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Brazil 2014: Pantanal Wonderland


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We have just returned from a wonderful trip to the Pantanal – a trip inspired by and informed by Safaritalk. (You wait a year for a Pantanal Trip Report and two come along on the same day!)


Itinerary (26th August 2014 – 12 September 2014, UK-UK)

South Pantanal:

4 nights– Barranco Alto


North Pantanal:

I night Cuiaba

2 Nights Pouso Rio Clara

3 nights Hotel Porto Jofre

1 Night Jaguar Ecological Reserve

3 nights Pouso Allegre

I night Sao Paulo


Why the Pantanal?


We obviously hoped to see jaguar, but it is clear from the reports that there is so much more to see – and in fact our main inspiration was the hope of seeing Giant Anteater, and the variety of birds. We are not really birders, but it looked like there were a lot of large, colourful birds that even we could see!










This was a trip inspired by Safaritalk. A year ago, we had returned from Zambia and were looking at a variety of trip reports when we saw the report by @@Treepol and thought it looked wonderful. We then looked at report by @@kittykat23uk of their trip with Julinho in the north Pantanal. We also enjoyed and were helped greatly by reports of @michalibk, @@inyathi, and @@pedro maia ,@@Jochen and two reports by @Atravellyn with lots of practical detail


It was also informed by Safaritalk in many practical details from the trip planning section, with many helpful responses to questions and the trip reports mentioned. Treepol was also extremely helpful in giving detailed advice through email and we are very grateful to her for that.

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Part 1 Walking with Anteaters

Fazenda Barranco Alto

26 Aug Fly from Heathrow (BA)

27 Aug Fly from Sao Paolo to Campo Grande (GOL)

Charter to Barranco Alto

4 Nights: Barranco Alto (South Pantanal)


Sao Paul Garulhos Airport

This airport had a bad reputation. We booked a later flight from Sao Paulo to Campo Grande because we expected long delays when we arrived. However, a new Terminal 3 was built for the World Cup. It was clean, efficient and well-staffed. The staff were friendly. We got through the formalities really quickly so had a few hours to spare.


Our next flight was from Terminal 2 – but there are check-in desks at Terminal 3, making the process very easy. We ate at Terminal 3 (we recommend Arabia Express!) and then took the short walk to Terminal 2. This was also efficient and well-staffed – perhaps Terminal 3 has reduced the pressure. Our GOL flight to Campo Grande (booked on-line, slightly flaky web-site that switches from English to Portuguese on random pages) was on time and very pleasant.

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Arriving at Campo Grande airport – we are met by Julio who takes us through security to his Cesna and a very comfortable and smooth flight of about 50 minutes. We cross over farmland, then a hilly area into the Pantanal.


We cross cattle country (the white dots)

Good views of rivers, woodland and lakes and then move lower as we get close to Fazenda Barranco Alto.



Many small lakes are visible, usually fresh water but some are salt water. They are surrounded by woodland and patches of grassland. The flight gives a really good view of the area where we will be spending our time..




The plane at Barranco Alto

Edited by TonyQ
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We are met by Hugo and Carol and taken up to the accommodation. The grounds are beautiful – it is sunny and warm. Hugo says we can go on an afternoon drive – how long do we want to get ready? “Ten minutes”. We drop our bags in a very nice room, change clothes and are ready to go!.


We are introduced to Claudia who will be guiding us today. We have a jeep with a seat next to Claudia and two in the back that we used. She suggests we take a jacket as it may be cool when it gets dark.


The first drive in a new country and environment is always exciting - everything is new to us...


One of a pair of Burrowing Owls


Campo Flicker


Guira Cuckoo


Our first Rhea - an impressively large bird


It displayed to us for about 5 minutes (I don't know if it wanted to marry us or scare us off!)


But then it decided to calmly wander off..

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We then came across a group of Capybara sitting across the track. Although we have seen them on TV, they still surprise us at how big they are. They are fairly common, but we will enjoy watching them throughout the trip.



Attempt at a video (a bit shaky...)

Edited by TonyQ
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You really show the essence of Barranco Alto, a place that I know very well, this patchwork of lakes and pools.

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@@TonyQ I was wondering just the other day if you were back. I'm so pleased that your Pantanal expectations were met.


This is a wonderful start to your TR and I see so many 'old friends' - Campo flicka, burrowing owl,capybara, rhea and of course jaguar - the Prince of the Pantanal.


Looking forward to more when you have time.


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Great start, good to know that Julio does this part of the Pantanal too as I would like to visit this part of the Pantanal.

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@@Bush dog

Thank you for your kind comment - I look forward to following your report.


Thank you - safely back and all went smoothly


Thank you - Julio (our pilot) is a different person to Julinho (who we meet later) - although I know you called him Julio as well when you travelled with him. To add to the confusion, Julinho does indeed fly into or out of the south pantanal. We could have flown from Barranco Alto to the north with him, but it was a bit expensive for us.

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Turquoise Fronted Amazon

We also saw a brocket deer with a baby which was a bit skittish when we stopped.


Then as we came through a gap in the woodland and MrsQ (a.k.a @@Thursday's Child) excitedly exclaimed “Anteater!”


And there on our left was a Giant Anteater partly hidden by vegetation.

Claudia asked if we would like to get out of the jeep and follow it (Would we?). She sprinkled some sand to check the wind direction and we carefully followed her as she went downwind of this amazing creature.




She took us very close to it and we were delighted to spend such a quality experience with it. I talked to Claudia and said that she had probably provided MrsQ with the highlight of her trip on the first afternoon!


MrsQ walking with Giant Anteater


Altogether we spent about 40 minutes following it as the light faded and then we left it to wander in to the woodland


The Giant Anteater is up to two metres in length – it is a big animal. They are fairly solitary. The brain is very small for an animal of this size, so when they are concentrating on eating, they do not pay much attention to other matters – which means you can get close to them. They are classified as a vulnerable species and are at risk from habitat loss and from road traffic.

There is a tradition of a sundowner here, but we had our beer and snacks in the dark. We were thrilled with the afternoon – the anteater viewing was so much better than we had dared hope for. After we had calmed down a bit, we went on a night drive, with Claudia driving and spotlighting. We saw a group of White Lipped Peccary, a Common Nightjar


We also saw briefly a second anteater, and most memorably, we stopped, tuned the engine and the lights off. There was a huge chorus of frogs, and flashing all around us were hundreds of fireflies.


(Stupid photograph – but the experience was wonderful.)

Two very happy guests were driven back to the lodge.

Edited by TonyQ
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Amazing tripreport up until now @@TonyQ! I would love to visit the Pantanal some day and your images/stories surely encourage me to look further than Southern Africa... :)

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Giant Anteater to start. Great stuff. Love seeing the animals of the Pantanal.

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Wow, when it rains it pours! I was actually just preparing my trip report from our recent trip to the Northern Pantanal!!


Our northern itinerary was not entirely dis-similar to yours (we there from August 30th to Sept 6th) so I'll hold off and maybe add a summary with some incremental content after you and Bushdog are finished.


Looks like it will be a great TR and lovely Giant Anteater photos.


We saw Anteaters twice at Pouse Alegre and prior to that along the Transpanteria. Unfortunately, though we didn't get photos owing to my DSLR being destroyed the day before (the CPU contact points got damaged) so great to see someone did.

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@@MR1980 - thank you it is an amazing place

@@pault - thank you - we were delighted to see the Anteater on the first afternoon!

@lmSA84 - sorry to hear about your camera! Please do post your report as everyone's perception and experience is different. I would love to read about it!

Edited by TonyQ
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We were greeted with a caparina and a chance to meet our fellow guests. Unusually, all of the guests had arrived today and all were staying at least as long as us. The lodge has recently expanded and now takes 12 guests. There two groups of four from different parts of the US and another couple from the UK.


Meals are served around one table; staff do not come to the evening meal but do come to breakfast and lunch. Food was excellent, and it turned out that all of the guests were really nice, friendly people.


Barranco Alto is about 120 Km northwest of the small city of Aquidauana, in the State of Mato Grosso do Sul. It is still a working farm and is owned by Marina Schweizer and Lucas Leuzinger. It is managed extremely well by Hugo and Carol. We booked direct through links on the website



It was very straightforward – they speak excellent English. They also arranged the transfers from Campo Grande (flight or overland). MrsQ had emailed them to let them know that we were very keen to see Giant Anteaters.

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Day 2

There is a choice of morning activities, including, horse-riding, canoeing, boat trip on the river, birding walks and fishing. Some of these activities have limited numbers so there is a rotation of activities. When we were there activities were done in groups of about 4 people. In the afternoon, there are “game drives”. You can walk where you like during the day, and can also go canoeing or swimming in the river on your own.


For our first morning activity, Hugo had asked us if we wanted to go horse riding. We surprised ourselves by saying yes. Fernando led this activity and we went with the woman from the UK couple. She had some riding experience, and Mrs Q had a small amount some time ago.


My own equine experience was a donkey-ride on Cleethorpes beach aged 6, and watching a John Wayne film aged 11. I was assured that the horses were used to inexperienced riders, and indeed they were very docile. After a while, I did have some problems with mine as the accelerator didn’t work properly. Fernando swapped horses with me (and changed the saddles – a fascinating process), and the replacement was more willing to go forwards.


We didn’t take cameras with us on this activity. It was really enjoyable, seeing the environment in a different way and at a different pace. We saw a large group of Peccaries, Caiman and a large range of birds including Cocoi Heron, Savannah Hawk, Ibis, Rufescent Tiger Heron, Kingfisher, Skimmers, Red and Green Macaw and Hyacinth Macaw. We also saw a jaguar footprint on a “beach”. It was an excellent morning.


After this, we relaxed around the lodge


View towards river from lodge


Hyacinth Macaw


Bare-faced Curassow (male)



Peccary with young


Green-Barred Woodpecker


Crested Oropendola

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@TonyQ: I am following your report with upmost attention! Photography is fantastic!

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Great start, Tony, glad to hear you had a good time. Barranco Alto really seems to be a wonderful place.


Wow, what a start with the giant anteater, you really could not have asked for more. Terrific encounter!


You certainly seem to have been doing your homework with birds, lots of names for a "non-birder". ;)


Looking forward to (much) more, thanks for taking me back to the wonderland Pantanal (it really is) with you.

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I´ll be following this TR, if I was tho chose only one place to go back among those I visited I think that place would be Pantanal.


And I would definitely like to see the giant anteater that I didn´t get to see, great sighting and great pictures.

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Your itinerary is fabulous and so is the start of your trip. Even the fireflies came out. Great photos and such variety!

Edited by Atravelynn
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@@xelas - thank you

@@pedro maia -it is a great place, and as you will see, we love anteaters!

@@michael-ibk - thank you. As a non-birder, the work you did on the Index of worldwide birds + all of your great postings (and those of @Treepol) certainly helped a great deal. As did noting what the guide said and looking in th Wildlife Conservation Society: Birds of Brazil - The Pantanal and Cerrado of Central Brazil.

Before we went I could confidently identify a Rhea, a Hyacinth Macaw and a Cocoi Heron (because it looks like our Grey Heron)!

@@Atravelynn - thank you. It was a great itinerary, heavily informed by you!

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Afternoon Day 2

For the activity in the afternoon, we had Claudia to ourselves again (as we would each afternoon). We had let Carol and Hugo know that we were particularly interested in Giant Anteaters and it seems that all of the other guests were more serious birders than us. So they went out in two groups – a group of four and a group of six.



We stopped by the lake


Yacare Caiman

Two Giant Otter swam over to have a look what was going on, and then swam off.




Near the lake was a place where a pair of Red and Green Macaws nested



But we were then distracted as another Giant Anteater appeared...


We got down and followed it, but it but after a few minutes, it went into very dense undergrowth and was no longer visible. It was still exciting trying to follow it.

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We saw a Pampas Deer, and a large flock of Ibis flying to roost.

Then by the side of a lake, we came across a group of Capybara.


One was being cleaned by a Giant Cowbird and was definitely inviting this attention.

We really enjoyed hearing the Capybara chirruping to each other.



The dominant male has a raised patch on its nose which it uses to scent mark


Black-Collared Hawk


I think the Caiman are surprisingly beautiful.


Red-legged Seriema

Toonight we did get to have our beer as a sundowner


We saw a Brazilian Rabbit and were able to get a good view of a tarantula on the way back to the lodge


Edited by TonyQ
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The tarantula is spooky. That capybara on its side is hilarious.


Claudia was just getting started when I went. Nice to know she is still there.

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The next morning we went on a boat trip on the Rio Negro. Hugo led this activity and we were accompanied by the very nice couple from the UK.


It was very peaceful being on the river, the environment was beautiful, and the birds allowed us to approach quite closely.



Ringed Kingfisher (male)


Ringed Kingfisher (female)


Large-Billed Tern


Southern Rough-Winged Swallow (?)

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