Trip report: Brazil, The Pantanal and Amazon (Jul-Aug 2010) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Nick Athanas.

With the incredible diversity of the pristine Amazon forests of Cristalino and the unmatched wildlife spectacle of the Pantanal, combined with a series of great lodges, it is impossible not to have a great time on this tour. I never get tired of it, and each year brings different highlights and new surprises. The amorous Crested Eagles at Cristalino may have been the “bird of the trip”, but the bathing pools certainly were the most memorable, attracting nearly 30 shy species, most of which we never would have seen otherwise. As usual, the mind-blowing Hyacinth Macaws stole the show in the Pantanal, but the experience of being here can never be described by a list of birds. It’s the whole feel of the place, where there is something cool to see pretty much anywhere you lay your eyes, that makes it so special. Amazingly, a cold snap hit the Pantanal while we were there and the normally furnace-like temperatures dropped lower and lower, shockingly getting down to the upper 40’s F early one morning. I never imagined I would be sipping caipirinhas while trying to stand as close as possible to a roaring campfire while nighthawks and skimmers flew by the river next to us. It was so pleasant at mid-day you could be outside non-stop instead of taking shelter in air-conditioned rooms. A friendly and relaxed group made the tour especially enjoyable, and I think we set a record for number of caipirinhas consumed in one tour!

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