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Cristalino Private Rainforest Reserve is recognized as an extremely important area in terms of biodiversity, and the exceptional number of species makes it one of the richest places to observe birds, mammals, butterflies and orchids in a primary forest environment.

The reserve offers a unique opportunity to see a variety of medium to low altitude eco-zones: different types of forest cover, lakes, and microhabitats. These are home to around 600 species of birds and diverse neo-tropical wildlife from carnivorous predators such as jaguar, harpy eagle and giant otter to the gentle herbivores such as capybara and agouti. The location near the junction of two rivers, one ‘white-water’, the other ‘black-water,’ produces different soil types supporting a diversity of topography, trees, orchids and bromeliads, terrestrial mammals, monkeys, bats, birds, reptiles, fish, butterflies and other insects.

Although encounters with the reclusive jaguar depend on persistence and luck, in just a few days most visitors can see the majority of Cristalino’s other creatures with the help of highly trained guides whether from a boat on the river, during a nature walk on one of the many trails, or from atop the 50-metre high observation tower.

The rainforest reserve covers an area of almost 12,000 hectares, lying just beyond the borders of Cristalino State Park, at the southern extent of the Amazon Basin. Watered by the pristine Cristalino River - from which it takes its name - it is connected to other protected areas, thereby forming a huge conservation corridor in the Southern Amazon.

Managed by the Cristalino Ecological Foundation in partnership with Flora & Fauna International, the reserve was established with the specific goals of conserving natural resources and biodiversity; developing environmental education within the local community to promote environmental awareness and empower local inhabitants; promoting responsible and sustainable ecotourism; and supporting research into natural resources through the foundation. To achieve these objectives, the reserve is divided into separate geographical zones with different purposes such as tourism, conservation, research and monitoring.

The Amazon is home to more plant and animal species than any other terrestrial ecosystem, and contains maybe 30% of the world’s species. The biodiversity is astounding: a single bush may contain more species of ants than the entire British Isles, while a lone hectare of forest may contain more than 480 species of trees. The foundation is working with Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Mato Grosso State University to study the forests. So far, over 1,200 different plant species have been found – three of them new to science – and eight different types of forest have been classified, but maybe the most interesting discovery is that each type of vegetation usually has an endemic species of wildlife associated with it.

View suggested itinerary

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: agouti, capybara, giant otter, harpy eagle, jaguar
  • Where: Mata Grosso, Brazil

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itinerary:

Jaguars of the Pantanal

Staying in comfortable lodges, this trip offers some of the finest opportunities to see rare wildlife in the Pantanal. In the company of skilled naturalist guides, search for the elusive jaguar on the Cuiabà River, before continuing to Cristalino Private Reserve, which possesses a high number of species and endemics.

  • When to go: Jun-Oct
  • Duration inc. flights: 15 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £7,095 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Cristalino Jungle Lodge

Voted one of the best hotels in Brazil by National Geographic Traveller, Cristalino Jungle Lodge is an environmental award-winning lodge, located in a private reserve beside Cristalino State Park, accessible only by boat. It is a good option for birdwatchers due to its 50-metre high observation tower.