Join us to the Pantanal in 2020!
Pantanal - Jaguar Wildlife Photo Tour - 2016
In the last two weeks of November 2016 Bergman Nature Tours conducted our premiere trip to the species-rich wetland Pantanal in Brazil. Our aim of the journey was to provide our travelers with memorable nature experiences, greater understanding and knowledge of species, ecosystems and nature conservation, and of course fantastic opportunities for high-quality nature photography. And it really paid off!
We visited the northern parts of the Pantanal and traveled along the Transpantaneira, the straight dirt road that goes south to Porto Jofre. With an abundance of wildlife along the sides of the road, we could begin to photograph birds (barefaced currasow, snail kite, whistling duck, black vulture) and capybaras already on the way to our first stop, a ranch located along the Transpantaneira. A stone's throw away from the farm on the ranch flows one of Pantanal's many rivers. Here we got to enjoy cruising in a boat with wildlife close up for the first time during the trip. The cameras got to work during several occasions to photograph cocoi heron and black-collared hawk that swooped down to catch fish at the surface next to our boats.
Many birds turned up along the river's edge during our boat tours, we could shoot jabiru, anhinga, southern screamer and yellow-billed cardinal.
We also had the chance to photograph four of the five species of kingfisher found in the Pantanal.
We saw a number of monkeys on our trip, the small black-tailed marmosets gave us several great photo opportunities. Other species that we saw were black howler monkey and black-striped capuchin monkey.
Pantanal also has many endemic species and one of the species we got nice photo opportunities of was the chestnut-bellied guan, a large bird that has been heavily hunted in many parts of its distribution area, but exists in good numbers at the ranches we visited.
The journey's first jaguar experience was well worth the wait and was really something extraordinary, a unique experience of nature at very close range.
It all started when our local guide spotted a jaguar at about 100 meters distance. We positioned our boats and waited, hoping that it would walk in our direction. After just a few minutes, it turned up. This time much closer making everyone in the boat more and more excited. Now it was only about 30 meters from us. It sat down in an open area, looking out over the river and treated us with great photo opportunities. The cameras were clicking...
Suddenly it changed its body language. It stood up and began to move toward the reeds beside the river, just ten meters from our boats. Did it discover something? Besides some small birds we did not see any other animal. Everything after that happened very quickly. The jaguar made a leap and in a cloud of splashing water it throwed a large cayman up from the reeds with the jaguars jaws clamped over the head of the cayman. For a second, the cayman was completely lifted out of the water showing the incredible strength of this majestic animal. So close to the action we could hear the sound of the jaguars teeth piercing the skull, quickly ending the life of the armored reptile ... And all this in front of our cameras!
Another highlight was the daily close encounters with the charming giant river otters. We could follow them during their hunt along the river and got great photo opportunities when one of them caught a long eel and ate it in front of us.
We saw jaguars four days out of five and a beautiful female was the highlight of one of the days where she looked at us from under a tree on the beach and then wandered off along the beach. Another highlight was when we got to follow a jaguar male who swam and walked completely relaxed along the river edge next to our boats.
Another of our favorites were the world's largest macaw, the endangered hyacinth macaw. Pantanal harbors the majority of the world population and the ranches that we visited are actively working with preserving these magnificent birds.
The king of toucans, toco toucan, with its colorful, powerful beak was a delight to see. We had the opportunity to photograph it repeatedly since it was nesting near one of our lodges. The highlight of every morning before breakfast was to photograph the two parents when they flew in and out of the nest with food to their young.
Suddenly it appeared! Just a few meters from the car next to some tree trunks. The sharp eyes of our local guide found our coveted giant anteater! A large and peaceful individual who let us take intimate pictures of it on its evening stroll through the grass.
Tapir was also high on our wish list. To our great luck we had fantastic opportunities to photograph several individuals, including a female with calf during one of our evening tours and one other individual in the morning hours that took a bath in a small body of water.
Evening tours also provided two further surprising finding finds, ocelot and margay, two of the smaller cats. Three cats on the trip, really more than we could expect!! Of the night active animals a great horned owl surprised us by showing up during daytime, giving us good photo opportunities.
A number of nice woodpeckers gave us additional photo opportunities. The large crimson-crested woodpecker was a delight to see.
It was exciting to get really close to the majestic and powerful nandu, South America's equivalent of the African ostriches. Walking near these large birds gave a sense of walking with dinosaurs. These calm birds provided an opportunity for nice pictures of adults as well as young individuals.
To sum the trip up, the journey gave us a number of unforgettable experiences and we at Bergman Nature Tours can hardly wait until we get to go back next year!
We thank our lovely travelers that shared these wonderful experiences with us. What a fun trip it was!
... And the rest of you that were not with us this time, if you are interested to join us the next time we visit the Pantanal or any of our other destinations, please contact us for more information!
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