Harpyland, South Amazon

Every birder and wildlife photographer wants to see a Harpy Eagle, the most spectacular, most massive bird of prey on Earth. With legs as thick as a man’s wrist and talons the size of a Grizzly Bear, the Harpy dwarfs the Bald Eagle of the USA. The Harpy Eagle lives only in tall, mature tropical rainforest and eats mostly medium-to-large monkeys and sloths. Its method of hunting does not involve the hours of soaring per day typical of so many eagles. Rather, this apex predator sits motionless for hours in the dark canopy of rainforest trees and waits for monkeys to move into range and then attacks using short, fast flights. As this method of hunting takes place entirely within the closed rainforest canopy and subcanopy, the wings of this eagle are shorter and its tail is longer than one would expect for the world’s heaviest raptor.

Until 26 May 2017, people wishing to travel by nature, spending even an entire week in lodges in the remotest, wildest corners of the Amazon (for instance, Manu River, Upper Tambopata River, Heath River, Las Piedras River) had a one-in-a-thousand chance of seeing and photographing this majestic raptor.

All that has changed, for thanks to our new, unique method of locating Harpy Eagle nests, in one part of Brazil, we now have 35 Harpy nests in our conservation tourism system. Our method of discovering Harpy nests relies on an extensive network of paid informants who work in vast tracts of tall Amazon forest in an area half the size of the UK. Most of these informants are Brazil nut collectors, who differ in one extremely important way from nut collectors in most of the Amazon, namely our informants do not hunt. This felicitous exception makes it possible for us to learn about Harpy nests where the adult birds already are very accustomed to the sight and sounds of humans.

Therefore, SouthWild now can guarantee that even on a ONE DAY visit to one of our Harpy Towers, you will enjoy excellent views of a full-grown Harpy Eagle and probably will get very good photos. If you spend two or three days on our Harpy Tower, your chances of getting very good photos are 99.99%. In fact, since our 2017 debut of “Harpy Guaranteed”, all of our guests during 350-guest-days of visits have seen a full-sized Harpy Eagle at close range, at eye level, and with a green background.

Currently, we have four purpose-built observation towers for observing Harpy nests from eye level. We constantly revisit our large set of nests, decide which nests are in good phases for our towers, and then dismantle and rebuild them close to the best “nests of the season”. Each tower stays at a particular nest for 5-12 months, and nests of the season always are located 1.5-5h by car from the cities of Alta Floresta or Cuiabá. Space on the towers is limited, so contact us for details. Up to 8 people can stand comfortably on top of the tower at one time. Add the Harpy Eagle as an extension to a Jaguar trip with us. We can design flexible, customized, comfortable programs for you.

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