Jump to content

Macaws, monkeys and moai : 6 weeks in the Pantanal, Peru and Polynesia


Recommended Posts

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


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.



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



Edited by Treepol
Link to comment
Share on other sites

a great and gentle start. you've already pulled me in for the long-haul and i can't wait to hear the rest of it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You must have had a wonderful time, what a great - and lenghty - itinerary. 11 jaguars, just wow! What I´m most looking forward in your trip report are the anteater-with baby and most of all the spectacled bears parts. And sloth. And - everything, really, your "teaser" pics are beautiful. :)


No luck with pumas? I seem to recall that they also were a trip objective of yours?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@michael-ibk the anteater and baby will be along tomorrow evening, the spectacled bears will be much later. We missed puma - saw its footprints at Piuval, so maybe the puma saw us which is almost as good.


When do you head off to the Pantanal?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In exactly 14 days and 16 hours. I will say hi to the Puma at Piuval from you. B)

Link to comment
Share on other sites



I will have the spectacled bears report online by then.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course I´m going to follow this trip report, seems to me you also had a great trip.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



The transfer driver was waiting at the airport to drive us to Fazenda Baia das Piedras for a 3 night stay. We stopped at a town called Corguinho for a snack and while we were trying to work out what to order I heard the baker save ‘aves’ – presumably chicken. We ate delicious, freshly baked goods - rissoli, a chicken pastry that is a local specialty and chipa which is a horseshoe shaped roll with a doughy, cheesy filling. As we left town two blue and yellow macaws flew overhead and we noticed that the phone boxes were birds - toucan, hyacinth macaw, jabiru and there was a fish too. Along the main road we saw a cattle drive, toco toucan and a rhea. Once the towns were behind us the wildlife increased and we saw pampas deer, roseate spoonbills, more rhea, buff-necked ibis, burrowing owls, more blue and yellow macaws, peccaries, capybaras, jabiru and cocoi heron.


We arrive in time for a late lunch at Baia das Pedras which is a wildlife rich, family run fazenda with 5,000 cattle. The first walk with our guide Luiz is to find all 3 species of the big macaws that congregate noisily in a grove of palm trees. The hyacinths are doing well here and numbers are increasing. Back at the fazenda for dinner and it is a Japanese guest’s birthday so we have cake and sing happy birthday and one of the other guests plays the mouth organ.


Next morning I´m up early unsuccessfully looking for toucans, however the blue heeler cattle dog (a popular Australian breed) is pleased to see me. Rita’s husband Carlos takes us on a long game drive down the vazante which is a natural channel that drains the water from the southern Pantanal each year. Its incredibly green and has hyacinth growing where the water continues to lie







There are Rufescent Tiger Heron and a myriad of other birds,




cattle, peccaries and capybaras as far as the eye can see. Baia das Pedras is a capybara paradise!




This tree has supported successive jabiru nests for 30 years – each year during the wet season when the chicks are young there is a large pool of water containing fish around the base. The adult jabirus simply drop down to pick up a fish for dinner.




The highlight of the morning is to approach to within one metre of a 6 banded armadillo that doesn´t know we are there - armadillos have poor eyesight but great hearing and sense of smell. Luiz has us approach from upwind and the armadillo continues to snuffle around while we take photos.







Other sights include jabiru,




hyacinth macaws,




an American kestrel, crested cardinals, roseate spoonbills, cocoi heron, plumbeous, bare-faced and white-faced ibis, caiman, capybaras and marsh and pampas deer. At one stage a herd of cattle is watching us intently and they approach slowly when Carlos whistles - he says they are trained by the cowboys to come when whistled.




I told my aunt about this and she reminded me that my grandfather used to call the cows at milking time to get them walking towards the dairy.

The afternoon game drive leaves around 4 pm and early on we see a pair of burrowing owls and a bat falcon. The highlight is a giant anteater with a baby on its back - Luiz says the baby is less than a week old.








After dark we see fireflies and find a nest of 3 white fronted woodpeckers in a gate post. During the night I see some small frogs in the bathroom that disappear during the day – I wonder where they go?


Next morning I´m up early and out with the camera. The morning mist adds a surreal element to the lansdcape and later the cowboys ride through an orange sunrise




The morning drive delivers 2 savannah hawks, numerous pampas deer, 2 nesting crowned eagles, nacuna nighthawk,




vermillion flycatcher and a 6 banded armadillo. The tapir we were seeking still eluded us.


The heart of Baia das Pedras is the terracotta coloured house shaded by a grove of mango trees




There are shady outdoor areas front and back for relaxing and a sandy fruit garden that attracts toucans and other birds.




The cowboys kitchen, tack room and a big view over the nearby wetlands are accessed from the fruit garden.






Carlos and Rita have opened their home to visitors and made a peaceful and comfortable space where guests share meals with the family. Sometimes Vicente, Carlos and Rita’s son joined us at mealtime. He is a qualified vet who is responsible for the wellbeing of the 5,000 cattle and many horses on the property. Rita leads most of the game viewing activities and has a great knowledge of the local wildlife.


All too soon the stay at Baia das Pedras comes to an end. During the final game drive we see a campo flicker,








ferruginous pygmy owl and have a last drive down the vazante in search of tapir. We enjoy lunch with Rita and Luiz (Carlos is driving the staff to Rio Negro as it is change of shift) chatting until Lilito and Julinho fly in to collect us. The next 14 days will be spent in the Northern Pantanal, where we are guided for a second time by Julinho Monteiro of Pantanal Trackers.

Edited by Treepol
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wonderful wildlife sightings. Those giant anteater and baby pics need to go here :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indeed. Wonderful pictures. Not only the anteater, the armadillo, the toucan and the campo flicker are extraordinary as well. You mentioned you saw all of this on a game drive? So did you always stay in the car? I suppose the car goes offroad?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Baia das Pedras offer a range of activities that include horseback safari, canoeing, trekking, spotlighting and photographic safari or what most STers call game drives.


We did all activities in the game drive vehicle which was a converted open Landrover (I think!) We were able to get out and approach animals quietly which made for a unique experience and lifelong memories.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you. It's a great update to that topic :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@Treepol that baby anteater - sooo cute! Jealous! And the armadillo, wow that is way cool! Beautiful toucan and the cowboys in the mist - the whole thing is so evocative and makes me feel I'm there. Enjoying immensely - can't wait for more!

Link to comment
Share on other sites



The flight to Porto Jofre reveals less jungle than I was expecting with lots of cleared land and large tracts of what Australians call scrub. The whole area is tinged with yellow from the flowering trumpet trees. At the hotel we settle into our rooms near the lilypond where later in the afternoon a group if wood storks fishes at dusk.




Our first day at Porto Jofre we are on the river at 7am - Julinho says that the jaguars don´t move to the riverside until the sun is up so there is nothing to be gained from an earlier start. Less than 2 hours later we join others at a sighting of a pair of jaguars where we spend most of the morning, they purr so loudly that I can hear them in the boat 15-20 metres away!






Other sights this morning included a Great Black Hawk and a Black-backed Water Tyrant. A cormorant has trouble positioning its spiny catch so that it can be easily swallowed



We return to the hotel for lunch and escape the worst heat of the day, around 33C.

The afternoon trip is quiet by comparison - we travel up Black Channel until it narrows and becomes impassable. A young jacana daintily picks its way across the floating vegetation




whilst a group of rufous tailed jacamars hug the shade of the river bank. A nursing capybara relaxes late in the afternoon




The day ends with a visit to a giant otter den where 2 otters are swimming in the river. The iPods come out as we speed back to the hotel through sunset waters.




Next morning the macaws are squawking right outside my window and the toucans are calling - its impossible to be late for breakfast here. The first stop on the river is a sandbank where a flock of black skimmers and a pied plover are catching the sun.








Suddenly it starts to rain, and the colour washes out of the day for a short time.




We decide to keep heading upriver and dig out the wet weather gear, determined to outlast the rain. A Black-collared Hawk with a fish ´kill´ is seen along Black Channel




and a jaguar has been spotted further along – I glimpsed a twitching tail. We wait for an hour or so to see if the jaguar shows and I spend the time chatting with a Belgian lady in the next boat, her husband is a vet and they are very excited to see jaguar this trip. Returning to the river we see the Black-collared hawk again, a caiman lizard, blue-crowned trogon and an orange troupial. One last check of the Black Channel before heading back for lunch but there is no jaguar.


A thunder storm hits just as we arrive back at the hotel and within minutes its teeming. I can see a line of wood storks staring bleakly into the rain while a few straggly crested caracaras wander across the lawn. The waiter kindly provides some brightly coloured umbrellas to keep us dry on the way back to our rooms. Miraculously, the rain clears as we are debating whether to do the afternoon trip. Once again we try the Black Channel but no luck. The Black-collared hawk is still in the same place and we have good views of a Black Crowned Night Heron and a Red-Headed Blackbird. Tomorrow we are off to have lunch with Julinho’s friends who live further upriver.


Another early start today to check out the toucans and macaws before breakfast and unexpectedly, there are more toucans than macaws. The first sight on the river is 2 black vultures floating gently downstream on a caiman carcass that they lack the strength to open.




Once we turn into Black Channel I am struck by the contrast between the emerald green of the riverside and a colony of egrets.



A Roadside Hawk keeps watch over the channel and we wait for a while before heading into Three Brothers River.




A fishing party from the hotel has caught a dorado - we used to eat these in 2010 but now they have a strict catch and release status




The fishing guide also shows us a catfish skeleton that was stripped by piranha before the guys could get it in the boat.




Julinho says that it would take piranha only 1-2 minutes to eat the fish. A jaguar has been seen further upstream and we set off, stopping to admire a green iguana basking in a tree




No sight of the jaguar but we hear it calling - a male looking for females.


We arrive at Carmindo and Maria´s for lunch and Julinho immediately gets into the kitchen to cook beef in tomato sauce. We sit down to a tasty lunch of rice and beans, piranha stew and beef. Later we sit around under a huge, shady mango tree where it is pleasantly cool. Carmindo picks fresh oranges from the tree which we eat whilst chatting. The time flies and soon we head back down river where Julinho paddles the boat while we enjoy the peace of the river. I clearly remember the sound of water lapping against the hull as we were carried downstream by the current and numerous bird calls, the harshest of which was the complaining cocoi herons flying into the treetops for the night. Slipping silently downstream, with no motor to alert shy birds and animals we see two giant otters playing in the river and a black-crowned night heron with a fish kill as well as the usual caiman, capybaras and birds.




A cargo boat is making slow progress upriver destination unknown




Another breathtaking sunset concludes this wonderful day.




Next morning we are in the boat by 6.45 and 50 minutes later we are looking at a female jaguar. Julinho looked over his shoulder as we were going up Black Channel and she was lying in the sun in an alcove on the riverbank behind us - a perfect place for a jaguar to catch the morning sun. We move closer and see that her fur is wet as she has just swum across the channel.






I spend a bit of time this morning trying to take photos of the cormorants taking off - they do a little hop, hop, hop across the water before getting airborne.




Back at the hotel Cheryl and I pack ready for the trip north along the Transpantaneira to the Jaguar Ecolodge. There is time for a walk across the footbridge that spans the lilypond where kiskadees and yellow-billed cardinals flutter around us.






Link to comment
Share on other sites

Really nice report, I can't wait to see the pictures of Chaparri, a place I'd love to visit in a circuit combining visit of places such as Sipan and Chan Chan. May be the best place to observe "osos anteojos" in South America.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow, Pol - captivating report that just sucks you right in. Purring jaguars, nursing capybara and baby-toting anteaters... and all those birds... double wow!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wonderful! Question: is the time of year that you went on this trip considered the best time of year to go there to see jaguars, etc.?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@Sangeeta Thanks for reading along and for the encouragement.


@@jeremie the spectacled bears were amazing!


@@SafariChick the dry season from mid-June to October is said to be the best time for seeing jaguars. We had great success during July this year, however this is also winter in the Pantanal and we have experienced 2 cold fronts in 2 trips. Thankfully this year's cold front only lasted for 48 hours, but in 2010 it lasted for about 5 days and really limited our sightings.


I deliberately booked 17 days in the Pantanal as I wanted plenty of time to wait out a cold front and still have great wildlife viewing.


Jaguars can be seen throughout the year, have a look at the Pantanal Trackers website and Facebook page to get an idea of wet season sightings. I would be interested to return sometime between March and May one year to see the Pantanal either during or just after the rainy season.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Driving up the Transpantaneira to the Jaguar Ecolodge we cross the first of over 100 bridges and see a nesting Southern Screamer




Vermilion Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed Jacamar




wild passionfruit flowers and a Maguari Stork




Tonight we go spotlighting, however the cold front that arrived late this afternoon has forced the animals to take cover. There has been a heavy snow fall in Southern Brazil and the temperature drops to 15C which is quite a shock after the high 30sC that we enjoyed at Porto Jofre. The forecast is for a low of 11C the next day.


Next morning the macaw alarm clock sounds from the palm trees behind my room. After breakfast we do a short trail walk but there isn´t much around due to the weather except for a Roadside Hawk and a Blue Throated Guan. We see a clear jaguar footprint




and hear an undulated tinamou calling. At another site nearby Great Potoo,




scaly-headed parrot and lineated




and crimson headed woodpeckers are easily seen. Julinho drops us along the Transpantaneira and we walk back to the Lodge, spotting a Snouted Tree Frog on the way




A capped heron and plumbeous ibis are fishing in a waterhole at the lodge






Jaguar Ecolodge has simple rooms that look out into the surrounding area - cattle graze behind my room. The Transpantaneira is right outside the front gate, however the passing traffic is light and its great for walking. We leave for Rio Clara at 3 pm and bop along to the iPod finding some common ground in Springsteen, Creedence and Collins. Along the way we have good views of snail kite,




scarlet-headed blackbird and a pair of Savannah hawks. The Rio Clara game drive vehicle flags us down because they saw a female jaguar and 2 cubs crossing the road. Julinho shows us their wet paw prints at the roadside but sadly there is no sight of them.


Next day it is quite cool but we set out on a morning walk and see shiny cowbird, red brocket deer




scaled ground doves, moustached wren, lineated and pale-crested woodpeckers. Two howler monkeys huddle together in a treetop for warmth. Brown capuchin monkeys sheltering in the palms are drinking the milk from acuri nuts






Further on a seven-striped armadillo is busy digging deep in a burrow. The afternoon boat trip ended early due to cold, however we saw the usual suspects - cocoi heron, egret, ring-necked and green kingfishers, anhinga, cormorant and tiger heron. The cold front lasts 48 hours and then blue skies are back again.


It is warmer next morning and during the boat trip the blue sky breaks through and the cold front passes over us. Close to the lodge we see a nursing capybara and a ring-necked kingfisher with a fish that is being closely shadowed by a green kingfisher. Female and young howler monkeys are also out in the sun.




Nearby we see a Roadside Hawk, Toco Toucan




and feeding Capuchin monkeys




Its a truly beautiful morning on the river and the sun highlights the lush green water hyacinth growing at the river's edge.


Rio Clara is a very easy lodge - the rooms are comfortable and the food is excellent for quality and variety. The activities include boat trips, walks and horse rides. The lodge gardens are alive with birds that are attracted by the feeders and yellow-billed cardinals, shiny cowbirds, black-headed parakeets and saffron finches are easily seen.


We leave Rio Clara around 3 pm for Pousada Alegre and are lucky to see a tayra briefly at the roadside. A Savannah Hawk is keeps a close eye on the passing traffic and a 7 striped armadillo is catching the sun at his burrow




Near the Pousada Alegre gate we see red brocket deer, and a jabiru being harassed by a caiman. The jabiru was kicking out at something as though its feet were tangled up in weed, and after a few kicks we saw a caiman lunge out of the water at which point the jabiru re-located to a pool across the road.




Other sights included a large capybara family and a chestnut-eared aracari eating wild cotton flowers. Fabricio Dorelio is a local guide who has recently set up his own business and we join his group for a glimpse of a giant anteater.


The first morning at Pousada Alegre we walk for 2.5 hours, enjoying the ''corvak'' which is a pilot's term for clear sky. We see a capybara family of 16 individuals, a plumbeous ibis nest,




green ibis, 2 strikingly marked juvenile tiger herons, donacobius




and a goofy-looking caiman with a green head dress.




Luiz (the owner) has caught a small water snake




which one of the researchers later releases near to where it was found. After lunch I wander around with the camera and spend some time with the monk parakeets




bare-faced curassow and a pair of Chestnut-eared Aracaris gorging at a guava tree






Later in the day we drive to the main gate to walk the circular trail and on the way we see 2 young capybara




a howler monkey family, savannah and brocket deer and a feral pig and piglet. Walking the trail we see lots of mosquitos, some howler monkeys, coati and pale-crested woodpecker. Returning to the lodge we are fortunate to have a close view of a pair of crab-eating foxes




Fabricio's driver is racing along behind us and he takes us to see a giant anteater happily searching for ants at dusk. Later we do a night drive in Fabricio's vehicle and see lots of glowing caiman eyes, crab-eating fox and a rabbit.


Pousada Alegre is 7 km from the Transpantaneira which gives the lodge a secluded atmosphere. The access road is a wildlife rich area where deer, capybara and caiman are daily sightings and giant anteater and black collared anteaters (Southern tamandua) are frequently seen. Hyacinth macaws, toco toucans and chestnut-eared aracari were easily seen in the gardens where they are attracted by the acuri palms and fruit trees. Agoutis patrol the grounds and hummingbirds are sometimes seen next to the shady verandah where I spent a few pleasant hours with a beer or two.


The next day is another perfect day in paradise and we depart early from Pousada Alegre to drive to Pousada Piuval. The sky is the bluest of blues, the vegetation amazingly green and the yellow trumpet trees provide a contrast to both




A jabiru catches the morning sun on a high nest




and a capped heron stares into a roadside pool. Further along the Transpantaneira we stop at a roadside floodplain to get a closer look at a large 'pile' of black caiman






Roseate spoonbills are flying overhead and their pink feathers contrast with the blue sky. An Oasis overland truck on the way north stops beside us - we saw them excitedly watching a capybara family. There are at least 3 Australians aboard and I stop for a chat.


Soon, we arrive at Pousada Piuval and stop off to do a trail walk where we see baby caiman




leafcutter ants carrying yellow trumpet flowers




brown capuchin monkeys drinking milk from acuri nuts






and a great sighting of a Black-collared anteater basking in the sun




A brightly coloured female blue-crowned trogon tops off an amazing morning's game viewing




At the lodge its good to see Rosario and Ana again (we met them in 2010) and we have lunch at an outside table enjoying views over the pousada




where a vermilion flycatcher flits between fence posts




Late in the afternoon we drive to a tower to watch the sunset over a large rookery of egrets and wood storks. We pass a nest of bees




a marmoset and male and female howler monkeys. The female has a baby that clings precariously as she hangs upside down to feed.






The tower does not have the diversity of birds that we saw in 2010. There are monk parakeets in a palm tree and wood storks, jabiru, egrets, and ibis on the wetlands. Cattle move down to the water's edge at sunset




We spotlight on the return to the lodge and see brocket deer, crab-eating foxes and nacuna night hawks.


The next morning tips off a very busy day - up at 5.30 for an early walk at Piuval and then a short drive to Pocone where Lilito is waiting with the plane to fly us to the Hotel Baiazinha on the Paraguay River.


Piuval is very scenic in the early morning light when it is deliciously cool and there is even dew on the grass. The first blush of an apricot dawn reveals birds roosting high in trees




and mares quietly grazing




Puma tracks are evident on the sandy track, but the animal is long gone. A squirrel cuckoo catches the first rays of the morning sun




and capuchin and howler monkeys are also waking. Returning to the Fazenda we startle a large flock of egrets




and watch a green kingfisher gazing attentively into a waterhole. A whistling heron wades in the quiet of the early morning before shaking its wet feathers




After breakfast we leave for Pocone, stopping for a Savannah Hawk who enjoys Satchmo with us





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even without jaguars, my favourite chapter so far. Incredible diversity!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The baby anteater (and the mother) is just amazing, giant anteater was on my wishlist but I had no livk with that one so it's great to see your pictures.


Inearly hired Julinho but in the end he told me he couldn't do it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@@michael-ibk - I think you have highlighted one of the strengths of travelling with Pantanal Trackers which is diversity, with or without jaguars!


@@pedro maia - Pleased you liked the giant anteater and baby, we missed tapir and puma this year. Oh well, something to look for next time I suppose.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The 35 minute scenic flight to Hotel Baizinha takes us over some flat topped hills, thickly wooded country, water holes and a river. We have 2 full days in the Taima Ecological Reserve that is 80 minutes away by fast boat. Alessandro is our boatman, he´s a great guy and has a sound knowledge of the river. Sadly, he doesn´t speak English and we have no Portuguese, however Julinho is quick to include him in the conversation and fun comments. We have a fun 2 days!


The river level is dropping as this is the dry season and earlier today the hotel´s charter houseboat that is used for fishing parties ran aground briefly on a sandbar. The river has multiple navigation signs - an X means cross to the other side, a square means stay where you are and an H means move to the middle of the river. Alessandro probably knows where to drive off by heart but the signs do appear very frequently. The river is silting up and whilst it is occasionally dredged it remains shallow. The Hidrovia is an international plan discussed between Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay to dredge the river and open it up to cargo boats travelling to western Brazil however environmentalists oppose the scheme claiming that the wash from the boats will destroy the river banks and change the ecology of the region. All the more reason to see it now...


The first afternoon we do a half day river trip of which the highlight is a large flock or Roseate Spoonbills






Other sights include a comical capybara, green iguana and the usual jabirus, cocoi herons and rufescent tiger herons.


Next morning we are on the river early and pass a fishing charter houseboat that looks like a jacana carrying young under its feathers. There are many dinghies strung about it on davits, whilst others are towed.




The first sighting is of a swimming capybara, colourful Fazenda Descalvados




and a basking iguana before we enter the Taima Reserve.




Julinho spots the first jaguars around 10.30, a breeding pair who slip away as the boat approaches. We can see the vegetation moving which indicates the direction they are walking and he predicts they will move to a shady cleared área which is where we anchor and wait for them. Sure enough they soon appear




and we stay with them for about 3.5 hours and eat a delicious chicken and rice lunch with beer and Kit Kats packed by the hotel. Julinho is very generous with his jaguar watching expertise and talks to Alessandro about giving the animal space, letting it set the parameters of the sighting.


We leave for the long trip back to the hotel (2.5 hours) and Julinho soon spots another pair of jaguars. These are timid and run shortly after the boat stops.






The river is magical on the way back – cormorants, cocoi herons and anhingas perch in trees drying their wings whilst a jabiru stands with wings spread on a sandbar in the late afternoon light. We stop at Fazenda Descalvados which is almost deserted. I´m pleased we didn´t stay here, even though it is closer to the Reserve - the gracious yellow residence that faces downriver does not seem to be used for accommodation. Rather a formerly grand room provides storage for about 20 ergonomic chairs. The chapel and farm buildings are awaiting restoration and the blue storage shed is filled with old machinery and bags of fertiliser. The accommodation seems to be in 7 rooms down the side of the blue shed with no river views. I´m so pleased that we are staying at Hotel Baizinha!


We are late leaving next morning as we talk too long over breakfast. 7.40 sees us on the river where our first sights are a pair of nesting jabirus,




an osprey and 5 giant otters successfully fishing for catfish.




Way down the river we motor well into the Reserve where Julinho spots a breeding pair of jaguars




Alessandro positions the boat for the best sights and we anchor and wait for them to move. We stay for 4 hours, most of which the female jaguar spends on a tree branch overhanging the river




and the male is behind a log. At one stage a capybara swims under the tree and when he realises there is a jaguar above he starts honking and noisily crosses and re-crosses the river




We abandon plans for a BBQ lunch on the riverbank and have rice, tomatoes and cucumber with beers aboard instead, waiting for the jaguars to hopefully move into the open. As dusk approaches on the late trip home, jabirus fly effortlessly overhead, their crooked neck making a distinctive outline against the darkening sky. Along certain stretches of the river egrets and cocoi herons stand like silent sentinels ready for the night.




Our last day at Baizinha starts as usual with breakfast and chat and gets busy when we hear the plane arriving 45 minutes early. There is barely time to pack, pay bills and distribute tips. There are great views from the plane of the twisting Paraguay River and I can see just how far we drove to reach the reserve, and then travelled even further inwards in search of jaguar. The day is clear, we enjoy the ´corvak´ and the half hour flight is very pleasant.


Baiazinha Hotel is situated right on the Paraguay River and hás great views of sandy river banks and floating islands of water hyacinth carried downstream by the strong current.




Caiman lounge between the boats at the dock. Our rooms are spacious with king size beds, large showers and plenty of hot water. The food is varied, tasty and well-cooked, laundry service is great! The deep verandah provides a shady place to sit in comfortable chairs and watch the river. The interior of the hotel is completely screened which means that the rooms, sitting and dining áreas are relatively free of pesky mosquitos and the horse flies that inflict a painful bite. The sitting área has tables and chairs, futons, hammocks and double cane lounges. The pool looks clear, cool and inviting.


Back at Poconé airfield we pay Lilito for the flights and he jokes about flying us to Austrália. He says it would take 30 days in his Skylane. Julinho takes us to visit a local goldmine where the Manager is a friend of his and we are allowed to walk around and take photos. The drive back to Cuiabá is very quiet, we are happy to reflect on our Pantanal experiences and sing along to the iPod. We have lunch with Julinho and then its off to the airport for the flight to Sao Paulo and the Airport Marriott.


Our safari with Pantanal Trackers encompassed the spirit of the Pantanal – its unique wetland, grassland and forest environments, wildlife and people. Julinho is a thoroughly professional guide who successfully provides a diverse, true Pantanal experience that mixes wildlife viewing with the culture and traditions of the local people. He promotes a respectful guiding philosophy that is simple and effective – “we’ll go out into the jaguar’s world, drive around and wait for them to show up.”


Julinho is an experienced spotter and has keen identification skills and a deep knowledge of animals, birds, reptile and insect species which he readily shared with us. He gives visitors a unique opportunity to visit Maria and Carmindo for lunch or camp at their home on the river and has a true appreciation of the life and work of the Pantaneiro cowboys. During our walks we learnt about the medicinal uses of wild plants.

Sure everyone wants to see jaguar, the Prince of the Pantanal and Julinho has an excellent reputation for successfully tracking these majestic cats. However, other iconic species such as giant river otters, capuchin and howler monkeys, armadillos and giant and black collared anteaters are not eclipsed by the search for jaguar. We stopped for extraordinary sightings of everyday animal and bird life in the Pantanal. These included a Neotropical Cormorant tossing a spiny fish in the air so that it pointed in the right direction to swallow, a nursing capybara, vultures on a floating caiman carcass, Capuchin monkeys drinking milk from acuri nuts and a female howler monkey hanging upside down to feed while a bay clutched her fur.


The photos tell the story of our time in the Northern Pantanal, observing all creatures great and small and spending time with Maria and Carmindo. True nature lovers will appreciate Julinho’s expertise, patience and persistence which consistently deliver remarkable sightings that forge lifelong memories.



Edited by Treepol
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a power packed itinerary. You´ve managed to roll a bunch of trips into one odyssey! I would seriously wager no one has put together that exact itinerary you have done. Lots of planning and research for sure.


Amazing catch of that baby anteater. The little guy is looking great for just a week old. Your sunning anteater is great too. Nice close ups of the monkeys who don`t hang around posing.


I am only to page 1. Is there a Fabricio photo in the report? Wondering if it was "my" Fabricio. I don`t remember his last name for sure but it looked familiar.


Looking forward to Manu and Chaparri for some your experiences and insights. That will have to wait a few weeks, though because I head into the Atlantic Forest of Brazil tomorrow to the Caratinga Research Station. The Pantanal part of you report is a great sendoff.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy