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WINGS Birding Tours – Photo Gallery

Brazil: Marvelous Mato Grosso

The Pantanal, Chapada dos Guimarães, and Cristalino Jungle Lodge

We begin in the Chapada dos Guimarães, an area of spectacular scenery and intriguing bird life. Our lodge is located in an ideal location, with great habitat and wildlife right outside our rooms. Some of the birds we hope to see include the astonishing Swallow-tailed Hummingbird… (Image: Skyler Streich) …while the secretive Collared Crescentchest is a bit trickier to see.                               We’ll begin the second stage of the tour with a one hour flight to Alta Floresta in the southeastern Amazon Basin… …continuing by road, with stops for anything interesting… …to a river dock and our short boat ride to Cristalino Jungle Lodge. Arriving at Cristalino Jungle Lodge, we’ll be treated like the most welcome of guests. The lodge is a marvel of comfort in an immense wilderness… …and delicious meals. The newly remodeled rooms are spacious and elegant. The most enjoyable hours will be spent birding by boat along several miles of the pristine Cristalino River. Our local guides are expert at spotting wildlife, increasing our chances of seeing Red-throated Piping Guan. If we flush a Sunbittern, the “wingburst” never fails to elicit oohs and aahs. Capped Heron often allows close approach. We’ll have at least one morning atop one of the lodge’s two 52-meter tall canopy towers. The views of the canopy are breathtaking… …and a whole new world opens up before us… …no more neck-straining to see the likes of Curl-crested Aracari… …Red-billed Pied Tanager… …or Black-bellied Cuckoo, among many other birds at home only in the canopy. Every morning is different on the towers, some days with a close fly-by of Scarlet Macaws… …or on others with a pair of Blue-headed Parrots perched even closer. We’ll walk several trails where mixed flocks could include Long-winged Antwren… …or the eye-popping Rose-breasted Chat. While the rare Pavonine Quetzal might be lurking quietly overhead almost anywhere. We may get lucky to find a virtually invisible Common Potoo on a day roost or nest. We pause to admire all forms of life, such as this amazing robberfly, mimicking a wasp. The spectacle of a puddle party on the river’s beach never fails captures one’s imagination. Cristalino is in the best region in Brazil for seeing a variety of approachable monkeys; here White-cheeked Spider Monkey, one of seven species. There’ll be a drastic change of scenery as we transfer via flight and bus ride to our ranch lodgings in the Pantanal – all the while remaining in the state of Mato Grosso. Here we’ll see the unforgettable Hyacinth Macaws, perhaps right outside our rooms. The iconic Toco Toucan will add to the color of our morning walk here. One of the world’s largest storks, the Jabiru is an impressive sight in the Pantanal. We might get lucky on one of our night drives and spot a South American Tapir. Argentine Black-and-white Tegus also call our lodge’s yard home. We drive the length of the Transpantaneira Highway, a dirt road with about 120 bridges, this one with a family of Capabaras collecting the toll. Many birds will be abundant, but we’ll need luck to find a Scarlet-headed Blackbird in the roadside marshes. We plan to take at least three boat rides up the Rio Cuiabá from our comfortable hotel…                               …where the Black-capped Donacobius sings from the riverside vegetation, showing its grouse-like inflatable neck sacs… …and the secretive Green-and-rufous Kingfisher, the most attractive of the four that occur, lurks in the shadows. But our main target here is the magnificent Jaguar, occurring here in a greater density than anywhere else, and our chance of seeing one or even a few is very high. Our final night’s lodging at Pousada Piuval is a relaxing place to contemplate our rich experience… …while appreciating the Greater Rheas that roam the ranch grounds. For those continuing on the short extension, we do some fun birding while spending much of one day viewing Iguazú Falls from several vantage points.