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Brazil 2014: Pantanal Wonderland


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Part 2: Pantanal North

The second part of our trip was organised, booked and guided by Pantanal Trackers – Julinho Monteiro (Julinho is Pantanal Trackers)





Julinho has been a guide in the Pantanal for over 20 years. We heard about him from the trip reports of @@Treepol, and @@kittykat23uk. It is very helpful to know that someone is a real person and that two trusted sources rated him highly!



Julinho (later in our trip)

When we contacted him (by email) we explained what we wanted, he made some suggestions and I think they all improved the trip


Itinerary for Part 2

1-2 Sept Pouso Rio Clara

3-5 Hotel Porto Jofre (Hotel Pantanal Norte)

6 Sept Jaguar Ecological Reserve

7-9 Sept Pouso Alegre

Drive to Cuiaba Airport


We drove from Pocone on a good quality tarmac road, after a while we turned left onto a road that was still tarmac. All of the countryside was new to us and so very interesting. The tarmac gave way to a red gravelly surface which soon became the Trans-Pantanal Highway which goes all the way to Porto Jofre. Apparently at one stage the government intended that it should go further, all the way to the south; fortunately for the wildlife of the Pantanal, the money ran out. As it is, the term “Highway” doesn’t really describe the reality – it is a quiet road with very little traffic.



Fence posts along the road provide good vantage points - Savannah Hawk


We pulled over near a pool at the side of the road


It was filled with huge numbers of birds dining on the fish trapped here (Jabiru, Wood Stork, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Roseate Spoonbill)





Great Egret

Along the highway were a series of bridges – essential in the rainy season. Most of these had water underneath but there was often a track which left the road before the bridge, went down across the remaining water and returned just after the bridge. At a number of these, Julinho drove down the track to see what may be underneath.


Muscovy Duck


Great Black Hawk (just out of being juvenile)


We pulled off the highway onto a small track, signposted as Pouso Rio Clara - our base for the next tw nights.

Edited by TonyQ
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Agree about the Gran Odara - we enjoyed an absolutely fantastic breakfast there as well. Intersting about the plug-ins, seems to be a North-South thing. All along the Transpantaneira and at Rio Paraguai continental European plug-ins worked fine.

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I suspect there is a north/south thing but also that the pattern across the country is varied. My advice is to take the 2 sorts!

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Pousada Rio Claro

One of the attractions of Pousada Rio Claro is access to water, so after a good lunch, we walked about 100m from our room to the boat landing area. We had a boatman from the lodge, and Julinho as our guide. I think we saw one other boat all afternoon. It was beautiful and it was peaceful.





Neotropical Cormorant with meal


Cocoi Heron




Little Blue Heron


Capped Heron


Enjoying the late afternoon sun (I had to put 2 in as I think it is such a beautiful bird!)

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Howler monkey

There was a group of these monkeys with babies high in a tree. They were fascinating to watch but very difficult to photograph!



Black Collared Hawk


Ringed Kingfisher


Rufescent Tiger Heron


Immature Rufescent Tiger Heron

Back for dinner. The dining room was large and spacious. Food throughout our stay was from a buffet - good quality with a good variety. Tea/coffee , fruit juice at breakfast were included. Other drinks for purchase (e.g. can of beer R$5, soft drink R$3).


After dinner we went for a night drive. Our boatman from the afternoon operated the spotlight as we drove up the access road and for some time on the highway (no traffic). We saw Brazilian Rabbit, a Brocket Deer, and


Crab-Eating racoon (posted smaller in an attempt to hide how bad the picture is :) )


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Excellent shots of the capped heron, in a very nice light. Good shot of the not that common little blue heron.

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@@TonyQ - I agree, the Capped Heron definitely deserves 2 photos.

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Or three or more! great seeing Rio Claro again through your report, it's such a nice, tranquil place.

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Walking in the woods….

After an early, and good breakfast we set off with Julinho for a short drive to a wooded area where we would spend the morning. The wood was a lovely environment; walking was gentle with lots to see.



Black-tailed marmoset


Red-footed tortoise (How Julinho saw this I have no idea!)



Pale-crested Woodpecker


Black-striped tufted capuchin

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Black-tailed marmoset


Both of the next pictures were taken through lots of branches in difficult light – photos not good but I found the birds interesting so have posted them anyway!.



Red-billed Scythebill Blue-crowned Motmot


We also saw Black-fronted Nunbird, Blue-crowned trogon, Hyacinth Macaw, and a variety of large butterflies




Black Howler (females and young are cream coloured)

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We returned to base to spend the middle of the day having lunch and relaxing around the lodge. Food is put out for birds, and this attracts a variety of colourful birds that are relatively used to people. (For illogical reasons I don’t feel so strongly about feeding birds as feeding other animals – perhaps because we do it at home?)



The rooms have a large veranda to provide shade


Red-crested Cardinal and the very frequently seen Yellow-billed Cardinal


Shiny Cowbird


Black-hooded Parakeet


Southern Crested Caracara

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In the afternoon, we went on another boat trip with Julinho and a boatman. This time we went further away from the lodge to explore a different area of the water. Again we would pass through areas with beautiful afternoon light and areas of shade.



Lesser Kiskadee on Water Hyacinth Leaves




Black-collared Hawk


Capybara - very common but we love them!


Neotropical Otter

This otter swam around our boat, frequently diving under the water, briefly popping up its head to see what we were doing and then diving again. (I had a number of photos of water with no otter or a tiny patch of the back as it disappeared again!)

Edited by TonyQ
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A Toco Toucan flies across the water ahead of us


Green Kingfisher


Yellow-rumped Cacique – we watched a colony of these noisily visiting a number of nests


Heading home towards the sunset

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In the evening we did another night drive, seeing Brazilian Rabbit and a Crab-eating Fox.


Reflections on Pousada Rio Clara


The lodge has well- kept grounds that attract a lot of bird life. Our room was basic but fine (except it was not cleaned during our stay). Food was very good – varied, plentiful and enjoyable. Access to the water for boat trips is very easy and we enjoyed these a lot - they were quiet and peaceful.


Rio Claro wasn’t part of our original plan – Julinho suggested it and we are glad he did as we really enjoyed our stay here. (With hindsight it also works very well as a stop before being on the river at Porto Jofre). We had heard stories that they feed otters and Caiman but we did not see any evidence of this. (We had raised this when Julinho suggested the lodge – but he is also very strongly against such practices).


We finished the evening with a briefing from Julinho about our next stop- Porto Jofre. He talked to us about how he uses his boat to track animals and to position it for sightings. We would hope to see Jaguar – but it was not a zoo and they were not guaranteed. He also said there would be many more boats around on the river.


Next day we would set of with the hope of glimpsing a Jaguar…..

Edited by TonyQ
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Are you sure that it is a neotropical otter? It looks to me, by the shape of the eyes, that it's a giant otter???

I agree with Julinho, I'm also against feeding the animals. In some places in the north, they do have such practices, I saw it on the Rio Pixaim some years ago.

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@@TonyQ your Rio Clara photos are bringing back memories.


Great photos and I especially like the marmoset with yellow trumpet flowers and the pair of black headed parakeets. Thats a feisty looking red crested cardinal!

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Thank you

@@Bush dog

I am not sure of anything :)

I do still think it is a neotropical otter though. I spoke to MrsQ and we had both noted it down as such - Julinho said it was.

It was on its own, and I think from memory it was smaller than the Giant Otters we saw later in the trip. I also think the shape of its head is like a neotropical rather than a giant. In the pictures I have looked at, the Giant appears to have more of a raised brow and a rounded head while the neotropical has a flatter head.


However I have only ever seen one other neotropical otter (at Baarranco Alto) so I may well be wrong!

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If Julinho said it was a neotropical otter, it must be and I am, without any doubt, wrong.

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Towards Porto Jofre


We set off from the lodge grounds


Chestnut-bellied Guan


And headed on to the Transpantanal highway.


It is well worth taking your time to travel on this road as there is so much wildlife to see alongside it. We took about three hours to travel from Rio Claro to Porto Jofre. In this time I counted about 12 other vehicles. As I said earlier, the word “highway” could be misleading!



Marsh Deer


A lizard scuttles across the road into the undergrowth


One of the many bridges along the highway - though this was much newer and in better condition than most


Maguari Stork


We also saw White-eyed Parakeet, Savannah Hawk, Jabiru and a fairly distant Red-Headed Blackbird (a long lens would have been welcome – but its spectacular colouration was great to see through binoculars)

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We stopped at one bridge for a while..


– we were excited to see a head popping up


.....and then another




It was wonderful to watch Giant Otters playing and catching fish amongst the water hyacinth. We thought you could have a good holiday just travelling up and down the road!


Southern Screamer

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Eventually we arrived at Porto Jofre to a warm welcome from the manager. The hotel is realy called the Hotel Pantanal Norte, Porto Jofre – but everyone appears to call it the Porto Jofre Hotel. It is used by fishermen, and by tourists wanting to go on the river in search of Jaguar.


As we were taken across the grounds already we could see


Toco Toucan

We spent the middle of the day having a very good lunch and exploring the grounds – although it was very hot. At the back of the cabins is a lake covered in waterlilies


Looking back across the lake towards the lodge


and even at this time of day there were birds around.

It did begin to get too hot, and we needed to get ready for our trip on the river – but still time to see


Hyacinth Macaw.


While we were doing this, Julinho was getting the boat ready for us. We would set off at about 3pm for our first time on the river.

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I am just finding time to catch up....omg....wow; you had such amazing adventures and pics to match! Perhaps this might be our next great adventure. I can't pick one particular shot- although the anteater was a treat.(and all the birds!)....all are so worthy; I am happy to have run across your report. The colors, the scenery, the detail....terrific.

You have brought the experience to life to beautifully. Awe.


We did have the opportunity to stay in a camp on our TZ adventure with the Brazilian Ambassador to Zim. She could not believe we had not been.(really gave me a talk to about it as well!) So hmm..maybe....


Perhaps I need to use that contact..LOL


A great report, thanks....

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Excellent photos in the last few posts...though for me the giant otters take the cake.

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Thank you for reading the report as I know you are very busy at the moment. Pantanal is a great place to visit!


Thank you - if you like Giant Otters you may like the next post...

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