Paraguayan Pantanal Nature Reserve
The Paraguayan Pantanal Nature Reserve is a 15,000 hectare reserve owned and managed by Guyra Paraguay. This part of the Pantanal, the largest wetland in the world, is one of the few sites in the world where the visitor may have a chance to find the three most-endangered species in Paraguay, “The Three Giants” – the Giant Armadillo, the Giant River Otter, and the Giant Anteater. The area surrounding the Río Negro (Black River) is a magnificent and pristine area full of gallery forests, palm forests, and extensive wetlands. While exploring these different habitats, visitors will easily be able to observe the abundant wildlife – aquatic birds, mammals, and reptiles – that are found in few other regions throughout the world.
Depending on the time of the year and level of the river, the Pantanal is home to huge quantities and large concentrations of aquatic birds: herons, cormorants, storks, ducks, screamers, and terns are abundant throughout the region. Reptiles are also common throughout the region, with snakes, lizards, Jacare Caiman, Iguana, and Black Tegu Lizard. This is also a good area for viewing mammals, with Black howler Monkey, Dusky titi Monkey, Marsh Deer, Gray Brocket Deer, Capybara, Giant River Otter, and, if your goal is to see a jaguar, “Los Tres Gigantes” offers the best opportunity.
“Los Tres Gigantes” Field Station
“Los Tres Gigantes” Field Station, inaugurated in 2008, has three rooms with space available for up to 12 people. Two of the rooms are shared with bunk beds for four lodgers in one and six in the other, each room with its own private bath. There is also a suite with private bath, couch, dresser, and king-sized bed. The biological station is powered by solar panels, and has kitchen facilities, a common area, and walking trails leading into the palm forests. Visitors may also take advantage of the canoes, horses, and fishing gear available at the lodge. Because of the large number of mosquitoes found in the area, the station is enclosed with metallic screens. Located along the banks of the Río Negro, “Los Tres Gigantes” is only accessible by boat and all food must be brought from the nearby town of Bahía Negra. The staff at the station prepares all of the meals and also acts as guides for the visitors.
What to look for:
Aquatic birds in huge quantities and large concentrations -- depending on the time of the year and level of the river: herons, cormorants, storks, ducks, screamers, and terns are abundant throughout the region.
Amongst the 280 registered species in the area, the following are popular species that can be easily spotted throughout the year:
• Band-tailed Nighthawk
• Toco Toucan
• Swallow-tailed Hummingbird
• Pale-legged Hornero
• Gray-crested Cachalote
• Mato Grosso Antbird
• Fawn-breasted Wren
• Silver-beaked Tanager
• Orange-backed Troupial
Reptiles are also observed regularly throughout the area. Including snakes and lizards, these are some of the species that are commonly observed:
• Yacare Caiman
• Black Tegu
Monkeys, deer, rodents, armadillos, and otters are on display as the visitor traverses the wetlands and forests. Some mammals that will make their presence felt are as follows:
• Black howler Monkey
• Dusky Titi Monkey
• Marsh Deer (a threatened species)
• Gray Brocket Deer
• Capybara (the largest rodent in the world)
• Giant River Otter (a very threatened species)
Night activities include exploring the Negro river with a spotlight in order to better view the caimans and the capybaras.
• ALISTAIR KERLIN,
BIRDING PARAGUAY COORDINATOR,
• (+595) 229 097 / 223 567
Travel to the Paraguayan Pantanal
Your destination will be Bahía Negra, the closest town to our Paraguayan Pantanal Nature Reserve. From Bahía Negra it is a 45-60 minute boat ride up the río Paraguay and the río Negro before reaching our 15,000 hectare reserve. The price for the use of our boat is U$D 30 per day, plus gas. The price of gas round-trip from Bahía Negra to our reserve is approximately U$D 62.50. Using the boat around the lodge will be on a pay-as-you-go basis. There are also canoes and horses that may be utilized for reaching different areas of the reserve.
THERE ARE THREE (3) WAYS TO GET TO BAHÍA NEGRA:
BY ROAD -- it is possible to rent a four-wheel drive truck from TOURING AND AUTOMÓVIL CLUB -- Tel. (+595 21) 447 945, based out of Asunción -- a Mitsubishi Montero or Nissan Patrol -- that include insurance on non-asphalted roads. This is important because the route from Asunción to Bahía Negra is asphalted for approximately 470 km to Cruce Pioneros, then non-asphalted (dirt) for approximately 450 km to Bahía Negra and car rental agencies such as Avis/Hertz/National do not offer this type of insurance.
As of January 7th, 2009, the prices for a six (6) day rental were as follows:
MITSUBISHI MONTERO -- Gs. 5,808,000 (U$D 1,148.51 with the exchange rate on March 11th, 2009), this includes taxes, unlimited kilometers and insurance on paved and dirt roads
NISSAN PATROL -- Gs. 8,131,200 (U$D 1607.92 as of March 11th), includes taxes, unlimited kilometers and insurance on paved and dirt roads.
There is also a bus service which leaves Asunción at 1900 hs on Tuesdays and arrives in Bahía Negra after midday on Wednesday. Its cost is Gs. 190,000 (U$D 37.57).
BY BOAT -- BARCO AQUIDABÁN -- Tel. (+595 331) 242 435 -- based out of Concepción, Paraguay.
SCHEDULE: Leaves Concepción on Tuesdays at 11:00 am, arriving Friday dawn in Bahía Negra
PRICES: Ticket price of Gs. 100,000 (U$D 19.77)
Room price of Gs. 80,000 (U$D 15.82)
INCLUDES: The ticket price of Gs. 100,000 is the price to get on the boat and travel to Bahía Negra. The price for a room is Gs. 80,000 on top of the Gs. 100,000. For those not choosing to rent a room, it is recommended that they take a hammock (easily found on the street or the markets of Asunción). Food is not included, but there is a small bar with empanadas and other traditional snack foods, although these provisions are known to run out. It is recommended that people bring their own food and water for the 3 1/2 day trip. This is not a luxurious trip, as it is mostly used to take products from Concepción to Bahía Negra. It does not travel during the week before Easter (Holy Week), or the week of Christmas/New Year's.
PLEASE NOTE: Reaching Concepción to embark on the Aquidabán -- bus trip from Asunción to Concepción, which is usually better at night, as you must be in Concepción on Tuesday morning at 11 am. Price -- Gs. 70,000 (U$D 13.84). Duration -- approximately 5-6 hours.
BY AIR -- there are two forms of air travel to Bahía Negra -- TAM (Transporte Aereo Militar, not the Mercosur airline), and chartered plane.
TAM -- Tel. (+595 981) 191 786, Sonia Suárez -- this is a service that has just recently re-opened. It travels on Fridays and/or Wednesdays depending on the demand. The price for a one-way ticket is Gs. 350,000 (U$D 69.21) and takes about two hours to reach Bahía Negra.
Chartered airplane -- on a reservation basis, and we tend to use the two following companies:
AIRMEN S.A. -- Tel. (+595 21) 645 990 / 645 980 and (+595 981) 909 761 / 415 473 (cellular phone, 24-hr attention) -- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PRICE: Single motor for five (5) passengers -- U$D 1,625 for 2 days/1 night (overnight is U$D 50 per night, plus room and board for the pilot).
Twin motor for nine (9) passengers -- U$D 3,360 for 2 days/1 night (overnight is U$D 50 per night, plus room and board for the pilot).
AEROTAX, S.A. -- Tel. (+595 21) 645 616 / 646 523 -- email: email@example.com
PRICE: Single motor for three (3) passengers -- U$D 1,290 (overnight is U$D 50 per night, plus room and board for the pilot).
Twin motor for six (6) passengers -- U$D 2,488 (overnight is U$D 50 per night, plus room and board for the pilot).