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  • Writer's pictureRob Jansen

It’s a Wild Life! – A Warm Welcome

After Iguazú we visited some more parks in the north of Argentina. A combination of getting a lot of new bird species and relaxed camping and doing absolutely nothing in between. Without internet it’s amazing how you can sometimes just sit in a chair and do absolutely nothing for hours. Looking around at the rainforest, talking to each other, reading a book. After 5 hours you realize you only read a few pages. All the parks and campings were free, and most rangers were really nice; letting us use the volunteer’s cabin to take a shower for example. One ranger enthusiastically told many stories about how they capture illegal hunters one night. The next day he walks up to us to show a bag full of ‘gear’ and a rifle they just confiscated from a poacher just an hour before.

The world travel bird list with all the different species we saw grew rapidly. Rob even added his 2000th bird species to his life list here in Argentina: a Purple-crowned Plovercrest. We enjoyed our last weeks in Argentina and are glad that we will come back (we still want to go to the northwest). Even if it is just for the cheap prices… We wanted to fill up our tank one last time on the Argentinean side, before we would cross the border to Brazil. We parked next to the pump, asked if they had fuel and the answer was “si”. But they just stood there, as we waited and for clarity repeated our question. Yes, they had fuel. Politely I asked if they could fill our tank up then. Nop, they couldn’t do that, there was no light. Not a shortage of fuel this time, but having no power ^^.

The 21st of March we left our hotel early in the morning to cross the border to Brazil. This went waaay easier than getting into Argentina (remember this blog?). Only the Temporary Import Permit for the car took 1,5 hours. After that we took out Reais at the bank, arranged a new SIM card for our phones and did groceries. A new country is always a bit scary, and Brazil is known to be one of the more dangerous countries in South-America. Lots of km and many speed cameras later (they love their cameras here…) we stopped at a gas station to fill up. An old man said hello and started filling up our tank. He gave a signal to someone and suddenly four men came out of nowhere and walked towards our car. One was at the driver’s window, another at the passenger’s side. A third one at the back and one at the front of the car. Nowhere to go. Then they grabbed something from their sides and started to move around the car, vigorously moving their arms. I have to say, our car windows have never been cleaner before. What a warm welcome to Brazil :)

The warm welcome ended quickly when we made our first stop in Brazil: Urupema. Urupema is said to be the coldest place in Brazil. And cold it was! We had to find our thermal clothing and gloves again, and we could sleep inside our car for a long time again. In the forests here grow many Araucaria trees. Normally we are not big fans of these kinds of trees in gardens in the Netherlands, but here the landscape was beautiful, with many Araucaria trees rising on all the hillsides.

Some more stops later we arrive on the island Superagui, an island where a very special kind of primate lives: the Black-faced Lion Tamarin. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see this species even after 6 days of searching, most of them with a guide. Mosquitos were present in huge numbers though. Luckily Brazil has many more primates in store for us; besides all the beautiful landscapes, birds and other mammals. The next place we had more luck, as we found the Black Lion Tamarin/Golden-rumped Lion Tamarin (a cousin of the other Lion Tamarin we missed on the island) after 4 hours of searching! We were able to observe them for hours, even the small curious young twins!:)

And we weren’t done with primates yet! The next place was Fazenda Bacury, a farm in the state of Sao Paulo where a big part of forest has been left intact. Here we could in theory find 5 primates, of which 4 would have been new to us! This place is home to the Southern Muriqui, a very special (Woolly) Spider Monkey. They are called Spider Monkeys because of their proportionately long limbs, and the Southern Muriqui is the biggest primate in South-America. Easy to find you would say; but searching for more than 25 hours, walking in the forest, we only saw 1 new species for about 2 minutes (the Muriqui though!). Not the best score, but it was very nice to have some luxury like a house, a shower (yes, that’s luxury for us) and a whole forest to ourselves. We even got invited to a delicious BBQ for friends and family of the ranger guarding the place. They all thought it was hilarious to have some foreigners over and every food item they offered was translated via Google, after which everybody had to laugh loudly.

That is probably a good indication of our time so far in Brazil. Lots of searching for rare primates, lots of talking with guides and hosts via Google Translate (because nobody speaks English) and despite the language barrier we still find friendly people to share a meal with or enjoy the Brazilian nature together.


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