Cristalino Jungle Lodge is on Rio Cristalino, a black-water river. This river feeds into the Teles Pires River, which feeds into the Pajós River which feeds into the Amazon River. The climate is very hot and humid with unpredictable rains. These rains can cause considerable damage to the surrounding trees, especially if there is any wind. The trees have extremely shallow roots so are easily toppled or broken off. We encountered a lot of tree damage while hiking through the jungle. Thus our guides all carried machetes to clear the trails as much as possible.
I had expected the trees to be dripping with monkeys. Not so. We did hear Black Howler Monkeys very early some mornings. They make a sound that reminds one of a North Dakota blizzard.
The number of beautiful butterflies is astounding. All sizes from huge to small and brightly colored. I read somewhere that Brazil hosts about 2000 species of butterflies. With butterflies come a significant number of other insects!
The jungle and rivers plays host to an incredible array of wildlife such as Brazilian Tapir, Giant Otter, lizards, snakes, and, of course, birds. Over 1600 species of birds live in Brazil, though not all live in the Amazon basin
The Pantanal is the largest fresh-water wetlands in the world. The majority of the Pantanal is in Brazil but also extends to Bolivia and Paraguay. Depending upon the elevation and location, the flooding takes place for 4-8 months of the year making some areas inaccessible for months at a time. The water will eventually begin drying up,but leaving water in low areas. This is where the wildlife congregates during the "dry" season. It is still hot and humid during the dry season with a different array of insects. We found ourselves beginning to drip with sweat at about 7:30am if we were out in the open. Sweating would continue until we were in AC or about 5pm, whichever came first.
The Pantanal is much more open than the jungle, but with areas of forest or marsh or open rangeland. The openness gave us much easier views of the wildlife and scenery.
Paulo Boute, guide for Southern Amazon and the Pantanal birding/wildlife adventure
Paulo Boute is a 51-year- old Brazilian born to Ukranian parents. He grew up in the Iguassu Falls area and became interested in birds at a very young age. He has a great command of the English language and American idioms, which he used in nearly every sentence. Knowledge of Brazilian culture, history, food, birds, and wildlife is outstanding. He not only served as our guide throughout our travels in the Southern Amazon and the Pantanal, but was our translator whenever we encountered someone who only spoke Portuguese. He kept us constantly informed and entertained!