Guided by Nick Athanas.
This is a tour I always look forward to, and with good reason. Combine the mega-diverse Amazonian rainforest at Cristalino Jungle Lodge with the vast savannas and wetlands of the Pantanal loaded with birds everywhere you look, add in a dash of scenery and some unique birds on the Chapada dos Guimaraes, throw in some great mammals, and you have a truly unforgettable trip.
We had hot, dry weather throughout the trip; not a drop of rain and so sign of any cold front like we had last year, though one cooler day in the Pantanal may have been a mild one. Birding at Cristalino can be challenging in the dry season as mixed flocks and antswarms were few and far between, but we did quite well in finding most of the specialties including Black-girdled Barbet, Tooth-billed Wren, Crimson-bellied Parakeet, Gould’s Toucanet, and once again a Fiery-tailed Awlbill – nice to have a repeat performance. The Harpy Eagle nest at Alta Floresta was a huge bonus and we even got to see an adult come in to feed the nestling; amazingly we saw another from one of the towers.
What the Pantanal lacks in diversity it makes up in sheer numbers and the ease that you can see them. There were birds everywhere we looked, and one magical day at Piuval got us close to 140 species. Oh, and did I mention Jaguar? It was an exceptionally good year for this magnificent beast, and we were treated to four sightings of three different animals, including one carrying a recently-killed Yellow Anaconda, such a rare sighting that I have been asked to coauthor a short paper detailing the record.