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Brazil September 2013


michael-ibk
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@@michael-ibk

Great stuff - a puma!

Shame about your final boat trip - but it sounds like a good stay at Porto Jofre

 

(We are almost completely booked - I will put a post in the planning thread - Porto Jofre is the difficulty!)

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@@michael-ibk, great sightings, the mating jaguars, the anaconda and the puma, i don´t think you could ask for more than that.

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Thanks to your report, I now have yet another puma sighting.

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Shame about your final boat trip - but it sounds like a good stay at Porto Jofre

 

 

@@TonyQ

 

It certainly was, it was only this single incident I was not happy with. This jaguar sighting happened at the meeting of the waters, this is a focal point for all boats, so I think that´s why it was such a crowded - and therefore slightly unpleasant - sighting.

 

 

i don´t think you could ask for more than that.

 

 

@pedromaia

 

 

Well, I´m an insatiable guy, I could always ask for more. For the next time I demand mating pumas, jaguars with cubs, and 8-m-long anacondas. ;)

 

@@Atravelynn

 

Happy to oblige, shall we found the Seen-Pumas-And-It-Was-Terrific-Club? :)

 

Anyway, on with the report:

 

After our nocturnal puma encounter we slept till 07.30 – a weird feeling having the otherwise crowded breakfast room all to ourselves. Ariberto suggested to walk around Porto Jofre a bit to avoid the check-out queues, and since our next stop was Rio Claro we were in no hurry at all.

 

So we spent some time with the Hyacinth Macaws who – as always – did their very best to entertain us.

 

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Wood Storks and a Great Egret were wading in the pond.

 

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Beauty and the Beasts.

 

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Great Egret

 

Ariberto took us on a walk to the other side of the pond into the gallery forest.

 

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We saw Capuchin Monkeys, lots of Common Piping Guans and Chaco Chacalacas, some kind of Woodcreeper, a Black-Fronted Nunbird and a Squirrel Cuckoo. We also found tracks of tapir and jaguar. Our nicest encounter was with this Rufous-Tailed Jacamar:

 

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We returned to the hotel via the airstrip and said our last good byes.

 

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To the boats.

 

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To the ubiquitous Monk Parakeet.

 

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The Cattle Tyrants.

 

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And our bungalow.

 

At about 09:45 we were on our way on the Transpantaneira again.

 

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A very satisfying drive I enjoyed more than the one from the other direction. The southern part of the road is definitely richer in wildlife, and it was beautiful seeing this part of the Transpantaneira in daylight (albeit very clouded daylight.)

 

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Not too many mammals around, as we had come to expect, but we did see a Brocket Deer quickly disappearing into the shrubbery when we approached, several Coatis who also ran away the instant they saw us, and even some Capuchins who fled in panic. I felt pretty unloved. :)

 

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Speedy Black-Striped Tufted Capuchin.

 

An impressive Marsh Deer stag took some pity and had at least the decency to give us a look before running off.

 

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Marsh Deer

 

And Capybaras, bless them, of course couldn´t care less about photo hungry tourists.

 

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Cattle & Capybara.

 

And we enjoyed lots and lots of bird sightings, all kind of kingfishers, several raptors perching on bridges or fence posts, hundreds of egrets, spoonbills, storks, ibis, jacanas, … so there was always something nice to see.

 

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Jabirus, Roseate Spoonbills, Great and Snowy Egrets, Wood Storks

 

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Black-Collared Hawk

 

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Southern Screamer with Chick (and a Limpkin)

 

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Male Amazon Kingfisher

 

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Immature Rufescent Tiger Heron

 

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Maguari Stork, our only sighting of the trip.

 

The highlight was a Chestnut-Eared Aracari, a firm favourite of many Pantanal visitors. It was lovely watching this splendiferous bird feeding.

 

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All of the road shots really made me feel I was enroute with you. You saw so many baby capybaras. That brood of 7 is a huge family, such a lucky find. I saw my fav bird, the Capped Heron. The otter video worked fine. Great action in the water and on the log! Adorable creatures.

 

I think that 95% chance of jaguar sightings is pretty accurate for Porto Joffre at the time you were there. Maybe even higher since you had several days.

 

I bet your guide was thrilled with that puma. Along with the ocelot you got to see the big cats of the Pantanal. And you're in "the club.'

 

Let me give you a thumbs up like the cowboys did.

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I realy enjoyed seeing this day unfold - lots of great bird pictures - the aracari is amazing

I really like the capybara!

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Thanks, TonyQ and Atravelynn.

 

Rio Claro

 

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Access Road

 

We arrived at about 13:00, just in time for lunch. Not as fancy as in Porto Jofre, but very tasty and wholesome nonetheless. The lodge is beautiful, lots of trees and green on the premises, and the feeders attract all kinds of birds, so there´s always something fun to watch.

 

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One Yellow-Billed Cardinal ...

 

...out of a few hundred:

 

 

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Black-Hooded Parakeet

 

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Moscovy Duck

 

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Southern Crested Caracara

 

 

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Bare-Faced Currasow (seen at early morning, they´re not around when the lodge is active.)

 

Rio Claro also has a nice pool and a souvenir shop. Hammocks in front of each room add to the very comfortable and relaxed atmosphere of the place. The one disadvantage here is that the rooms don´t have window glasses, the walls are quite thin and there´s a room every five metres along the building, so it therefore feels a bit crowded. Especially if it´s fully booked which was pretty much the case during our stay.

 

http://www.pantanal.de/de/pantanal/lodges/pousada_rio_claro.php

 

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The main activity here are boat trips on Rio Claro (actually a long-stretched lake according to Ariberto rather than a river). Smaller vessels like in Porto Jofre, but they also go much, much slower than there, and after all the speeding around I welcomed this unhurried and relaxing pace. No need to carry the life vest, the water is very shallow. (Falling in is not recommended however lots of piranhas!) Boat trips last around 2 to 3 hours in the afternoon. We had the boat to ourselves (with Ariberto and a boatsman, of course). There´s also the possibility to do an early paddling canoe and experience sunrise on the water activity.

 

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Unfortunately on our first afternoon boat trip the weather turned pretty bad, it got very dark and we expected heavy rainfall any minute. Surprisingly, the sky decided to keep its water to itself however, and we stayed dry. Most pictures from our boat trips turned out out of focus here. Don´t know why, we didn´t have this problem on Rio Paraguai or at Porto Jofre to this extent. Maybe it was the specific vibration of the motor boat?

 

We turned to the right from the mooring point, and since a group which had booked most of Rio Claro were apparently doing some walking we had the pleasure of not meeting any other boats this day.

 

Rio Claro is a Cormorant and Snowy Egret stronghold, huge flocks are nesting here. For some time they had disappeared completely, apparently having found better breeding grounds elsewhere, but for the last few years they have been returning in force.

 

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Jabiru plagued by gadflies.

 

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Common Piping Guan

 

We also saw Moscovy Ducks (our first ones), many Brazilian Teals, Cocoi Herons, Rufescent Tiger Herons, American Darters, Bare-Faced Curassows, our one and only Little Blue Heron, a Roadside Hawk, Capuchin Monkeys and many, many Toco Toucans. Once we counted no less than 12 of them flying across in a single line. Yellow-Rumped Caciques were numerous, too, we found two different colonies:

 

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A Rio Claro specialty is their Get the fish-act. The Boatsman takes a bucket full of it with and attracts Jabiru, Cocoi Heron, Black-Collared-Hawk, Caiman and even Giant Otters with it. All happily play along and come to the boat very closes to get their catch of the day. A bit too zoo-like for my taste, but it´s fun nonetheless. The Caiman is said to be the same every time, and we were told his name is Sico. I remember from @pedromaia ´s report that he was told the name Dorothea. Unless this very caiman transformed its sex I strongly suspect they are coming up with new names for every new tourist.

 

 

Apart from the 3km-access-road, Rio Claro has no road network of its own so game drives are done on the Transpantaneira. We did one for about 1 ½ hours after dinner but only found two Crab-Eating Foxes and one Crab-Eating-Racoon. A bit crap. (Sorry, couldn´t resist. ;))

 

Next morning we went for a walk for some hours, first through more open terrain where we found a Brocket Deer which unfortunately didn´t allow a closer approach. I think this is a red brocket but due to the lack of a proper mammal guide for South America I´m not sure. (Ariberto only knew the Portuguese name which I of course forgot instantly).

 

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All the termite hills made the area look a bit cemetery-like:

 

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I was hoping for anteaters here, with all these termites this should be perfect habitat for them. But Ariberto told me that Rio Claro has never been known for as good place for seeing them, even in the times when anteaters were much more numerous along the Transpantaneira, and we shouldn´t hope for one. And he was right. Still, we saw two Agoutis at least.

 

Going into the gallery forest was like entering a completely different world, thick, dense vegetation here, and on our own we would have lost the path pretty quickly. When we heard some noise not too far I quickly wanted to go there to investigate but Ariberto told us to stay put. What we were hearing was a large gang of White-Lipped Peccaries, the one thing here to definitely be afraid of. Not a cause for concern if they are encountered in single numbers (like their collared conspecifics always are), but a big herd like this does attack humans, and especially in difficult terrain like this keeping one´s distance is the thing to do.

 

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After a while we heard some undertoned, extremely high-pitched noises Black-Tailed Marmosets. It took us some time to spot them, they are tiny and quite high-up in the canopy. This species (as such recognized for less than 15 years) is endemic to the Pantanal.

 

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And we found some Black-Striped Tufted Capuchins.

 

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Lots of birds as well, but hard to spot inmidth all the leaves. Here we had our only sighting (or rather glimpse) of an Orange-Backed Troupial. Other bird highlights were a Great Rufous Woodcreeper and a a male Blue-Crowned Trogon.

 

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On our way back a Savanna Hawk was posing nicely for us:

 

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In the afternoon we took the boat-trip to the left. Good terrain for Agami Heron, arguably the most beautiful heron to be found in the Pantanal, but we didn´t have any luck. Hardly any Snowy Egrets here and decidedly less cormorants here than on the other side, too. Apart from the usual birds we found a Sunbittern, albeit quite deep in the shadow, and a few Sungrebes, who quickly hid when the boat came closer.

 

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Neotropic Cormorant

 

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Rufescent Tiger Heron

 

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Black-Collared Hawk

 

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A Striated Heron was responsible for a very lucky find: I failed to get pics of this bird, it´s very good at crouching and hiding behind branches. When we tried to get closer to one we passed a tree with a few tiny fellows on it:

 

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Proboscis bats, just a few cm in size. Nearly impossible to spot if you don´t know they´re there, without trying to catch the heron we would never have found them.

 

This evening, dinner had its challenges. Rio Claro had a total blackout lasting for a few hours, and we were glad for our headlights. (Not the lodge´s fault, as Ariberto told us all of Poconé and its vicinity had gone dark, which is not too unusual. Can´t happen in Porto Jofre, btw, they have their own generators.)

 

We had decided to do another night drive and met with Ariberto at 11:00 p.m. at the car. But before we left he had us go with him near the river, just a few 100 m behind the lodge. He didn´t tell us why, just mumbled about looking around a bit. He had a nice surpise for us a Tapir was grazing in the gallery forest! Unfortunately the animal quickly soon heard us and fled, but what a great surpise! We also found two Crab-Eating-Foxes on our way back to the car who weren´t shy at all I got as close to them as 10 metres.

 

The actual night drive was not as eventful as the start to it. We saw some Foxes, a young Tapir quickly disappearing into the undergrowth as we got closer, some Boat-Bills, Night-Herons, Capybaras and Caimans of course, and a Tapeti, the Brazilian rabbit. Our main goal, however, the Giant Anteater, remained invisible.

 

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Boatbill and Tapeti

 

 

Only on our way back home at almost 02:30 the next best thing materialized a Tamandua (aka Little Anteater or Black-Collared-Anteater). This lovely creature was not very shy, it remained on the road for maybe a minute, and even after we exited the car and tried to get closer it shuffled off with no haste at all. I followed it and the anteater allowed me to approach it very closely, and we watched each other for one or two minutes, probably equally amazed at what this strange creature staring at us was thinking. I had been warned not to get too close, anteaters get on their hind legs and sway their sharp-clawed forelimbs. Though I was pretty tempted to see this my better senses prevailed and I kept my distance. Soon the little cutie had enough of our staring contest and disappeared into the undergrowth. And left us tired, but very happy. Finally an Anteater!

 

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Next morning we rose only at 08:00 and got packing. Before breakfast we took a little walk along the river. And found two Agoutis again. And this wonderful tree.

 

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We left Rio Claro at about 10:30. About 1 km before reaching the Transpantaneira we got a very special bonus sighting a Jaguarundi! Closely related to the much larger puma, cat is a pretty rare sight. Ariberto told us he sees not more than two a year, so we felt very lucky. (No photos, it was in sight for less than a minute, but I had a good clear look at it through the binocs.)

 

Our last Rio Claro sighting was this Roseate Spoonbill, frantically spooning away:

 

 

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@@michael-ibk

I really enjoyed this section of your report

It gives a great flavour of the environment + lots of really good bird photos

The videos of the small colourful birds and the spoonbill add an extra touch

The boat trip looks very peaceful. I didn't spot the bats at first!

I am pleased you got to see an anteater (even if not a giant) - I am not sure I would still be up at 2.30!

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Really nice night shots of the Tamandua! Your shots show the abundance and variety from birds to lily ponds to reptiles and mammals. Those Rufescent Tiger Herons are attractive at any age.

Edited by Atravelynn
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  • 4 weeks later...

(Very belatedly) thank you, Atravelynn, Atdahl and TonyQ.

@TonyQ :

Well, you should be (up late). B) Ariberto is adamant that real night drives (ie starting at midnight) are much better than the regular game drives shortly before or after dinner. And I think he´s right, more animals come out after traffic has died down, and we wouldn´t have seen Puma, Anaconda, Anteater or even Boatbill and Night Heron without our very late drives. Yes, getting out of bed next morning was no fun at all but it was totally worth it.

Pousada Piuval

Back on the Transpantaneira we had our first good Coati sighting. Until now, they had only granted us glimpses of their tails when crossing the street, or – even worse – we had only seen road kills. But now a little family was enjoying the sun in a meadow not too far off the street, and it was fun watching them.

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They are the diurnal counterparts to their close relatives, the crab-eating racoons, and also called “Brasilian Aardvarks” according to Wikipedia.

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And very good climbers:



Before proceeding to Piuval, our last lodge here in the Pantanal, Ariberto took us on a little side trip to Curicaca Lodge, run by friends of him. The way there is quite interesting, it´s a very narrow road on an elevated dam with only enough room for one car. Meaning if someone comes from the opposite side, one car has to return backwards all the way either to the Transpantaneira or the Lodge. The area is quite swampy, and seems to be the perfect terrain for Rufescent Tiger Herons, we saw more than 30 of them here.

Also a good place for the Capped Heron:

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(Just for @@Atravelynn )

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Common Iguana

Marshy terrain is of course also perfect for Marsh Deer, and we had a very nice encounter with this beautiful doe who was pretty relaxed about us.

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Around the lodge we found another target bird of mine. Can you spot it?

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What looks just like another branch, is a Great Potoo, a very interesting nocturnal bird which rests motionlessly on branches during daylight, rightfully trusting in its perfect camouflage.

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While Ariberto was having coffee with his friends, we preferred to spend time with some more interesting visitors – Coatis again:

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Not afraid of humans at all, and yes, that´s because they are fed here. Fruits are layed out, which also attract Agoutis and Lowland Pacas at dawn. I don´t much care for wildlife feeding just for the sake of tourists, but it was fun spending time with the little “Aardvarks” and watching them eat and interact so closely.

We then went on a walk through the forest for a good hour. We were very hopeful, just yesterday a group had encountered a Giant Anteater in broad daylight, and Ariberto told us it´s a good place for Howler Monkeys as well, and maybe we would even spot some Giant Otters in a nearby lake. But we found – nothing. With the notable exception of a 2-m long snake which lay just one metre in front of us, totally invisible, when we were watching the lake, just to dash out to the water with a whiplash-like noise all of a sudden. Good adrenalin rush. :)

Back on the Transpantaneira we spotted a Black Tegu, South America´s equivalent to a Monitor Lizard.:

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We arrived at Pousada Piuval at about 13:00. A nice, well-kept lodge with lots of birds in the trees, and beautiful views to open meadows with lots of cattle and horses around. We were advised not to stay here at weekends. As it is the first lodge on the Transpantaneira (and has a very nice swimming pool) lots of tourists and locals spend time here, and if fully booked (which is often the case) the place apparently can get very busy. Luckily it did not during our stay, maybe 10 to 15 other guests were there. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, food was alright (but not up to par with Porto Jofre or even Rio Claro).

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Campo Flicker on the fence.

A Sunbittern found in a tiny mud pool near the swimming pool. In flight wings reveal a large “sunburst” of buff and orange-rufous in its primaries:

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More pics of the lodge here:

http://www.pantanal-pocone.net/en/pantanal/lodges/pousada_piuval.php

Boat trips, which are normally available, were no longer feasible as the water level had sunk too low. We went to the lake twice, but did never stay longer than a few minutes, because here mosquitoes definitely were a pain. We had a short glimpse of some Giant Otters sticking their heads out. A rarer sighting here, the lake is so big that the otters have enough room to avoid boats and have therefore not become as habituated as in Porto Jofre or Rio Claro.

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On our second day we went to Poconè in the morning and had a one-hour scenic flight over the Pantanal. A great experience, which showed how vast these cattle lands are. And dry, we didn´t fly over too many water bodies. How different this landscape must be when it´s flooded, I would very much like to see this someday. We saw many Marsh Deer and an impressive rot of Peccaries.

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Pousada Piuval

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The Transpantaneira

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Rio Claro

We went on a horse ride on our second day in the afternoon. A fun outing, just because we´ve never ridden before and it was a new experience for us. The horses are quite used to clueless tourists, so it´s no problem at all. We chose to only go for one hour, and certain body parts of mine were glad for that. While the riding is nice just for itself, we didn´t see much, two Coatis, one Rhea, all from afar, that was pretty much it.

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Wildlife sightings generally were not as prolific as in the other places we had visited. The open meadows especially seemed to be almost lifeless at times, and night drives were even worse, we saw practically nothing, not even foxes. Twice we waited for sunset at little pools to see what would show up, but were unsuccessfull there either. Tapir, Anteater and even Puma do normally live here, but Ariberto could not even find fresh tracks. A bit disappointing, I had hoped for more as one is not restricted here to drives on the Transpantaneire but can use a network of roads and pathes on all 7,000 ha of the ranch.

The watchtower apparently should be a good opportunity to watch egret and stork colonies, but either not this late in the season or no longer at all, Chaco Chacalacas and Black Vultures were present in the trees, but not much else. We were luckier when we returned there in the morning and could watch some Black-Striped Tufted Capuchins feeding in the trees. They were disturbed by a familiy of Coatis who disturbed them. The Capuchins made their disdain for their unwelcome visitors very clear, one even pulled one coati´s tail to show its displeasure with this company.

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Even if Pousada Piuval was not as rewarding (for us) as the places before, we still had very nice sightings on our walks and drives, especially in or near the forest “islands”, interspersed like colour dots in the brown grassland.

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Hyacinth Macaws were often seen.

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Feral Pigs, a stronger and therefore potentially disastrous competition for the indigenous Peccaries.

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Red-Legged Seriema

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Chestnut Bellied Guan and Azara´s Agouti

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Red-Fronted Turquoise

Our nicest find was this family of Black Howler Monkeys, far up in the trees.

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Our wonderful time in the Pantanal ended fittingly, with an unforgettable sunset.

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Only just came across this trip report. Epic journey so far, with excellent sightings. The Jaguars and the crunched-Caiman were great, the tapir, coati and howler monkeys got some wonderful pics. The latter and former not being that easy to photograph! I am not much of a birder but all the pictures taken of them are excellent. :)

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@@michael-ibk

Thank you for continuing this

I have really enjoyed your writing and your excellent photos

In the latest I especially enjoyed the coati photos. The aerial photos give a great view of the area, and the howler monkey pictures are great.

You have given a great flavour of the trip - I am really looking forward to our trip now!

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@@michael-ibk, I think Tony pretty much said it all. Thanks for the very detailed account of your fantastic trip. It's a great read and the pictures are outstanding. I especially liked the coati and howler pics in the latest installment.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Our next stop was Brasilia, Brazil´s capital. There were no direct flights to Iguacu available anyway, and so we had decided to visit the architecturally interesting capital for one day.

Since we had gotten up at about 02:30 a.m. in order to catch our flight in time we were pretty knackered on arrival, but the city managed to wake us up with its fascinating structure. Brasilia is a weird thing to any European. We are used to organically grown cities. Any place of the least importance back home has existed at least for a millenium. Not so with the capital of Brazil: In the 60ies it was decided that the political center of the country should move to its geographical centre. And therefore Brasilia was born, central buildings devised by famous architect Oscar Niemeyer and built from scratch in less than four years.

Especially noticeable to us was the smooth traffic. Even without traffic lights jams are virtually unknown thanks to a clever system of roundabouts and access roads. Different Trees are planted along the main roads in a way that some of them always are in bloom. And the city is very orderly structured, all hotels in one place, all banks, all car shops, all ministeries and so on.

A few snippets:

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Catedral Metropolitana


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Congresso Nacional


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Square of Three Powers



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Palacio Da Alvorada


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Southern Lapwing near the Cathedral (just to throw in something nature-related)




We proceeded to Iguacu Falls the next day, where we arrived early afternoon and were met by our guide for the next few days. We had initially planned to stay at the Cataratas hotel, wonderfully located in the national park itself, with a direct view of the falls. Our operator talked us out of that and recommended the (substantially cheaper) Hotel St. Martin. A good choide for us. Cataratas is undenieably more fancy, and I imagine it allows for an undisturbed, peaceful visit of the falls either before or after the crowds arrive. (And yes, that is CROWDS! Way too many!) And one can walk around in the park itself. Both a big plus certainly.

On the other hand, you´re a long way from the city, and if one would like to enjoy dinner there (like we did), it´s quite some drive. St. Martin offers a shuttle service to town for free and a very nice, mainly undisturbed nature trail almost down to the river (running peaceful here, totally innocent and calm, as it would like to deny the thundering power its water had crashed down with just a little way upriver). Rooms, premises, service and food are all very good, we enjoyed it very much.

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Entrance area of Hotel St. Martin


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Nature Trail down to Iguacu River, a lovely walk (1,5 km) which we always had to our own.


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Plush-Crested Jay. Seen several in the morning and evening near the pool.


For us the biggest advantage was that it´s located just a few 100 m next to the park entrance, and therefore is neighbouring the bird park which we visited in the afternoon. We didn´t expect too much, but it turned out to be a real trip highlight. After entering I wasn´t all that enthused at first, lots of cages with parrots, definitely not up to modern zoological standards. But after a while one enters spacious aviaries with lots of toucans, macaws or hummingbirds. We loved this part of the park so much that we even returned for a second visit on our last day (when we had to kill a few hours anyway). We then made an effort to be the first visitors, bypassed half the park immediately and then had the aviaries to ourselves for a good 15 minutes each, and really had lots of fun here with trusting birds who even would try to steal one glasses!

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Green-Billed Toucan, one of the most confiding birds here. And one of the most naughty ones, likes to nibble at rucksacks while one is not watching one´s back. :)

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We really enjoyed getting so close to the magnificent Toco Toucans.

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Channel-Billed Toucan

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Great Egret

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Planalto Hermit

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Hummingbird aviary. (And I gave up identifying these hummingbirds, please feel free to help out.)

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Macaw Aviary

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Orange-Winged Amazon

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Hyacinth Macaw and Red-And-Green-Macaw



Next morning we visited the Brasilian side of the falls. We first decided on doing a helicopter flight (about USD 100,-- for about 10 minutes). Since we were there early we didn´t have to queue which apparently can take quite a while later in the day. 7 people per helicopter, and of course we managed to get the worst seats (middle oness in the back row). If you do it make sure you are first (for front row) or last (for outer seats in front row) in the queue for the next copter. It was a fantastic experience nonetheless:

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The Brasilian side is on the right, the Argentinan on the left. You can see the pathway to the "Gargantua de Diabolo", the "Devil´s Throat" here, probably the most impressive place.

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As can be seen the forest around Iguacu Falls is quite big and home to many animals, including Pumas and 60 to 70 Jaguars. Nature treks (on the river or by car) are offered. We didn´t do this since we thought it could only be a letdown after the Pantanal. All tours are aimed at the typical tourist, are shared with at least 20 other people in the boat or car. We doubted it would be a worthwhile experience.

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Hotel Dos Cataratas. Location can´t be beat, that´s for sure.

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@@michael-ibk

Thanks for the update

Brasilia looks really interesting - and great view of the falls from the helicopter!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just came back to finish this report as I had only seen the beginning previously. Thanks for all the detail about the trip and what you saw - you had such wonderful sightings! I loved the baby capybaras, of course the jaguars, and the otters were wonderful. Hoping I will follow in your footsteps at some point on a similar trip!

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Thank you, @@SafariChick , glad you liked it. (And giving me an impetus to finish the report. ;) )

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  • 4 weeks later...
michael-ibk

After the helicopter flight we entered the Brazilian side of Iguacu Park. After getting tickets it´s still a few kilometeres to the actual waterfall routes. Shuttle busses are offered, but it´s also possible to drive there with a guide. (As we did, but you really don´t need one at the falls, we only had him because it was part of the package, and you do need transportation to Argentina.)

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As mentioned before, the Falls are visited by an unbelievable number of people. Get used to queuing. Everywhere.


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Coatis (noticably greyer than their more rufous Pantanal conspecifics)are very common along the paths, and almost a nuisance. They have become very bold because tourists feed them, and often inflict nasty bites or scratches when people confuse them with cuddly pets. Several warning sights show this, but to little effect - few days go by without someone being bitten according to our guide.

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Salto Rivadavia and Salto Tres Mosqueteros


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Salto Rivadavia


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Black Vultures and Dusky Swifts.

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Salto Floriano


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Red-Rumped Cacique


The Brazilian side is just one pathway (one-way) and can easily be done in half a day, 3-4 hours should be more than enough. You do get very wet here, so water protection for the camera is mandatory.

In the afternoon our guide convinced us to drive to Itaipu dam, a huge (monstrous) hydrocelectir facility located on the boarder between Brazil and Paraguay. A rip-off and a waste of time unfortunately. We never even got to see the artificial lake, we only saw the poster in the visiting offices.

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You have to follow the visiting busses here even in your own car and are only allowed two five-minutes-stops to watch the dam. Then you drive on the dam itself, but never even get to see the lake and do not stop on the dam. No view of the lake, no view down the dam which I expect would be nice. But no, you just drive between the walls and do not see anything. A frustrating experience and a waste of money.

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  • 3 months later...
michael-ibk

On the next day it was time for the Argentinan side of the Falls. And contrary to Brazil, one really needs a full day to cover this - longer walks, more routes here. Brazil might have slightly better panoramic views, but one is closer, almost inmidth the falls in Argentina, so I enjoyed them more. Getting across the border is a smooth affair, didn´t take longer than 10 to 15 minutes either way. The road to the park entrance leads through Iguacu forest, and depressingly we were told about the high number of roadkills because of speeding, even two jaguars were casualties in the preceding 12 months. :(

Several circuits can be done at the falls, Upper, Lower and Devil´s Throat, and there´s also the possibility to cross over to St. Martin Island and walk around there (which we didn´t do, and there was not time left for the Jungle Macuco Walking Trail neither unfortunately). The Devil´s route one, about 3 km away from park´s entrance, can only be reached by a train shuttle service, and it´s highly advisable to do this one first. Queuing apparently gets insane later in the day, with waiting times of more than one hour. Even as early as we were on our way it already was very full, and we were lucky to get on the first train departing.

After arrival at Devil´s Throat station some catwalks lead across the calm, peaceful river for a km or so - and then there´s the "Gargantua Del Diabolo". Highlight of the falls really standing there, a place of pure power. Very impressive - and very wet! One could just step into a shower, wouldn´t make much of a difference. Every other moment a gust of wind will make sure you get a good nice splash. So just very quick shots with the snapshot camera. :)

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Incredibly the Dusky Swifts are nesting inmidth this water mayhem.


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The Upper and Lower Trail are a tame affair compared to the Devil, but very beautiful in their own right - but again, the number of visitors really dectracts from the enjoyment.


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We also did a boat tour - good fun, they take you almost under the falls. And yes, that gets as wet as it sounds. Everyone is provided with big waterproof bags to stow all belongings.


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Capybaras, like Coatis with a markedly lighter fur tone here than their conspecifics farther North. One is brought back through the jungle on the "Yacaratia trail" by car. They call it a "nature safari drive", but since the "guide" shouts everything through a loudspeaker to all 20 or so guests in the truck, they make very sure that every living thing runs far, far away. :P

So, are the falls worth it? Absolutely, a must-see, but it really is a "once in a lifetime" must-see for me. Iguacu is a stunning place, but the hordes of visitors are no fun at all. I have no desire to ever have to squeeze myself through thousands of people on the narrow catwalks again.

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michael-ibk

Just to properly end this report, a few snippets from Rio de Janeiro:

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Cristo Redentor atop Corcovado Mountain - poor guy lost a few fingers to lightning since then.


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View to Pao de Acucar (Sugarloaf Mountain)


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Cascatinha de Taunay in Tijuca Forest


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Copacabana


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Teatro Municipal


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Paco Imperial


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Banco do Brasil


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Sugarloaf Mountain


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Common Marmoset on Sugarloaf Mountain

 


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Tegu


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Brazilian Tanager


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Great Egret waiting for its share

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Thank you for this update - the falls certainly are spectacular

Great pictures of Rio - and the marmoset is very cute!

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