Cristalino Lodge

Family owned and run Cristalino Lodge is an exceptional destination for nature lovers, sitting lightly and sustainably in a private reserve and bordering the vast Cristalino State Park, a vital conservation area in the southern Amazon. This 11,399-hectare biodiversity hotspot is known as an ecotone, meaning there’s an extraordinary diversity of bird and other wildlife. It’s the place for birding in the Brazilian Amazon with over 600 species, including the harpy eagle and black-girdled barbet, 2,000 species of butterflies and over 40 mammal species such as tapirs, monkeys and a resident giant river otter family, which featured in the BBC documentary “Earth’s Great Rivers: The Amazon”. The rich biodiversity is the result of variations in altitude of up to 450masl. and the six distinct types of rainforest found here - evergreen, deciduous, semi-deciduous, riparian, campinarana and floodplain.

Cristalino was one of Brazil’s’s first eco-lodges and is still among the best in Latin America, its stunning architecture blending seamlessly into the primary rainforest surroundings. The rooms and bungalows are stylish and luxurious, with solar energy and photovoltaic panels to keep the water warm and the rooms cool. Candlelit Brazilian cuisine draws on regional recipes and seasonal organic ingredients. A floating bar-deck beside the pristine River Cristalino is the perfect place to relax by day to the sound of birdsong and later to gather round the firepit as the rainforest chorus awakes below star studded skies.

Immersive adventures include rainforest hikes with passionate nature guides and botanists, whose expert eyes point out the well camouflaged wildlife and rich vegetation, including a huge number of tree species and wild orchids. The observation towers offer sweeping panoramas of the emerald canopy and are ideal for spotting macaws, parrots, tanagers, cotingas, the white-nosed saki and endemic white-whiskered spider monkey. Other activities include year-round access to a large network of trails plus excursions by kayak and boat, such as the Sunset Tour with its wonderful views.

The founders of Cristalino Lodge are committed to the conservation of this fragile ecosystem. They set up the Cristalino Foundation to promote the protection of the region’s natural resources, with its many important research projects and educational programmes. Lodge rates include a contribution for the Foundation.

Senderos Soul

I’ve visited many rainforest lodges but nowhere quite like Cristalino Lodge. It’s a short flight, drive and boat ride from the Pantanal wetlands, making it easy to combine the two most important areas for wildlife spotting in Brazil, without spending all day travelling and avoiding having to fly further north. There's even a mini version of the “meeting of the waters” here, where the lighter Teles Pires meets the tranquil, black Cristalino river.

The undulating terrain is unusual for the Amazon and it’s the main reason for the amazing biodiversity, even by Amazon standards. Another is being part of an immense area of virgin, protected forest and far from any large cities, in a transitional zone where the biomes and wildlife of the "cerrado" tropical savannah and the Pantanal wetlands converge. The Amazon is teeming with wildlife but it’s not always easy to see in the dense vegetation - Cristalino’s canopy towers and boat rides make it easier and we enjoyed excellent sightings of many species of birds and mammals. I learnt that much of the wildlife is endemic to the different types of forest at Cristalino, to the extent that some birds don’t even fly across rivers. Cristalino Lodge really is a haven for birdwatchers and all nature lovers.

Gareth, Senderos

Getting there

The lodge is located in the far south of the Brazilian Amazon, in the state of Mato Grosso.

by road

BY ROAD

1 hour drive from Alta Floresta airport, followed by 30-minute boat transfer.

by boat

BY BOAT

The lodge is only accessible by boat.

by air

BY AIR

Nearest airport: Alta Floresta, reached by daily one hour flights from Cuiaba by Azul Airlines.