We flew with British Airways from Heathrow to São Paulo and then on to Cuiabá the capital city of the state of Mato Grosso. From Cuiabá we went by road to the Pousada do Parque for a three-night stay in the Chapada dos Guimarães National Park.
Chapada dos Guimarães National Park is part of the Cerrado, one of the world’s most important savannas from the point of view of biodiversity. It comprises dry woodlands, gallery forests and palm groves, rolling grasslands and dramatic rock formations with cascading waterfalls. The Cerrado is Brazil’s most endangered ecosystem, more threatened even than the Amazon. Already about 80% of it has been cleared for large-scale agriculture and very little of what remains is protected.
Véu da Noiva waterfall
The birds included the tanagers, flycatchers, woodcreepers, antbirds, hummingbirds and various parrots, parakeets and macaws that one would expect in this part of the world.
Gateway to the Pantanal, the start of the Transpantaneira
It goes without saying that in our short visit we barely scratched the surface but we did see a good selection of the most accessible birds and mammals. Although we always say that our interest is primarily in the birds, many of the mammals here are truly remarkable and we were thrilled to see Giant Anteater, Giant River Otter, Jaguar, Marsh Deer and another Brazilian Tapir.
There were some fairly impressive birds, too. The Hyacinth Macaw, for instance, is the largest flying parrot species and the Toco Toucan has a monstrous bill that relative to body size is the largest of all birds.
As to be expected in such a huge wetland, herons, ibises, kingfishers and storks were abundant and it was good to see Limpkins and Snail Kites again, two species that feed mostly on apple snails and are therefore often seen together.
On the Rio Claro
Rufescent Tiger Heron
We enjoyed boat trips on the Rio Claro and the Rio Cuiabá and it was from a boat that we saw Jaguars, seven or maybe eight different individuals. Amongst the world’s cats they are larger than anything other than Tigers and Lions and so impressive beasts.
Giant River Otter
Also from a boat we saw a Sungrebe, related to the more familiar (to us) African Finfoot. On sandbanks there were Large-billed & Yellow-billed Terns, Black Skimmers and Collared & Pied Plovers.
Perhaps the most surprising bird species we saw was an Orinoco Goose, a rare vagrant in this part of the world.
Orinoco Goose - just a record shot!
All in all it was a fabulous trip!