Another Two Months at Cristalino Jungle Lodge

Swallow-winged Puffbird at Cristalino Jungle Lodge

by Rich Hoyer on May 2, 2011 · 0 comments

in Birding Neotropics

I’ve written about Brazil’s Cristalino Jungle Lodge before here, and I’ll be writing about it some more. I just love this place.

The news this time is that I’ll be spending two months there as a local guide this coming August and September, my second time doing so.

Cristalino is relatively easy to get to. Most international flights arrive in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, from where you connect to the large interior city of Cuiabá. After a night in Cuiabá, you then take a small flight to the town of Alta Floresta, where you are met and transferred to the lodge.

From the town it’s about a 50 minute truck ride to the Teles Pires river landing, and then another 20 minutes up the Cristalino River to the lodge itself.

The birding at Cristalino Jungle Lodge is just amazing. This Blackish Nightjar was nesting on the ground near the cabins the first time I was there as a local guide.

But one thing I love about the tropics is the diversity of all living things. Cristalino is justly famous for its butterflies. August and September see the seasonal peak in numbers, with such spectacles as these “puddle parties,” mostly of sulphurs and swallowtails along the river’s edge.

In the forest interior is a bewildering variety of more elusive species. This Myscelus assaricus shows that skippers aren’t all tiny and dull.

Metalmarks are my favorite family of butterflies – often gaudy, iridescent, and spectacularly shaped. This very tiny Sarota gyas looks like brown little moth with the naked eye, but digital photography reveals a smart little metalmark with an amazing pattern of colors and adorable furry legs.

Even mammals are well-represented at Cristalino. In the driest time of year, just before the rains begin (usually in September), Brazilian Tapirs can be commonly seen along the river’s banks. In one day, one group saw at least 5 individuals.

Stay tuned for more photos of birds, bugs, mammals, and plants from one of my favorite places in the world.

Photo at top: Swallow-winged Puffbird by Rich Hoyer

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