Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pantanal (Brazil) Overview - Oct 13-22

The 2010 Connecticut Audubon Society EcoTravel's trip to Brazil's Pantanal was a huge success. Led by Giuliano Bernardon (local expert guide) and myself, the group tallied 286 species of birds seen (plus a few dozen more only heard) and several fascinating plants and animals. Among the most popular moments were 5 (yes, five) JAGUARS and a HARPY EAGLE with prey. I will provide a day-by-day summary of our tour, which lasted from Oct 13-22 for what amounted to nine full days of wildlife observation.

The first two-thirds of our trip was spent in the northern Pantanal itself, in the state of Mato Grosso. Only ONE road leads into the Pantanal here; it runs for 92 miles and has 120 wooden bridges. It dead-ends deep in the Pantanal at Porto Jofre, perhaps the jaguar capitol of the world. From here you just have to turn around and leave the way you came in. For the other one-third of our trip, we left the Pantanal and gained elevation to find Harpy Eagle and bird the beautiful Chapada dos Guimaraes.

October is the end of the dry season, and if the wet season starts early, you could find yourself getting a bit wet (albeit unlikely). During our entire tour we encountered rain only during one afternoon. High temperatures ranged from 75 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you're ever looking to hire a private guide to show you the sights of the Pantanal, you can do no better than Giuliano. Over the years he has accumulated a vast amount of knowledge on the area's birds and mammals...he is a true expert guide. On top of his expertise, his personality is just about perfect for a guide - friendly, enthusiastic, and cool/calm/collected whenever appropriate. I highly recommend him.

CAS will likely continue to offer this tour as long as there are birders to come along. This place is not to be missed.

- Nick

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