This is a chance for you to showcase the stories and images from your trips. This is a new page and we are keen to hear from you so please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
REEF AND RAINFOREST CLIENTS SET RECORD FOR JAGUAR SIGHTINGS.
Reef and Rainforest clients have just set a record for the number of jaguars seen at the Jaguar Research Centre in Brazil's Pantanal. Please see the amazing photos by Andy Brentnall plus the full report from his guide Alyson:
“We had an incredible 13 sightings of Jaguars, which turned out to be nine different Jaguars. Two of the 9 were new for the Jaguar Research Centre — so the guest who first saw them will have naming rights, as is the custom at JRC. Names to be determined.
ORANG-UTAN ENCOUNTERS IN BORNEO
See below another excellent collection of photos from Andy Brentnall who has just returned from Borneo. As well as a tussle with an orang-utan at Sepilok, Andy had wonderful views of ‘King’ a large male orang-utan in the Danum Valley.
See our full selection of tailor-made Borneo itineraries.
TWELVE JAGUARS, PLUS AN OCELOT
Amazing cat sightings in Brazil:
“Well, you did ‘what it said on the tin’ – we searched for Jaguars and found an Ocelot!! ….. oh yes and 12 sightings of Jaguar!!!
First sighting was Wilson …. before we had even got to the boat and tents. We spent the afternoon watching him sunning himself on the bank. Charlie .. the wonderful host ..brought rice, beans, chicken and salad out to us on the boat – that’s service! And we got to the boat and tents at dusk.
We had 5 sightings on the second day. Could it get any better?
Oh yes – third day, we had just got over seeing Paris with her grown up cub when Bobolita turned up with a cub (no more than 2 months old according to the guides) and they proceeded to swim across the creek in front of us and come up the bank .. I have the snaps to prove it! None of the guides or the naturalist had seen a cub so young ..
Charlie was miffed we’d seen something he hadn’t!! With an afternoon sighting of Wilson again ..swimming across the river and then sunning himself that was another 5 sightings! We added a last sighting on the transfer back to the van on the fourth morning. 8 different Jaguars – 12 sightings – we hope we haven’t burnt up all your luck! Add in a night view in the camp, by flash light of Night Monkeys – again not normally seen – what a trip.
Back at Santa Teresa, we went on a night drive with flash light and found an Ocelot that walked along in the undergrowth but in view as we backed the vehicle for about two minutes!!!" Mr MW - Bedfordshire
KINGDOM OF THE JAGUAR REPORT - Bernie Reichert
A beautiful selection of photos and feedback from a recent Quest for the Jaguar Group Tour
MADAGASCAR MON AMOUR - Entertaining travels on the Big Red Island
This September Ruth and I have had the trip of a lifetime, organised by a company called Reef and Rainforest, when we visited Madagascar for the first time. The whole experience could not have been more expertly arranged and our holiday was completely free of any niggles with accommodation or travel under the control of the company.
We arrived at the capital Antanarivo and recognised our guide immediately from the beaming smile in the picture we had received. Kenny was a delight throughout the many days we spent with him, answering the questions no doubt asked so many times by tourists before us with infinite patience and good grace. There were only 6 people in the party so we had the benefit of a great deal of his individual attention. He is charm itself and also blessed with the unusual gift of knowing when not to talk about a scene; to let it speak for itself.
The hotels we stayed in all had particular good points, whether it was the profusion of wildlife, the food, the pool or the sheer luxury at Anjajavy and we had the right clothing to cope with rainforest conditions on a couple of nocturnal walks. At Anjajavy we were overwhelmed to find the villa was fronted by beach and about 20 yards from the Indian Ocean, which was a soothing background to sleep with the faint susurration of the waves at night lulling us into the arms of Morpheus. The bougainvillea blossoms on the beds and in the rooms were a thoughtful, pretty touch. Tea at The Oasis garden at 5.00pm daily was accompanied by a plethora of animals and we had the best experience ever when wandering down the access road to the hotel at that time to find a family of Coqurel’s Sifaka lemurs had decided to use it to get to afternoon tea. Mum had a teenager on her back and did the “dance” encumbered by the youngster on her back. This involves a skipping movement with arms held high in the manner of an old fashioned dance troupe leaving the stage one by one and is very entertaining. She then proceeded to pose purposefully for the photo opportunity we wanted, giving way to the male who followed her to do exactly the same. Marvellous! When we got to the tea venue the family were already there, with 10 or so brown lemurs in a line gazing into the shrubbery with all their tails held in exactly the same way – unbelievably comic.
I don’t want anyone to get the idea that the country is the lush green they may imagine. Life is hard for the inhabitants and conditions very poor. We travelled past wooden shacks with great gaps in the planking, villages with huge numbers of children and chickens in the dust and market sellers trying to make a living from selling a heap of peanuts, for example. People have to walk miles to work and to get water. The cattle, Zebus, are kept as status symbols for ceremonies and little used for milk or meat.
As visitors we were lucky enough to be able to see and enjoy the famed wildlife, which was around us in abundance. Everyday I kept a list of the new creatures we had seen, omitting repetitions and even on the last day there were 8 new entries! One of the highlights was the massive lemur fossil in a cave. We’ve been told there are only 10 of these on the island, so it was a bit disconcerting for the guide to toss the separate finger bones for us to catch! Luckily we were all uncackhanded enough to catch them successfully. This particular fossil showed that there had been giant lemurs almost the size of Man.
We were thrilled to get a very good view of the rare Madagascan Fish Eagle with babies. In fact we had 3 separate sightings of this bird and there are thought to be only around 200 of this endangered species, among the world’s rarest raptors, left.
One favourite was the Leaf-Tailed Gecko, a master of concealment, using camouflage to fool the eye. One was pointed out by a guide at a reserve on the trunk of a tree by a road and it looked so much like lichen that one member of our party still couldn’t discern it from a distance of 2 inches! This does not bode well for identification on my photographs! This guide, Etienne, took my camera and shot some marvellous pictures of a Brown lemur for me. We also experienced the earshattering and eerie cries of the Indri as well as getting some good views of several animals. I’ve always wanted to experience that sound, but it’s not one I’d like to encounter at night. We had a closer meeting with a Tree Boa, doing a fine impression of a tyre with worn out tread resting in the crook of a branch totally motionless and nearly stepped on an unrealistically slim Pencil Snake.
There is a popular misconception that Chameleons change colour to blend in with surroundings and we saw quite a few in the wild which certainly matched, but one in a small reptile zoo gave the theory that emotion causes the change more credence as it was a bright shade of shocking pink and stood out on the branch like a sore thumb: we were told it was feeling upset!
One of the Ring Tailed Lemurs at the Berenty reserve cheekily shouldered his way into the accommodation and made off with my banana, proceeding to sit in a tree nearby and scoff the lot, making sure none of his mates was aware of the prize. There was a thump later as another one fell from a tree to the ground, standing dazed for a time and eventually wandering off with a tail which certainly showed signs of the accident, bearing a new kink.
Until recently I’ve been considering doing a tandem parachute jump next year, but one of the internal flights was in a 4 seater plane, which cured me of the idea. It was just that the vision of leaping off at the height we were at became more of a reality. The flight itself was a great experience as we bumbled along speedily like a titchy bug bustling self-importantly in a space vast enough to engulf it for all eternity.
I can’t give a description of all the wonderful creatures we encountered and haven’t even touched on the plant life, with the Spiny Forest, orchids, Boababs, Ebony and Rosewood trees, but I hope this account gives a flavour of the new and strange world we encountered.
Ms SB - STOKE ON TRENT
PANTANAL JAGUAR EPIC ENCOUNTER
Two of Reef and Rainforest’s clients were extremely fortunate recently in witnessing a classic encounter between two of the Pantanal’s largest predators, the jaguar and giant otter, while on an outing from the unique Jaguar Research Centre in Brazil. Our clients usually do see giant otter and jaguar when at JRC, but not normally together and with such drama. The amazing story, as related by one of the JRC’s guides to his boss, is as follows:
The remarkable picture capturing the event (you can just make out our clients in a boat in the centre of the picture):
We returned to Venezuela a year after our first visit. Not much had changed although the government had announced on January 12th that it intended to nationalise the Hato Pinero ranch and wildlife reserve, where we had scheduled a seven day stay. We were re-assured later by an official from the Ministry of Environment that the takeover may be deferred for 2 – 3 years. In any event, it is ok to book in there and, even if acquired by the government, hopefully the eco-tourist operation may continue, as it has done at one of the other nationalised Hatos, El Cedral.
Hato Pinero forms part of our Natural History Highlights Of Venezuela tour.
AND A CENTRAL AMERICAN FOOTNOTE…
I combined my visit to Venezuela with a return to Chan Chich in Belize. We had two distant, night sightings of puma and the week we were there staff members saw at closer range in daytime, four puma and 1 jaguar. Chan Chich remains an amazing lodge and reserve and the staff were most helpful in our endeavours. As it was end of seasons we were able to secure private drives morning and evening.
Chan Chich forms part of our Belize Natural History Highlights tour.
Daphne Barbieri is an award winning amateur film maker and we are very privileged to be given a sneak preview of her latest film hunting jaguars in Brazil’s Pantanal:
Allan and Amanda Pitkin have put together a wonderful web account of their recent trip to Peru. Please click on the image below to see their website devoted to this.
Ian Silvester has produced a wonderful collection of images from his recent trip to Brazil. The site also has some lovely shots of steam trains plus wildlife from around the globe. Please click on the image below to visit the site.
Two more superb short films by Daphne Barbieri, this time for Madagascar:
“I must reiterate how good this holiday was. Alan Godwin provided the perfect itinerary for us. Our guide ensured everything was seamless; both he and our driver were pleasant to be with and were acutely aware of likes/wishes in what we wanted to see. There was never any rush. Tsarabanjina was perfect…[Your representatives] were excellent.”
Mr J H - West Sussex