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@@IamFisheye Yes it was a tailormade version of NatureTrek's off the shelf group trip. I think the fact that we not only still saw jaguars, but saw them well, despite the atrocious weather, confirms that seeing them here is near enough a dead cert, you should definitely look at doing a Brazil trip. The ethical issues with these animal encounters are very complicated; I think that guaranteed sightings of giant anteaters, may be important not just for attracting tourists to visit Karanambu, but for persuading them to visit Guyana at all. I’m sure in NatureTrek’s brochure their Guyana tours, almost always have a photo of an anteater, seeing a giant anteater is one more thing, to add to the list of reasons to visit Guyana. Maybe without the anteater, the thought of visiting the country is just a bit less exciting, at least for people who aren’t hardcore wildlife watchers.



This big caiman resides at the Flotel


I saw him eating a big catfish, but I wouldn't surprised if he might get thrown the odd bit of food.





Great kiskadee




SouthWild Flotel Panorama




A view of the riverbank beside the Flotel


We went back out again at 14:00 and quickly realised that we had a very lucky morning, when it started raining again. Soon it was raining sufficiently hard, that we were driven back to the Flotel, unwilling to carry on for another cold and unpleasant boat ride.





Eventually the rain eased up and when it appeared to have stopped, we decided we had to try and go out again, this was our last afternoon on the rivers. Indeed it was our last proper chance to search for more jaguars, as we were scheduled to leave the next morning after breakfast.






It didn’t take very long for us to find a couple of boats, with some of the few tourists brave or mad enough to venture out. They had found another male jaguar, this one known as Hunter as we confirmed later, it was rather difficult to see him, as he was hunkered down in amongst the vegetation.











It had by now started raining again and the visibility was really not very good, clearly Hunter wasn’t going to get up and go anywhere and we were just getting cold and wet again. Sadly there was little point in staying with him, or staying out on the rivers any longer, so we set off on the cold and unpleasant journey, through the rain back to the Flotel. It was a relief to get back on board and warm and dry again.



On the Flotel every evening and sometimes in the day. if it’s raining they have a lecture on one of the Pantanal’s animals, this is normally delivered by their resident naturalist. However, she was away on holiday so a young English woman, who was there as manageress was standing in, I didn’t attend all of them, but her talks on jaguars and giant otters were interesting.


Edited by inyathi
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31st August



According to our original schedule, we were supposed boat back to Porto Jofre after breakfast and then drive back up the Highway to our final stop Pouso Alegre. Quite what state the road would be in, we weren’t sure, but we assumed it would be pretty wet, we didn’t wish to have too many problems on the drive back. Paulo also wasn’t keen for us to arrive at Pouso Alegre, too early as he felt, we had plenty of time there. So it was agreed, that we would stay for the morning and leave after lunch, then if the sun came out for the first time, it might have a chance to dry out the road.



I knew before I got on board the Flotel, that it was going to the one place where I was unlikely to have any success with my trail camera, but just so as not to have it switched off in my room I set it up anyway. I figured there was no merit in pointing it out at the river as it would likely get absolutely nothing, in the unlikely event that something swam by close enough to be detected the camera would be far too high to catch it. I therefore pointed so that it was looking along the riverbank, as I suspected would be the case, I only picked up the local grey-necked wood rail, the video wasn’t worth posting. Perhaps if you worked on the Flotel and could have a camera set up for long periods you might catch something more interesting.



First thing in the morning, relieved that it wasn’t raining, I photographed the resident birds outside my room.



Black-fronted nunbird




Rufous-tailed jacamar




Grey-necked wood rail



When we left the dining room after breakfast, it looked like this might have been a good decision, we could actually see the sun for the first time, well sort of.




It was a pretty wet misty murky sunrise, but at least it was a sunrise.



I took this as a hopeful sign and thought that in time the sun might burn off the mist and it could actually turn into a nice morning. We would now have one more chance to look for jaguars, one more morning searching the Three Brothers. It was still very misty as we set off; the first wildlife we came across was more giant otters. I’d had excellent views of these animals on my last trip and so far on this one, and had had the briefest of views in Ecuador and several reasonable views in Guyana. I’ve been fortunate to see them, every time I’ve visited South America, but the one thing I’d never seen was otters out of the water. Here at last were some otters out of the water; they were ‘playing’ on the river bank and in the shallows, running on the sand and diving back into the river. It was regrettably still pretty misty so the light wasn’t good, they were moving quite fast and we were reasonable close, I unfortunately had my zoom lens at 400mm. I guess I just didn’t have time to zoom out, when we were really close, so I messed up what should have been some great shots, but I got a few passable ones.






















Brown-chested martins








In this photo you can see that giant otters have a flattened paddle shaped end to their tails, this helps power them through the water, quite different to the tails of the smaller neotropical river otter or our Eurasian otter. Their size, power and speed makes them very efficient predators and because they also live in large family groups like this, it's not hard to see, why they are known as 'lobo del rio' wolves of the river.



As I’d hoped the mist disappeared and it turned in to a perfect beautiful sunny morning, for once I wasn’t cold and could take off my poncho and other layers. Despite searching the Three Brothers, we failed to find any jaguars, but it did prove to be a morning of giant otters, everywhere we went we seemed to find giant otters. We spent most of our time following and photographing otters, this is always a bit of challenge, as they’re always moving and when they dive you’re never quite sure where they will come up. I managed to take some passable photos, but my efforts at briefly videoing them came to nothing.



We spotted the usual selection of common birds




Roadside hawk




Rufescent tiger heron sunbathing




Crane hawk


This bird is a good example of convergent evolution, its named the crane hawk, because of it's extra long legs, it uses them in just the same way as the similar, but much larger and unrelated African harrier hawk or gymnogene, to extract chicks from nest holes and such like.



Great black hawk



Ringed kingfisher


plenty of caiman



Yacare caiman



a few capybaras, a troop of howler monkeys and the BBC. We had seen several times already a ‘filming boat’ going past with a special camera attached to a long arm. They were busy this morning no doubt extremely glad to have some sun again. I watch just about everything the BBC Natural History Unit comes out with, as a result I know some of the names and faces of their camera guys. When we went passed their boat, I thought that guy in the baseball cap operating the camera is Gavin Thurston. He’s done a lot of wildlife filming all over the world for the BBC over the years. I have no doubt he was doing a much better job of filming the otters than I was.











I hope that in the not too distant future I will get to see the results of his filming on the BBC. Whether they are making a film on the Pantanal or just filming sequences for another general wildlife series I don’t know. They weren’t the only ones filming during our stay we also saw someone filming with a drone; I assume they weren’t connected as we was just on his own with a boatman. He appeared to be just taking general aerial footage from recollection we also saw him using a different hi-tech camera to film with, so he was evidently making a film on the Pantanal. I don’t know who he was so I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to see the film.



We finished off our bonus morning, following a family of otters up I believe the Piquiri River.












The resident caiman seen from the Flotel








After lunch on the Flotel, we boated back to Porto Jofre, we had a little bit of time to spare. before we started the drive to Pouso Alegre, long enough to photograph some of the resident hyacinth macaws.












Edited by inyathi
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At this point, I thought I should say something about staying on the Flotel versus staying at the Pantanal North (formerly Porto Jofre) Hotel. Perhaps the obvious question that most people might ask, is which one of the two should you stay at for the best jaguar sightings? Due to our bad luck with the atrocious weather this time, I can’t really make a fair comparison between the sightings, I had on each trip. What I can say, is that I had fantastic views of jaguars on my first trip, when I stayed at the hotel and considering the weather amazing views this time staying at the Flotel. As mentioned earlier all of the boats are in radio contact with each other, so if a jaguar has been spotted, your boatmen should hear about it and be able to take you there, if you’re not too far away. Therefore, whichever place you are staying, given enough time unless you are exceptionally unlucky, you should definitely see jaguars.



The main selling point for the Flotel and the argument that NatureTrek used, for choosing it over the hotel is simply that it is right on the edge of the park and therefore very close to the Tres Irmaos area, that is regarded as jaguar central. This means you’re not spending so much time, commuting from your accommodation to where the jaguars are most likely to be, you can get there much earlier, you don’t waste a lot of time going home for lunch and you can stay out a bit longer in the afternoons. If you are just setting off from the Flotel for say your afternoon boat trip and a jaguar has already been spotted, then you would likely be a lot closer. Therefore, you should get there much faster, than you would if coming from the hotel, there is always a danger, that by the time you get to a sighting, the jaguar has gone or is at least no longer visible. Being closer, doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the sightings that you have will be better and if you’re staying at the hotel, you could ask them to provide packed lunches, to get around the problem of having to return there for lunch. I could say that the fact that we found the jaguar Lucas, within just 10 minutes of leaving the Flotel, illustrates the point about being closer to the jaguars, but actually on my first trip our best jaguar sighting, happened within only about 20 minutes of leaving the hotel.



As shown earlier on the Flotel, I stayed in one of what they call the Jaguar Suites, there are 12 of these suites, two storeys of six rooms on a barge connected to the main Flotel. Ahead of my first Brazil trip in 2012, when deciding where to stay these suites did not exist, there were only the standard cabins, and I was concerned that these cabins would be small and cramped. I didn’t see inside any of these cabins, but I have seen photos online, that suggest I was right. The ones on the main Flotel, don’t have very big windows certainly not the ‘glass wall’ that the suites have and reviews I’ve read, suggest that the walls are paper thin. I should say, that although I have referred to the Flotel there’s actually more than one houseboat, as the following photos show, I’m not sure whether the standard cabins are basically the same throughout.








What didn’t really appeal at the time, was the thought that once you are on Flotel, when not out on boat trips you are stuck on board, you can’t go ashore. I didn’t fancy the idea that I might end up stuck in a cramped cabin, during the middle of the day. This concern may have been unfounded, because on our final morning at the Flotel on this trip, when the sun was actually shining, we didn’t get back until around 12:30 and the preceding two days, we had set out in the afternoon around 14:00. If the weathers good, you needn’t really be on board for more than about an hour and a half in the middle of the day. In the late morning and early afternoon, when it’s hot you can still be out on the rivers seeing wildlife, there isn’t really any need to have a siesta, unless you particularly want one or it’s excessively hot. You only really need to return to base, for long enough to have lunch.



My suite on the Flotel was certainly much nicer, than the room I had at the hotel, the Porto Jofre Hotel as it used to be called, was established as a fishing lodge primarily catering for groups of fishermen. This accounts for the slightly unusual room layout, my room was long and thin with four single beds and two ensuite bathrooms. What I didn’t particularly like, was that the floor was covered in cold white ceramic tiles, not at all cosy. I don’t know what all of the rooms were like and whether there are much nicer better rooms than this, or what has changed since 2012. As far as I know, the Pantanal North Hotel’s (as it’s now called) core business is still fishing groups, even though they must now get plenty of wildlife groups. I think that sport fishermen, may be even less concerned about luxury, than most serious wildlife enthusiasts.



Porto Jofre Hotel Room

Hotel room





Flotel Jaguar Suite


What really convinced me that the hotel was the right choice in 2012, is that even if seeing jaguars, was the main priority while at Porto Jofre, we were on a pretty serious birding trip. For birders the choice is pretty simple, the hotel wins hands down, because it has a large garden, with a lake partially covered in giant waterlilies and there are resident hyacinth macaws. When you are out on the rivers looking for jaguars or giant otters, most of the time between sightings you are moving quite fast, so you can't really bird too much. You will see some of the larger more conspicuous birds and you can stop and look at them, but you won’t see too many of the smaller species. If you do want to do a bit of proper birding, then you do need to be at the hotel, besides the hotel grounds, you can bird in the general area around Porto Jofre, along some of the roads, seeing a good few species you won't see while out on the rivers.


You can’t seriously bird from the Flotel, because you are stuck on board, I think I saw eight species while on board, although it could have been a couple more than that. On the Flotel, they do their best to attract birds by throwing food down on to the bank, but obviously there is a limit to how many different birds this can bring in. The birds that you do see, are very confiding which is good for photography, you’ll likely get better shots of the handful of species you see from the Flotel, than you would at the hotel. But you’ll never see the number and variety of species, that you can see at the hotel, nor will you be able to photograph hyacinth macaws. We were actually told how many birds had been recorded from the Flotel, I've forgotten the number, but it was pretty impressive, however, this was over a long period of time and I would guess included many species that were just flying past. Even if you’re not a keen birder, it is nice to be able to walk around at the hotel and go and look at the waterlily flowers first thing in the morning. My 2012 trip was with Tropical Birding, the preceding trip to ours stayed on the Flotel, but now they always stay at the hotel as do other birding groups.


Some reasons to stay at the Pantanal North Hotel




Walkway Porto Jofre Hotel

The Lake



Victoria amazonica Flower


The waterlilies



Wattled Jacana & Victoria amazonica lillies

Wattled jacana 



Hyacinth Macaw

The hyacinth macaws


and other birds you won't see from the Flotel



Lined Seedeaters

White-lined seed-eaters


The tours that NatureTrek offer, are mostly general wildlife tours, in which birds are just part of the package; the focus of this tour was more mammals than birds. On a wildlife tour, that's not largely focused on birds, it isn't essential to stay at the hotel. Having stayed at the hotel last time, as part of serious birding trip, I didn’t think that if I stayed there again, I would be likely to score any ‘lifers’. I didn’t therefore feel I missed out, by not being able to really bird while on the Flotel, had this been my first visit, then I would have felt differently and probably would have turned down the Flotel for the hotel. During the brief periods, when we were on board in the daytime and it wasn’t raining, I was quite happy photographing the birds and the caiman.


If you are not a birder at all and your objective is really to photograph jaguars and otters, then in theory for the reasons stated at the start of this post, you should get more time with the jaguars if you stay on the Flotel. Of course, as my experience on both trips shows, so much of what you see comes down to luck with the animals and with the weather. If you’re not a birder and you're just intent on getting good views of jaguars, you should have an equally great time at either place. Assuming it hasn’t changed, then the food at both places is pretty similar, basic but good. If you are going to go for the Flotel, then I would recommend that if they are available and you can afford the extra cost, go for one of the suites. If you can’t really afford the suites or there’s none available, I doubt you’d be too disappointed having to settle for a standard cabin, if it’s your first visit. If you’ve never seen a wild jaguar before and the cats perform and you get stunning views of them and also the giant otters, then you’ll likely be so amazed and pleased, that you won’t care if your room is a little cramped. On the Flotel as mentioned earlier, they do have nightly lectures on the wildlife and they keep a database of photos of all the different jaguars, so you can learn about each of the jaguars you have seen and the other wildlife. This is not something they do at the hotel.



After the freak storm at SouthWild Pantanal, I was slightly concerned about the prospect of being on the Flotel in the rain, but in one respect it was certainly a better place to be than the hotel. Getting from my suite to the dining room without getting wet when it was raining, was quick and easy. At the hotel it was a long walk from my room by the river, over to the dining room, if it rains during your stay, you will need to put on a waterproof or have an umbrella to avoid getting wet. When we got caught out in a rainstorm on the first trip, the long journey back to the hotel was a lot more noticeable, than it had been when the sun was shining. In the awful weather this time it was a relief not to have to travel quite so far back to base. This wouldn’t put me off staying at the hotel again, the weather we had this time really wasn’t normal and I think the rainstorm last time, was just bad luck as well. In the dry season you really wouldn’t expect to get wet like we did this trip, but you should be prepared just in case and especially to get cold because, it's not too unusual for a cold front to come in. You wouldn't necessarily think of needing warm clothing in Brazil, but without some warm clothes to go with my waterpoofs, the boat trips this time would have been pretty unbearable.



This brings me to one other point, the boat we had when we stayed at the hotel, had a collapsible canopy to keep the sun off, the Flotel’s boat was entirely open. In normal sunny weather, you do therefore need a good sunhat and plenty of sun oil, at jaguar sightings the canopy on boats that have them, should normally be lowered, so as not to obstruct the view from other boats.



One point that has been mentioned a couple of times, is that you can do night drives on the Trans-Pantanal Highway from the PJ/PN Hotel and if you were camping at PJ. To be able to go on night drives should allow you to possibly see some nocturnal or mainly nocturnal species that you wouldn’t see at all otherwise. At least not while you’re on the Cuiaba River, you might see them elsewhere in the Pantanal. Night boat trips are not to my knowledge allowed, at least no one offers such trips here. The option to go on night drives, is clearly another point in favour of the hotel and going back to birding, you could also perhaps go out at night to look for owls in the hotel grounds (and nearby woodland with your guide).


Apparently according to some information that was in NatureTrek’s newsletter, Charlie Munn has come to an arrangement with a local ranch, which would mean that guests from the Flotel could be taken on night drives. I am not entirely sure how this would work; in any case nothing has so far come of it, night drives certainly weren’t being offered during our stay. Other than that it must be outside the park and is not on the land that belongs to Charlie Munn, I don’t know where this land is, where the night drives are supposed to take place. It will be interesting to see if they do manage to start offering night drives, Charlie Munn has obviously realised that to attract wildlife enthusiasts night drives are good selling point for the Pantanal North Hotel.




Just to add one final point because it amused me, apparently it is safer to stay on the Flotels, than in a hotel on land. On SouthWild's Arcanamundi Expeditions website it says the following


The flotels are safer than riverbank camps or hotels, as Jaguars patrol riverbanks near hotels and camps in search of prey but never swim out to flotels. Even if they did, flotel guest rooms have hardwood doors and metal walls, making them impervious to any Jaguar.



I suppose some visitors to the area, might genuinely be concerned about marauding jaguars, but I had to laugh a little bit about this. Although I suppose, if you were travelling with quite young children, then your fears might perhaps be a little more understandable.

Edited by inyathi
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Dave Williams

Thanks for an excellent report, one that I really appreciate because it is honest and reports exactly what you have experienced, warts and all. Having read it I have to say that it doesn't convince me that it's somewhere that is elevated to the top of my list so I am all the more grateful because I'm sure it wasn't exactly cheap and I would have been disappointed had it been my trip. I have to say, my one experience of South America was a cruise up the Amazon and although I enjoyed it, it wasn't what I had imagined it would be.

That said we saw little wildlife but we did get to see a tall leggy Brazilian beauty

30744573446_ffdb3e0286_k.jpgBrazil 14-01-27 by Dave Williams, on Flickr

Jaguars, Macaws, Giant Otters. The choice is yours!

30744580176_8e2e36af25_k.jpgBrazil 14-01-27 by Dave Williams, on Flickr

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@@Dave WilliamsWell that’s bird I don’t recall seeing, when I visited the Amazon and I think I’d remember all those lovely long red feathers. ;) I obviosuly didn't go to the right part of the Amazon. :lol: The Piaui part of my trip might not appeal so much for reasons of ethics and expense and you might not want to go to SouthWild Pantanal Lodge for similar reasons. But don't be put of visiting the Pantanal it really is the best place in South America, to see a wide range of spectacular wildlife. Trips don't need to be seriously expensive and you don't have to have the wildlife delivered to you the SouthWild way. I only really mentioned it in passing but you can camp at Porto Jofre, which would reduce the price and be good for birding in the area. If you haven't already have a read through some of the many other great Pantanal reports, there's quite a good collection now.


I've tried to be as honest as possible, to let everyone make their own minds up about some of the issues raised, I'm glad you've found my report useful it makes it all worthwhile. :)


31st August cont.



After my brief photo session with the macaws, it was back onto SouthWild’s safari truck for the drive back up the Trans-Pantanal Highway.




Waiting until the afternoon, had as we hoped allowed the road to dry off a little bit, but it was still a little muddy in places.










And still very muddy in one place, when we got back to the broken bridge, we discovered an unfortunate minibus driver, who hadn’t quite made it through the quagmire. Just how long he’d been stranded, I don’t know, but he was very grateful when our truck pulled him out, unlike with the large tourist bus, he was towed without any trouble. In thanks he handed us some spare cups of water, in Brazil, unlike anywhere else I’ve been water is often sold in sealed plastic cups, just like yogurt pots. While the truck was towing the minibus, we walked over to look at the bridge and then walked across it, after our truck had driven around through the mud without us.












You might not want to get stuck in the mud, but that would be better than driving over this hole








Along the way, we had seen plenty of the usual birds and caimans, as we started to approach our final lodgings Pouso Alegre, we started to see other wildlife.




Like this marsh deer stag in velvet


We also started to see our first South American coatis, beside the road and then to my utter amazement, crossing the road right in front of us was a nine-banded armadillo. This again really goes to show just how much luck is involved with wildlife spotting, until I’d arrived at Wolf Cliffs back at the start, I’d hoped, but hadn’t really expected to see one armadillo species, now here was my second one. Best of all, this one wasn’t handed to me on a plate; I just managed to take a few shots, as it finished crossing the road and went up the bank.





Nine-banded armadillo




This was a completely unexpected bit of luck and does show, that you can see amazing creatures sometimes, without having them brought to you. By the time we actually made it to the Lodge and checked in it was already dark and since we were all rather tired, we decided to opt out of doing a night drive, as we had two more nights to follow.


Over dinner, Paulo gave us the bad news, that in part explained why he hadn’t been in a great hurry to get us here, we’d really come to Pouso Alegre, with two prime objectives to see a lowland tapir/s and giant anteaters. He explained, that while there was a reasonable chance, that we would see at least one tapir, we’d have to be very lucky to see an anteater. Up until about two years ago Pouso Alegre, had been the best place in the Northern Pantanal to see giant anteaters, but then inexplicably they’d stopped seeing them. Regrettably he thought, we would have to be very lucky to see one, that if we really want to see them, then we should have gone to the Southern Pantanal. This was news that we really hadn’t wanted to hear, we’d been led to believe, that we would have an excellent chance of seeing one, so to now learn that we wouldn’t was just a little disappointing. Whatever the case, anteaters or not, I was sure that we would still find some good wildlife, over the next two days, before heading home.

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@@inyathi, thanks for continuing to post great honest information about your trip. It sure looks like you hit a stretch of bad luck with the weather but I am glad you still got some good Jaguar and Otter sightings. I also enjoyed reading your comparisons between the Flotel and the Hotel at PJ. I am curious, did you ever feel like you needed to get on "solid ground" after being on boats almost exclusively?


We are extremely happy that we chose the hotel for all the reasons you list and more. Our time spent walking the grounds day and night not only gave us a chance to stretch our legs but also gave us tremendous wildlife viewing opportunities. Plus, we were only 20 minutes from Jaguars on multiple occasions so I think the marketing of the Flotel on being closer is a bit overblown. Finally, since I am against hand feeding wildlife, my only recourse is to vote with my wallet. So, I would never spend money at a Charles Munn owned business. But, that's just my decision. Your unbiased descriptions will let others make their own.


I am looking forward to your report on Pouso Alegre since I can compare our experiences with yours directly.



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Before continuing with Pouso Alegre, I did wonder at the time, when I saw Gavin Thurston filming in the Pantanal, if he just might be working on Planet Earth II. I have just learned that he was indeed filming for this series, even though it was only a couple of months from broadcast, so I won’t have to wait too long to see the footage, it will feature in the third episode in a couple of weeks time. From what I've read it should be pretty spectacular. :D


Back at Pouso Alegre, when we finished checking in was completely dark, having never been here before I didn’t know my way around. I could see that not far from my room, was a small area of open ground, that appeared to have a shallow almost dried up pond in the middle of it. Since I wasn’t about to go off, seriously exploring in the dark, I thought I would just set up my trail cam, under some trees pointing at the water. I didn’t spend much time thinking about it, I just wanted to put the spike in somewhere it would be safe from being knocked over, and not have any vegetation right in front of the camera, I couldn’t really see exactly what it was pointing at. However, I thought there was a good chance it would catch something. I was slightly amazed to find that I had obviously chosen a good spot, because it actually caught the rear end of tapir. Why the beast didn’t trigger the camera soon enough, to catch the front end of it I don’t know. What had in the dark looked like a bit like a pond; was really in effect, just a large muddy puddle left over from the rain. During the day some Azara’s agoutis and a pair of bare-faced curassows, passed in front of my camera.





Having a wild tapir pass by less than 100 yards from my room, well that had to be a good sign, I hoped that before I left I would see it for myself, at least if not this one then one of its relatives.


Edited by inyathi
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Pouso Alegre is such a great place.

We visited Pantanal in last August, starting with Rio Pixaim and Pouso Alegre, then looking for cats on the Paragay river, and then finishing by discovering the lovely Barranco Alto farm in Southern Pantanal.


We have been really luck to see one giant ant-eater at Pouso Alegre drinking at the pond. But the main reason we visited this place was for tapirs, one animal quite easy to spot and that was said quite easy to spot at Pouso Alegre.

It was definitely true. We first saw one at the entrance of Fazenda Santa Tereza, we then saw 11 times tapirs at Pouso Alegre in just 3 days and 3 nights. 3 of them by day, including a mating pair of this weird mammal. Tapirs were easily seen at dawn or by night just before sunrise.

Well it was clearly a tapir trip, we indeed saw two more of them on the Paraguay River!!!


The last morning we saw again the pair of tapirs in the palm trees at 50 meters of the lodge. I guess they love eating the nuts, as do the capuchin monkeys.

We also saw one ocelot by night and one jaguarundi on the Transpantaneira road not so far from Pouso Alegre.


29043327306_f62b442a20_h.jpgAnta, Fazenda Pouso Alegre by Goulevitch Jérémie, sur Flickr

Edited by jeremie
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@@jeremie If you go to the right places like Pouso Alegre and you have some luck it's amazing what you can see.


1st September


At Pouso Alegre they may not go in for feeding the wildlife, in quite the way that SouthWild does, but they do have a bird feeding area next to the lodge. Where every morning, plenty of food is put out for the birds, this attracts a whole variety of species, great kiskadees, crested oropendolas, yellow-rumped caciques, bare-faced currasows amongst others. Perhaps the stars of the show though, are the toco toucans, I thought that SouthWild Pantanal Lodge was a great place to see these birds, until I came here. At the other lodge, there seemed to be just the one pair, that came to the feeder outside my room, here the trees around the feeding area, were almost filled with toucans.


First thing in the morning, we checked out the bird feeding area.



Chestnut-eared araçari



Toco toucan




The United States has the majestic bald eagle as it’s national symbol, Brazil with 1,800 different birds to choose from, a few of them pretty spectacular, chose for its national bird



The rufous-bellied thrush



Chestnut-eared araçari


We then went for a short walk out the back of the lodge. An open gate takes you out into a huge paddock, the path then heads of into an area of marshland, going over a long wooden bridge and around the edge of a small patch of woodland. We didn’t go all the way to the end of this trail, as we wanted to return to the lodge for breakfast. As well finding a few of the smaller birds like seedeaters, this walk proved good for seeing some of the large waterbirds, notably flocks of wood storks and roseate spoonbills which flew over. Thankfully the weather was fine and remained so during our stay.



Guira cuckoos



Yellow-billed cardinal



Ocelot pugmark


I should have added something to show the scale, because zoomed in like this, you could be almost forgiven for thinking this was jaguar spoor.




Wood storks






Buff-necked ibis




Female rusty-collared seedeater



Roseate spoonbills




Rufous hornero


This bird is sometimes known as the red ovenbird, because they build a nest out of mud, that resembles an old fashioned clay bread oven, horno is the Spanish word for oven.






Buff-necked ibis


Back in the lodge garden, we were slightly surprised to spot a pair of owls in the top of a tree.



Ferruginous pygmy owls

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After breakfast, we set off back up the drive in SouthWild’s trusty truck.



Blue-fronted parrot



Wood storks


We stopped close to a small patch of forest and went for a bird walk. In some trees beside the road, there was a troop of black-striped capuchins, but they were a little too far away for good photos. Once inside the forest, Paulo did his best to try and call in a helmeted manikin, this species can usually be found in these forests, the bird however was playing hard to get, but we did see a few other nice birds and great views of some coatis.



Blue-crowned trogon



Crimson-crested woodpecker



South American coati



Crimson-crested woodpecker



By the time we emerged from the forest, it was really pretty hot, this made a very pleasant change, after several days of being cold while looking for jaguars.





We returned to the lodge for lunch and a bit of a siesta.




Crab-eating fox




This crab-eating fox a resident of the lodge, had a serious limp, as you can see it has a swelling on its left hind leg, perhaps because of its injury, the fox spent most time around the lodge and was clearly very used to people.







Black and white tegu




After reviewing some of the video clips taken by my trail cam shown earlier, I decided to reposition it and put it by the gateway pointing down the path, that we had walked before breakfast. Because I was using the spike I positioned it against the gate post, so that it wouldn’t be in anyone’s way or get knocked over by any passing animals. I hoped that when I checked the camera, the following day that it would have caught the front end of a tapir and not just the back end.

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After sometime relaxing, we and it seemed all of the other guests, drove out to a small dam, where there’s usually a nesting colony of roseate spoonbills. There were in total just four young birds, perched up in the trees; they were still very white, having not attained the pink colour of the adult birds.



Juvenile roseate spoonbills


While I tried to photograph the birds, I heard “what’s that animal moving out there in the distance, is that an anteater” suddenly everyone was focused on this shape crossing the grassland, way off in the distance. “It is an anteater” it seemed that Paulo’s pessimistic view ‘I’m afraid you should have been here two years ago” had just been proved wrong. I think he had been genuinely concerned, that we probably wouldn’t see a giant anteater, and that we might not see that much other wildlife here either. This was in part, why he had suggested staying at the Flotel until lunch the previous day, so that we wouldn’t get here too early. He reasoned that we would see more wildlife spending the morning on the rivers, than spending the afternoon here. I’m sure he was extremely happy to have been proved wrong about the anteaters, knowing how keen we were to see one.


There was a mad scramble as everyone jumped into their respective vehicles and set off across the grassland in pursuit of this big hairy shambling beast.










Based on what Paulo said, I can only assume that the anteaters were making the most of the hot sun, after several days of being cold and wet.




So far in the Pantanal we had been lucky with the wildlife in spite of the weather, that is quite lucky to see any of it at all, now it seemed that perhaps we were being lucky with the wildlife because of the weather.







Remarkably we didn’t just see the one, I think in this one afternoon, we singlehandedly restored Pouso Alegre’s reputation, for being the best place in the Northern Pantanal to see giant anteaters, by spotting three different individuals. When the other vehicles had left the first anteater, Paulo suggested we jump out and approach a little bit closer on foot, our driver got out and walked a reasonable distance around the other side of the anteater, just so that it would be more inclined to walk in our direction than disappear into the bushes. We then slowly walked a little bit closer and just stood and watched, photographed and filmed this extraordinary beast as it wandered by. We had no intention of stressing the animal, besides with huge claws powerful enough to rip open termite mounds or if necessary disembowel a jaguar, you wouldn’t want to get too close. After a few minutes marvelling at one of the planet’s beautiful but odder looking mammals, we decided to leave.


Although I had as mentioned before seen one in Guyana, that anteater had been delivered to me by a couple of vacqueros, this anteater and the two that followed it, we had found for ourselves. So much more satisfying, what’s more this was a longer sighting, the anteater was pretty relaxed and the light was great. The only thing that could perhaps have made it even better, would’ve have been for it to have been a mum carrying a baby on its back. However, we weren’t complaining, I doubt many visitors are lucky enough to see an anteater quite as well as this, let alone to see three in broad daylight.


@@Towlersonsafari The next post will contain a photo of a long-legged Brazilian with rather more than two legs one that not everyone would consider a beauty, so you might not want to show this to your other half.


@@Atdahl I'm not much of a boat person, staying on the Flotel didn't feel like being on a boat, although the river's pretty fast flowing the Flotel doesn't move around much. On the boat trips there was the odd moment, when going through the wakes of other boats, when our boat would rock quite a bit which I didn't like, but these moments were thankfully too brief to make me seasick. I never felt climbing back on board the Flotel after a boat trip, I can't wait to get back on dry land.

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Elated at our extraordinary good luck and very happy to know, that we would not leave Pouso Alegre without seeing an anteater after all, we headed over to the ‘tapir pond’ for a sundowner. Next to this little pond on the edge of the forest, they have put up an area for guests to sit and watch as tapirs frequently come out to drink. Thanks to all of the rain there were plenty of other alternative pools full of water, so Paulo didn’t think it was likely that a tapir would show and sure enough it didn’t. After we had finished our beers and darkness had descended, we set off on a night drive, hoping that we might get lucky and spot a tapir along the way somewhere. Going up and down the drive, we didn’t manage to find ourselves a tapir, but we did spot a rather large tarantula on the side of the road. I’m not actually overly fond of spiders, so I’m not certain which species this is.





This was I’m pretty sure, the only spider I saw on the entire trip.


We saw but I didn’t manage to photograph a Brazilian rabbit or tapiti, which I’d not seen before and a crab-eating fox or two.


Almost back at the lodge we spotted a great horned owl, a couple of crab-eating racoons that quickly disappeared into the bushes and a red brocket deer.



Great horned owl



Crab-eating racoon



Red brocket deer


I didn't mind, not getting the best view or photos of the crab-eating racoons, as I'd been extremely lucky to see a pair of them in broad daylight, enjoying a siesta in the top of some small trees at Karanambu in Guyana. I had also seen at least one, previously on a night drive at Pousada Piuval on my last Brazilian adventure.

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Thanks for the warning @@inyathi it's a fine beast! Loved the anteater sightings

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We were a little disappointed but not too surprised to learn when we got back to the lodge, that SouthWild needed their trusty Ford safari truck back, to transport people around the broken bridge, in the morning, we would instead have to make do with an old Chevrolet safari truck, known as the ‘Avocado’ for reasons that will become apparent. SouthWild's truck had ensured that we didn't get stuck on the Transpantaneira and really wasn't a bad safari vehicle.


Before starting on our final day at Pouso Alegre here's a compilation video of comings and goings taken by my trail cam.





Featuring crab-eating fox, Azara’s agoutis, horses, black and white tegu, diurnal and nocturnal tourists and feral pigs.




I’m sorry the quality of these videos when viewed full screen is very poor compared to the original videos, I thought that this was just down to the editing software, but maybe it is also an issue with YouTube.



While my camera picked up feral pigs, coming through the lodge garden during the night we never actually saw one, during our time in the Pantanal. Normally the introduction of alien species is an ecological disaster, but the arrival of these pigs has actually benefited the other wildlife in one way, it has reduced hunting pressure on native species. Hunters who would have targeted native animals, like peccaries, deer and capybaras in the past, now target feral pigs, they are big animals with a lot of very tasty meat on them. I imagine that jaguars and pumas may also have benefited from having feral pigs to hunt.



Although I didn’t catch the tapir this time, I think this wasn’t a bad place to put the camera, it didn’t have the clearest view down the path, but I couldn’t put it further out in the field for fear the horses would knock it over. Left in this spot for long enough I’m sure it would have eventually picked up a good selection of animals including very likely an ocelot.


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2nd September


It seemed that I had turned in just slightly too early the previous night, when Paulo informed us that he had seen an ocelot walking through the garden at around eleven o clock. I would far rather have got lucky and seen one like this than on a bait, as I had at SouthWild but it wasn’t to be.


We spent the early morning walking around the grounds birding and I returned to the bird feeding area to take more photos.


I mentioned earlier how at the Hyacinth macaw hide up in Piaui, SouthWild have created a photographic set, and went on to say this isn’t actually that unusual. Here they have done the same thing albeit on a very much smaller scale, they have gone out and collected some suitably bendy sections of vine/creeper and attached them to pieces of wire and suspended them above the food. This has created a natural looking photogenic perch for birds to land on, as they come down to get the food. In the mornings, there were always a few photographers taking advantage of this set up.



Crested Oropendola




Great kiskadees




Giant cowbird


The food as well as attracting birds also brings in mammals too, normally Azara’s agoutis like most prey animals are pretty nervous and tend to avoid people, but here they’re really not bothered. The habituated agoutis are a common site around the lodge.



Azara’s agouti




Male bare-faced currasow




Female bare-faced currasow




Toco toucan




Azara’s agouti




Crested oropendola




White-tipped dove




Azara’s agouti




Hyacinth macaws



Having already taken so many photos of hyacinth macaws, I didn't make too much effort trying to photograph them here and most of the time they were up in the trees, too far away to get great shots. I thought I would still include a shot, just to show that Pouso Alegre also has these majestic birds.



Blue-fronted parrot



I assume that blue-fronted parrots, must raid the nests of other birds, because this one kept flying in and out of this tree in which there was a colony of monk parakeets and the parakeets really did not like this at all. The arrival of the parrot at their nest, would provoke considerable shrieking from the parakeets, who would come out and attempt to drive it away.




Monk parakeets






Glittering-throated emerald


Of all the birds at Pouso Alegre, my least favourite would have to be the chaco chachalacas. Despite having been given a few shooting lessons when I was younger, I never took up gamebird shooting, however, if someone at Pouso Alegre had offered me a gun and pointed me at these birds, I would have happily given it a go. Dawn or even pre-dawn, each morning would be greeted with an incessant loud chorus of “chacalaca” “chacalaca” and even at night after we’d gone to bed, there would be the occasional call from one of these birds. I'm usally quite happy to wake up to the dawn chorus, as I like to be out early to look for birds, especially when there are some good songsters around, but there's nothing beautiful about the calls of these birds.



Chaco chachalaca

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After breakfast we boarded ‘the Avocado’ and headed off back up the drive, to walk in another forest patch. As a safari vehicle ‘the Avocado’ has an advantage over SouthWild’s safari truck, in that the seats are raised on wooden platforms in a stepped arrangement so that they’re higher at the back. The major disadvantage, is that this truck seemed to have no suspension at all, making for a pretty uncomfortable ride.




The Avocado safari truck




On my last Brazil trip, I didn’t see a single red brocket deer anywhere, this time around I saw quite a lot of them, especially here at Pouso Alegre, both in the day and at night.



Red brocket deer




Although we did manage to see some good birds, we were still unable to find the beautiful helmeted manikin.



Straight-billed woodcreeper



Blue-crowned trogon


On the drive just short of the lodge, is a sort of narrow causeway with a wooden bridge in the middle of it, with a pond full of caiman and capybaras on either side. The road is raised quite high, we happened to reach this point, at just the same time as tourist rental car, that was coming from the lodge. The car driver not wanting to challenge our green Chevy truck, decided to back up, this should have been quite straight forward. Whether intentionally or by accident he put his foot down too hard and went backwards far too fast. We watched open mouthed, as his back wheel went off the road; the car turned slightly, causing the front wheel to also go over the edge and it then started to tip. As the right front wheel lifted up of the road, for a horrifying moment, it looked like the car would roll down the bank, into the pond with the driver and his wife inside it. Thankfully it didn’t and they both managed to safely get out, the car remained in this precarious position, looking like it could still roll at any moment.







Our driver followed by Paulo rushed over to try and help, I quickly snapped a couple of photos, intending to then go and join them. Although as the couple had already safely exited the car, I wasn’t sure my help was needed, since I had no idea, quite what any of us were going to do. Attempting to push the car back on to the road, didn't seem like a particularly good idea as it would be seriously dangerous if it rolled. While they inspected the situation, the driver in an act of recklessness, got back in started the car and put his foot down, unbelievably instead of rolling, to everyone’s immense relief, it shot backwards up onto the road again and safety. Paulo told us afterwards, that the only reason it hadn’t rolled, is because the back wheel had been caught against a large rock.


This trip seemed to be filled with vehicular incidents of one sort or another, but while there was something amusing about the previous ones, there was nothing to laugh about this time. It was only by sheer luck, that this couple did not end up severely injured or worse, seeing a couple attempting to accidentally commit suicide is not a sight I ever wish to see again on safari. I don’t know what the driver was thinking, when he got back into the car, but had it not been for the rock, when he put his foot down, the car could easily have shifted just enough to cause it to roll.


After this overly exciting end to our morning excursion, we decided to take another walk along the trail, out into the marsh, this time walking all the way to the end, although it was very hot. The trail ends just the other side of a small island of trees, amongst which is a huge fig tree. The path stops where it emerges from the trees, just to give you a view of the marsh on beyond, because it was much later in the morning and therefore very hot, we didn't see as much, as when we'd previously walked along this trail.



Fig tree



Black vulture



Rufous hornero

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I decided for the final night, to put my trail camera back roughly where I’d had it on the first night and to increase my chances of catching the tapir, to use the field scan feature. Trail cameras like my Bushnell Trophy cam, are very largely used by hunters for monitoring deer. If you place your camera on a tree at the edge of the field, it will capture deer that walk directly in front of it, but not ones that are too far away, to trigger the motion sensor. Bushnell has introduced this new feature, field scan to their cameras, this allows you to program the camera to switch on at a set time and automatically take photos/videos at whatever interval you set, until you’ve told it to switch off again. Depending on what interval you’ve set, the camera should capture animals that are too far away to be detected. The motion sensor still works during this time, so if an animal walks by, when it’s not filming automatically, it should still catch it. I set the Field Scan to switch on at about dusk and take a video every 5 minutes, until our departure from Pouso Alegre. This I felt, would be sure to catch the tapir if it came by, then if we weren’t lucky enough to see one at least my camera would. Although I hadn’t tried out field scan at home, so I wasn’t sure if I’d set it up right, and if I should have in fact, reduced the interval to say 2 minutes or even 1 minute. Throughout the trip, I’d had it set to take 30 seconds of video each time and no photos, 30 seconds of video every minute for roughly ten hours, would have been 600 videos. I think I had sufficient battery power and I had a large enough SD card, but having to spend 5 hours watching them all at home afterwards, in the hope that one or two had caught the tapir, would have been very boring. I wouldn't likely know if I'd succeeded, until I got home as this Bushnell camera, doesn't allow you to view the photos or videos it's taken.


After lunch, having heard that there was a troop of black-tailed marmosets, in a patch of woodland close to the lodge, I set out to find them. Walking on past various old farm buildings, it’s a long way to the fence where there’s a very simple gate, that takes you out into the grassland and woodland on beyond. Along the way I spotted the familiar crab-eating fox, who lives at the lodge, it was enjoying a siesta and taking the weight of its injured leg.



Crab-eating fox


Having seen some of these monkeys, at Pousada Piuval on my previous visit to the Pantanal, I knew as I looked around, just where I was likely to find them. Following the trail through an area of grassland, between two patches of woodland, I soon spotted the marmosets.



Black-tailed marmoset










What I didn’t know when I set off in search of these little monkeys, is that Paulo intended to take us for a walk along this same trail in the afternoon. I got to see the monkeys twice, which was no bad thing; this was really just a short circular walk through the woods. to look for not just the marmosets but various birds.



Male bare-faced currasow

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Once back at the lodge, it was back into the Avocado to try our luck at finding the tapir once more. We drove back out to the ‘tapir pond’, along the way we spotted a giant anteater, in roughly the same area, where we’d seen them the day before. As the light was fading and we’d already had great views, we largely ignored it and carried on, at the ‘tapir pond’, we enjoyed a final sundowner, but as expected the tapir did not appear, we only saw a pair of crab-eating foxes. I knew that there was little chance that we would see a tapir at the pond, but that there was a good chance that with luck, we would see one on the night drive. This proved to be the case, our luck was certainly in, this evening as we managed to find a tapir at a pool beside the road, we were able to follow it through the dark for a little while.



Brazilian/lowland tapir







Leaving the tapir we set off back to the Lodge, our time in Brazil was very nearly at an end, this was one night, that I really hadn’t been looking forward to. In order to make the BA flight from Sao Paulo back to London, we would have to leave Pouso Alegre at 04:00, to drive to Cuiaba airport. After dinner, we would only have a very short night in bed and then a drive through the dark back to the city. I thought as we approached the gateway back into the lodge garden, that our wildlife viewing was over, when suddenly there was a collective cry of “stop”!

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Nice cliffhanger @@inyathi. I'm really enjoying this report, it's making me think I need to get to Brazil sooner than later.

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To my utter astonishment, walking away from the road right next to the truck, just as we were about to go through the gate, back into the lodge garden and car park was a southern tamandua or lesser anteater.




Southern tamandua or lesser anteater




This is another mammal, that I had always wanted to see in the wild, however, I really didn’t think I would see one on this trip, least of all right at the eleventh hour. I knew we had a good chance of seeing its giant relative, but that to see a tamanadua, would require extra luck, as almost always with the harder to see species, that is what it came down to, luck, after only a few moments, the little anteater had entirely disappeared from view. Pouso Alegre certainly proved to be the place to see anteaters, like their giant cousins, tamanduas are diurnal as well as nocturnal, so it should be possible to see one during the day. I’ve not visited Central America, so I have not had a chance to look for the northern species. I’d hoped on my last Brazil trip, that I might have got lucky on a night drive, but the night drives on that trip at Piuval and SouthWild Pantanal, were pretty disappointing. Short of seeing a Pantanal cat, I couldn’t honestly have hoped for a better end to the trip. Such a satisfying end, perhaps made the early start to our journey home, slightly less painful.

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Before departing from Pouso Alegre and wrapping up this report, I’ve realised that I missed out a third compilation of trail cam videos.





Feral pig, horses, southern crested caracara, rheas


I was at first slightly disappointed, not have captured anything particularly exciting, when I’d had the camera positioned by the gate. Until that is I saw this whole group of rhea chicks go past, followed by their dad or at least his legs. We had seen a few rheas at Pouso Alegre, but I hadn’t expected to have a whole family walk through the lodge garden, straight in front of my camera. I’m sorry I wasn’t actually there to see them as they went by.



My experience at Pouso Alegre, shows that you can with a bit of luck on your side, see some of the harder to see mammals, without having them captured, rounded up or baited for you. I wasn’t lucky enough to spot an ocelot or a jaguarundi, but Pouso Alegre would seem to offer a very good chance of seeing these animals or certainly the former. Our guide Paulo, after all saw an ocelot in the lodge garden and I did see a pugmark only a few minute’s walk away. Visitors here do see ocelots here, most often I presume on night drives as @@jeremie can attest. I do slightly regret not doing a night drive on our first night here, the best thing to increase your chances of success is time and to go out at night as often as you can. If you were prepared to stay at pouso Alegre for perhaps a week and go out on a night drive every night, you’d probably have a reasonable chance of success.You’d have to be quite happy to go out during the day and do the same drives and walks several times in the hope that you might get lucky with some of the diurnal wildlife, happy that you wouldn’t have been better, to have spent half the time somewhere else. If you are really determined to try and see an ocelot and perhaps a tamandua and other animals that aren’t easy to find, this would be a reasonable strategy.



Certainly pouso Alegre does seem to be a very good place to see mammals, especially giant anteaters and tapirs. Besides SouthWild Pantanal Lodge and Pousada Piuval, I haven’t stayed at some of the other lodges along the Transpantaneira like Pousada Araras, so I don’t know how all of the alternative lodges compare, for mammal viewing.



During our time at Pouso Alegre, I heard howler monkeys a few times in the morning, when we were walking, but never saw them, but then I had seen them already. Alongside the marmosets, capuchins and howlers, that I saw on this trip, there is a fourth species of monkey in the Pantanal, Azara’s night monkey as its name suggests, it is entirely nocturnal. There are night monkeys at Pouso Alegre, we didn’t see any, I assume it is not impossible that you could see some on a night drive, but your best bet would have to be going on a night walk into the woods. Jaguars are apparently pretty rare here, so I presume if you knew where to go, it might be possible to go out on a night walk to try and find some of these monkeys. Jaguars are rather more common at SouthWild Pantanal, so walking around the woods there at night, might not be such a good idea. On my last visit, I'd bought an illustrated card of the mammals of the Pantanal, which I'd taken with me this time, as there isn't to my knowledge a good mammals field guide for South America, but it doesn’t have the night monkey on it, curiously the marmoset is missing as well. It's perhaps because the night monkey is not on this card, that it slipped my mind that there are night monkeys in the Pantanal, regrettably I didn't ask Paulo about the possibility of seeing them.



I really liked Pouso Alegre, it was for me in some ways the nicest of the places we’d stayed in the Pantanal, although maybe it was just because we were so lucky with anteaters, that I think this and because I hadn’t been before. Normally, when NatureTrek do this tour they visit Pouso Alegre first, partly because it’s one of the first lodges you come to on the Transpantaneira, but also because the accommodation is rather more basic, certainly compared to the Flotel’s suites. The rooms are (the one I had) quite small, with two single beds against the walls, a table and chair under a fly screen window, with wooden shutters. At the back was another very small room, with a table and shelves to put your luggage on, and off this the ensuite bathroom with loo, basin and shower. You have a choice of aircon or a ceiling fan to keep cool, the fan was a little noisy.



I have to say though, that the restaurant did let the place down a little bit. Like everywhere else we’d been, the food is self service. At SouthWild Pantanal and on the Flotel the buffet dishes are laid out on an ‘island’ so that you can walk around, taking food from both sides. Here the food is laid out on a long table up against the dining room wall, this meant that there was always a long queue for the food. Curiously on one occasion when I was helping myself to food, they removed the dish of plain rice to replace it, even though it wasn’t empty and probably still had enough rice for three or four people in it. Not wanting to wait and hold up the queue, I carried on and once the rice had reappeared pushed back in to the queue, to quickly take some. The place was very busy, when we were there, not only could you find yourself in a long queue for the food, but if you were at the back of it, you might find that one of the main dishes had actually run out. Not having quite enough of all of the food for all of your guests, is not too clever, they also seemed to have a bit of a shortage of coffee cups/mugs. However, the food much like everywhere else, was basic but pretty good. When one of the other guests, asked me what the desert was, I said I didn’t know, but that it was something very Brazilian and was sure to have half a bag of sugar in it. When it comes to food in Brazil you can guarantee, that you will be given rice and beans with every meal and that whatever is for desert will be extremely sweet.



At breakfast instead of a conventional toaster, they have a sandwich toaster, not very practical if you wanted regular toast, but as they served slices of cheese and ham, I was very happy to make myself cheese and ham toasties.



There was wine available, otherwise beers and sodas are available from a fridge, on a self service honesty system, take what you want and sign the book. We did also order a jug of Caipirinhas one night, they make it quite strong here.



On these kind of trips, I’m looking for 5 star wildlife, not 5 star food and accommodation, unless that is I'm being charged 5 star prices and I would rather not have to pay 5 star prices, so I’m quite happy, if things are a little basic and not necessarily as good as they could be. I liked Pouso Alegre despite its minor faults, if they hadn’t been pretty busy, maybe the restaurant, would have been better organised. The room for me was fine, I didn’t mind that it wasn’t more spacious, but I suppose if I’d been disappointed with the wildlife, I might not have liked it so much. This is clearly a great place for wildlife and particularly good for some of the Pantanal’s mammals, but also good for birds. On my last visit I went to Pousada Piuval and my impression afterwards, was that this place is much better for birds than mammals. It could be that I was unlucky at Piuval, I have just watched a video on YouTube of a giant anteater taken there. All I can say is that after my two trips my impression is that Pouso Alegre is better for mammals.



As you will have noticed from my trail cam videos, there are lots of horses at Pouso Alegre, you can go riding if you want to. We didn’t do this; although the horses didn’t look like they are mistreated and I‘m sure they’re not, they did look slightly underfed, perhaps this is a reflection of the poor quality of the pasture, in this part of the world. If you are very experienced riders, then you would quite likely find the riding very tame, if Pouso Alegre is like most tourist places that offer riding, then to avoid accidents they don’t like their horses, to get out of first gear. However, riding out on the grassland, I would guess that you might get to see some wildlife like coatis, crab-eating foxes, rheas and some other birds and if you are very lucky a giant anteater.


The proprietor of Pouso Alegre, Luis Vicente Campos is a herpetologist, usually at the end of dinner he would come into the dining room, carrying a large plastic dustbin with a snake at the bottom of it, to show to the guests. My efforts at photographing some of these snakes, weren’t a success; to my disappointment, they were the only snakes of any kind I saw the entire time.

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3rd September



Aside from seeing the tapir and the tamandua on the night drive, we’d been pleased to see a minibus coming to the lodge, we weren’t looking forward to having to get up in the small hours, but at least we knew we had a taxi. I’d programmed the field scan on my trail camera, to switch off at 04:00 but I’d already collected it and switched it all off by then. In a half asleep state, it would have been quite easy to forget it and leave it behind, but I’d left my camera bag open as a reminder and been careful to place my trail cam, somewhere I’d have no trouble finding it with my torch, in the pitch dark.



For most of the drive back to Cuiaba, it was entirely dark so there was no chance of spotting any more wildlife. As it was very early in the morning, we weren’t sure if all the restaurants at the airport, would be open, and also because we thought it might be cheaper than eating at the airport, we decided to visit a Subway, opposite the airport. I think the food at the airport, would probably have been better, but it was quite convenient to eat first, before checking in.



The flight back to São Paulo was uneventful. At Guarulhos International, finding somewhere to have lunch proved slightly harder than expected. There wasn’t a great choice of places to eat in the main part of the terminal, that we were in and it wasn’t obvious, that there were in fact more restaurants down by the departure gates. It’s always difficult to know, whether to risk walking all the way down to the gate, in case there’s nothing there and you then don’t have time to walk back. In this case we took the risk and it paid off, we found a good cafe/restaurant, just short of our departure gate; back in the main part of the terminal, we had not found any signs or maps, indicating that this would be the case. No matter which part of the aeroplane you are in, food always tastes better eaten on the ground, than in midair, so I was glad to have a good meal before boarding, fortunately we had plenty of time to do so.



It didn’t matter too much, having had excellent views of a tapir on our final night drive, but once I was back at home, I was able to check my trail cam, to see if it had as I’d hoped captured a last video of the tapir.



While it was still light, it had first caught a crab-eating fox.






Then in the middle of the night, it caught the tapir, if the tapir wasn’t still there, when I left my room to collect my camera for the last time, then I’m sure it wasn’t far away. Not the greatest video, but still nice to know that the tapir, wandering around the garden in the middle of the night.





Edited by inyathi
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Your description of what it was like staying at all the different lodges was very helpful. Thanks for that.

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A note on battery charging and electric sockets.



When you buy a new camera, certainly in the UK, the battery charger comes with a choice of two detachable power cords, one with a standard Type G square pin UK plug and one with two round pins, as is commonly used elsewhere in Europe. Many people might throw the second one away, as they don’t need it, but if you’re a regular traveller then you’ll want to put it away in a draw, with your other bits of travel kit, for when you’re visiting a country that uses this type of socket. Having had the sense to do that, don’t do what I did ahead of this trip to Brazil, find the power cord, but then at the last minute fail to pack it. When I arrived at my first hotel, I saw this socket and thought, it’s a good job I brought that power cord.





I then went through my bag and couldn’t find it, because as I quickly realised I'd left it behind :rolleyes:, this was particularly annoying as on my last trip, I had brought it. On that trip I’d known that Brazil had this type of socket, so I’d just brought the appropriate cord and left my UK one behind thinking, that I wouldn’t then need an adapter. In fact I’d forgotten that I did need an adapter on that trip, to plug in my Nexto PSD, this time I didn’t bring my PSD and just relied on having enough cards for all the photos, I might take. However, I knew I would need an adapter, in order to charge my iPad, my plan had therefore been to bring both power cords for my camera battery chargers, then if necessary I could charge two batteries at the same time. Instead I’d ended up with just the UK power cord, that I could only plug in with an adapter and stupidly the travel adapter I’d brought, can’t cope with these inset sockets. If you are travelling to Brazil and you need an adapter, make sure it is one that works with sockets like this. I was able to borrow and adapter, when I needed one so that didn’t matter. Although I use two Canon cameras, I didn’t in fact need to charge two batteries at once, I have enough spares, so it wouldn’t likely have mattered anyway. I ran my previous Little Acorn trail cam on rechargeable AA batteries, unfortunately the Bushnell Trophy Cam, doesn’t really work with rechargeables. The batteries I was using Sanyo Eneloops, are supposed to the best reachargeables available, but I guess the Bushnell, just uses too much power, because in the Bushnell these batteries have no life.


In my room at SouthWild Pantanal they had a combination of sockets, like the one above and also flat sockets, they are clearly aware of the problem, with people having the wrong type of adapter. Here I was able to use my travel adapter. On the Flotel as far as I can recall, I think they put adapters in the sockets to get around the problem, I didn’t have any trouble recharging on the Flotel.



Although most sockets are of the round pin type like this, some sockets do take flat pins. Following this trip I will get rid of the travel adapter, that I took to with me to Brazil and get one that should work anywhere in the world, whatever type of sockets they have.

Edited by inyathi
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Despite the awful weather at times, and some of the ethical issues surrounding how SouthWild guarantee their guests see the wildlife, this had been an amazing adventure and we’d seen an impressive array of wildlife.


My mammals list at the end of the trip was 24 species, I’ve shown the lifers in red.


Giant anteater

Southern tamandua

Brazilian three-banded armadillo

Nine-banded armadillo

Proboscis bat

Greater fishing bat

Brazilian tapir

Giant otter

South American coati

Crab-eating racoon

Crab-eating fox

Maned wolf

Black-tailed marmoset

Common marmoset

Black and gold howler monkey

Black-striped/bearded capuchin

Azara’s agouti


Brazilian rock cavy

Brazilian rabbit

Marsh deer

Red brocket deer




My bird list at the end was 188 species, not great but not too bad, considering this wasn’t a birding trip, rather than include the full list, the following are just my lifers, all but two of these were seen in Piaui.


Grey-headed kite

Janday parakeet

Yellow-faced parrot

Tropical screech owl

Horned sungem

White-wedged piculet

White-naped jay

Scarlet-throated tanager

Red-cowled cardinal

Pileated finch

Campo troupial


Had we tried to do some rather more serious birding up in Piaui, I’m sure we could have found a few more northeastern species. At Hyacinth Valley Camp, I would think you could do some good bird walks in the cerrado or just walking along some of the roads, in the early morning. If we’d been a birding group, Rafael could probably have tried to call in some species that aren’t that easy to see.


At Pouso Alegre, if we’d done a bit more serious birding in the forest patches with Paulo, we might have picked up a few extra species. As my last visit to Brazil had been a serious birding trip, I’d already seen a good selection of cerrado birds in the Chapada dos Guimarães NP, north of Cuiaba. I would think that I’d seen most of the Pantanal birds, save for some of the more difficult ones and the inevitable few, that we just happened to miss. Even with the best guide, you can’t expect to see every single species, there will always be a few that you miss. It would have been quite a challenge, to find a more than a couple of lifers, in the Pantanal. The weather really didn’t help, boating on the Cuiaba River, we didn’t spend much time looking at birds when it was raining, we just stopped very briefly for the few obvious ones we happened to spot.


Being within the cerrado region, Parnaiba Headwaters NP is covered by the bird book (WCS) Birds of Brazil: The Pantanal & Cerrado of Central Brazil, this is therefore the best book for the two areas, I visited on this trip. Because it doesn’t cover the whole country, it includes just 740 species, whereas Ber Van Perlo’s Birds of Brazil, covers some 1,800 species, this makes the Pantanal and Cerrado book a lot easier to use and the illustrations are in my view better. If you’re travelling to the Amazon as well as the Pantanal, then you’d want Van Perlo’s book. The WCS Pantanal/Cerrado book, is the first of a planned 5 books, the second volume on the Atlantic Forest of Southeast Brazil has recently been published. If you’re not too concerned about the weight, then if you’re visiting the Pantanal and the Atlantic Forest, you’d probably want to have volumes 1 and 2 of the WCS books. Since the first one was published in 2010 and second one only came out in English this year, it may sometime before the next 3 volumes appear. For the moment Van Perlo’s book, will probably be the best bet for the other regions of Brazil, that the WCS books don’t yet cover. There is an app/eBook version of Van Perlo’s book, I haven’t looked at it, as far as I know there aren’t eBook versions of the WCS books.


There still isn’t to my knowledge, a good field guide on the mammals of Brazil or of South America as a whole.


Thanks to everyone who commented, if you haven't been to South America or to Brazil yet, I hope I've persuaded you to put it on your list, even if you don't want go to SouthWild's properties, there are lots of other place to go like Pouso Alegre and plenty of spectacular wildlife to look for. :)

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

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