cuiaba stopping to photograph another marsh deer stag on the way.


We didn’t stop again until we reached our destination the Hotel Diplomata in Cuiaba the best thing that can really be said about this hotel is it’s only a couple of minutes from the airport, the rooms really weren’t that great, however breakfast wasn’t bad. They don’t do other meals so we went to a restaurant in town to mark the end of what had been a pretty successful birding trip.

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Iguaçu Falls


18th Oct


After breakfast we said goodbye to Andrew and took a taxi to the airport, the queue for the check-in seemed to take an inordinate amount of time, after which we waited by the gate until well after the scheduled departure time. Clearly we were going to be a little bit late landing in Foz do Iguaçu, eventually the gate was opened and we were allowed to board, however once on the plane, we had to wait again, after a while they announced that they were waiting for some passengers, who were coming off another flight which hadn’t arrived. When I saw some people walking out to the plane I thought hallelujah at last we might leave, but no there were still more people to come, so by the time we took off, we were over an hour and a half late. I’ve always thought that there’s really no point in getting angry about things over which you have no control, but after seeing more and more of my precious time at Iguaçu slipping away, I was finding it a little difficult to remember this.


The price of Progress


Once we’d taken off the flight wasn’t too bad, however the view out of the window was just as depressing as on previous flights almost nothing but a sea of agriculture most of the way. Until the final leg crossing over Paraguay which goes over the vast reservoir created by the Itiapu Dam, the largest hydroelectric facility in the world. This dam on the Rio Paraná while generating huge amounts of electricity displaced thousands of people, drowned a huge area of forest and its wildlife particularly in Paraguay and completely destroyed a series of waterfalls known as the seven Falls of Guiara or Sete Quedas, that were said to be the most powerful waterfalls in the world. To create a good navigable channel through the resulting reservoir, much of the rock that formed these falls was dynamited so they are truly gone forever.


Carlos Drummond de Andrade, the aging Brazilian poet penned a requiem to the Seven Falls:


"...seven ghosts murdered by the hand of man, owner of the planet...Seven falls passed us by, and we didn´t know, ah, we didn´t know how to love them, and all seven were killed, and all seven disappeared into thin air, seven ghosts, seven crimes of the living taking a life never again to be reborn".


To make up for the destruction of so much forest a program was put in place, to re-afforest the banks of the reservoir and protect whatever natural forest was left, creating this dark green band right the way around the edge, well I guess some forest is better than none at all.


Itiapu Reservoir Brazil



Itiapu Reservoir Brazil



Itiapu Dam Brazil

The Itiapu Dam


I’d been advised that the view of the falls is best on the left side of the plane, but I guess this must depend on the wind direction because when we came in to land the falls were barely discernible in the distance, all I could see was a tiny bit of white mist rising from the forest.


The plan had been to arrive in time for lunch, but there was no hope of that now and when we did eventually arrive, we expected that the driver Remy who had come to meet us, would take us straight to the hotel. However, before leaving he proceeded to give us a complete rundown of every possible activity and excursion we might enjoy during our stay, as it turned out he would also be our guide, we had wrongly assumed he was just a driver and weren’t best pleased to be further delayed. After some minutes, he put away the maps, brochures and leaflets and finally led us to his minibus, the reason he’d been so keen to give us the full briefing became apparent, when we arrived at the national park gate. For the next two nights we would be staying at the somewhat luxurious Hotel das Cataratas which is inside the park directly opposite the falls; however our driver could not takes us there. Under the new park rules, everyone entering the park has to pay the entrance fee, including drivers just taking guests to and from the hotel, this is crazy, so our driver dropped us off and we waited at the hotel’s office by the gate, for a bus to come up from the hotel to collect us. We agreed with Remy that we would meet him back at the gate in the morning, so he could take us over to Argentina for the day and then departed for the hotel. By the time we finally got there it was nearly three o clock and lunch was long over, but fortunately you can order food by the pool throughout the day, a decent meal and a cold drink improved the mood considerably. :)


In the palm trees by the pool and around the hotel, noisy red-rumped caciques weave their hanging nests


Red-rumped Cacique


Red-rumped Cacique

Red-rumped cacique (Cacicus cela)


Edited by inyathi
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Thats a strange looking fringe around the reservoir created by the Itiapu Dam - as you say some forest is better than no forest and hopefully it will stabilise the banks and help prevent erosion.


We stayed at Das Cataratus in 2010 and thoroughly enjoyed the hotel. Being able to walk over to the falls early in the morning before the first buses arrived at 9am was a real treat. We saw agouti, toucan and coati around the hotel on our early morning walks. Look forward to hearing more about your stay.


I don't want to hijack Inyathi's thread so I'll post our upcoming Pantanal/Peru itinerary with more comments about Pantanal weather, the planning process, books and websites over in the Trip planning forum later tonight.

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Hotel das Cataratas Iguacu Falls


The Hotel das Cataratas is certainly a very comfortable place to stay, quite luxurious but I wasn’t there for the luxury, not that I didn’t enjoy it, I was really there to see one of the great natural wonders of the world Iguaçu Falls and when you step out of the front door there they are. Or at least part of them, just two minutes walk down the lawn to the Trilha das Cataratas and you’re admiring the greatest collection of waterfalls on the planet. Iguaçu means Big Waters in Guarani and is the name of the river as well as the collection of waterfalls. The Trilha das Cataratas, is a concrete trail that runs along the bank of the Iguaçu River, providing stunning views across to many of the 275 falls, these are in fact for the most part in Argentina.


Iguaçu Falls from Brazil

A view from below the hotel across to Argentina


Iguaçu Falls from Brazil

Salto Bossetti


Given just how spectacular they are, it’s hardly surprising that the falls are one of the most popular tourist sites in South America, so it can get just a little busy, with large numbers of people arriving on the regular buses that drop off below the hotel. After spending a bit of time trying to photograph the very beautiful plush-crested jays, that are common around the falls, taking a few panoramas and otherwise just drinking in the view from the start of the trail, by the time I started to walk the trail it was nearly four o clock.


Iguaçu Falls from Brazil


I've seen a lot of waterfalls in my time but none quite as impressive as these.


Iguaçu Falls from Brazil


Iguaçu Falls from Brazil


The trail is actually relatively short but to reach the platform below the Floriano Falls, from where you can look up towards the Garganta del Diablo - The Devils Throat took me over an hour, by the time I’d navigated around the other visitors, photographed every waterfall from every angle and stopped to admire some of the more tolerant wildlife.


Cramer's Eighty Eight at Iguaçu Falls

Cramer’s eighty eight (Diaethria clymena meridionalis)


Pygas Eighty Eight at Iguaçu Falls

Pygas eighty eight (Callicore pygas thamyras)


Black Vulture at Iguaçu Falls

Black vulture (Coragyps atratus)


Tegu at Iguaçu Falls

Argentine black and white tegu (Tupinambis merianae)


Garganta del Diablo Iguaçu Falls

Garganta del Diablo – The Devil’s Throat


Walking around in the late afternoon it wasn’t actually too crowded, which was nice but looking across to Argentina you are facing west so the low sun made photography a little tricky at times, although it did also create some interesting lighting effects


Mist Iguaçu Falls

Black Vultures


Salto Floriano Iguaçu Falls

Salto Floriano


The final part of the trail goes right out to a platform in the river below Floriano Falls and above Santa Maria Falls, the views up to the Garganta and around are amazing, but it’s not a good idea to stay too long, especially if you’ve got a couple of cameras with you, as you can get pretty wet.


Walkway below Salto Floriano Iguaçu Falls

The Walkway Below Floriano Falls


Rainbow Salto Floriano Iguaçu Falls

Rainbow over Floriano Falls


Iguaçu Falls Brazil

Bossetti Falls in the late afternoon sun


Waiting around back at the start of the trail below the hotel, the sunset from about half past five to ten to six was beautiful, but getting any really good photos of the actual falls with setting sun was a little beyond my photographic capabilities, so I gave up and just focused on the sky.


Sunset Iguaçu Falls

Edited by inyathi
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Lovely! ~I will have t make time to go there when I return.

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Azara's Agouti

In the early morning Azara’s agoutis (Dasyprocta azarae) come to graze on the hotel lawns.




Before setting off for the border, we had to go to a bank to pick up a few Argentine Pesos, which you need to pay entry tax at the border, you don't really need them after this, once you’ve crossed you can pay for food, souvenirs or whatever in Brazilian Reals or US$. Foz do Iguaçu, means Mouth of the Iguaçu as the Brazilian city sits at the point where the Iguaçu River flows into the Paraná, as you cross the Tancredo Neves Bridge to Puerto Iguazú in Argentina, you can see the Rio Paraná and Paraguay on beyond. Our guide Remy got us through the border and on over to the entrance to the Park Nacional Iguazú and then tried his best, to explain how we should proceed around the falls.


The Argentine section of the falls is so much larger and the distances so much greater that you need a good 5hrs or more to see it all and it certainly helps to have some good advice as to how to organise your time. Although we had arrived just before the gates open at 08:00, it was already getting pretty crowded and it took quite a long time to get in, having never been before I can’t say if this is normal or not, I think we may just have been unlucky.


From the entrance you walk through an area of souvenir shops, food courts etc and then on to the first station, in order to reach the trail that leads to the Garganta del Diablo you need to take a train, this is best done in the afternoon as it should be (in theory)less crowded. Taking the train to the Cataratas (second) Station and the start of the trail that leads to the Upper and Lower Circuits isn’t really necessary, as it’s not at all far, so we kept on walking.


The trail passes through a small open marshy area and then on through some forest, there is a possibility that you might see some birds or other animals as you walk, but it does depend somewhat on how many other visitors there are, too many people not only frightens everything away, but also makes stopping just a little more difficult. In any case I didn’t notice anything worth stopping for, but a little later on approaching and going around the Lower Circuit I did find some wildlife.



Coati (Nasua nasua)


Swallow Tanager

Swallow Tanager (Tersina viridis)


Great Dusky Swifts

Great Dusky Swifts (Cypsoloides senex)


The swifts are very common all around Iguacu and often build their nests behind some of the waterfalls, these ones were next to the Alvar Nuñez Falls, the walkway passes close to the cliff here so you can get good views of the birds.


The Lower Circuit is a trail of metal walkways which gives you a great view up the channel between the Brazilian bank and San Martin Island, up to the spectacular Garganta at the end.


Towards the Garganta del Diablo Argentina

Looking Towards the Garganta


Walking alongside San Martin Island you look towards a stunning series of powerful waterfalls that form a crescent that goes around behind the island.


Iguacu from Argentina


Iguacu Falls from Argentina

San Martin Island


Iguacu Falls Argentina


Salto Bossetti

The end of the trail takes you to the foot of the Bossetti Falls where you’re liable to get a little wet.


However if you want to get really wet then you can walk down to the river and go on a boat ride to the foot of the San Martin Falls. I’d been warned by another tourist I’d met back at the PWC to avoid these boat trips, as they’re just a rather expensive thrill ride. The boats go as close as possible to the foot of the falls, making several trips just to ensure that everyone gets properly soaked, while a crewman standing at the front videos the proceedings, I imagine if you want a copy of the film you have to pay extra. From the Brazilian side it’s possible to do a similar boat ride close to the foot of the Garganta I wasn’t tempted to do either, though perhaps if I’d had more time, I might have considered it just to have had the full Iguacu experience. Rather more worthwhile and something I should have investigated at the time, in Argentina it is possible to take a boat just over the river to San Martin Island, where there’s walkway that allows you to get up close to the San Martin Falls and should give you different views of some of the other falls.


Getting Wet

Tourists Getting Wet


Getting Wet

Tourist Boat and Great Dusky Swifts at the Foot of San Martin Falls


Away from the main river back a little way into the forest are these two nice little falls.



Hermanus Falls

Salto dos Hermanas


Plush-crested Jay

Plush-crested jay (Cyanocorax chrysops)


The Upper Circuit takes you part way along the top of the crescent from the Bossetti Falls to the Mbigua Falls providing great views of the San Martin Falls along the way.


View of San Martin Falls Iguazu Argentina

View of San Martin Falls


San Martin Falls Iguazu Argentina

Salto San Martin


Bossetti Falls Iguazu Argentina

Bossetti Falls


By the time I got to this point at around 10:00 the trails were getting pretty crowded, with other tourists including large groups of school children, when I met up with our guide he said that he never known it this busy before.


After a nice relaxed morning taking your time to walk around the Upper and Lower Circuits, you should head for one of the nearby restaurants to have a long leisurely lunch in the hope that when enough time has passed it will be less crowded, when you head for the Garganta del Diablo. We had a look in the main restaurant saw all the tables laid up with wine glasses etc and decide we didn’t really fancy a proper sit down lunch, since it was a very hot day. So we went next door and had a quick snack lunch instead, ignoring the advice about having a long leisurely lunch, which was a mistake. After a toasted ham & cheese sandwich we made our way over to the Cataratas station to queue for the train to the Garganta, by this time it was pretty hot and the queue was very long. Our guide suggested that it was very unlikely that we would get onto the next train and would have to wait for the following one. Seeing that we could end up having to wait for a very long time and having had enough of the crowds and also because it was very hot, we decided to cut our losses and return to Brazil. I guess the answer if you don't fancy the idea of a long lunch, would be to bring a reading book and find somewhere nice to sit until it's less busy.


I was just a little disappointed not to have gone all the way to the Garganta, so I decided that I would go up in a helicopter instead to make up for it. I do now regret a little bit deciding to leave early, but at the time it seemed like a good idea and I was quite keen to get away from the crowds and go back to the hotel.



Edited by inyathi
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The Helicopters operate from just outside the entrance to the park on the Brazilian side, having not been up in a helicopter before and knowing that the views would be incredible, I thought the opportunity was really too good miss. This is a pretty slick operation after you get out your credit card, you wait a few minutes, then they lead you to the chopper get you on board, take you up for roughly ten minutes bring you back and push you out, to get the next group on board. The great thing about going up in the chopper, apart from obviously just seeing the falls from the air, is that you get a much better understanding of the local geography and can see that beyond the falls, that there’s actually a huge area of rainforest protected within the two parks. When I opted to do the chopper trip, I didn’t ask what the cost was I just inserted my card and PIN and thought, I hope I don’t get too nasty a surprise when I get the bill, in fact it worked out at about £70 quite a lot for just 10 minutes up in the air but the views were so spectacular that I think it was well worth it.





Forest Edge

From agricultural desert to biodiverse rainforest, the national park boundary is all too obvious



Iguacu Rainforest

Parque Nacional do Iguaçu Brazil



Rainforest Iguacu River



Rainforest Iguacu National Park Brazil



Iguacu River



The Devil's Throat from the Air

The Walkway in Argentina to the Garganta del Diablo



Iguacu Falls from the Air



Iguacu Falls from the Air



Iguacu Falls from the Air

Iguaçu Falls with the Hotel das Cataratas in Brazil in the foreground and the Sheraton Hotel in Argentina in the background

Edited by inyathi
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After getting back to the hotel I went for a short walk alongside the road to look for birds


Scaly-headed parrot

Scaly-headed parrot (Pionus maximilliani)


before going for another afternoon walk around the falls, but this time it was raining albeit only drizzle, even without the sun, I took many more photos and got some rather nice shots, so it was worth getting a tiny bit wet. At the end by the Floriano Falls, I took the elevator up to the top platform, it was about twenty past four and the sky was looking pretty stormy, I don’t suppose the photographers stationed there to milk extra money from the tourists, were doing such a good trade as they do when the sun is shining.


Iguacu Falls from Brazil



Iguacu Falls



The view from Florinao Falls



Floriano Falls

Floriano Falls from Above



Amusing Sign

Good advice that I shall follow from now on :)


Walking back up the road, I wondered looking up at the sky, whether I’d actually make it back to the hotel without getting wet and just happened to notice an osprey flying overhead, luckily I did make it back just in time, to be able to make a dash for the veranda and then in through a side door before the heavens opened. Back inside the hotel, I went upstairs to check out the view from the hotel’s tower, but seeing a good deal of lightning it didn’t seem wise to stay too long.






Edited by inyathi
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Final Day


As I had just one day left at Iguaçu and in Brazil I was keen to try and get into the forest on my last morning to find some more wildlife. There are a couple of trails on the Brazilian side notably the Bananeiras Trail, a painted map on the wall in the hotel and the little printed maps I had, suggested, that this trail was just up the road from the hotel. However the previous day I’d established that these maps were not remotely to scale and that there was no realistic chance of walking to the Bananeiros Trail and I didn’t think I could get into the forest from the hotel. There is of course an office at the hotel for arranging excursions, so I probably could have gone in and asked to be taken to the Bananeiros Trail, but I suspected that they might not take me at five in the morning, or if I could go then I might end up missing breakfast. Besides I like to go off out on my own and find things for myself, when possible because I have had a lot of luck when doing so (I don’t often do this in Africa for obvious reasons). However I’d resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t now be able to get out into the forest, so I made other plans and decided to go back to the falls, go around the Cataratas Trail again and also walk up and down the road between the end of the trail and the hotel. As there would be very few other people around first thing in the morning, I might get lucky and see something but predictably this short walk just revealed the usual suspects. So I gave up, returned to the hotel and went for a walk around the garden, walking up some steps behind the pool I found that the path I was on, led to a little gravel road. Following this road a short way I realised I’d found my way into the forest, I was a little annoyed with myself for not having found this road before, not least because I’d seen it or at least photographed from the air the previous afternoon and it’s also visible on Google Earth, so I really should have known it was there.


Hotel das Cataratas from the Air

Hotel das Cataratas from the air showing the road through the forest to the river


Seeing nothing to suggest I shouldn’t walk this way, I set off along this road into the forest, leaving about an hour and a half later than I would have ideally chosen to, though in fact it probably didn’t matter too much as the weather wasn’t great, so it was still pretty cool. Not long after passing some abandoned buildings I surprised a single collared peccary standing in the edge of the forest; it wasn’t too pleased to see me and quickly took off, so I wasn’t able to get a decent photo. I’d hoped that getting out into the forest and away from the falls might produce a bit more wildlife, but I hadn’t anticipated seeing a peccary, at least not this close to the hotel. Although this road had got me into the forest, it is very short so it didn’t take long to reach the end and I soon found myself standing on the river bank.


Rio Iguaçu

Looking at this wide expanse of calm water, you wouldn’t really think that downstream just the round the bend are some of the world’s biggest and most spectacular waterfalls.


While heading back, a colourful spot-billed toucanet flew low across the track and into the forest, this beautiful if rather odd looking bird was very similar to the Gould’s toucanet, I’d seen in the Amazon, although I could see it well enough, trying to take a photograph trough the tangle of vegetation proved too big a challenge. This was followed by another bird that I wasn’t able to either photograph or identify, but then a bit later I came across this rather more obliging guan sitting up in a tree.


Rusty-margined Guan

Rusty-margined guan (Penelope supercilliaris)


Even if though I hadn’t actually seen that much and hadn’t found any monkeys which I’d hoped I might see, I was glad I’d made the effort to find this little road.


Back in the garden


House Wren

House wren (Troglodytes musculus)


After breakfast back at the hotel, I opted to go for one last look at the falls, the guide books rightly suggest that the light is much better in the morning, but not on a day like this the weather was terrible, it drizzled the entire time, even so it was still quite crowded.


Getting Wet

Getting Wet at Iguaçu


White-tipped dove

White-tipped dove (Leptotila verreauxi)


While having lunch on the veranda along outside the bar at the front of the hotel, we were visited by this very tame plush-crested jay.


Plush-crested Jay


And then all of a sudden the red-rumped caciques nesting in the palms by the front door, started making a heck of a noise, a toco toucan had flown into one of the palms and was attempting to tear apart one of their pendulous nests. Toucans don’t just eat fruit, they’re keen nest robbers and this one was being very brazen, the noise soon attracted a bit of a crowd, in fact it was such an amazing spectacle that even the waiters had to come and watch.


Toco Toucan Raiding a Cacique's Nest



Toco Toucan Raiding a Cacique's Nest

Toco toucan (Ramphastos toco) raiding a cacique's nest


Seeing a toucan this close was a little extraordinary, an Australian guest asked her friend, why they had bothered visiting the Bird Park (Parque das Aves) to look at captive birds, when this toucan was much closer, than any of the ones they’d seen there. After lunch the weather still wasn’t great and it was drizzling on and off, but having found a way into the forest, I decided to go for another walk back up the same track, hoping the cool weather would be a good thing, and so it was, my walk produced good views of a beautiful black-throated trogon.


Black-throated Trogon

Black-throated trogon (Trogon rufus)


However I didn’t find many other birds, I had hoped I might find a brocket deer, but instead had to settle for more agoutis and a very confiding coati, this one at least looked in better condition than some I’d seen around the falls.





Azara's Agouti

Azara’s Agouti


By the end I had at least managed to find slightly more wildlife at the Iguaçu Falls, than I’d expected and had I made the effort to walk some of the proper forest trails, which I would have done had we been staying for longer, then I’m sure I would have found quite a lot more, certainly more birds.


Deciding it would be prudent not to get wet, before my onward journey home, I spent the rest of the afternoon in the hotel, until about four o clock. We then departed for the airport in Foz do Iguaçu for our flight to São Paulo and from there back to London.

Edited by inyathi
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You got the Sunbittern in flight! The Southern Screamer chick is a real find. Did you count how many birds you saw in total?


The mammal sightings certainly picked up for you. To find your own Giant Otters and first jaguar deserves a medal. I can imagine your shakiness from excitement and adrenaline. The other jaguar sightings gave you some really great poses and action for photos. And it just continues with the tapir. You had to be feeling very good by the time you got to Iguaçu Falls, which is how far I am in the report. A very exciting cliffhanger you have written.

Edited by Atravelynn
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Visiting Iguaçu


A day and a half at Iguaçu would give you plenty of time to see all the major falls from both sides, however if you’re a keen photographer you may want to stay longer, long enough to ensure that you can visit each side at the right time for the best light or perhaps the best weather, if it rains during your stay. Mind you perfect blue skies are a little over rated I think, a good stormy sky adds a bit more drama.


The water flow over the falls is supposed to be at its highest in October, this is when we were there, while I wasn’t at all unimpressed, I have seen photos of the falls with considerably more water going over them. It could be that it hadn’t rained quite so much, as it usually would in Brazil, prior to our visit, but I suspect it had rather more to do with the fact that there are five dams on the river, so just how high the water is, may depend on whether or not the sluices have been opened upstream. The lowest flow is in April.


Wildlife at Iguaçu


If you do plan spend some time actively looking for wildlife, then I think you'll want to add at least an extra day to your stay.


Because your focus is understandably so much on the falls you don’t realise until you go up in the air, just how much rainforest there is at Iguaçu, this forest was once part of the great Mata Atlantica, the Atlantic Rainforest that once covered so much of south eastern Brazil, but is sadly now largely gone, only small fragments remain. The forest is home to a great diversity of wildlife including many species not found in either the Amazon or the Pantanal and it is possible to see some of these species at Iguaçu.


However it is a bit of a challenge, most of the time when you’re walking around the falls, there are just too many other visitors, so all you can really expect to see are the most common and most tolerant species. Species like all the ones I’ve included photos of, I did see a few more birds, but really not many, the most notable bird that I saw while on the Brazilian side and that you should look out for is the black-fronted piping guan which is endemic to South East Brazil, it’s a very similar bird to the blue-throated species pictured earlier at Porto Jofre, except it has a Bright red wattle. I spotted the bird late in the afternoon in a tree above my head, but I couldn’t get a good angle and so I wasn’t able to get a decent photograph, I don’t imagine these birds stay around when there are too many people.




The symbol of the Parque Nacional do Iguaçu in Brazil is a jaguar’s head next to a waterfall and certainly around the entrance on the Argentine side, you’ll see plenty of posters featuring photos of jaguars, though of course you’re very unlikely to see one. Having said that, they are present in fact there are thought to be around 50-60 at most in the forest surrounding Iguaçu, probably the last surviving population of jaguars in Argentina. Other cats like pumas, ocelots, margays, oncillas & jaguarundis also occur at Iguaçu, but obviously again you’re very unlikely to see any of these.


Coatis are the most common mammal you’re likely to see around the falls and as you can see from a couple of my photos, they are very approachable, but while they may look cute and cuddly don’t be tempted to get too close, clearly the reason they’re so common and “tame” is all the human food around that they can scavenge, beg or steal. On the Argentine side, they have large posters warning idiots not to feed either coatis or monkeys, illustrated with a nice gruesome photograph of someone’s badly bitten hand. I assumed at least in part from these posters, that capuchin monkeys must be fairly common, but I never saw any, another apparently very common mammal, that I’m sure I didn’t see is the Brazilian Cavy or guinea pig.


There are other mammals at Iguaçu, like the collared peccary that I was very lucky to see or the brocket deer that I’d hoped to see, but missed and of course many other species out in the forest, but getting to see them is not easy.


If you want to try and see the less common wildlife and species that aren’t so tolerant of people, then you need to walk the trails around the falls in the early morning when no one else is around. To do this obviously you need to stay at either the Hotel das Cataratas in Brazil or the Sheraton in Argentina, so that you’re inside the park and then you can walk around before the gates open and the crowds arrive. Of the two sides I would think that the Argentine side is really the best side to be on for wildlife, just because the area that you can walk around is so much bigger, also the forest is said to be in much better condition on this side.


Of course what you really need to do is get out into this forest and on the Argentine side your best bet is the Macuco Trail or Sendero Macuco (marked on Google Earth) which leads from the first station (for some reason called the Central Station) down to the Arrechea Falls, a good distance away from all the main falls, the trail is about 7kms there and back. If you are staying at the Sheraton then walking this trail first thing in the morning (from 05:00), should give you an excellent opportunity to see birds and other wildlife, including with luck species you won’t likely see around the main falls. Even later in the day, you’d probably have a reasonable chance of seeing at least some wildlife, because I suspect very few visitors actually walk the Macuco trail, they just go around the main falls.


On the Brazilian side (apart from the road at the back of the hotel) there are two trails The Poço Preto Trail which is 9kms one way and the Bananeiras trail which is only 1.6kms both of these trails go from the road to the river a good long way upstream from the falls. On the Poço Preto Trail you can walk to a lake Lagoa do Jacare where there is a 10m tower so I imagine this should be good trail for trying to see wildlife. I’m not sure how early in the morning it’s possible to walk these trails or if you can walk without a guide, this website Macuco Safari has information on these trails and seems to suggest that the earliest you can start along the Poço Preto is 09:30 hardly ideal and I suspect you may have to go with a guide. I'm always a little suspicious of organised guided 'nature walks', especially ones that don't leave early enough in the morning and I wonder just how much wildlife you actually see. Also these trails are clearly not just simple footpaths



The excursion begins on a 320-meter suspended footbridge in the heart of the National Park followed by a 9 km one-way trail that can be covered on foot, by electric cars and wagon or by bicycle.


So I do wonder a bit just how busy these trails get, though I imagine most visitors still just go around the falls. If we’d been able to stay an extra night, then I think I would have arranged to visit the Poço Preto Trail on final day. We actually would have had time enough do this without staying an extra night, but we had to check out of the rooms in the morning and also we didn’t want to either get soaking wet or terribly sweaty before heading off to the airport.


To find some of the interesting and more unusual mammals, then you need to go out at night but as far as I know you’re not allowed to walk in the forest at night, though having said that I don’t suppose there’s anyone to stop you walking the trails by the falls, after dark well after everyone’s gone. However if you are going to bend the rules and go out at night, you might want to be just a little bit cautious certainly about going into the forest, apparently back in 1997, the son of a park ranger was killed by a jaguar (I haven’t managed to find any details of what actually happened). I wouldn’t think there’s really much risk in the day time, but knowing there are still jaguars around adds a little something to a walk in the forest.


Although you do really need to stay inside the parks if you’re keen to see wildlife, there are of course plenty of hotels outside, if your budget won't stretch to the Hotel das Catartas or the Sheraton, on our drive to Argentina our guide pointed out each and every hotel and exactly how many stars each one has, we didn’t find this quite as interesting as he did, so I didn't pay too much attention, but I can say there are hotels to suit everyone.


The Hotel das Cataratas is a wonderful place to stay, especially if you’re looking for a bit of luxury at the end of your trip, however if I was going back I’d stay at the Sheraton just to be on the Argentine side. Aside from offering the better wildlife viewing possibilities, the other advantage is that at least when you’re inside the hotel you can look across the river at the beautiful old colonial style Hotel das Cataratas rather than at the horribly ugly (IMO) Sheraton.


Finally if you are going to Iguaçu or even if you’re not, to get a bit of historical perspective I’d recommend watching the film 'The Mission' starring Jeremy Irons and Robert de Niro which was filmed at the falls, set in 1750 the film shows the devastating impact of the arrival of the Spanish and Portuguese on the Guarani people of the area. On the Argentine side in the food court/shopping area groups of Guarani come to carve and sell little wooden animals and other handicrafts we were told by our guide, that they all come in by taxi from Paraguay, just how many Guarani actually live in either Argentina or Brazil now, I’m not sure but the population in Paraguay must at least be quite significant, as Guarani is one of the country’s official languages.

Edited by inyathi
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inyathi, we did similar birding trips to Brazil so your report has brought back many good memories.


We really enjoyed Rio Cristalino and saw quite a few Brazilian Tapirs while floating down the channels. A week later another group saw none. Does Cristalino still serve that wonderful seeded bread for breakfast?


At Iguazu, doing Sendero Macuco first thing in the morning can offer more than avian surprises. We started to bird the trail but got caught in a deluge. So we backtracked to the trailhead and took refuge under the roof of the nature trail sign. We stayed until the rain let up 10 minutes later and then hit the trail again. This is what we found...a pug mark which had not been there before. Our guide thought it might have been a puma. Alas, our only puma sighting of the trip!







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Wow thanks @@ovenbird, that certainly confirms that my advice about walking the Macuco Trail is a good, having seen just how crowded with people the falls get on a busy day, it’s really great to know that the top predators are still around, this suggests that the ecosystem is still healthy. I now really wish I’d had just a bit more time at Iguaçu and maybe even stayed on both sides, certainly if I ever return to Brazil, I might have to go to the falls again if only to walk the Sendero Macuco. Looking at it on Google Earth I thought that should be a really good trail to walk and actually it has a lot more appeal than the trails on the Brazil side, which may also be great but the mention of electric cars, wagons and bicycles puts me off just a little bit.


I don’t remember the bread specifically at Cristalino but then almost everything at breakfast was very good. :D



The main of part of the trip was basically a serious birding tour and was very successful, in that the final score for birds, including the few I added afterwards at Iguaçu was 464, which is more species than I think I’ve ever seen on a single trip. Not bad going I think for two and a half weeks and I have to say this is also one of the reasons, why I decided that I wouldn't list all the birds, when I decided to write this report. :) If I’d actually seen every bird that our bird guide saw and had also been able to do some better birding with a bird guide at Iguaçu, my total probably would have reached or even passed 500.


My mammal score at the end was 20, this is probably about average for this kind of trip, had I opted to do a specialist mammals tour rather than a birding trip, I’m sure I would have scored a couple more. The trip was basically birds + jaguars, so nearly all of our time was dedicated to finding birds, except for the two night drives in the Pantanal, when I suppose we were really looking for mammals more than birds and the boat trips at Porto Jofre where the focus was entirely on finding jaguars and giant otters and not birds. If we hadn’t been birding and had devoted more time to actively searching for specific mammals, then I’m sure we would have increased the total, but then we would have seen a lot less birds. Either way I am disappointed not to have seen any anteaters, either giants or tamanduas but I think this might just have been bad luck. I’m also disappointed not to have seen any of the howler monkeys, that we kept hearing both in the Amazon or the Pantanal. Over all though I’m certainly not disappointed with this trip, although it was a birding trip, I have to say that in reality the main objective was to see jaguars and the jaguar viewing certainly surpassed all of my expectations. This was only my second ever visit to the Neotropics, so all of the mammals except for giant otters, were new to me and my previous sighting of giant otters, was just a brief glimpse of a few seconds in the Ecuadorian Amazon, so to have seen them so well this time was a just wonderful.


One of the problems trying to find mammals on this kind of trip, is that you need to spend as much time as possible out at night, but if you’re getting up sometime around 04:30 to 05:00 almost every morning, you don’t really want to be going out on long night drives or walks every night.


If I ever go back to the Pantanal it would definitely be on a mammal focused trip, to try and find some of the species I missed, but then there wouldn’t be too much point in doing another birding trip to the Pantanal, because I reckon I must have just about seen all the birds.


If I do go back to Brazil aside from wanting to find a giant anteater, I’d want to spend time in the south east taking a proper look at what’s left of the Mata Atlantica and its birds. while also going to look for muriqui monkeys, lion tamarins and a maned-wolf somewhere.


This trip really showed that Brazil is an incredible country, with incredible wildlife and other natural wonders, I think there is really only one more thing I can add, if you haven't already been, then you have to go to Brazil! :)





Edited by inyathi
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We didn't see tapir or either of the anteaters or armadillos on our trip.

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Given that I mentioned having seen giant otters in Ecuador in my last post I really should have checked my Ecuadorian bird list. Having now done so I’m not too surprised to see that when I visited Ecuador on a birding trip a few years back, I actually saw 516 birds so my score of 464 for Brazil, while still impressive is only my second highest for a single trip, mind you the Ecuador trip was a couple of days longer. Also I’d forgotten, that I’d actually seen white-lipped peccaries before in the Ecuadorian Amazon, but even so a score of 18 new mammals for Brazil is still pretty good. While I may have seen more birds in Ecuador, the total for mammals was only 10, half my total of 20 for Brazil, confirming for me that Brazil really is the place to go if you want to see South American mammals.


I also meant to mention, that the tapir was the third real mammal highlight of this trip, as I said earlier in the report, it really illustrated the extent to which wildlife viewing depends on luck, until we saw it, I really thought I would go home without seeing one at all. Mind you I have been quite lucky with tapirs, as this one was in fact my third species which made the sighting even better.


It seems kind of odd to say this given that I didn’t see a single tapir while I was at Cristalino, but if you go back to Brazil @kittykat23uk then I really think that Cristalino is your best bet if you really want to see a Brazilian tapir, so long as you visit at the right time of year. Despite seeing mine in the Pantanal @ovenbird ’s post and almost all the trip reports I’ve read suggest to me that your chances at Cristalino are much greater than in the Pantanal, though having said that they are seen quite often at various different places in the Pantanal. I’m not too sure about your chances in other countries, but I seem to recall that @Atravelynn saw a Brazilian tapir in Peru.

Edited by inyathi
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Thanks for the advice, definitely want to go back at some point. Aside from the Pantanal I would like to visit the place where the maned wolves are seen and also Iguaçu falls. Of the ones I missed, the animal that I wished I'd seen most is the giant anteater :) . But I can't grumble with the sightings we had as we saw jaguars, ocelot, jaguarundi and tayras (and a tapeti too!).

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  • 5 months later...



I have only just discovered this report as I have looking at the Pantanal

Great writing, superb photos and lots of really helpful practical details

many thanks for putting it together

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  • 1 month later...

“…we travelled at such as speed that spotting anything was extremely difficult and after going up and down many different channels we’d covered a huge distance without seeing anything. While fun at first it started to seem as if the whole exercise was really rather pointless, I couldn’t believe this was really the best way to find a jaguar maybe the heat of the day wasn’t the time to be out and perhaps the driver was just passing time until it cooled down.”


You summed up my thoughts exactly for that first jaguar outing.


Thanks for the boat counts (complete with photos) while viewing the jaguar. I was wondering.


Whew! You saved your camera. I usually keep a flat, folded garbage bag with me just in case. I see @@kitefarrago had the same suggestion. Those jungle rains can be soaking. Your comments on the heat and cold fronts and the effects on cat viewing are spot on.


Here’s what I heard about Munn during my Sept 2013 Brazil trip. I’m just passing it along as I have no first hand info: Charles Munn started out arrogant and unethical. A big mistake was being an outsider and wanting to stay that way. But he has mellowed with age and experience. Now his operations are on par with others in the area, meaning he does not make a practice of baiting and other places in the area do occasionally bait. While baiting is known to happen all over at PJ, even now, it is rare and not a common practice. I heard the Flotel is nice and a way to save on accommodation cost.


The falls had massive flows and nice puma track. £70 for 10 minutes of a helicopter ride—that’s not too bad and if you had not gone you would always wish you had. You’re a brave man swiping the card without knowing the price, though.


I see you responded to my earlier comment. (Haven’t been back for a while). Your birding trip was a success with 464!!! and some very cool mammals thrown in here and there! You mention muriquis if you return. I will have some muriqui info in my report, which should appear on this "Worldwide" forum within a week.


It was fantastic going back to Brazil. Thanks for this very informative report!

Edited by Atravelynn
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