From mid-July into early August 2010, four of us from central California undertook a birding, mammal-watching, and nature photography trip to Brazil. We are (L to R) Rita Carratello, Don Roberson, Dan Singer, and Chris Tenney.

Rita and Don had been to the Pantanal in 1999, as well as Rio Cristalino. Don had also birded at the edge of Brazil near Leticia, Colombia, in 1975. Chris had been on an extensive trip to Brazil in Jan 2010, including Rio Cristalino, Itatatia, and the northeast. Dan had previously been to Peru and Ecuador, but this was his first trip to Brazil.

We had Indri Tours arrange this private tour, and they did remarkable things for us.

We visited four major locales, with numbers keyed to the map:

  1. The Pantanal
  2. Emas National Park
  3. Intervales State Park
  4. Itatiaia National Park

Indri Tours, a sister company to Rockjumper Birding Tours, structured an itinerary to meet our needs, and arranged for two outstanding local guides: Marcelo Padua (near right, for the Pantanal & Emas) and Edson Endrigo (far right, for the Atlantic coastal forests in Intervales & Itatiaia).

Marcelo has rapidly become a leading guide in Brazil, and has now joined Field Guides fulltime (this was his last independent tour). Edson is the best known photographer of Brazilian birdlife, with his images appearing on national stamps in Brazil, and he is in the midst of publishing seven volumes of photos of Brazilian birds, featuring the seven major biomes of the country.



Dan, Rita, and Don are primarily birders; Chris is primarily a photographer. Yet our mutual highest priority for this trip was to find and photograph large mammals. In this we had excellent fortune in the Pantanal & Emas, having multiple encounters with Giant Otter (right; munching on a fresh-caught fish) and finding our two "most wanted" mammals:

  • Jaguar (just below)
  • Giant Anteater (second below)

plus Tapir, Maned Wolf, and more [see the Mammal page of this trip report]. We had 23 species of mammals on our trip.


As for birds, our group tallied about 450 species (not including those heard-only by our guides) and we took some memorable photographs (displaying Campo Flickers, right). Some are in this trip report; many others are or will be on Chris Tenney's web site.

Among the highlights observed in the Pantanal & Emas were:

  • Sunbittern & Sungrebe
  • Crowned Eagle
  • Hyacinth Macaw
  • White-winged Nightjar
  • Great Rufous Woodcreeper
  • Helmeted Manakin
  • Cone-billed Tanager

Among the many highlights in the Atlantic forests were:

  • Giant Snipe
  • White-rumped Hawk
  • Black-fronted Piping-Guan
  • Pileated Parrot
  • Long-trained Nightjar
  • Speckle-chested Antpitta
  • the "big 5" endemic antshrikes
  • Black-cheeked Gnateater
  • Spotted Bamboowren
  • Slaty Bristlefront
  • Sharpbill
  • many tanagers

We stayed in (mostly) good accomodations, including superior lodges at Porto Joffre and Itatiaia NP, and we had plenty of good food throughout. We enjoyed lots of Chilean & Argentine red wine, and imbibed a number of the great specialty Brazilian drink, the wonderful caipirinha.

We also had a new van and a driver at all times: Jose [pronounced "joe-zay"] in the Pantanal/Emas and Wanderly [pronouned "van der lay"] in the East. Our excellent boat driver/local guide at Porto Joffre was also named Wanderly (no relation).

There is not much to complain about, but lowlights included:

  • an unexpected friente frio [cold front] that dropped temperature in the Pantanal into the 50 degrees F... we had to go shopping to buy sweaters!
  • prolonged bad weather in the Atlantic coastal forests, with cold rain and drizzle wiping out parts of several days, and
  • missing a few birds in the East, most notably Swallow-tailed Cotinga [chances are much better in Oct-Dec], Frilled Coquette [better in Dec-Mar], and Helmeted Woodpecker [heard but not seen]
  • our only tapirs and Maned Wolf were at night, so decent photos were not obtained; we had also hoped for small cats (e.g., Ocelot) but no such luck
July-August 2010
new! Odes [damselflies & dragonflies]
page created 28 Aug 2010
© Don Roberson 2010