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Critters and Caipirinhas in Brazil


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Too funny about the Safaritalk room!  That baby anteater - jealous!!! No I don't think there is anything much cuter. You got such great shots!

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Absolutely love the Giant Anteater and baby - fantastic sighting.

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Wonderful pics. Thanks for sharing @Atdahl. I've started to read Lydia's first book "Die Supernasen" during our stay at Barranco Alto. It was fan pur. Unfortunately for all of you it's written in German. I hope you had a great time being out with her on a game drive. 

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Thanks everyone.  That Giant Anteater encounter ranks in our top 5 for sure.


@xyz99, no you didn't miss anything I have failed to mention the dates.  We were in Brazil from mid August to early September this year.  Our previous trip was late August which was much warmer that this trip.  But, the mixture of cool and hot weather this time brought out more wildlife in our opinions.


@Botswanadreams,  I have always wanted to read Lydia's book but there are no plans to get an English version published I guess.  She was great company on the game drive and at meals too.  She is a wealth of information about all sorts of topics.



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Brazil Day 11 - Barranco Alto


We woke up and it was chilly again but it warmed up as the day went on.  It was another clear day.


After the usual early breakfast we headed out on a game drive and walk combination.  Once we got on foot we could really see all the Armadillo holes everywhere.  Here are a couple examples:

Armadillo Holes


The walk and drive were nice but we didn't have any incredible encounters like yesterday.  Still, I was able to get a few photos.


Scaly-headed Parrot:

Scaly-headed Parrot


Red and Green Macaw:

Red and Green Macaw


Red and Green Macaw Closeup


We encountered a huge group of White-lipped Peccaries that didn't pay us much attention:

White-lipped Peccaries


Hyacinth Macaw in Flight:

Hyacinth Macaw in Flight


Gray Brocket Deer:

Gray Brocket Deer


Crimson-crested Woodpecker:

Crimson-crested Woodpecker


Here is a look at the Barranco Alto truck we used for all the game drives.  It was comfortable and provided a good elevated view of the surroundings:

Barranco Alto Game Drive Vehicle


Golden-collared Macaw:

Golden-collared Macaw


Blue and Yellow Macaws flying by:

Blue and Yellow Macaw Flyby


Rusty-backed Antwren:

Rusty-backed Antwren


I did a tick inspection when we got back to our room and had 6 of them on me!  Karen had none and I don't remember Bill and Peggy picking up many the whole trip.  So, I don't know why they liked me.  I even put deet around my ankles but they didn't seem to care.


Lunch was again beef which was getting a bit old now.  That was 4 meals in a row where beef was the main dish and it wasn't even that good either unlike other beef we have had in Brazil.


During the breaks before and after lunch, I wandered around the lodge grounds and only found one critter to photograph.  The same Black and White Tegu that liked to hang out near the river:

Tegu Closeup


Here is a look at the corral:

Barranco Alto


In the afternoon, we did a game drive from around 3:45 to 6:45.  It too, was pretty quiet:


Little Blue Heron:

Little Blue Heron


Gray Brocket Deer:

Gray-brocket Deer


One of the typical lakes at BA:

Lake at Barranco Alto


Snail Kite:

Snail Kite


We stumbled upon some Water Buffalo that were not very happy to see us.  They moved the young ones to the middle of the herd while the adults gave us the old stink eye:

Protective Water Buffalo


Red and Green Macaws:

Red and Green Macaws


Snail Kite with a....crab:

Snail Kite with Crab


We did get lucky enough to see a Capybara with babies nursing:

Capybara Nursing


As we were returning to the lodge after dark and spotlighting, we drove towards the tree with all the cormorants.  As we were approaching it I jokingly chanted  "Don't poop...don't poop...don't poop".  Then we drove under them and something "splatted" on the seat between Bill and myself.  "Ah, Crap!".  We had Stefan stop the truck to take a look at the damage.  The seat took the brunt but both Bill and I were in the splash zone.  My clothes and arm got some of the splashing but our cameras were OK so that's the important thing.  Luckily we had some napkins and cloths that we could use to clean up a bit.  I KNEW those Cormorants were up to no good!


We got back to the lodge and REALLY needed a drink so we asked Stefan to put a little extra Cachaca in our Caipirinhas. Peggy and Bill just added shots of Cachaca to coke which was pretty good apparently.


When I heard the drinks get delivered to the common room I went out there to find one of the other guides trying to catch a bat that got in.  He was throwing a towel up and trying to catch it.  Eventually, he did and he asked if we wanted to see it.  I grabbed my camera and just as I was about to take a picture the bat squirmed and in the process bit the guide.  We felt pretty guilty since he was only holding it for us.  He turned out to be OK but did have to get precautionary shots later which is too bad.


Anyway, dinner was a fun affair thanks to the extra Cachaca in our drinks.  Plus, the main course was fish stew instead of beef and it was really good. At dinner, Stefan and I traded bad puns and jokes.  Stefan knows 4 languages and saves up all his English puns for English speaking guests which meant we got 9 days of his humor which was awesome.


Unfortunately for Stefan, when I saw that there were no dishes for the Pumpkin Compote dessert I decided to help out by grabbing the bowl of compote and bringing it to the table.  Well, I didn't know that he had come up beside me and when I turned to head towards the table Stefan got "Compoted" on his shirt and pants. I guess that's better than "composted" but either way I apologized profusely and will do so once again.  Sorry Stefan!


So, even though it wasn't served tonight, I still acted like a "manioc".


One thing I have forgotten to mention is that each night around dinner, something has come to eat the mangos under the tree in the courtyard by the restaurant.  There were lights there so we could see what came each night.  On night one, there was a Crab-eating Fox.  Last night, there was a huge group of White-lipped Peccaries.  But tonight, there was nothing.  Maybe we were a bit too loud at dinner...


Back in the room I found one more tick and this one had actually bit me.  But, I won't tell you where. You will have to guess the location based on the name I gave the tick;  Ian McCrackin.

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Wonderful photos @Atdahl  How close were you to that caiman?

Loved the anteater and baby...so glad you "went back"!

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Excellent report and photos @Atdahl.  The lake on #55, isn't it bahia America?  Glad to hear that Lydia is doing well.  Is Fernando still there and were Lucas and Marina present when you were there?  Concerning the Red room, if it's in the old building, it must have been my room too during one of my stays.

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@Ginny, thanks.  Almost all my wildlife photos were taken with my trusty Nikkor 200-500mm lens.  So, there wasn't a need to get that close to wildlife including the caiman.  So, I was maybe 10 yards away from it in that particular photo.  Yes, we are happy we went back as well.


@Bush dog, thank you too.  I don't remember (or even knew) any of the lake names so that's entirely possible.  We didn't meet  Fernando this trip and I am not sure we did 2 years ago either.  Lucas and Marina have moved back to Europe (Switzerland I think).  So, the lodge is run by Marina's sister Corrine and her husband Ben.  Not much has changed though which is a good thing.



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For ocelots, go to Fazenda San Francisco in the south. @kittykat23uk and I will write about it in our report. It's quite different than the other places like Baia das Pedras and Barranco Alto - much bigger and more touristy - but if you want to see ocelot, it's a great place for it!


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Brazil Day 12 - Barranco Alto


We were up at the usual early time thanks to "Lionel" and some of his buddies.  But, we didn't mind since breakfast was early anyway.  Today was our last full day at BA so we were hoping it would be a good day.  The weather was clear and crisp in the morning but it was downright hot in the afternoon.  So, the cold front that had come through must have moved on.


The morning activity was another boat trip on the Rio Negro.  The light was really good this time of the morning and as always, Stefan was waiting for us.


Getting Ready for a Boat Trip


This plan was to go up a different part of the river today and I had this funny feeling it would be a "Great" boat trip:


Rio Negro


Before we left, a few Buff-necked Ibis were enjoying the nice morning light:

Buff-necked Ibis


Right away we encountered a Neotropical Otter that was fishing successfully for its breakfast:

Neotropical River Otter


The Kingfishers were out in force as well:

Amazon Kingfisher


Ringed Kingfisher with Fish


This isn't a very good picture, but I am including it because this Ringed Kingfisher seemed to have eyes that were bigger than its mouth.  I am not sure how it was going to eat this eel that it caught:

Ringed Kingfisher with Huge Eel


A bit later on, we found another Neotropical Otter.  This one didn't pay much attention to us as it swam along the shore and occasionally left the water to roll around and scent mark the sand.


River Otter Scent Marking


River Otter Scent Marking


Now the Other Side...


Notice the wound at the end of its tail in this picture.  Stefan surmised that it was caused by Piranha.  They are reason # 432 why we didn't swim in the river:


Neotropical River Otter


As usual, most sandy banks had a Yacare Caiman on them:

Yacare Caiman Sunning


We were surprised to encounter a Crap-eating Fox out in the morning.  Like most of the other wildlife we encountered, it didn't pay any attention to us:

Crab-eating Fox


Here is a look at the Rio Negro:

The Rio Negro


Boat-billed Heron:

Boat-billed Heron


Here is one of the only times that Toco Toucans sat still long enough for a photo:

Toco Toucans


After the scare a day earlier, the Capybara had wised up and hired a bodyguard:

Capybara with Bodyguard


Male Capybara


Blue and Yellow Macaws:

Blue and Yellow Macaw Fly By


BA has a pair of Hyacinth Macaws that nest there each year.  This year I had a hard time getting pictures of the two together.  The guides thought that the female was on the nest which is why she was seldom seen.  So, I had to settle for a photo of only one of the adults:

Hyacinth Macaw


Towards the end of the boat trip, we hiked a bit in the forest to a lake to see what was around.  We did find a Blue-crowned Trogon and a few other birds but that was about it.  None of the birds posed nicely for photos.


Lunch was roast chicken today and it was delicious.   We remembered all the meals being excellent during our last visit so it was nice to experience that again.


After lunch I did my usual mid-day walk around the grounds.  Yesterday, I saw nothing.  But, since you never know what might be out, I still did it today.  That was a good call.


I had walked to the restaurant to refill my water bottle and saw some movement in the garden.  It was a Six-banded Armadillo.  It stopped a couple times to look in my direction but I was pretty sure I was downwind.  So, it continued about its business allowing me to get some photos. I LOVE these guys!:


Six-banded Armadillo


Six-banded Armadillo


I decided to leave the Armadillo and walk back to the room to tell Karen to come out.  Before I got too far, I ran into Ben and I mentioned the Armadillo.  That's when he turned and pointed out a Giant Anteater that was just walking into some bushes along the river.  Decisions...decisions.  Well, first I went and grabbed Karen.  I hollered for Bill and Peggy too but there was no sign of them. So, we went back to the Armadillo so that Karen could enjoy it briefly.  Once she was appeased, we headed down towards the Giant Anteater.  Since it was 3PM now, no one was around and the light was pretty harsh.   We stayed downwind and in the shadows as much as possible, as we looked into the bushes to try to figure out where it was.  We finally heard it, then spotted it.  That allowed us to take a position not too close as it appeared out of the bushes:


Giant Anteater


Like almost all the other Giant Anteaters we saw during the trip, this one paid no attention to us. We did stay quiet and downwind which helps.  It even stopped to scratch an itch:


Giant Anteater Itch


We followed it at a respectable distance but staying downwind meant taking photos into the light which wasn't ideal:


Another Giant Anteater


It trotted across the grass and headed towards the corals:

Tracking the Giant Anteater



Just before it headed into the palm trees, we got one last good look:

Giant Anteater



Our afternoon drive started around 3:30PM.  As I was sitting in the back of the truck waiting to start, a group of Guira Cuckoos came to get a drink at the small pond by the lodge:

Guira Cuckoos Drinking


I think we used up all our great encounters for the day already since the drive was pretty quiet.  But, we did manage to see some interesting wildlife.


Pale-crested Woodpecker:

Pale-crested Woodpecker


Feral Piglets:

Feral Piglets


Rusty-collared Seedeaters:

Rusty-collared Seedeaters


Red-legged Seriema:

Red-legged Seriema


We also had another Reg-winged Tinamou that wasn't afraid of us at all.  It sauntered around the truck just as the sun was going down:

Red-winged Tinamou


Red-winged Tinamou


We had another Tatu (Six-banded Armadillo) but it was pretty shy:

Shy Armadillo


We encountered another Giant Anteater with a baby at dusk and then later right before getting back to the lodge in the dark, we drove past Clawdia with her baby.  I didn't even bother taking pictures of either encounter.  Before reaching the lodge we had a couple more critters.


Great Potoo:

Great Potoo


Brazilian Rabbit:

Brazilian Rabbit


We once again enjoyed Caipirinhas before dinner but we missed the ones that Rita made which were much better.


Dinner was once again...beef.   And, once again, it wasn't very good.  But, the pasta and cooked carrots were good. As we ate, a group of cows somehow got into the area under the mango tree so we watched them as we chatted.  It wasn't the most memorable meal of the trip for sure. But, what was memorable is that I was tick free today.  Yeah!



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Wonderful sightings in BA grounds. Great photos of the armadillo and anteater.

The boat trip looks very enjoyable, excellent views of the otter.

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Great shot of the tapeti!  We saw one too but it did not stick around sadly! 

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It is spectacularly unfair the amount you have seen on this trip and I know you're not even done! The caracara with the egret leg was incredible to see and you got coatis and tamanduas!! 

And how am I supposed to go on reading when I died of jealousy at the baby anteater sighting?! Those are the best baby anteater pics I've ever seen! The cuteness is through the roof! :wub:


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Fantastic armadillo and anteater pictures. Like the toucans in the tree as well.

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Of all your great sightings, would you believe the one I’m most jealous of is the Pale-crested Woodpecker?  I’ve long wanted to see one, and on two trips have missed it. Your photo is about as good as one could get. 

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Thanks everyone!


@monalisa, yeah it was REALLY hard deleting pictures of the Giant Anteater encounter.  I took close to 300 photos I believe and saved about 25 of the best ones.  But, deleting those 275 was HARD :)


@Alexander33, well as long as you are jealous of one ^_^.  I am sure you had some great sightings as well.  We actually saw a ton of cool birds and over 125 lifers.  The birds in the Atlantic forest areas are just fantastic.  Wait until I get to the Rio leg of the trip :).

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These pics are fantastic!  I believe that's a "crab eating fox" :D


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@gatoratlarge, wow that's TOO funny!  I totally missed that typo and so did my "editor" wife.  We enjoyed it so much that I am going to leave it the way it is...cause it makes me chuckle.  Thanks for pointing that out. :)

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Brazil Day 13 and 14 - BA to Campo Grande to Rio


We were leaving Barranco Alto (and the Pantanal) at 10AM today.  So, after the usual early breakfast, we had some time to take a little walk once all the packing was done.


Red-shouldered Macaw:

Red-shouldered Macaw


Burrowing Owl:

Burrowing Owl


Red and Green Macaws:

Red and Green Macaw Flyby


Laughing Falcon:

Laughing Falcon


We also encountered two different Six-banded Armadillos both of which were digging holes.  So, instead of taking pictures, I took video of them both.  I will be editing all the video and sharing it at the end of this trip report.  So, consider that a teaser...


Before I talk about our transfer out of the Pantanal, I will share some thoughts on Barranco Alto.  I have already mentioned that this was our second trip to BA and after a fantastic first trip, our expectations were justifiable high.


The wildlife at BA was once again tremendous.  We saw no Tapirs this time but many Giant Anteaters and the experience with Clawdia was one of our best wildlife encounters ever.  The many Six-banded Armadillos were also a highlight as were all the spectacular birds.  It really is an amazing place.


The staff (Stefan, Claudia, and Lydia) were tremendous as always.  There is nothing they won't try to do for you if you asked and they are all fascinating to talk with.


The new managers Ben and Corrine were nice but we only met Corrine briefly.  Ben was around a little but they do have two young kids so they can't be with the guests at all times.  The best thing is that they really haven't changed anything in the two years since our last visit.  It is mostly all top notch and I would recommend a visit to any nature lover in a heartbeat.


We do have a few criticism worth mentioning; one is minor but the other is more significant.  The first is that beef 4 meals in a row and for 5 of 8 lunches/dinners is a bit much even if the beef was really good which it wasn't.  All the non beef meals were excellent. We never had anything but fantastic and varied meals two years ago so maybe we just got unlucky this trip.


The second is that last time BA handled all the transfers for us. They booked them and we paid BA for them.  It doesn't seem like they do that anymore.  They did put us in touch with the transfer companies but we had to communicate to them and pay them directly (incidentally, Baia das Pedras took care of our transfer to the Pantanal and to BA).   Originally, we wanted to fly out instead of drive.  But, the airline company that BA put us in touch with would only communicate in Portuguese.  So, I used Google translate which worked out OK.  Except, the airline could not confirm if all our bags would fit for the 4 of us.  They just never really answered that question (in Portuguese) to our satisfaction.  So, rather than risk having baggage issues on the day of the flight out, we had to book a ground transfer.  In hindsight, we saved a lot of money doing this but that transfer out was NOT very good as you will see in a bit.


Now seems a good time to mention that, during our stay, Stefan had placed a motion sensor camera on a trail that he thought would be a good place to capture some wildlife.  Since returning home, Stefan informed us that Claudia saw something that she thought was an Oncilla.  So, he moved the camera to that spot hoping to get a picture of it.  After a month, he sent us some of the pictures and they are too good to keep to ourselves.  There was no Oncilla unfortunately, but with Stefan's permission, here are some of the other shots:














You know I had to sneak another Giant Anteater into this report...right!



It was tough saying goodbye to Stefan who had been an exceptional guide and companion the last 9 days in the Pantanal.  Not only does he know the flora and fauna of the Pantanal but he is also a joy to travel and talk with.  He's like the brother I never had and he will be missed.  So, after a round of hugs and goodbyes we were ready (sort of ) to leave.


That brings us to 10AM when this pickup truck pulls in front of the lodge.  "That can't be our transfer vehicle can it" I said.  "Yes, that's it", I was told.  They proceeded to load all our luggage in the back which did fit fine.  But, despite the fact that all of us are thin, there was very little room in the backseat and poor Peggy was sitting in the middle which wasn't really a seat at all.  If any of us had been overweight there is no way we would have fit.  I was given the passenger seat since I was the tallest but my knees were up against the dashboard.


This was going to be an uncomfortable 6 to 7 hour drive!


Our driver was introduced as Va Va but he didn't speak any English so there was no easy way to communicate with him.  Unfortunately, I quickly gave him the nickname "Va Va Vroom" because he obviously never met an accelerator pedal he didn't slam to the floor.  The first hour was on horrible roads/grass/sand and all of us were getting slammed against different parts of the car when big bumps occurred.  We finally got him to slow down for the big bumps after some gasps and cursing but it was a drive that all of us would rather forget.


The worst part is that not only did Va Va Vroom not slow down for any wildlife we saw (we only saw one distant Giant Anteater) but on the gravel road he was going so fast that he didn't have time to stop when some Guira Cuckoos flew down to the road in front of us.  One didn't make it back up in time and slammed into the windshield right in front of me.  That is NOT what I wanted my last wildlife experience in Pantanal to be but it was unfortunately.


Since I was in the front seat, I volunteered to open the 20+ gates we encountered along the way.  This was nice because it gave me a chance to stretch my legs but it was also very dusty so I was filthy when we got to Campo Grande.


The only good part of this whole fiasco is that he drove so fast that we got to Campo Grande in 6 hours and that included a stop for at least a half hour at Rancho do Pescador for lunch and souvenirs. This place is off the paved highway right after Aguiduana and is recommended for souvenirs.  BA packed a light lunch for us so we didn't eat there but Va Va Vroom did.


As I was writing this report and reliving the whole experience I got a bit pissed off again so I looked through my email to try to find the name of this company.  It turns out it is Vava Tours.  So, Va Va Vroom must be the owner.  Based on our experience, I would stay away from this company in the future.  I did tell Ben and Corrine about the bad transfer and they were not happy either.  They said they talked with Va Va and won't use him in the future if he drives like that again.


OK, enough negativity.  Back to good times!


Our hotel in Campo Grande was the Hotel Prime Deville again and we enjoyed it again.  I would recommend it.  They had good food even though service was a bit slow sometimes and they messed up Karen's margarita once (don't mess with Karen's booze!).  The rooms were nice and comfortable and room service was very good.


We know from past conversations with Stefan that not only is he an accomplished photographer but he is also an outstanding artist.  He told us that some of his work was on display at an art museum in Campo Grande.  As it just so happens, that museum (MARCO, the Contemporary Art Museum of Mato Grosso do Sul)  was in the park near our hotel.  So, the next morning before our flights to Rio, we walked to the park to check out his exhibit.  Just as we thought, Stefan's artwork is fantastic and if you are interested in knowing more about it, feel free to contact him here http://www.stefangrol.com/


Stefan gave me permission to include some photos of his exhibit but they don't do it justice.  It is all about reflections of the Pantanal:








I guess I need to stop talking about Stefan (darn it) before people start suspecting a "bromance" is in the making.


Later on, our flights to Rio were uneventful. I said "flights" because you can't fly direct to Rio from Campo Grande.  You have to transfer in Sao Paulo.  That, plus the loss of an hour, put us in Rio in the late afternoon.


We had never been to Rio before but I knew it was a very picturesque city. So, I had my trusty Sony point and shoot camera ready in case there were any decent shots before we landed.  There were:


Rio from the Air


Rio from the Air


Upon landing we grabbed a taxi that fit all 4 of us and 20 minutes (and R$60) later we pulled up to the Arena Copacabana Hotel.  That's right, we were staying across from the famous Copacabana beach.  Naturally, we splurged for ocean view rooms:


Copacabana Beach from Our Hotel


We headed down for drinks and dinner at around 5PM.  We were the only ones there until about 7PM when others started to show up.  Most people eat later in Brazil but it's hard for us to break our habits and we were tired from a long travel day and wanted to get to sleep early.


Well, that was easier said than done since our only gripe about this hotel was its elevators.  Not only were they small but you needed to use your key to activate them to go up.  This wouldn't be that bad by itself but the doors closed immediately after someone exited.  So, if you didn't push past them as they were coming out, the doors would close and you couldn't get in.  Needless to say not only did we miss getting on the elevators a few times, but a few times we rode them past our floor because if you didn't press your floor at exactly the right time after using your key the elevator didn't register your floor.


So, before going to bed tonight we got a scenic tour of the hotel from the inside of the elevator.  Once we finally got it to stop at our floor, we exited and hit the sack.




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On 10/25/2018 at 1:03 AM, Atdahl said:

I took close to 300 photos I believe and saved about 25 of the best ones.  But, deleting those 275 was HARD :)


You are certainly stronger than I. I would have moved the top 25 to a folder called "best", and the remaining 275 would live in a folder called "culled" for all eternity. What if you need the slightly varied angles later?? What if there's something you haven't noticed yet in those photos?


Come to the digital hoarding dark side.. you know you wanna :D


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@Atdahl again beautiful pics and wonderful writing too. Thanks for sharing.   

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@Atdahl That's a shame about the transfer! We used a different company for all our transfers which was much better than you describe, I'm surprised they didn't steer you to that one (will discuss in our own report). SUSPECT a bromance is brewing? I think that ship has sailed! Definitely already brewed from what I can tell!

@monalisa had to laugh at your post because you sound just like me. I delete the clearly blurry photos but then I make a "best of" folder and then still keep most of the other ones also ha ha. 



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@Atdahl I will have to fight you for Stefan you keep that up you know! But seriously,  he is a lovely guy and I was certainly sad to be moving on! 


As for our own transfers our one from BDP to BA was arguably a lot less comfortable than anything you experienced! 


Most of our other car journeys were also rather cramped in the back, with 3 passengers there. Thankfully with the BA to san francisco farm one we ended up in a convoy which meant that one of our group travelled in the second car for the majority of the journey.


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@Atdahl I really enjoyed visiting BA again through your trip report. Great photos and engaging writing. I also enjoyed reading about the other places you visited.

Shame about the transfers- it was certainly very convenient when BA arranged them.

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@monalisa, I must resist the calling of the digital dark side.  If I don't I will fill up hard drives and back up drives way too much.  May the digital deleting force be with me...:)


@Botswanadreams, thank you!


@kittykat23uk,  I can't say I have had a comfortable transfer in a long time really.  The vehicles in Borneo weren't made for someone of my height and the ones in Brazil weren't much better.  We will see how Kenya is in Feb.  I look forward to reading all your transfer adventures soon.  Soon...right? :)  Oh, and regarding Stefan, you CAN'T have him.  :D


@TonyQ, thank you for the kind words.  Yes, transfers were much better when BA did them.  It appears they have changed this policy and won't book them for people anymore.  I did include this minor gripe in my Tripadvisor review and this was their response to that portion  "From our experience we have found customers have more flexibility and fewer delays in communication going direct to the transfer company, this also keeps the costs down for customers."  That was certainly not our case since the transfer company only communicated in Portuguese.  But, the trip was outstanding despite some transfer issues.



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