There is a serious emphasis upon spotting and identifying wildlife, especially birds. While nothing is guaranteed there is much wildlife to be seen here. This sets Cristalino apart from more mainstream jungle lodges. As no-one lives here there are no visits to ‘native villages’ and other gimmicks.
Dawn is the best time to spot wildlife, and floating downstream with the boat’s motor switched off is a magical experience. The early morning mist which rises off the river is lit by the dawn sunshine with the sounds of the awakening forest. Macaws screech overhead and if you are lucky you may see a neo-tropic otter poke its head out of the water. As the reserve is uninhabited, there are no other boats or people about and you may feel like you have the jungle to yourself. Look out for caiman, brown capuchin monkeys, otters, macaws, arassaris, green ibis, sun-bitterns and kingfishers.
Your second excursion could be one of the lodge’s 10 walking trails passing through a variety of forest ecosystems – flooded forest, terra-firme forest with ancient hardwoods, or deciduous forest. Sightings of brown capuchin monkeys and agouti are common, and butterflies flutter across the path. One of the trails leads to a clay lick where if you are very lucky you might see peccaries or tapir taking a bath. All the trails are easy; only one has an uphill gradient which leads to a look-out point and a breathtaking view over the jungle.
Afternoon excursions usually depart once the heat of the day has passed. This might be to one of the 2 impressive canopy towers, each 50m high and during your stay you will usually visit both of them; watching the jungle from the top at dawn and dusk. Late afternoon is also prime time to spot birds and animals: white-whiskered spider monkeys, howler monkeys and birds galore: toucans, arassari, macaws, spangled cotinga and swallow-tail kites. You stay at the top for a couple of hours, in order to watch the sunset and return just after nightfall to the lodge.
In the dry season, night-spotting excursions are offered on the river, with the opportunity to sight caimans.