Brazil photo album ... top wildlife destinations
Nick Wilkins, Latin America expert, has travelled extensively around the world. This time his passion for nature and photography led him to track down the abundance of wildlife that Brazil has to offer. Here Nick shares a selection of his favourite photos.
I recently visited two of the best destinations in Brazil to spot and photograph wildlife. The Caiman Ecological Refuge and Cristalino Lodge are both protected areas with diverse landscapes from savannahs to rainforests and consequently a plethora of different species.
Caiman Ecological Refuge
Caiman Ecological Refuge is a 53,000 hectare ranch located in the wetlands of the southern Pantanal, close to the borders with Bolivia and Paraguay. As well as being a working cattle farm and eco-lodge, it is home to an amazing variety of bird and animal life and is a renowned centre for conservation projects.
The Pantanal is one of the best places in the world to see jaguar and sightings are frequent, but never guaranteed. The Onçafari jaguar research project, based at the Caiman Ecological Refuge, studies the population of jaguars in the area and is helping in the conservation mission of these rare animals.
Caiman are a regular sight in and around the lakes, ponds and streams of the Pantanal wetlands.
Another of the animals most associated with the Pantanal is the capybara, the world’s largest rodent.
The Pantanal is home to an enormous variety of birdlife including jabiru storks, herons and macaws.
The endangered hyacinth macaw has one of its main populations in the Pantanal. The Hyacinth Macaw Project is based at Caiman Ecological Refuge and studies the birds to provide vital help in the conservation effort.
Giant anteaters and armadillos can also be seen roaming the grasslands of the Pantanal.
Accessible only by boat, the Cristalino Lodge is a beautiful jungle lodge, located in a private reserve on the banks of the Cristalino river. The reserve is part of a vast area of protected primary rainforest in the southern Brazilian Amazon, which has incredible biodiversity.
On the boat journey into the lodge, along the Cristalino river we spotted a family of spider monkeys high in the forest canopy.
A family of spider monkeys
Howler monkeys are a common sight (and sound) around the lodge and the surrounding jungle.
From one of the hilltop viewpoints the scale of the reserve and the seemingly never ending jungle can be appreciated.
Frequent boat trips are taken along the river, which allow the best chances of seeing the bird and animal life.
Boat trip along the river
The lodge has two 50 metre tall observation towers in the reserve. A pre-dawn trip up one of them gradually revealed the jungle appearing through the mist as the sun rose.
Sunrise in a jungle
A giant river otter lazing on a tree branch by the river’s edge.