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Finally, the Pantanal. It was Worth the Wait.


Atdahl

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Thanks @@xyz99!

 

@@Atravelynn, thanks so much. I have enjoyed so many of your trip reports so I am glad that I can entertain you for once. I think we used to talk years ago on the Fodors forum (I am EDH_Traveler but haven't been out there in years).

 

No, the Caracara keys are a mystery. When I went back outside, they were gone. So, either the Caracara let itself into the next room or maybe a member of the staff picked them up...?

 

Also, a no on Africa. I want to go and I think that is top of the list now. So, maybe 2017 or 2018 hopefully.

 

Our trip was Sept 14 to 28 with the two days at the beginning and end being travel days. It seemed like a great time to go. We only had rain overnight and one morning in PJ. There was some smoke early in the morning but it went away and was more a gift for pictures than a nuisance thank goodness.

 

Alan

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Here is the report for day 3. This was quite possibly the best wildlife watching day we have every had...   http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2016/09/pantanal-day-3-porto-jofre.html

First off, I have to thank all the other Safaritalk members who have posted such great Pantanal trip reports over the years. I learned tons of information from folks like Janzin, Cheetah80, Treepol,

Thanks for the kind words all. I must say that seeing a Jaguar in the wild was extremely thrilling. They just have so much mystique and then when you actually see one in person and see how strong an

Atravelynn

EDH is in the recesses of my memory.

 

"Between the white shadows of the cattle and the dozens of fire flies that fluttered about it was a bit of a surreal experience and one we enjoyed immensely." Cool!

 

Day 9 had beautiful sights.

 

Where is the video of you making deep gulping sounds to soothe the (smelly) White Lipped peccaries?

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Excellent report and photos! Bringing back great memories of our time in Porto Jofre. I see that you saw Mickey! (the one-eyed Jaguar.) Good to know he's still holding fort.

 

Reading with interest the Barranco Alto report, maybe we'll get there on a return trip. It just seemed to complicated and expensive to go from Porto Jofre, but I'd thought we'd have to return to Cuiaba. Didn't realize you could get a charter flight directly from Porto Jofre--but that's awfully expensive too. Still...maybe next time...

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michael-ibk

You really had fantastic Jaguar sightings, I also do remember "Mick" - a really impressive male. And two Anacondas - terrific. Surprised to hear you lucked out on Giant Anteaters in the South, from past reports I had the impression they were pretty much a given there. Glad you had a sighting in the North.

 

Top report!

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Alexander33

@@Atdahl

 

Okay, you are really showing me up this year. You beat me to the punch with your Costa Rica report, and you've done it again now with Brazil. We were at Barranco Alto the first week of July, and, yes, due to a series of circumstances, I've not yet been able to prepare my report.

 

What I can say is that it appears you had some great sightings. Woodpeckers galore, and I am jealous of your shot of the Golden-collared Macaw. They never were very cooperative with us.

 

Just reading your report brings back such fond memories. Stefan, Lydia, Marina and Lucas. Sitting under that giant mango tree in the heat of the day with cool drinks and the company of the other guests, all simpatico. I'd return in a heartbeat, but in the meantime, your report is an able substitute.

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Thanks everyone, appreciate the kind words.

 

@@Atravelynn, I didn't record my attempts at a peccary call...too bad in hindsight since I am sure they would be worth a laugh. :)

 

@@janzin, yes flying straight from PJ to BA is expensive. But, at only a hour it is so much easier than driving back to Cuiaba, taking a commercial flight to Campo Grande and then transfering to BA. It's 1 hour vs close to 2 days I believe. So, it was a no brainer splurge for us. For a future trip, we might actually skip the North and do the Amazon instead coupled with the Southern Pantanal. I don't feel like we have unfinished business in the North but I feel we do in the South (Giant Anteater...)

 

@@michael-ibk, yes we were surprised at our poor Giant Anteater luck as well. But, everything else exceeded our expectations so much that we aren't too disappointed. We just need to try again!

 

@@Alexander33, BA is such a great place. We really didn't want to leave. They make you feel like family which is why we are giving serious consideration to a return trip...maybe even next year. Some reports are worth the wait. I am sure yours will be one of them :) .

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Atravelynn

Nice blue-crowned mot mot! The meat grabbing piranha is impressive, even enclosed in giant hands. Way to go!

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Another great day! I think that piranha would easily fit in my fish tank, lol.

 

I am definitely going to have to go to Barranco Alto next time...

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inyathi

@Atdahl

 

It looks like you had some great jaguar sightings and nice views of giant otters out of the water, I am very envious of your anacondas I’ve still not seen one.

 

Lucky sighting of a tayra, that’s an animal that’s not too easy to see, and seeing vampire bats that’s pretty cool. I think you might have everyone queuing up to visit Barranco Alto after this report, though maybe not so much for the bats.

I’m interested that in your list of cons for the PJ/PN Hotel that you mention the plastic wrapped towels, this was one of the things I really didn’t like when I stayed there on my first Brazil trip. I was careful to hang up my used towel so that they wouldn’t take it to the laundry but they took it anyway, leaving no option but to unwrap a fresh one. This is a completely pointless waste of plastic, and washing a towel after one use is in any case a ridiculous waste as well. As to the sealed water cups, I’ve never encountered these cups anywhere else in South America or the rest of the world they seem to be peculiarly Brazilian thing. I’m not sure why anyone came up with the idea, I can’t see what the advantage is over a bottle.

 

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@@janzin, I think that Piranha would have easily fit in a little gold fish bowl... :) . But, hey I did catch a Piranha..

 

@@inyathi, I have no problem bring Barranco Alto more business by talking them up. Heck, there are likely to get more of my business as well. I am adding a few more thoughts about BA below and may even include some cons (If I can think of any...). Regarding the plastic wrapped towels. We only encountered that with towels that were washed. Meaning, if we hung up our bath towels after use they were still there the next day so we didn't have to unwrap new ones. Sounds like that wasn't always the case. So, maybe they are growing in their efforts to be more "green" albeit slowly... And, like you said, I certainly don't miss those little sealed water cups and are glad we used the "secret" filtered water instead. I think I mentioned in my Report that I talked to Roger about the water situation and he said the owners are thinking about moving towards refillable filtered water. I hope they do that soon to save on more plastic in some landfill or worse yet the river.

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SafariChick

@@Atdahl just finished reading Day 10 - continuing to enjoy the great photos and commentary (even the Seinfeld references!) That bat photo-bombing the mama and baby (aw!) is pretty darn special!

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I only have one more day to post so before I do that I thought I would say a few words about Barranco Alto like I did about Pouso Alegre and the Hotel Pantanal Norte. Hopefully, I can read my notes...

 

We stayed in the "yellow" room which is in the original building that contains 4 rooms and a huge common area (where we enjoyed our nightly cocktails). The room was great, with ample space to store stuff and a large bathroom that worked flawlessly. We had a king bed that was very comfortable. Not too hard...not too soft. This was by far the most luxury we experienced of the 3 rooms we had on the trip so it was great to do BA last. The yellow room even had a small screened in porch that looked over the treed area behind the lodge. We saw a huge flock of Guira Cuckoos hunting on the ground out there one day. They looked like mini velociraptors stalking around...it was fun to watch.

 

Anyway, the room came with a flashlight (rechargeable) and had air conditioning that we used sparingly to cool off after an excursion. The ceiling fan was more than enough to keep us cool at night. The outlets were dual US/Europe (I believe). Meaning they were for two round prongs AND the flat US two pronged plugs. No adapter needed for my US electronics.

 

The common area has tons of comfortable furniture and lots of reading material including some field guides. By the way, we never heard our neighbors and all 3 of the other rooms were always full. So, the sound proofing must be pretty good.

 

BA has another building which is newer that contains two rooms. I didn't go in that building so I am not sure how much it differed from our building.

 

Here are some of the highlights I wrote in my notes:

  • Communal dining was great. Not only are Marina and Lucas great to talk with (ask them about how they built the ranch...it's fascinating). I swear they are so talented. I was in awe at everything they have done and continue to do.
  • The food was amazing. There is less choice than our other lodges but there were also a lot fewer guests. But, there was still always a choice and everything I had was great. Try the wrapped chocolates...Mmmmmmm.
  • The guides still get excited about spotting the wildlife. This was great to see and not something that we see from a lot of guides. While they always put our interests first, they were all thrilled to see Tapir and the other more rare wildlife as much as we were.
  • Stefan (who is a freelance guide but works mainly at BA was outstanding). Definitely worth the price of a private guide. He would wait on us hand and foot if we let him. Better yet, he was a great spotter with super knowledge of the area flora and fauna. He was also just a nice guy to be around and talk with (There is a video in my upcoming final post where you can here him talking to the peccaries :) ). The rest of the staff was great too. We had excellent excursions and conversations with Lydia and Claudia. Stefan even hand made us sandwiches for our trip home since we were leaving before lunch.
  • So, we had a super early arrival (8:30AM) and pre-lunch departure where we would miss lunch. But, neither was a problem at all for BA. No extra charge for arriving early or getting a packed lunch to go (It still bugs me that Chan Chich in Belize charged us for a packed lunch on the day we left...but I digress). It seemed that no request was unreasonable for them to handle.
  • All the other guests that came and went were super interesting. That's one of the great things about a place like BA...it attracts people just like us. It was great to trade stories of what people saw or even where else in the world they have been.
  • The last note I have is that "Barranco Alto is a special place". I think that sums up our opinion.

 

Cons:

  • I can't think of one. Everything was great. The wifi was quite spotty in our room so maybe that's the one thing I will say. But, we stayed basically unplugged so that didn't matter to us at all. Wifi isn't important to us on vacation.

 

Barranco Alto ranks at the top of the list of places where we have stayed (OK maybe tied with Bosque del Cabo in Costa Rica). :)

 

I would have no hesitation to go there again and as we were leaving I was already planning an itinerary in my head for a return visit that would include visiting Christalino Jungle Lodge in the Amazon and also another lodge in the south Pantanal...Baia das Pedras with a stop back at Barranco Alto to wrap things up. Anyone want to join in on that fun..!?

 

 

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Livetowander

Loved the photo bombing bat, LOL!

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I loved the entire report - so much, that I am sure the Pantanal will be the destination for either 2017 or 2018. As of now, my top destinations in terms of wildlife are Costa Rica and South Africa. This one seems to be as good (or even better?). Can't way to see for myself.

 

I can't pick favorites, your pictures are all amazing, the stories and descriptions wonderful and I'm ready to go back and start reading it all over again! Thank you!

 

I will have to show this to my husband, but need a way to edit out the bat pictures, LOL.

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Alexander33

@@Atdahl

 

You really did pack in a lot of special sightings each day. Love your photo of the Blue-crowned Motmot. We did not see any during our week there.

 

We did come across a tayra -- a speed devil just like yours. And way too fast for my camera! Another photographic goal.

 

I totally agree with your assessment of Barranco Alto. Definitely a place for return visits. I don't do many of those, but I could spend a lot more time at Barranco Alto. Cristallino Lodge is on my want list. I will have to check out Baia das Pedras -- not familiar with it -- yet!

 

As a side note, I also agree with your inclusion of Bosque del Cabo in Costa Rica as one of those special places deserving of repeat visits. We are going back in January -- the first time we've become so attached to a place that we booked a return almost as soon as we had concluded our initial stay.

 

Can't wait to see how your last day at Barranco Alto unfolded.

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Catching up on my trip report reading... what a great first day!

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Thanks everyone.

 

@@SafariChick, ah...thanks for getting the Seinfeld references. There are just so many classic moments from that show it's hard not to think about them in everyday life

 

@@Alexander33, yes BdC is great. We have been there 4 times and finally went somewhere else in Costa Rica this past spring. But, BdC is on the radar again in the future

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OK, time to wrap up this report. The last day took a while longer since it's really a 1 1/2 days and I edited together some video at the end to capture some of the behavior we saw and all the wonderful sounds.

 

The conclusion:

 

http://focusedonnature.blogspot.com/2016/09/pantanal-day-11-barranco-alto-and-home.html

 

Alan

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kittykat23uk

I've only just got to the end of the Pantanal north section. What tremendous luck you had!! Giant anteater and Tapir were sorely missing from our list. Although we did get the ocelot, jaguarundi, Tayras and Tapeti as well as a few Jaguars on our trip out with Julio back in '09 (not as many as you though, so it's good to see the wildlife is thriving there). Lovely to hear that Carmindo and Maria are well. We stayed with them, camping in their garden. Their pacu stew was...an experience!

 

I agree with everything you said about Julio his philosophy is exactly as you described. Did he regale you with his guitar of an evening? He certainly did with us. We had a good old sing-a-long to Bon Jovi's classics over a few caipirinhas! In my trip report there's some pics of Carmindo's place and of him, Maria and Julio in case anyone is curious. :D

 

Looking forward to reading more and if anyone is interested in planning something fro 2018 let me know! This has got me keen to go back again, it's been too long! But next year for me is full already :(.

 

Jo

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Livetowander

Very nice job with the photos and I loved the sounds of the different birds on the video.

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Alexander33

@@Atdahl

 

Ah, and then you had to go torture me with the video! :). I'm most mesmerized by the sounds - those noisy chachalacas, if I recall correctly, so evocative. I'm ready to go back right now. And you saw tapir. We missed them again. Gives us a reason to return. What a great trip you had and what a great trip report you've shared with us.

Edited by Alexander33
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