ARAGUAIA RIVER: Fresh Water Dolphins and More
The great Araguaia River traverses Brazil's central state of Goiás. It is widely believed, but not yet proved, that this 1,630 mile-long (2,630km-long) river supports more fish species than any other does. On its way to the Amazon, at one point it splits and later rejoins, forming the Ilha do Bananal. The Bananal is the world's largest river island; nearly 200 miles (320km) from end to end. This incredible river is also a fantastic wildlife and adventure destination. Due to an active sport fishing industry, boats and accommodations are readily available.
Our recent scouting trip out of Luis Alves, south of the Bananal, discovered places to see and even hand-feed Pink River Dolphins! Hundreds of strange Hoatzins lined the river shore. Yellow and the endangered Black Caiman are plentiful, and huge Giant River Turtles join slide-necked South American River Turtles. Marsh Deer is still common in some areas, along with several species of armadillos, Common Iguana, two species of rays, Brown Capuchin, Black Spider Monkey, Crab-eating Fox, Crab-eating Raccoon and many other animals.
It is similar to Brazil's exciting Pantanal, with an Amazonian twist. Giant Wood-Rail replaces the Grey-necked; Northern Screamer the Southern. Water levels rise and fall considerably, leaving flooded wetlands. Huge flocks of Jabirus with Maguari and Wood Storks are joined by other waterbirds from May to September. As a birder's destination, it is superb. Over 300 species occur, including the highly restricted and endemic Bananal Antbird.
We suggest starting the tour spending the first night in the historic city of Goiás. Surrounding this charming town is rich Cerrado woodlands, similar to some of the habitat around Chapada dos Guimarães and Emas National Park, but more extensive. You'll certainly want to spend at least one morning here, and it breaks up the drive to Luis Alves.
Great wildlife on land and in the water, fun boat trips, friendly people, great food and more make this a prime if undiscovered destination for the adventurer and ecotourist. We suggest five to eight days, depending on your interests.