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trip report--July 2019 in the Pantanal of Brazil!

trip report--July 2019 in the Pantanal of Brazil!

Old Aug 6th, 2019, 02:06 PM
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trip report--July 2019 in the Pantanal of Brazil!

My husband and I just returned from a week trip to the Pantanal in Brazil. We went with Pantanal and Rainforests Expeditions, Hellen Selva and Paulo Barreiros. We had done some research on various trips and came to this group because of great reviews, as well as the fact that they responded by email in a much more timely fashion than other groups did. I wanted to visit the Pantanal because I had read so much about the biodiversity in that region, and the ability to visitors to see animals close up. TRUE!

We arrived in Cuiaba after Sao Paolo, spending a couple of nights to recuperate from the flight. We were picked up by the tour on Monday, starting our drive down to the PAntanal, and spending the night at Pousa Alegre, a farm stay. Nice, rural, lots of birds. We saw our anteaters, both giant and lesser, as well as a huge number of birds, here. On the drive down through the Transpanteria road, we saw endless numbers of caiman with a huge number of birds.

Arriving at Porto Jofre the next morning, we visited some hyacinth macaws before getting on the motor boat on the Cuiaba River to get to our houseboat, the Panoramico. We had nice rooms on that boat for 4 nights. Great food on that boat as well as caipirinha drinks. Every morning we headed out downriver (I think) to search for jaguars and other wildlife, then back for lunch, and out again in the afternoon. On the last full day in the PAntanal, we drove north on the Transpanteria road and stayed the night at the Mato Gross Hotel--again, another nice place. Swimming pool even, but a bit chilly for that, even though this was into August (a cold front just swept in). Each place had great food, and lots of birds around.

As for our guide Paulo, who runs the company with his wife Hellen, I donít even know where to start. He was our guide for the entire trip, and although he now has his own company with his wife, he spent over 10 years as a naturalist guide with other companies in the Pantanal area (as well as his work as a naturalist in Europe). Originally from Portugal, Paulo speaks fluent English and is well-traveled, as well as well-read. He arranged van transportation, river houseboat, land accommodations, boat drivers, etc. He met us at the Cuiaba hotel exactly on time, we got to places on time, and we left on boat rides exactly on time. Paulo arranged for the transport van (a nice, air conditioned, comfortable van) for the trip from Cuiaba to Porto Joffre, and back again. Other groups were riding around in open-air trucks with handkerchiefs on their faces to protect against the bugs and the dustónot us. We did go out on an open-air truck to find animals on a short trip, but all of our lengthy driving was done in a van. And whenever we saw something that someone wanted to stop to get a pic of, the van stopped. Our accommodations were great, the food was great, as was all else!

And he is an endless font of wisdom about snakes, birds, jaguars, otters, and everything else alive. I told him that I was waiting to see howler monkeys, and the next day he delivered. And the same thing for capuchin monkeys on the last day. We saw more than 1 jaguar every day, river otters at different times, and birds galore. Walking and riding, we found both giant anteaters and even a tamandua, a lesser anteater. And we saw 2 tapirs at a watering hole favorite of his. He seemed to be able to anticipate where a jaguar would walk. We would move ahead of other boats, seemingly way ahead of the cat, and eventually the cat would be right in front of us, and the other boats would play catch up. He knows everything about every animal, but his specialty is jaguars. We would see a cat, he would give us the lineage of the cat after identifying it (he maintains a database for the cats). And we would sit in the boat waiting for the jag to do something. On one encounter, a couple of other boats left with their occupants getting a bit bored of watching the cat sitting. However, we stayed, watching both the cabybara and the jaguar. and, it happened, the jag woke up, pounced, and caught the rodent in front of our cameras.

He knew where the we would find hyacinth macaws. And bird identification---amazing! I still do not know how someone can identify a small brown or gray bird without a bird book (and even then, it is difficult for me). Paulo is a whiz at birds. And he is great at finding unusual things to see. We were on the Cuiaba River, riding along in the motor boat, and across the bank from us Paulo spotted a bunch of butterflies hovering around the head of a caiman, floating in the water. They were feeding on its tears, gathering nutrients and salt. What a spot!

I would love to go on a trip to the Amazon with him now!
jsr8460 is offline  
Old Aug 6th, 2019, 08:15 PM
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Thank you for this wonderful report! Most interested in following your footsteps!
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