Frogging Santuário do Caraça

Ololygon luizotavioi

About a hundred kilometers east of Belo Horizonte (the capital of Minas Gerais, Brazil) is Santuário do Caraça, an 11,233 hectare reserve in the Serra do Espinhaço, the longest mountain range in Brazil. The reserve contains large tracts of Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Rainforest), as well as Cerrado (a drier ecosystem common to inland Brazil south of the Amazon rainforest). In April 2017 I spent three days exploring the reserve. My first night I began my search for frogs at the pond near the main lodging area. It was a cool night and the rainy season had recently ended, so there was only one frog calling. Fortunately I was able to make eye contact with a bright yellow frog (Ololygon luizotavioi) perched high on a leaf.

Ololygon luizotavioi
A beautiful Ololygon luizotavioi

I hiked a few kilometers under the moonlight to the Cascatinha (small waterfall), where I found dozens of Bokermannohyla martinsi tadpoles. Mist filled the valley below and I could see the silhouette of peaks in the distance.
Bokermannohyla martinsi tadpole
Tadpole of Bokermannohyla martinsi

On my walk home I spotted a beautiful Bokermannohyla sp. treefrog (known as perereca) on a branch on the side of the trail.
Bokermannohyla frogs santuario do caraca
Bokermannohyla sp.

The path led me through the forest and the cerrado, straight towards the moon:
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santuario do caraca frog species
I am told that on a hot summer night, you can find 20+ amphibian species here!

The next day I worked on a grant proposal to lead a group of 10 young frog enthusiasts through the Southeast USA for nine days next summer. Afterwards I headed out for a long hime to Bocaina, a waterfall at the other end of the valley.Santuario do Caraca bocaina creek brazil moonriseSantuario do Caraca mountainskerry kriger minas geraisserra do espinhaca brazilminas gerais travelbrazil snakeshiking serra do espinhacahiking minas geraiskerry kriger brasilminas gerais brazil

The next morning I hiked to The Grotto, a cave on the side of a mountain wall. Along the way I crossed a stream that was home to some beautifully striped tadpoles:
stream frogsOlolygon machadoi girino
Ololygon machadoi tadpole

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In the late afternoon, I headed in the opposite direction, to a large waterfall called Cascatona. The walk was mostly forested until I came to an exposed area overlooking a dramatic valley, at the bottom of which was Cascatona, down a steep trail. I arrived about an hour before sunset, and walked home as night fell, the path lit up by my frogging headlamp.
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Learn more about SAVE THE FROGS! in Brazil at: