Monthly Archives: July 2016

Forest Adventure Brazil 12

On the final day of Sara’s Brazil wildlife holiday, she spots an anteater and bids a fond farewell to the country she’s called home for the last 12 days. Read her final journal entry right here on the Wildfoot travel blog.

Day 12

Shock horror: it’s another early start! We head out for a morning drive at 5.30 am before breakfast, and spot some playful coatis and a troupe of capuchin monkeys, but unfortunately, the giant anteater escapes us once again.

coati

capuchinmonkey

On returning to the lodge for a last hearty Brazilian breakfast, we spot a pair of great rufous woodpeckers scratching around in a huge pile of dung with their long bills.

It seems a shame to sit inside to eat, so I opt for a bit of alfresco dining on the veranda, determined not to miss out on any action, and I’m rewarded with dozens of hyacinth macaws and blue-fronted parrots joining us.

Without the cool river breeze, I soon notice the ever increasing temperature – it’s up to 38 degrees Celsius now – but refuse to be deterred, so suggest to Jose that we take a short hike on one of the many trails around the lodge.

However, it seems that the heat of the day is also taking its toll on the wildlife, with very little to see or hear apart from a couple of black tegu lizards seeking shelter in a fallen tree trunk.

We admit defeat and return to the lodge for a very-much-needed cold drink, and decide to enjoy our surroundings from the shade of the veranda like our fellow guests. After lunch, we head off to visit a nearby lodge called Pousada Rio Claro, in search of the black-headed parakeet for which it is famous.

The access road to the lodge is great for birding, passing alongside a small stream and through several sections of deciduous forest, where we were able to spot tiger herons, wattled jacanas, rusty-backed antwren and roseate spoonbills among many others.

As we park our car at the reception, a flock of screeching black headed parakeets pass us overhead, as if on cue. Although my mission had been accomplished, it seemed too rude to turn around without speaking to the owner and accepting their kind offer of a cold drink.

The owner seemed thrilled to have a captive audience that he could tell about the anaconda and jaguar that were seen on the grounds of the lodge only the day before by a group of Japanese tourists, but unfortunately, neither could show themselves again during my visit.

Feeling refreshed, we head back to Pousa Alegre to pack, as I leave tonight for Cuiaba, ready for the early morning flight back to the UK. Once again, dinner is delicious and only bettered by the warmth and humour of the owner.

We finally load up the car and make a start on our three-hour journey back to the city when, all of a sudden, Jose slams on the brakes and shouts the infamous word “anteater”! I cannot believe it!

Right in front of us, a giant anteater crosses the road, as though waving us a fond farewell. My trip is complete!

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I came with such high expectations in terms of wildlife, but they have been exceeded. I just cannot wait to return!

Forest Adventure Brazil 11

Wildfoot’s Sara spent time on a wildlife viewing Brazilian adventure last summer and kept a journal throughout her trip. On this blog, we’re documenting her journey day-by-day. Today, Sara spots an armadillo.

Day 11

As I open my bedroom door, I am greeted by a sea of birds. Each morning, the staff throw some rice flour down in the courtyard that attracts all sorts of birdlife, including choco chachalacs, bare faced curassows, yellow-billed and red-crested cardinals, baywings, purplish jays and even a stunning orange-backed troupial, so this place really is a birder’s paradise!

Talaha-Mar

I head back into my room and grab my camera, and although I would never describe myself as a hardcore birder, you cannot fail to be impressed by this dazzling display and it’s not long before I fill yet another memory card!

I am finally dragged away with the threat of missing breakfast as our boat driver is already waiting. A jaguar was spotted late last night on the bank not far from the lodge and the driver thinks it might still be in close proximity, so we decide to go and take a look.

We scour the banks for a couple of hours, but it’s not meant to be and none of my favourite big pussy cats are to be seen or heard today, so we call it a day and head back out onto the Transpantaneira and make our way to Pousa Alegre, which is home for our last couple of days.

Pantanal

Despite feeling more like an active cattle ranch than a tourist lodge, Pousa Alegre features on most wildlife itineraries of the Pantanal, because it has a reputation for great tapir and giant anteater sightings.

Although there is no forest or river immediately accessible from the lodge, there is still lots of bird and mammal life to see and on arrival, I am encouraged to head out to a hide on one of its small watering holes as plenty has been spotted here in the last couple of days.

Despite being incredibly warm, we settle in at the hide and bide our time. As always with wildlife, a little bit of patience goes a long way, and we start to notice a steady stream of creatures coming to the water’s edge to quench their thirst, including  agoutis, coatimund,  peccaries and deer, all unperturbed by our presence.

However, once again it is the bird life that really steals the show with some lovely sightings of a pair of chestnut-bellied guans, a little group of sunbitterns, a chestnut-eared aracari and a greater antistrike among many more.

Aracari

CardeaisBirds

At sundown, we finally make it to the lodge itself and check in, although my stay here is brief, and no sooner have we finished dinner than we get back into our open-sided safari vehicle for one last night drive.

Although in my heart I am a little bit disappointed that the giant anteater once again eludes me, this is made up threefold by good sightings of two tapirs, several crab eating foxes and unbelievably, an armadillo, which is undoubtedly the most prehistoric creature I’ve ever seen.

Tapir

I begin to realise how lucky I am when Jose, who has guided in the Pantanal for almost two decades, declares this is also the first armadillo he has ever seen, and unlike the puma earlier in the trip, it allowed me enough time to get some photos of it.

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All in all, it was a very successful night drive, and I can’t wait to see what is in store for me tomorrow!

Forest Adventure Brazil 10

Last summer, Sara from Wildfoot spent time on a wildlife viewing holiday in Brazil. As part of the Wildfoot blog, Sara has been documenting her journey for all to read. Today, she ticks off yet another rare species from her wish list and spends time with a family of friendly otters.

Day 10

This morning could almost be described as a lie-in, as I eat my breakfast at 6am before starting my activities an hour later.

I embark on a gentle horse ride that is very relaxing, and while navigating the long grass, I catch a glimpse of a red brocket deer and agoutis, which is a large rodent. Another option here is fishing for piranha from small kayaks.

horseriding

We enjoy a fabulous lunch and have a leisurely boat ride in the afternoon, spending some time with a friendly family of giant river otters, as well as a small troupe of capuchin monkeys, which are busy feasting on fruit high up in the trees.

boatride

At sundown, the river comes alive with hundreds of roosting egrets and cormorants lining the banks, while a constant stream of noisy parrots flies overhead.

parrots

After yet another superb dinner, I force myself to stay awake and head out for a night time safari drive. With lots of good sightings being made the night before by other guests at my accommodation, I am feeling hopeful!

It’s not long before we get our first sight of a tapir, one of Brazil’s ‘Big Five’. It’s certainly a peculiar looking creature!

We also spot a couple of crab-eating foxes frolicking in the undergrowth and a family of white-nosed coatimundi, so I can go to bed with the knowledge that I have ticked off a couple more species on my wish list today!

 

 

The Urban Birder Goes Polar!

Here at WILDFOOT we are beyond delighted to announce that The Urban Birder, David Lindo, will be joining us on our epic Antarctica – Off The Beaten Track expedition in November 2016, on board MV Akademic Ioffe operated by our close partners One Ocean Expeditions.

Our in-house wildlife experts have been huge fans of David’s for many years since he first came to our attention after enjoying his Rutland Bird Fair lectures, not to mention his appearance on BBC’s much-acclaimed Spring Watch. We have closely followed his adventures ever since. So you can imagine the excitement in our office when we found out that he was a planning a birding expedition to Antarctica!

David Lindo or as most of his fans know him, “The Urban Birder”, rose to prominence due to his attention-grabbing appearances on programmes such as BBC’s Spring Watch & The One Show, and his regular editorial contributions to the RSPB Nature’s Home magazine where he has shared his passion for birding and helped shape a new breed of birdwatching enthusiasts.

Despite David’s love of and dedication to promoting birding in large cities where one may not have usually expected to find such a wonderful array of birdlife in their natural surroundings until now, David is also open to scouring the lesser-explored areas of the world where birding opportunities take on a different shape altogether. That’s why he has chosen to explore Antarctica with us, a region renowned for breathtaking wildlife experiences that are, quite simply, out of this world.

From swooping albatrosses and giant southern petrels to 17 different species of penguin living in colonies with populations larger than some cities, Antarctica is home to some of the most majestic and remarkable birds in the world. The Urban Birder will be looking forward to spotting some of the 46 different species of birds found in this wonderfully remote region and sharing his unsurpassable knowledge with his fellow travellers.

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We are extremely privileged that David has agreed to be a guest speaker on this expedition, giving fellow bird enthusiasts the opportunity to soak up some of his wisdom and share stories and tips as they enjoy their once in a lifetime trip.

If you want to be one of the lucky few who get to share this adventure with The Urban Birder then why not take a look through the itinerary for this exciting trip or contact one of our friendly wildlife experts who will be delighted to help you with any queries you may have. You really won’t want to miss this one!

The Urban Birder is venturing to a land which, simply put, couldn’t be less “urban”…and we are thrilled to be joining him!

Small Group Departure to Antarctica November/December 2017.

David will be returning to Antarctica next year and will be leading a small group. WILDFOOT Travel are delighted to be arranging from start to finish and not only inviting Urban Birder followers but also making this exciting expedition available to our WILDFOOT customers on a first come basis. This is going to be a small intimate group so spaces are extremely limited. You can also experience urban birding with David in Buenos Aries and Ushuaia before you embark the voyage to Antarctica. For further information and registration please email [email protected]

 

You can learn more about David Lindo by visiting his website theurbanbirder.com.

Forest Adventure Brazil 9

After spending last summer on a wildlife viewing Brazilian adventure, Sara from Wildfoot is documenting her experiences on our blog. Today, Sara travels to Pantanal and spots a young ocelot.

Day 9

Today we’re on the move again, and this time, our destination is one of the most renowned eco lodges in the Pantanal, situated approximately halfway between Porto Jofre and Cuiaba.

However, there is still time for two more jaguar sightings in the morning, as a 20-minute boat transfer to dock quickly becomes three hours of jaguar viewing!

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We meet two female jaguars named Patricia and Iris. Patricia we had seen previously, but Iris is a new one for the tally and is beautifully positioned in an open area. She seems completely at ease despite there being almost 20 boats jostling for a good view and allows each and every one of us to fill our memory cards with photos before finally retreating into the undergrowth, a great sighting to end with.

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Once more, we are on our way to the dock where I am met by Bronco, who is going to take me on the next leg of the journey, which is a three-hour drive along the Transpantaneira to Southwild Pantanal Lodge.

The eco lodge was once a traditional cattle ranch comprising 3,500 hectares of flooded lands at the end of the Pixaim River, but today it is regarded as giving one of the best wildlife experiences anywhere in Brazil.

On arrival, I quickly notice it has not lost its original, rustic ranch charm, whether in terms of the physical building structure or its staff, with all of the guys donning cowboy hats. Before arriving, I had heard rumours that the food was some of the best to be found anywhere in the region, and lunch certainly doesn’t disappoint.

In the afternoon, I opt for a bit of a walking safari, which was perhaps in a bid to ease the guilt of having second helpings at lunch! We start with a visit to the observation tower, which has been carefully positioned next to a jabiru stork nest that has been used for the past decade. On reaching the top, it becomes clear that there are five very small chicks in it. It’s really interesting to see the interaction between the two parents and their chicks at close quarters, watching them take it in turn to gather food for the waiting hungry mouths.

Although I could sit and watch this family of storks all day I drag myself away to go on a night walk, which proves to be a very good decision as we strike lucky spotting a beautiful young female ocelot. Although I came to Brazil with high expectations of seeing jaguars, not for one moment did I expect to see one of these highly elusive nocturnal small cats, so it is a real bonus!

Pleased by this unexpected success, we return for a delicious dinner. The food at Santa Tereza is really some of the very best the Pantanal has to offer!

Forest Adventure Brazil 8

Sara from Wildfoot spent last summer taking part in a wildlife viewing Brazilian adventure and logged her activities throughout the trip. For your enjoyment, we’ve been serialising her progress on the Wildfoot blog. Today, Sara moves to a floating hotel, spots yet another jaguar and spends time with local fishermen.

Day 8

This morning, I am transferring from Porte Jofre to Southwild Flotel, so I say goodbye to Nelson and Wilson and thank them for their great hospitality before heading off by boat.

After a short ride, I am met by Layra and Jose, who are going to look after me for the next five days, and head out for a morning boat ride.

Layra is busy telling me how wonderful the area is and how regular sightings have become when, lo and behold, we get a call over radio to say another jaguar has been spotted. I am beginning to understand why this region has been aptly nicknamed the Jaguar Zone!

Luckily for me Selema, as she’s been named by researchers, is not camera shy, and she walks along the bank for 40 minutes, giving me my best sighting and photos of the trip so far. Combined with the haunting cry of howler monkeys in the distance, I am in wildlife heaven!

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After the excitement has subsided, we head back to the Flotel to check in and have some lunch. The Flotel is made up of a couple of floating buildings, one containing 12 suites and the other with 10 rooms, a restaurant and a presentation room, all of which are finished to a very high standard.

After a tasty bite to eat, we head back out on the water in the opposite direction to visit a local fishing lodge that is known for its great birdlife and frequently visiting Brazilian tapir. The birdlife is plain to see on arrival, with wonderful sights of hyacinth macaws, a chestnut mandibled toucan and a short-eared owl within the first few minutes of arriving.

Toco

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The fishermen kindly invite us to join them for dinner, which is of course the Catch of the Day. Nothing quite beats freshly caught fish cooked on an open wood fire!

They use this time to tell us of their adventures on the river from days gone by, with one even laying claim to seeing the extremely rare black jaguar only a day or so ago while out fishing. We bide our time listening and hoping, but in vain on this occasion, as wildlife will never be predictable. Finally, we take the boat back to the Flotel at 11pm, well past my bed time!

Forest Adventure Brazil 7

Last summer, Sara from Wildfoot took part in an incredible wildlife-spotting trip to Brazil, recording every step of her journey for you to read. We have been sharing her daily journal entries on the Wildfoot blog. Today, Sara spots a jaguar and some giant river otters.

Day 7

Inspired by yesterday’s action, this morning I’m waiting for the boat, ready to leave not long after 5:30 am. It’s much to Wilson’s amazement, but I know that the morning is our best chance of spotting an elusive cat while it’s still cool, and I don’t want to waste a minute.

We’ve been on the water for a couple of hours, without seeing anything of real note, when Wilson suddenly grinds to a halt. There is nothing obvious to be seen, but I nonetheless raise my binoculars and scour the banks for movement – I am a true explorer, now!

After around 10 minutes of seeing nothing, Wilson retreats to his seat and starts the engine, but suddenly out of the corner of my eye I spot a movement, and find a jaguar!

It’s one of those moments when you think you are hallucinating, and from nowhere a beautiful female jaguar was standing only a few metres away from our boat, looking directly at us… it was absolutely mesmerising!

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This is the first time I get a chance to really appreciate the true prowess and beauty of these incredible creatures, and I quickly realise I am witnessing something very special.

We spend around half an hour watching this graceful feline walk along the river bank, dipping out of view now and again to navigate the dense jungle, before it finally makes a turn and dissolves into the undergrowth.

This is a moment I will treasure forever, and it was made even better by the fact I didn’t have to share it with a sea of other people… in fact, only two other boats were close by before the jaguar called time on her private showing. We have another sighting a short while later, but just like yesterday, this cat has settled in for the day and is barely in view.

Without spotting another jaguar during the afternoon, we decide to spend some quality time with a family of giant river otters that are known to be nurturing some very small pups. The family is in a playful mood and seems very inquisitive as to our presence. They’re anything but camera shy and seem to be happy for me to snap away at them for well over an hour.

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Inevitably, my evening is spent trying to sort through the several hundred photographs I have taken today, which will serve as reminders of my fantastic Brazilian trip.