Pantanal is partly a national park and UNESCO World Heritage site that has the highest concentration of birds and wildlife. In fact, it is the world’s largest tropical wetland that spreads across 70,000 square miles, which not only covers Brazil but spills into Paraguay and Bolivia.
Our Brazil workshop covered both Northern and Southern parts of Pantanal. The workshop offered plenty of photo opportunities to our guests. From Water birds like the Herons, Ibis, Storks, Jacanas, Screamers, Terns wading through murky water in all their glory to the intimidating Caimans who lay near the shores of the river and lagoons, our guests witnessed the surreal fauna and fauna lining the Amazon basin. There were dangerously beautiful Green Anacondas, Piranhas, the rare Pink Dolphins, Sloths, Howler, Uakari and Capuchin monkeys who were captured from a safe distance with telephoto lenses.
The photo adventure in Pantanal began from Cuiabá (CGB) in Brazil. After getting some rest at a comfortable hotel, we drove up to Pousada Piuval located at the northern edge of Pantanal, next morning. Pousada Piuval located at the heart of the wetland has open pastures and scrublands interspersed with forests teeming with birds. This is the best place to spot the Hyacinth Macaws in large numbers, the largest endemic parrot species known for their vibrant plumage.
Amazing Facts About the Barefaced Currasow
One can spot a Bare-faced Currasow out in the open, on the forest ground and in the edge of a forest. Its population is evenly distributed through South and Central Brazil, Paraguay, and Northern Argentina. The move in pairs mostly and let out their deep-throated booming songs occasionally. This bird is characterized by its bare black skin from where it gets its name. The males are mostly black with a white underbelly. The females have a bare black upper body with orange or rufous underbelly.
The next afternoon we hiked our way to the canopy tower to see the Orange-backed Troupial and Gray-crested Cacholote along with a panoramic view of the wetland. The regular nature walks every morning and afternoon yielded amazing results as we caught sight of the Southern Screamer, Plumbeous Ibis, Red-legged Seriema, Bare-faced Curassow, Greater Rhea, Whistling Heron, Blue-fronted Parrot, Long-tailed Ground-Dove, Great Rufous Woodcreeper and Red-crested Cardinal, Anteaters, Capybaras, Coatis, Crab-eating foxes, Macaws, Jabiru storks, Black-capped herons, Roseate spoonbills, Black-collared Hawks, Parakeets, Ringed kingfishers, Cocoi Herons, Rufescent Tiger-Herons, Black skimmers, Neotropical cormorants and many more species. The two action-packed days of bird photography at Piuval were very productive.
The following morning, we traveled to Pouso Alegre which is the home to the Giant Anteaters; a rare mammal which is the greatest attraction of this region. We explored along the southern part of Transpantaneira and captured the local specialties like the Hyacinth Macaw, Toco Toucan, Red-headed and Yellow-billed Cardinals and the elusive Agami Heron. We also spotted some rare mammals around the lodge we stayed at like the Giant Armadillo, Ocelot and the Crab-eating Fox.
Quick facts About the Purple Backed Thornbill
The Purple-backed Thornbill is a Hummingbird species with the smallest bill. The males have brilliant-purple plumes with forked purplish-black tails. These tiny Hummingbirds can be spotted in the periphery of humid forests, semi-open highlands and in páramo. In the monsoon these Hummingbirds fly off to higher elevations. They feed on nectar from flowers and insects. It is a delight to watch their courtship displays where the male dances around in arc patterns while making loud cracking noise.
After a busy day of shooting at Pouso Alegre, we traveled along the Transpantanal Highway to reach Pixaim River. We spend two days boating along the river and capturing and watching plenty of Caimans and aquatic birds like the Yellow-billed along with Large-billed Terns that flew from one waterbody to another. The guests had plenty of opportunities to capture flight shots of these beautiful water birds. We reached the lodge at Pixaim River at noon right on lunchtime and after resting a bit resumed our workshop. We spotted the Agami, Boat-billed Herons, Sunbittern, Sungrebe, five different species of Kingfishers, Giant Otters and Brazilian Tapir while cruising gently on the Pixaim river on a boat. The trips with our informed guide were the highlight of our photo tour here.
The scenic beauty of the wetlands of Pantanal can be best experienced from a boat and the guests were able to utilize every moment to click the marshy landscape along with its local birds and mammals. Our bird-walk around the lodge yielded sights of the White Woodpecker, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Orange-backed Troupial, Grayish Saltator, and Grayish Paywing.
We also spotted the Pale-crested Woodpecker, Helmeted Manakin, monkeys like the Brown Capuchin and Silvery Marmoset while boating along the river in these two days.
After spending two days at the Pixaim river, we drove south along the famous Trans Pantanal highway to reach to the end of Cuiabá River at Porto Jofre to see the Jaguars of Pantanal. EnRoute, we captured the Scarlet-hooded Blackbird and the Maguari Stork. The changing scenery of the wetlands also inspired some landscape photography. We reached the lodge during lunch time and grabbed a quick bite before heading for a boat ride to try our luck with the Jaguars.
The Red Legged Seriema lives in open woodland, among thorny scrub and hilly grassland. It is a large sized bird with bright red legs from where it gets its name. These birds are sedentary with no migratory pattern. They can make a barking song which is usually performed in duets early in the morning.
We gently cruised through the tributaries of the Cuiabá River in anticipation of seeing Jaguars, with no luck. We took this opportunity to capture some more Sungrebes, Black-collared, Great-black Hawks, Herons, Kingfishers along with some Giant Otters. Our 3-day boat rides finally yielded results and we witnessed an elusive Jaguars near the shore! We were fortunate to see some Capybaras and Tapirs as well.
On the last day at Porto Jofre, we spent our morning clicking birds on the Transpantanal Highway. After an early breakfast, we left for Nobres. On the way, we spotted the Giant Anteaters and the Southern Tamanduas. Nobres is one of the best snorkeling spots in Brazil and the natural pool with clear fresh water is home to some incredible aquatic birds and sub-aquatic wildlife. At the birdwatching and photographing session at the ‘Lagoon of the Macaws’ we clicked the Blue and Yellow Macaws, Red-bellied Macaws, Kingfishers and Egrets. While at Nobres, we visited the Serra Azul Waterfall known for its crystal-clear turquoise water.
From Nobres we traveled to Chapada dos Guimaraes famous for its National Park where the Blue and Yellow Macaws come to roost. We also spotted the Red and Green Macaws beside the stunning Véu de Noiva or Bridal Veil Waterfall. The landscape of Chapada dos Guimarães is very interesting as it has large sandstone cliffs, huge caves, startling rock formations, prehistoric sites, awe-inspiring waterfalls were great way to try some landscape photography. We stayed near the Macaw roosting site and spent the next morning capturing photographs of the macaws. A bird-walk tour around the area helped us spot the Red-legged Seriemas, Burrowing owls and Curl-crested Jays.
The next morning we headed back to the city of Cuiabá and boarded our flights back home with a lot of stories to tell and a host of pictures to show off!
Blazze Winged Parrot