Day 1. Arrival in Alta Floresta, transfer to Rio Cristalino
We arrive in Alta Floresta either from our Atlantic Rainforest tour, or from home. From the town of Alta Floresta we drive along unsurfaced roads past cattle farms and palm swamps, perhaps finding palm specialists such as Point-tailed Palmcreeper. After about 45 minutes we reach the Telas Pires River, and from here we have an enjoyable boat trip across the Teles Pires, a white water river, to the pristine blackwater Cristalino River as we make our way to Rio Cristalino Lodge. The boat ride is about half an hour, and is often productive - species we could find include Capped and Agami Herons, Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Green Ibis, Sunbittern, and late afternoon can bring out Scarlet, Red-and-green and Blue-and-yellow Macaws flying overhead, an Amazonian Umbrellabird crossing the river, Red-throated Piping Guans perched high in trees or even a Tapir taking a cooling swim. We reach wonderful Rio Cristalino Lodge, set in pristine untouched Amazonian rainforest, and located only minutes away from the river. Night at Rio Cristalino Lodge.
Days 2 – 6. Rio Cristalino Lodge
We have three full days to explore this wonderful Lodge. The Cristalino Lodge and the Alta Floresta Forest are located in the southern edge of the Amazonian Rain Forest, with an amazing birdlist of over 570 bird species. This is one of the best birding locations in the Neotropical Rain Forest. The Rio Cristalino Lodge is situated along the confluence of the Rio Cristalino and Teles-Pires Rivers. It is set just off the black waters (no mosquitoes) of the Rio Cristalino in the Amazon, and the area has the richest species birdlist for all Amazonian Brazil. There is superb birding on a fine network of trails through floodplain and terra firme forest, amazing canopy views from a platform, and riverine habitats accessed by boats. There are so many possibilities, from Zigzag Heron to Peruvian Recurvebill, Razor-billed Curassows to Rose-breasted Chat. There are good chances of antswarms with attendant antbirds, and cotingas and other frugivores at fruiting trees with many specialties. These may include Bare-eyed Antbird, Pompadour Cotinga, Black-girdled and Gilded Barbets, Red-necked Aracari, and we may chance upon a group of Dark-winged Trumpeters or a “booming” Amazonian Umbrellabird, Black-spotted Bare-eye, or White-chinned Woodcreeper. The birdlist for Rio Cristalino and the surrounding area is rich with woodcreepers, foliage-gleaners, leaftossers, antbirds and flycatchers, combined with local species such as Crimson-bellied Parakeet, Striolated Puffbird, Musician and Tooth-billed Wrens, Spotted Antpitta and Rufous-capped Antthrush, and at times rare and unexpected species such as Gray-bellied Hawk or the endemic Kawall’s Parrot.
The lodge has about 13 miles of trails through a variety of forest types and habitats, behind the lodge and upstream accessible by boat. Not only does the lodge have a large bird list but also a huge butterfly list (2000 + species) and excellent opportunities to see mammals such as Brazilian Tapir, Capybara, anteaters, river otters, Giant Otter, brocket deer, Tayra, Paca, and primates - seven species including Night Monkey, Dusky Titi Monkey, Brown Capuchin and the endemic Red-Nosed Bearded Saki Monkey.
We spend our days walking trails near the lodge, surveying the canopy from a 30-meter tower, and exploring riverine forest by boat. With luck we may encounter an antswarm, allowing us to watch at close range such species as Dot-backed Antbird, Scale-backed Antbird or Spix’s Woodcreeper. The birdlist for Rio Cristalino and the surrounding area includes many furnariids, manakins including Flame-crested, antbirds, and flycatchers. Perhaps we’ll find an industrious Red-necked Woodpecker working on a snag, Swallow-tailed Kites circling gracefully overhead, Curl-crested Araçari with its odd crest feathers, White-lored Euphonia feeding on berries, Bare-necked Fruitcrows flopping overhead, King Vultures riding a thermal, a Short-billed Leaftosser foraging in the open, and with good luck maybe a Harpy Eagle!
River islands in the Teles Pires river support Amazonian Tyrannulet and Drab Water-Tyrant and river boat rides could turn up Zigzag Heron . Nocturnal species include the exquisite Ladder-tailed Nightjar, Ocellated Poorwill, and several owls - Black-banded, Crested and Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl. Clearings around the lodge sometimes attract Bare-faced Curassows. Some of the more interesting birds which we look for include White-browed Hawk, the recently described Cryptic Forest Falcon, Hellmyer’s Parakeet, Pavonine Cuckoo, Blue-necked and Paradise Jacamars, Brown-banded, Collared and Spotted Puffbirds, Black-necked Aracari, Gould’s Toucanet, Curve-billed Scythebill, Cabani’s Spinetail, Chestnut-throated Spinetail, the endemic Glossy Antshrike, Manu Antbird, Wing-banded Antbird, Variegated Antpitta, Fiery-capped Manakin, Ringed Antpitpit, Helmeted Pygmy-Tyrant, Guanianan Gnatcatcher, Gray-chested Greenlet and Red-billed Pied Tanager among others. Additional species we may find include Violaceous Quail-Dove, Golden-winged Parakeet, Red-fan Parrot, Pheasant and Black-bellied Cuckoos, Silky-tailed Nightjar, the endemic Uniform Woodcreeper, Olive-backed (Para) Foliage-gleaner, Natterer’s Slaty Antshrike, Bare-eyed Antbird, Cinnamon-crested Spadebill, Spangled Cotinga, Red-headed and Blue-backed Manakin, Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak, White-winged Shrike-Tanager, Flame-crested Tanager, and the rare White-bellied Dacnis. Nights at Rio Cristalino Lodge.
Day 7. From Rio Cristalino Lodge to Alta Floresta
After another morning of exploring the area around the lodge, we reluctantly leave this magical place and and take a last boat trip along the river to meet our transport to Alta Floresta where our tour ends. Participants carrying on to our Brazil-Amazon & Pantanal tour will fly to Cuiaba where our next adventure begins!