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Amazinhg creatures. No suspense really needed with something like this coming.


Thanks for all the detaila about how things were set up for you and so on - very interesting in itself.

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Wolf Cliffs Camp


The rooms here at Wolf Cliffs are very much the same as those at Hyacinth Camp, but for one notable difference, there is no electricity. Therefore, there are no lights in the rooms, candles are provided, but if you've got a good torch, then the lack of lights is not an issue. It does also mean, that there are obviously no sockets, for recharging in the rooms, you need to make sure you have plenty of batteries and that you charged them, when you had the chance at Hyacinth Camp. There is in fact a generator, but this is basically just for pumping water drawn from a nearby river to the rooms' water tanks. It is parked right next to the dining room, so for obvious reasons it is not usually turned on, while you’re in camp. As you’re only likely to be staying a couple of days, you should be able to survive without power, but if you desperately need to recharge something, you can ask for it to be switched on.







At Hyacinth Valley the rooms are close together, here they’re very spread out







The views from the camp of the nearby cliffs are just spectacular.



Room with a view






There are not too many places in Brazil, that can offer a view quite as impressive as this. The landscapes in this area call to mind various parts of the world. The combination of red sandstone and bush/woodland reminded me of northern Australia, but I also often felt I could be in Africa. When viewed from the camp these cliffs are a little bit reminiscent of the Chilojo Cliffs in Gonarezhou NP in Zimbabwe.


At the camp, you really feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, located on the edge of what is a vast national park, it is the only accommodation, you will not see anyone else during your stay.


While in camp during the hot parts of the day, there really isn’t much to do. If you retire to your room and keep the shutters closed, so as not let the heat in, you may find the room rather dark, if you don’t intend to sleep. Here they don’t really put out food for the birds, but next to the dining room is a huge water tank and beside this is an area where birds can come to drink. There were almost always lots of coal-crested finches, coming in sometimes up to 40 or so birds.



Male coal-crested Finch


As at the other camp the dining room is entirely open







The food during our stay was very good throughout and there was always a generous quantity of it. Breakfast consisted of fresh fruit, cake this as I discovered on my last trip, is an essential part of a Brazilian breakfast, bread, scrambled egg and slices of fried squeaky cheese. In Brazil they love cheese, but unfortunately they really don’t have the climate, to make proper cheese or much of a dairy industry to supply the milk. It’s only really in the more mountainous areas of Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul, that they can produce a few proper matured cheeses. In the northeast, they produce what’s known as queijo coalho, which means cheese curds and is always eaten grilled. It is somewhat similar to haloumi and when cooked it doesn’t melt, but develops a slightly rubbery texture and squeaks on your teeth, when you eat it. As an addition to breakfast, I found it really quite nice.


The following photo is of a typical lunch, of chicken with salad of various sorts and of course rice and beans, without which no Brazilian meal would be complete.




Followed by the ubiquitous creme caramel




Given that the camp is very remote and very basic (but not in a bad way) or one might say rustic, it doesn’t obviously have a swimming pool. However, if you do want to swim or just cool off, you can make use of the second of two small rivers. It’s just a few minutes’ drive to the ford, where the road goes across, this is an ideal place to take a cooling dip.




As mentioned a few times, this part of Brazil is very hot, so this was a very pleasant way to spend part of the afternoon. At home in Goias, our guide Rafael frequently guides tourists in his local park the Chapada das Veadeiros NP, where there are over a hundred waterfalls and he often takes them canyoning. The river here is following a pretty level course, so you can’t exactly go canyoning down it as such. However, the flow is actually quite fast, so if you walk a short distance up stream to where the camp pump is, you can get in and float back down to the ford/swimming pool. Well I say float, inevitably there are a fair few obstacles, in the form of tree roots and submerged logs, that you have to negotiate around but this all adds to the fun.


Although this region appears very dry, it does have permanent rivers, like the one we swam in and there are quite a few wet marshy areas in the park. These marshy areas where you often find lots of palms growing, are really the birth place of some of the rivers, which ultimately flow into the Parnaiba. The Parnaiba which forms the boundary between Piaui and maranhão is a very important river, because it is the only major river that flows north eastwards to the Atlantic, through this very dry region of Brazil. It is for this reason, that the huge Parque Nacional Nascentes do Rio Parnaiba or Parnaiba Headwaters NP was created, by protecting the headwaters it essentially protects the entire river.


The park, is predominantly within what’s referred to as the cerrado or savanna. The actual name cerrado comes from Spanish and simply means closed, a reference to the fact, that in places the bush can be pretty impenetrable. Much of the area to the north of here, is what is called caatinga which means ‘white forest’ in Tupi, this is the dominant habitat in the north east of Brazil. It is largely, very stunted arid adapted forest, home to many different species of cactus, amongst other plants. The trees and shrubs of the Caatinga, almost all lose their leaves entirely during the dry season. In the wet season, it actually rains quite a lot, enough that this very arid region, cannot technically be described as a desert, though it shares some characteristics with true deserts. The park and the surrounding area really sits at the transition between cerrado and caatinga, so in places you will find cactuses and other vegetation, that is more typical of caatinga than cerrado. Brazil essentially has five principal biomes, Amazon rainforest, Atlantic rainforest, cerrado, caatinga and Pantanal. The Pantanal was for a time regarded as flooded cerrado, but now it is treated as a separate biome of its own.

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23rd August



One mammal, that I had so far missed, on all of my previous visits to South America and was therefore pretty keen to see, was an armadillo. We had when we arrived at Wolf Cliffs, been promised that we would be shown and armadillo and sure enough we were. After breakfast on our first morning, one of the guys from camp went out and tracked one down, he caught this strange little beast and brought it back to camp. The Brazilian three-banded armadillo (Tolypeutes tricinctus), is endemic to the northeast of Brazil and is one of only two species of ball armadillo. When they feel threatened as this one clearly did, having been picked up, they roll up into a tight ball this protects them from predators, which find they can’t get in and soon lose interest. Should you ever pick one up, you should keep your fingers out of the way, to avoid getting them trapped when it rolls up.





After showing the poor little creature to us, he placed it on the ground, we duly took lots of photos, while he attempted to stop it running off.










He then caught it again, at this point we really felt it had had enough, but we were assured, that this was so that it could be returned to the spot, where he had first found it. This wasn’t perhaps, how I would have wanted to see my first armadillo, however, it is extremely unlikely, that we would have seen one here at all, if it hadn’t been delivered to us. Delivering wildlife to the tourist on a plate, was perhaps something of a feature of this trip, but I guess it is the only way you can be really certain of seeing certain rare mammals. As I understand it, he had gone out in to the surrounding bush and cast around until he found armadillo spoor and then tracked it to its hole and dug it out. So I suspect had we gone with him to find it, he would still have had to dig it out for us to see it. I don’t imagine the stress did it too much harm, but I wonder, if they do this for all guests, how often they dig up the same armadillo.

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After our look at the armadillo, we boarded the truck and set off, on what anywhere else would have been called a game drive, but here there’s no game or at least there’s none to be seen, only birds.



Blue and yellow macaws




Burrowing owls




Aplomado falcon

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It was then back to camp for lunch.



Purple petals in camp


The afternoon drive produced a beautiful yellow-headed caracara, these birds are very common here and in fact we saw them quite often in camp.




We saw, but weren’t able to get particularly good views of some jandaya parakeets, also known as janday conures, this species is endemic to the northeast and one of the special birds you can see in the park. They unfortunately wouldn’t settle anywhere close enough to give us a proper look.


Approaching sunset, we stopped in a beautiful patch of open grassland and palm trees with a fantastic backdrop of cliffs.







Seeing Johanna the wolf, had been fantastic, but we had of course seen her in camp and that did detract a little bit from the experience, even though we had been able to take photos of her with a natural backdrop of the cliffs. It hadn’t exactly been a wild wolf experience. Somewhere in some bush, next to where we were stopped was a wolf den, we hoped that we might have a slightly wilder sighting here. Well I say slightly wilder what I really mean is to see a wolf in better surroundings, in the grassland that one thinks of as their natural habitat.




There was no wolf to be found, Lourival, his assistant and Rafael scanned the surrounding grassland, but there was no sign of a wolf. Lourival then produced a bucket of food and started calling, we may have been hoping to see a rather wilder wolf, but the truth is the wolves here, though miles from camp are also fed. Despite his best efforts no wolf appeared, so we headed off back to camp. If nothing else the scenery was fantastic.

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We may not have found a wolf out in the grasslands, but we did find one back in camp, just after dinner Johanna put in another appearance. Though as before, she appeared slightly nervous, she was happy to take the food that was thrown to her, which allowed me to take a few photos and some rather inexpert video.












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Yes a little bit, because it is always more satisfying to go out and find wildlife, rather than have it delivered to you.


However, I had a fair idea of what to expect at the Wolf Camps, in part because they are part of SouthWild, so I can’t say I didn’t know how they do things. We wouldn’t have seen the things that we saw, if they didn’t do it the way they do and what we saw was still amazing. So on balance, taking into account the entire experience I’m very happy with how this part of the trip worked out. When you’re only visiting an area for 5 days, I think slightly artificial wildlife sightings are preferable, to the likely alternative which would have been to see almost nothing at all, besides birds. The guarantee of seeing the wildlife that we saw, took me to an extraordinary and very beautiful location, that I would likely never have visited otherwise.


If you don’t have strong objections to the fact that they feed the maned wolves or that they go out and catch armadillos, then I would certainly recommend the Wolf Camps. Particularly if you want to visit the cerrado, and see a very different part of Brazil to either the Pantanal or the Amazon.



I intend to say more about the ethical side of things at the Wolf Camps in some upcoming posts before leaving Piaui and I will say more about SouthWild as the report goes on.

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24th August



In the morning I got out of bed, at around sunrise I opened the shutters of the window, that overlooks the road through the camp. As I stood there looking out and listening to the dawn chorus of parakeets and other birds, a wolf presumably Johanna, walked along the road straight in front of me, heading in the direction of the dining room. It wasn’t quite fully light and as I had just got up I didn’t have my camera to hand, but nonetheless it was a very special sight. It was totally unexpected and certainly a sight I will treasure.


I said earlier that I hadn’t been able to photograph any of the red-legged seriemas that we saw, so I was slightly amazed to see that my trail cam had caught one walking through camp. During the daytime my camera picked up quite a few birds.





Birds include Chopi blackbirds, chalk-browed mockingbirds, white woodpecker and a red-legged seriema.



The plan for this morning was to take a little bit of exercise, after breakfast we would drive down to the second of the two rivers and then walk from there up to base of a cliff.





Our objective was to reach the base of the small cliff, that's lit up by the sun in the middle of this photo taken from camp



This was not a particularly long walk, but inevitably it was hot, as we walked along the road we came across the spoor of an ocelot, that had presumably passed this way during the night. When we started to approach the cliffs, we were treated to a fly past by some hyacinth macaws. The macaws nest on these cliffs, to watch them flying across the cliff face, even if they weren’t very close was a great sight.




Hyacinth macaws






Not too far to climb up to the cliff


The walk up hill to the base of the cliff while not difficult, was a little tricky. The cliffs are made of very crumbly/flaky sandstone, so you do need to be careful what you try to hold on to. I hadn’t made my life too easy, by having one camera with my 100-400 lens strapped to my waste and another camera with my wide angle on a shoulder strap. However, I was glad to have my big lens when we spotted a bat falcon half way up.




Bat falcon


Eventually, we reached the base of the actual cliff, this was as high as we could safely go, so we stopped our climb and enjoyed the spectacular views, out over the park. The cliff behind us was not actually that high, with the right equipment and enough time, you could climb to the top, though even an experienced climber, might perhaps struggle a bit with the crumbly sandstone.








View of the camp








On the way back we found this cactus


By the time we walked back it was really hot, but we could at least take a refreshing dip in the river, before returning to camp. I forgot to mention earlier, that the river as well as being the swimming pool, is also the camp laundry and if need be, you can request to have laundry, done during your stay.

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Very nice trip report @@inyathi - I am late to the party (after evacuating for a hurricane and returning home).


The White Woodpeckers in post #18 look very similar to Picathartes in Africa.


Interesting that they handle the Brazilian Three-banded Armadillos - I wonder if they can carry Leprosy like Nine-banded Armadillos?


Very nice birds in addition to your target mammals - love the Aplomado Falcon and Bat Falcon in particular!


I wonder if anyone is using nest boxes to provide nesting sites for the Hyacynth Macaws?

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@@offshorebirder thanks


On 10/12/2016 at 6:41 PM, offshorebirder said:

Very nice trip report @@inyathi - I am late to the party (after evacuating for a hurricane and returning home).


The White Woodpeckers in post #18 look very similar to Picathartes in Africa.


Interesting that they handle the Brazilian Three-banded Armadillos - I wonder if they can carry Leprosy like Nine-banded Armadillos?


Very nice birds in addition to your target mammals - love the Aplomado Falcon and Bat Falcon in particular!


I wonder if anyone is using nest boxes to provide nesting sites for the Hyacynth Macaws?


After the terrible destruction in Haiti I think you had a lucky escape from the hurricane, but evacuation must be major inconvenience still better safe than sorry glad to hear you been able to return home.


I wasn't aware of armadillos carrying leprosy that's interesting, I guess these three-banded ones probably don't otherwise our guide might not have been so keen to keep picking it up or if they do it's pretty rare but I don't know.


Nest boxes have been put for hyacinths I think mainly in the southern Pantanal, the cliffs in this part of Piaui are bit of a godsend for the macaws, it makes their nests harder to raid and the loss of nest trees isn't such a problem, I don't think there are any cliffs anywhere in the Pantanal, at least not that I know of. Where too many of the Manduvi trees have been cut down, nest boxes should be a real help to boost macaw numbers.

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After lunch we were given the option of returning to Hyacinth Valley for the night, rather than leave in the morning, however, we all agreed we’d rather stay and have another try for the ‘wild’ wolf. The location was beautiful and the perfect place for sundowner, so it had to be worth going back, to have one last shot at seeing a wolf in its proper habitat. Not that the bush isn't its habitat, but they are thought of as being very much a grassland species and their long legs are thought to be an adaption to life in long grass. We got back there parking in the same spot, as the previous night; some cold beers from the coolbox were duly passed around, while we waited to see if Lourival could find a wolf.





It looked like we might leave disappointed again, having only seen a rather distant red-legged seriema and no wolf. However, after a lot of scanning Lourival and Rafael eventually managed to spot one, but it was a long way off, next to some distant bushes.








Lourival decided to see if he could attract the wolf closer and set off through the long grass with some food. From our high vantage point on the back of the truck. we could still see the wolf. which had now lain down, clearly Lourival could no longer see it. We watched with considerable amusement, Lourival walking in a different direction, to where the wolf was lying and even throwing food in entirely the wrong direction. Eventually Rafael, decided he better go and point him in the right direction, he then waved to us indicating we should follow. We walked off into the grassland to join Lourival, it seemed to be quite a young wolf and Lourival thought that it might be a new one and therefore not really habituated to people.




Having got close enough to take some reasonable shots, I decided to try and circle around the back of the wolf trying not to get too close, so that I could get the cliffs in the background. This was a little difficult, because the ground had become very wet, we were evidently on the edge of a marsh; trying to avoid getting my feet too wet, while keeping one eye on the wolf, made walking a little tricky. Despite Lourival’s attempts to keep the wolf around, by throwing food, it was having none of it, nerves got the better off it and it ran off into the bush and did not reappear.





I did manage to get one photo with the cliffs, before it ran but it wasn’t a great shot. While we were with the wolf, the sun had all but gone down, so while the cliffs were beautifully lit up, the wolf wasn’t, getting any really good photos with or without the cliffs was difficult. Even if I didn’t get the best photos and certainly none quite as good as the ones I took of Johanna, I was still pleased to have seen a wilder wolf, out in the grassland.


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25th August





A last look at the cliffs from camp, as well as reminding me of Africa or Australia, I thought the landscape at times looked a little like a tropical version of the American Southwest. If it weren’t for all the palm trees, I could imagine Clint Eastwood riding by on his horse or maybe bands of Apache warriors hiding up in these hills.



In the morning we birded our way back through the grassland and woodland to Hyacinth Valley Camp.



Burrowing owls are a common sight in the open grassland, this is the same pair we'd seen before





The great potoo was still sat in the same tree, looking like it hadn’t moved an inch.



Seen from a different angle, its extraordinary camouflage isn’t quite so perfect.






If you’re not at all familiar with the cerrado, looking at these photos of the woodland, you could be forgiven for thinking this was in Africa somewhere.






The macaws were still at their nests





We had better views of some king vultures, I seen these vultures a few times but never as well as this.








We also saw a flock of hyacinth macaws perched in the top of a dead tree, but they were too far away to get good shots.

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On 10/12/2016 at 2:51 PM, inyathi said:



Yes a little bit, because it is always more satisfying to go out and find wildlife rather than have it delivered to you.


However I had a fair idea of what to expect at the Wolf Camps in part because they are part of SouthWild so I can’t say I didn’t know how they do things. We wouldn’t have seen the things that we saw if they didn’t do it the way they do and what we saw was still amazing. So on balance, taking into account the entire experience I’m very happy with how this part of the trip worked out. When you’re only visiting an area for 5 days I think slightly artificial wildlife sightings are preferable to the likely alternative which would have been to see almost nothing at all besides birds. The guarantee of seeing the wildlife that we saw, took me to an extraordinary and very beautiful location that I would likely never have visited otherwise.


If you don’t have strong objections to the fact that they feed the maned wolves or that they go out and catch armadillos then I would certainly recommend the Wolf Camps. Particularly if you want to visit the cerrado, and see a very different part of Brazil to either the Pantanal or the Amazon.



I intend to say more about the ethical side of things at the Wolf Camps in some upcoming posts before leaving Piaui and I will say more about SouthWild as the report goes on.


I for one would really like to hear your take on this...as much as I would love to see a Maned Wolf, I find this hand-feeding and habituating of such wild animals a bit disturbing. It seems completely unethical to me--especially for a species that is endangered or at least threatened. As you know, Southwild and Charles Munn have a terrible reputation in the Pantanal, he got into a lot of trouble years back for baiting jaguars and other improprieties. I personally would never use one of his camps and most of the operators I have spoken with have a very low opinion of his operation. I would much prefer to go to Emas National park and take my chances seeing the wolves, or not, in a purely wild state.


Not to detract from your report, which I am enjoying! But I think this issue can't be ignored.

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Once back at Hyacinth Valley Camp, because we were leaving the following day Lourival and his family cooked a barbeque lunch, which was extremely good, one thing the Brazilians really know, when it comes to food is how to grill meat.



After lunch some of us went for a swim in a nearby river, this river is a little further away than the one at Wolf Cliffs and the water is not clear, it’s more of a black water river, but no less refreshing for that.



In the afternoon, I again sat and enjoyed the birds and the marmosets from the veranda, and then we went back to the macaw hide, for a last look at Piaui’s hyacinths. We counted 18 birds which was a few more than the last time.




White woodpecker











After taking plenty of shots from inside. we walked out of the hide causing the macaws to fly, so that we could take some flight shots, as they went around overhead.





Perhaps in time, the macaws will become habituated and just fly up into the trees if you get too close, rather than flying away. It was almost dusk, so they would have soon flown off to roost anyway; after they’d gone we walked back to the camp.



For our last night at Hyacinth Valley and in Piaui we were joined by some other tourists, they were the only other tourists we saw during our entire stay.

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Parnaiba Headwaters National Park is a very important place, because it is I believe, the largest protected area in the cerrado. The cerrado originally covered a larger area of Brazil, than the Amazon Rainforest and is actually much more threatened. The rate of deforestation in the cerrado, to create more agricultural land, to grow soya and such like is much higher than in the Amazon. Part of the problem, is that there is so much focus on the fate of the Amazon that the fate of the cerrado, tends to get overlooked. Outside of Brazil, most people probably aren’t aware of the cerrado and even in Brazil, where they are aware of it, it isn’t perhaps seen as being as important as the Amazon and this, has I think allowed people to get away with destroying it. I wouldn’t wish to downplay the need to save the Amazon, but I hope in time the importance of the cerrado, will be recognised, before too much more of it is lost. It would be criminal to allow more and more of the cerrado to be destroyed, just because it’s not valued as it should be; these savannas have been described as the most biologically rich in the world.



Like I’m sure some other people, with a serious interest in natural history, there have been a number of occasions on my travels, when I’ve wished I could take a step back in time. I certainly felt that at Wolf Cliffs and in the cerrado generally, but in the absence of a time machine, I had to settle for Google. On a couple of occasions later in the trip when I had a spare moment and a wi-fi signal, I used my iPad to venture into the not so distant past. This inspired further reading on my PC, when I returned home, so before heading on to the Pantanal and resuming my Brazilian adventure, I thought I’d take a brief sojourn into the past.

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Mourning the missing megafauna


These savannas may be immensely rich biologically, but driving through them, there is a very obvious question that springs to mind. On the drive up from Barrieras, we passed rolling hills covered in dry grey woodland and golden grass, that reminded me very much of parts of Ruaha NP in Tanzania, but for the absence of baobabs. Going through the woodland around Hyacinth Valley Camp, you could almost be in the miombo woodland of Central Tanzania. Driving out to Wolf Cliffs passing through the dry woodland, the grassland and palm trees you could perhaps, be in northern Botswana. However, were you in Africa in any of those places, you would be seeing large wild mammals. Even in the miombo, where game densities are quite low and game viewing is not easy, you would expect in time to eventually come across a few kudu or maybe sable, perhaps some zebras. However, here in Parnaiba Headwaters NP besides the wolves, the only large mammals you see at all are domestic cattle.




The park was only created a few years ago, from land that was used principally for cattle ranching and the cattle haven’t left. Technically cattle are not allowed in the park, but the locals are not inclined to remove them, since they have always been there, I’m guessing that cattle have been grazing in this area, for quite likely several hundred years. There are still cattle corrals in the park. One evening driving out to the grassland to look for the wolf, I saw a small herd of brahma cattle crossing a patch of open grassland, at first glance due to their greyish white colour, they looked quite like a herd of zebras. So the question is, where are all of the large native mammals, the big herbivores one would expect to find in these types of habitat?


Well of course, just because one doesn’t see them, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any at all, when I decided to write this part, I intended to paint a picture of an environment, almost devoid of large mammals. However, when I thought about it, I thought that can’t really be entirely true, that many of Brazil’s larger mammals, must in fact occur in the park.


Sure enough, they do, looking at distribution maps on the IUCN red list website, a population of marsh deer, South America’s largest deer, is shown in the park and surrounding area. The Amazonian brown brocket deer should also occur in the park and there is a population of pampas deer not very far from the park. Marsh deer while pretty rare are not hard to see in the Pantanal, so it may be that there is a problem with poaching, or perhaps they’re just not that used to people, or maybe you need to spend a lot more time, around the areas of marshland. These deer tend to be quite active during the hottest parts of the day, because this is the time when jaguars are least active.


There are also Brazilian/lowland tapirs in the park ,I imagine that they live predominantly in the marshlands and generally wetter areas of the park and don’t venture into the dry woodlands too much. Tapirs aren’t always the easiest of animals to find, so I wouldn’t expect to actually see one here. Also the park is huge and I only saw a tiny little corner of it, there may be other areas that could in fact be good for finding tapirs at least at night, if poaching isn’t an issue.


There are also or should be capybaras, around some of the rivers and in the marshes where it’s wet enough and finally there are both collared and white-lipped peccaries. So there are in fact, a few large herbivores here, even if one doesn’t see them, but except perhaps for the peccaries, they’re largely confined to the wetter areas of the park. Of course, it's no surprise that the wetter marshier areas of the park, are home to most of same large mammals that you find in the Pantanal. But that still leaves the question, why aren’t there even more large mammal species, why are there no grazers out in the open grasslands or browsers in the woodlands?


Besides deer and tapirs, South America does of course have other large herbivores, notably wild camelids, vicunas on the altiplano of the Andes and guanacos down in Patagonia. One might have expected that there should be similar camelids grazing on the grasslands of the cerrado, at least it occurred to me that there should be, but there aren’t, why not?


Well back in the Pleistocene epoch, there undoubtedly would have been, at least one species of wild camelid amongst the other animals, browsing in the woodlands or grazing on the grasslands of the cerrado. Living in habitats exactly like at Wolf Cliffs. Similar thoughts about South America’s megafauna have occurred to me before on a previous trip. When I saw the great wide open grasslands of the Rupununi savannas in Guyana (Drinking Rum Punch in the Rupununi), I wondered what lost animals, must surely have grazed these grasslands in the past. While I was staying at Karanambu ranch in Guyana, I was told that cattle ranching on these savannas, is not really profitable because the quality of the pasture is too poor. Therefore stocking densities have to be kept so low, that it’s difficult to make any money. Yet I’m sure, that at one time, there must have been native large herbivores there, on the grasslands, even if the pasture, could only support relatively small numbers of them. Very likely there were some large herbivores that lived both in forest/woodland and grassland, much as some species in Central Africa do, like forest buffalos that come out of the rainforest into the neighbouring grasslands to graze.


While in Guyana, I wondered why this tree looks like this, clearly these spikes are to protect it, but from what? I can only imagine from some large terrestrial mammal.




Why does this palm in the Pantanal, have long needle like thorns on it that are beyond the reach of any of the terrestrial herbivores found there today.




The Pantanal’s tallest herbivore, would be the marsh deer, but this palm is producing thorns, above the reach of these deer.


In Parnaiba I wondered just what animals might have been found here in the late Pleistocene, which only ended around 11,700 years before present. The poor quality of the pasture, is a characteristic of savanna grassland in this part of the world, so as in Guyana, there wouldn’t have been large herds of animals. But clearly this area can support small numbers of cattle, so it could surely support similar numbers of wild grazers and browsers. Not just a species of wild camelid, as mentioned, but perhaps wild horses, horses evolved in the Americas and in South America, there were several species of the genus Hipidion. It has been suggested that these horses, should in fact be considered members of the genus Equus, the same as extant horses and zebras.


Perhaps Toxodons a huge uniquely South American mammal, that resembled a hornless rhino, but with a head shaped slightly more like a hippo’s. Very likely the gompothere stegomastodon, a relative of the elephants, that may have survived until as recently 6,060 years before present, based on fossils found in Colombia. Maybe my spiky Guyanese tree, was trying to protect itself from Gompotheres. Perhaps the best known of the megafauna, in this part of the world, would have been the giant ground sloths and it’s not too hard to imagine these animals living in the woodlands of the cerrado, browsing on the trees.


Another likely species that may have occurred here, is Xenorhinotherium bahiensis, these animals belonged to a uniquely South American group known as lipoterns. They walked on three toes and had a prehensile nose a little like that of a tapir, only a bit longer or maybe like that of saiga antelope as the function may have been similar. Fossils of this species, were found in the neighbouring state of Bahia, hence the scientific name, so it’s quite possible they lived in Piaui as well.


We can only really guess what these animals actually looked like on the outside. Taking one of my landscape photos and using my imagination and a bit of rather crude Photoshopping, I decided to create a picture of these animals



Three Xenorhinotherium bahiensis have come out of the woodland into the open grassland.


South America’s megafauna, is also well known for having had a number of very large armadillos, known as glyptodonts.



Here a Glyptodon clavipes crosses the grassland. These animals were roughly the size of a small car.


My drawings are perhaps slightly crude, certainly compared to the now rather dated CGI in the BBC series ‘Walking with Beasts’ from some years ago. One episode was set in the grasslands of ancient Paraguay and brought Smilodons and relatives of Xenorhinotherium, back to life. Seeing Parnaiba’s landscapes, perhaps reminded me of this episode and this made me want to imagine, what the Brazilian cerrado might once have been like. With a bit more time, I could perhaps improve my images a bit, but I've never attempted to recreate prehistoric beasts before.

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Where you find large herbivores, you also find large carnivores and in South America, there were short-faced bears, dire wolves, and famously the sabre-toothed cat Smilodon populator. Alongside rather more familiar hunters, like jaguars or rather giant jaguars, as these cats were much larger at this time.


Exactly what happened to these animals, why South America’s megafauna, became extinct is still to be determined for certain. It is often suggested that they were wiped out by human hunters, that when the first people arrived in South America, they killed off all of the megafauna. However, no one is sure when the first people reached the continent or in fact, even exactly where they came from. Further north in Piaui is Serra da Capivara National Park, mentioned before in relation to capuchin monkeys. This World Heritage site, apparently has more ancient rock art than any other site in the world. Archaeological excavations here, have put people on the continent far earlier than was previously thought. They have also suggested a link between these first people and Australian Aboriginals, this is something of a mystery, that is yet to be resolved. It suggests that the first South Americans may not have been the Paleoindians often referred to as Clovis People, as had always been believed. My guide in the Pantanal was actually slightly annoyed, when I said that the first people in South America were Paleoindians, who entered the continent from the north. I had forgotten about these recent archaeological discoveries, that have questioned, the established theories about the origins of Paleoamericans.


Recent evidence, contradicts past theories and suggests that people and the megafauna may have overlapped, for at least 3,000 years or more. That the so called ‘Blitzkrieg Hypothesis’, in which humans marched in and immediately wiped out the megafauna, almost overnight is false. The most likely explanation, would seem to be that severe natural climate change, presumably as the ice age was coming to an end, reduced the available habitat for these animals cutting their numbers and severely restricting their range. Certainly bioclimatic modelling, indicates that this was likely the case, with the giant ground sloth Megatherium. In the past they had been able to survive such changes, but that was before the arrival of human hunters. The current hypothesis, is then that climate change as it were, put the megafauna on the ropes and then human hunters, delivered the knockout blow. When I mentioned the megafauna, Rafael said that he believed, this was the most likely explanation for the demise of all these large animals.


One has to wonder, just what impact the loss of these animals, had on the ecosystem and on the surviving wildlife. Normally, I would not wish to see domestic cattle in a national park as one does in Parnaiba. However, I feel that the cattle are unlikely to be causing serious damage, as their numbers are small and in a sense they’re just taking the place of some of the extinct native grazing/browsing animals, that may have lived in this area up until perhaps 10,000 years ago, this is not really that long ago. There is evidence that a variety of tree species, depended on various large mammals to disperse their seeds and domestic cattle may now in some cases perform this function.


In the Pantanal, where there are plenty of cattle an apparent association between cattle and hyacinth macaws has been observed. The cattle are fond of eating palm fruits, as the fruit passes through their digestive system, during rumination the fibrous mesocarp is removed. The nut is then deposited in their dung, the macaws are then able to feed on the nuts, without having to go through the time consuming job of removing the mesocarp, which they don’t eat. They can simply pick up the clean nut and crack it with their immensely powerful bills. This observation has led to the hypothesis, that in the Pleistocene, hyacinth macaws probably followed animals like gompotheres, that would have fed on palm fruits. The introduction of cattle has resurrected this behaviour.


Anodorhynchus macaws as followers of extinct megafauna: an hypothesis


When the megafauna was still around, jaguars were as I say much larger, this makes sense given that there were much larger herbivores, that they could hunt than is the case today and they had competition from other large predators. It would seem therefore, that the extinction of the megafauna in both South and North America, caused jaguars to shrink in size. Modern Jaguars are about fifteen percent smaller, than their Pleistocene ancestors. This is not something I was aware of, until I started reading about the megafauna of South America; I guess it just makes me wish I had a time machine, to go back and see the megafauna.


How Jaguars Survived the Ice Age


Although you have no chance of seeing one, there are in fact still jaguars in Parnaiba, Lourival told us that he saw one jump across the river, where we swam at Wolf Cliffs. There is one other large mammal I didn’t mention before that should be present in the park and that’s the giant anteater, I’ve no idea how common they are, but I think you chances of seeing one here are very slim.


What makes the wildlife and natural history of the Americas, so interesting is that for millions of years, the two continents were entirely separate. South America was effectively an island, its fauna and flora evolving independently from that in North America and the rest of the world. Around 15 million years ago, the collision of tectonic plates raised the sea floor and the formation of volcanoes, led to islands emerging in the Central American Seaway, between the two continents. The islands eventually became joined together forming the Isthmus of Panama, this led to the Great American Biotic Interchange, exactly when this first happened is disputed. In recent years evidence has been found suggesting that a land bridge, referred to as the Baudo Pathway, had formed far earlier than anyone had thought, perhaps 10 million years ago. It’s possible that this bridge wasn’t complete, that there were still short stretches of sea at certain points, which animals would have had to swim across.


The Interchange is the most important event in the natural history of the Americas, perhaps followed by the arrival of humans. Many of the species, that one might think of as being quintessentially South American, peccaries, tapirs, llamas, and of course jaguars, all originally came from North America. What’s more the ancestors of many of these species actually originated in Eurasia and crossed the Bering land bridge into North America. These northern species moved south, while uniquely South American species like sloths and armadillos, capybaras and anteaters moved north. This mixing of species ultimately led to many extinctions, as species were out competed by the new arrivals or perhaps overhunted, by more efficient predators. The capybara species, that lived in the US like the ground sloths eventually became extinct. They also disappeared from Central America, capybaras are now confined to South America. Or they were, it seems some have escaped in Florida and a population could become established there, if wildlife officials don’t take action and eradicate them. Some conservationists in the US are quite keen on the idea of Pleistocene rewildling, so some people might argue that they should stay as replacements for their extinct relatives.

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Absolutely fascinating @@inyathi thank you for your efforts with the history and the photos.


The scenery you've shown is very beautiful and totally unexpected and the photos of the young wolf in the savannah are much more interesting than the slightly tame one in camp, the background really does make a difference.


I loved seeing all the hyacinth macaws having been fascinated by them for many years.

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Like reading a very good Nat Geo article - thank you!

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Nice shot of the Xenorhinotherium bahiensis! That's a first I think.


Having fun? I certainly had fun reading the latest section.

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@@inyathi, very interesting report and great pictures! I have been so caught up in my own Brazil report I have neglected yours. I am glad I finally rectified that. I look forward to the rest of your report and your thoughts about Southwild.



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Fascinating, thanks for the history lesson! Love the photos of the prehistoric beasts. I'd give anything to see a Smilodon!

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@pault I think time travel is probably a first for a trip report.


@janzin Seeing a Smilodon populator or the northern species S. fatalis (or in theory a pride of them), from the safety of a safari vehicle would be pretty cool, I don’t think I’d be so keen, to see one when on foot. Surprisingly, their sabre teeth were actually relatively fragile and easily broken so they had to be careful of them when hunting, they might have thought that a human would be a safer target than some wild camel or horse.


Aside from just being interesting, I wanted to bring up the subject of the missing megafauna, because there is to me a link between the loss of the megafauna and SouthWild’s approach to wildlife tourism. At the end of the Pleistocene, South America suffered the most catastrophic loss of megafauna of any continent, many of the species lost have no living relatives. In contrast Africa (and tropical Asia) lost almost none of its late Pleistocene megafauna, almost all of the large mammals that existed at that time are still extant, at least south of the Sahara. This may be because of Africa is a much bigger land mass, so climate change was less of an issue. This is why Africa is the place to go on safari to see big game and South America isn’t, why in South America seeing large mammals is a challenge.


The fact that drives at Wolf Cliffs, are really entirely devoted to looking for birds, is because there really isn’t anything else to see. You can’t go on proper ‘game drives’ because you’re 10-12,000 or more years too late to see Parnaiba’s or the cerrado’s large mammals. Even if you weren’t aware of the extinct megafauna, the absence of any visible large mammals is very apparent and an obvious drawback. Going on a drive from Wolf Cliffs, if seeing the macaws and the burrowing owls has exhausted your interest in birds, there’s nothing to see except the views. The blue and yellow macaws, wouldn’t likely bring you to Wolf Cliffs, because you can see these birds elsewhere. Would anyone travel all the way up to Piaui and out to the park just to see the beautiful landscapes, I doubt it or certainly not many and you could see the landscapes in a single drive. Without Lourival feeding the maned wolves, what reason is there really to come to Wolf Cliffs? If the wolves were not fed at all, it’s not impossible that driving around the grassland where we saw our wild wolf, you could chance upon one. But even if you were there, for more than a couple of days, you’d have to be extremely lucky and it’s very unlikely that you would be able to get close enough, to get great photos. If you were coming up to Piaui to see the nut cracking monkeys, then you might take a day trip out to Wolf Cliffs to see the landscapes and the birds. You might even possibly stay 1 night, but without the wolves you wouldn’t stay longer in my opinion.


This brings me to the controversial Charlie Munn and his philosophy on wildlife tourism and conservation. As I understand it, he believes, that while wildlife tourism is the way to conserve wildlife and habitat, in South America, such tourism will only work, if you can offer all but 100% guaranteed sightings of the most charismatic species. That to get enough tourists to visit Wolf Cliffs and the Parnaiba Headwaters NP, you have to guarantee wolf sightings and the only way to do that, is by feeding and habituating the wolves. The only way to guarantee that visitors will see the capuchin monkeys cracking nuts, is to supply the nuts. The only way you can guarantee, that visitors will see an armadillo is to go out and catch one. He also recognises, that people don’t just want to see the animal they want to photograph it in its natural surroundings. They don’t want to come away with photos of Johanna the wolf posing against a backdrop of concrete bungalows. Even if it is slightly artificial it shouldn’t look like it. If you can’t guarantee these things, then tourists won’t come, why spend a lot of time and money going all the way to Piaui, if there’s very little to see when you get there.


Travelling to Piaui to look for a maned wolf, is completely different to for example going to somewhere in Africa, to look for wild dogs. Without the extinct megafauna and little chance of seeing any of the few extant large mammal species, if you don’t see the wolf there’s very little else to see (if you’re a non-birder), in Africa if you don’t see a wild dog, you’ll likely still see plenty of other animals. For camps in Africa, it obviously helps if you can just about guarantee sightings of certain species, like wild dogs or leopards, but if there’s plenty of other wildlife to be seen, people will still come.


Munn’s objective or one of them, is to help bring an end to the illegal trade in macaws; he needs to prove to the likes of Lourival, that there really is more money to be made from wildlife tourism, than from wildlife trapping. He will only succeed in doing this, if enough tourists can be persuaded to visit the Wolf Camps; this means providing nuts for the capuchins and feeding the wolves.


Now to address some of the ethical issues this raises.


The issue of feeding wildlife is tricky, at least when it comes to mammals, not so with birds, I don’t think anyone is too concerned about the feeding of birds. I said earlier that at the macaw hide, they have effectively created a photographic set, but thinking about it since, this is something that serious bird photographers do all the time. It’s quite normal, to use food to attract birds, so that you can photograph them, and if you haven’t got the perfect natural perch for them to land on, then you create something that looks like a natural perch. People photographing hummingbirds on feeders, go to great lengths to create the illusion that the bird is feeding from a natural flower, out in the forest. I don’t think there is any cause for concern with regard to the macaws.


As to the nut cracking monkeys, the monkeys have been habituated to people and they are then provided with the nuts, so they can crack them. They’re still in their natural habitat, the nuts and grubs that they find in them are what they naturally eat. The nuts are generally just dumped on the ground, so that when the monkeys come they can just pick them up and start cracking them. It’s then just a case of sitting back and watching, there’s no interference they are just doing what they do naturally. They’re habituated but they’re not tame, other than calling them to let them know that their nuts have been delivered, there’s no other interaction with them, they ignore you entirely and just get on with it. They’re still wild monkeys and when their human observers are gone, they go back to living their normal lives in the forest, doing whatever they do when they’re not cracking nuts. They’re not being put in danger or being turned in to a nuisance for people, as can so often be the case with monkeys if they are fed. I don’t have any ethical concerns with this.


Likewise with the marmosets at Hyacinth Camp, the fruit, mangos, bananas and such like is just put down on the bird table or attached to branches, so that the birds and the monkeys can come and get it. Again they are habituated, but not tame, no one is trying hand feed them or anything like that. Being very small, marmosets are on the menu for a lot of predators, birds of prey, cats, snakes etc and as such they’re always fairly nervous. Occasionally, one would drop to the ground, either coming to or going from the table and when it touched the ground, it would take off like a rocket, to get to where it felt safe. If you tried to approach them they would bolt. Even if mangos and bananas are not native to Brazil, I presume that fruit is a natural part of their diet and so the food is not harming them and nor turning them into a nuisance. Again I don’t see an ethical issue with this.


This then really just leaves the maned wolves, is it right to feed these animals? Before I visited Wolf Cliffs, I had some reservations about the feeding of maned wolves, I wasn’t entirely sure that I approved. Having been there and seen what goes on and having thought about it a good deal since, I am okay with it, I don’t disapprove.




In this photo of Lourival feeding Johanna, he is sat with a bucket, I guess containing bits of fruit and or bits of chicken, he would throw a piece close to Johanna. Once he’d got her attention he would throw another piece of food, to where he wanted her to go, this was to get her to stand and walk around in front of the background cliffs. The feeding in this case, was entirely to get Johanna posing in front of the perfect photographic backdrop, and keep her there long enough, to allow us to take plenty photos of her in a natural setting. He doesn’t want her to actually come to him; he’s not trying to get her to take food from him, he’s not trying to hand feed her or anything like that. He doesn’t want her to go to you either, he just wants her to get close enough to you for you to get your photos.


The objective is not to make her tame, it is just to habituate her enough, that she won’t run away at the first sight or sound of humans. The food put out in the buckets suspended from the trees, is put there to get her used to coming into camp. In the trail cam video, at times from the lights and the noise, you can see that we were having dinner in the background; we were entirely unaware that she was there. The time that she came by the dining room in the dark, when we saw her and food was thrown to her, it was very clear just how nervous she still is. She didn’t want to come too close, she would just grab the food and then back away, if you actually tried to approach her, she would undoubtedly just run off into the bush.


The intention with feeding the wolves out in the grassland, is basically the same; the idea is just to habituate them enough to allow photographers, to get close enough to take photos of a wolf in its habitat. Otherwise, if you saw a wolf in the grassland, it would run off before you get any photos of it.


The important question is, does this do any harm, maned wolves are after all an endangered species? The answer I think, is no it doesn’t. Clearly maned wolves are not dangerous predators and they are as I say habituated, not tame, encouraging them to lose their fear of people is not putting people in danger. Neither is it putting the wolves in danger, yes wolves are occasionally persecuted, because of the perceived danger they pose to livestock, especially poultry. In fact they only very rarely take a few chickens and pose no real danger to other livestock at all, however there’s no one at, or anywhere near Wolf Cliffs, that would pose a danger to the wolves. The only people at Wolf Cliffs are members of Lourival’s family, it seemed that everybody who worked for him, was in some way part of his family. The cattle in this part of the park are theirs; there is no one else for miles around, at the camp you are in the middle of nowhere.


A wolf is not going to either bite a tourist or wander off and get shot raiding someone’s chicken coop. I don’t therefore see really where the harm is. Indeed they have in a sense turned Johanna into something of an ambassador for her species, bringing people to see and photograph her, will perhaps help to make more people aware of maned wolves and this is surely a good thing.


I suggested earlier that one reason why you don’t see any of the ‘game’ that there is in the park may be because of poaching. I don’t know if this is the case, but it could well be, I understand that there are no ranger patrols in the park at all at present. The area around the Wolf Camps, that is under the control of Charlie Munn is the only part of the park, where there is really any ‘conservation presence’ at all. The wildlife in this area, therefore has a degree of protection, that the wildlife elsewhere in the park doesn’t have. The existence of the Wolf Camps, is therefore a good thing for the park and the wildlife and of course for Lourival and his family. The success of this venture, does ultimately depending on feeding the wolves. It is the guarantee of wolf sightings and wolf photos, which brings tourists to Wolf Cliffs.


One last point on feeding wildlife, on my last Brazil trip I visited Iguazu Falls, there are huge signs there warning people not to feed animals, with graphic photos of animal bites on people’s hands. If you hand feed animals, like coatis or capuchins you are liable to get bitten, tourists feeding animals is an absolute no-no, this is something I really do not want to see anywhere. Although, I tend to think that idiots who get bitten, deserve to get bitten for being idiots, but it’s not good for the animals. Aside from the animals being fed inappropriate food, if they start causing problems for tourists, they’ll end up being culled in some way. At no point during my time at the Wolf Camps, did I see anyone trying to hand feed any of the animals, the food was always either just left for the animals to take, as with the birds and monkeys, or it was thrown to them as in the case with the wolves.


As I’ve said, it is more satisfying to go out and find an animal in the wild, I would always rather see an animal that way, than have it brought to me. However, I accept that we never would have seen the armadillo if it hadn’t been caught and brought to us. As I understand it he dug it out of its hole, if we’d gone with him to look for it he would done exactly the same, otherwise I don’t think we would have seen it and we not have seen it rolled into a ball. I’m not a huge fan of the sort of TV wildlife documentaries, where the presenters do this kind of thing or not when they do too much of it. I don’t generally think picking up wildlife is a good thing, but I don’t believe he caused the animal any harm. When he put it on the ground, it obviously tried to run away and despite only having short legs they run quite fast. He ran after it to head it off and then picked it up again, so we could have another look, but also to stop it escaping so he could return it to where he had found it.


On my trip to Guyana staying at Karanambu (nothing to do with Mr Munn), we went out in the morning in to the savannas to look for a giant anteater. Two vacqueros were also on the lookout for an anteater and when they found one, they herded it to where we were parked. This meant driving the animal, slightly further than they would normally have had to, because unfortunately our car had temporarily broken down. Had we been able to, we could have driven over to them and met them halfway, once the anteater was delivered, the cowboys backed off. We took lots of photos and the anteater went on its way, none the worse for its ordeal. When they do this, you get one chance to take your photos and that’s it, once they let the anteater go, they won’t go after it and bring it back, so you can take more shots.


This wasn’t really, how I would have wanted to see my first anteater, but I don’t think it caused undue suffering to the anteater. Being able to almost guarantee, that you will see a giant anteater, is one of the things that bring tourists to Karanambu. It is of course entirely possible to see giant anteaters, without having them brought to you, but the open savannas at Karanambu are huge, which does make finding them a bit of a challenge, if you haven’t got the vacqueros out looking as well.


With this report, I wanted to give an honest description of what goes on at the Wolf Camps, then anyone who wants to see a maned wolf, can make their own minds up as to whether they want to see one here, or take their chances in Emas NP. Everyone will have a different view on what they consider acceptable, when it comes to wildlife viewing. I think that in Piaui at the Wolf Camps, Charlie Munn’s approach that you need to be able to guarantee sightings of the most charismatic species is the right one. It would be very difficult to get sufficient tourists to come to this location otherwise, in my view the conservation ends justify the means. That’s my opinion, but I’m not going to argue with anyone who doesn’t agree and doesn’t approve of this, these camps are not for everyone. However, if you don’t have a problem with what they’re doing, then I would recommend the Wolf Camps, if you want to see a maned wolf and have a bit of an adventure, in an amazing landscape that few tourists have seen.


What I think about this approach and how it is implemented by SouthWild in the Pantanal is another matter, I will revisit this subject fairly shortly when I get to the Pantanal.

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For some reason I had it fixed in my head, that on our second visit to the macaw hide at Hyacinth Valley, we’d seen 18 macaws, but in fact looking at one of my (not very well focused) photos that I haven’t posted, I count 25.



After we’d returned to camp from the macaws, I placed my trail cam on its ground spike by the veranda, looking out at the road. We’d seen wolf tracks around the camp and on the road suggesting that wolves do visit Hyacinth Valley Camp. However there are no buckets set up for the wolves to help themselves to food at night, although they can come and take leftover fruit from the bird table. I don’t think they do much feeding of the wolves here, maybe because it’s not a great location, from a photographic point of view. If a wolf does come to the camp say during dinner, then I assume they might throw it some food, so that guests can a get a good view of it. As you’re guaranteed a wolf at Wolf Cliffs, they do need to put so much effort into attracting these ones. While we didn't see a wolf here, my trail camera did.





All of the information about the Wolf Camps, states that there are not really any mosquitoes and certainly no dangerous ones. Well I’m sure that the latter is true, this is a very remote, pretty isolated area with hardly any people, any mosquito you might encounter, is not going to have dengue, Zika or malaria. However, on our final night the the statement about no mosquitoes, unfortunately proved not to be true. For some reason I wasn’t able to sleep and found myself being bitten my mosquitoes, throughout the night, having not really encountered one the first night and none at Wolf Cliffs. Evidently I hadn’t drunk sufficient caipirinha, to put me to sleep, when we’d marked the end of our stay at the Wolf Camps.



I tend to think that there should be no mosquitoes at Hyacinth Valley Camp, because the boss Mr Munn says so. Piaui is as I’ve said very dry and this was the dry season, the nearest river is some distance from the camp, therefore the only water in camp, is the camp water supply. I can only assume that there must have been an emergence of mosquitoes from a water tank or such like in the camp, while we were away at Wolf Cliffs. Somebody clearly hadn’t done what they should have done, to kill any mosquito larvae in the camp’s water supply. This was a bit of a problem, when the rooms have no screens on the windows and no mosquito nets. I’m confident that just as when the boss says you will see a maned wolf, he means it, when he says there are no mosquitoes he also means it and that this problem shouldn’t happen again, I've no doubt, someone will have been in real trouble for not doing their job properly. There’s nowhere else the mosquitoes could have come from other than the camp’s water, it should be an easy problem to fix. This was the only negative issue we had at either of the camps. On the subject of mosquitoes, malaria is not considered a risk in any of the areas we were visiting, so I wasn’t taking tablets. In Brazil it’s mainly in the Amazon, where there is some risk and you should take tablets.



Every good camp or lodge should have a tree frog in the bathroom, it’s just a shame this one wasn’t able to eat all the mosquitoes.



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26th August



Despite the mosquitoes in the night, we had had a very enjoyable stay in Piaui, but there is one drawback to visiting this area, it is a heck of a long way to come. To get to our next destination, we had a full day of travel ahead of us. Even so, there was still time to check out the bird table, for a last look at the marmosets and some more birds.







A pair of red and green macaws flew over









White-naped jay




Rusty-margined Guan






Chalk-browed mockingbird




Scarlet-throated tanager





Scarlet-throated tanager




After breakfast Lourival drove us back to São Gonçalo de Gurguéia, we said our goodbyes and thank yous and got back into our minibus for the long journey to Barrieras. Just short of the town we stopped at a por kilo restaurant/churrascaria and had a delicious lunch, it helped having Rafael with us, to speak the language and of course, he knows how the system in these places works. I failed to remember, the mistake I’d made on my last trip to Brazil, when I’d visited a por kilo restaurant, I helped myself to slightly too much food forgetting there was a churrascaria (BBQ) section. The beef, was some of the best we had on the whole trip and yet this was really little more than the equivalent of truck stop.


We were unfortunately unlucky with the flight schedules, so our first flight in the early afternoon, was back south to Belo-Horizonte, we changed planes and then flew north to Brasilia and then onto Cuiaba. Doubtless, had we been flying on a different day of the week, we would have been able to get a flight from Barrieras to Brasilia, which would have cut out one leg.







Our time at Belo-Horizonte Airport, was enlivened by a bit of local music


Arriving late in the evening, we stayed at the Taino Hotel opposite the airport and walked to a local restaurant Quintall for dinner. The food was reasonably good, but the side dish of farofa de banana, that came with my fish is a Brazilian dish that I didn’t take to. Farofa is made from toasted farinha de mandioca/manioc (cassava) flour which is very coarse, this was mixed with pieces of cooked banana.


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  • inyathi changed the title to Searching for a Tall Leggy Brazilian Beauty

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