Second only to Peru in terms of family diversity, Brazil has 84 of the 92 families regularly occurring in South America. On this tour we'll be treated to a sampling of many of them, especially cracids, parrots, toucans, woodcreepers, antbirds and cotingas. In the Pantanal, the world's largest freshwater wetland, the multitude of waterbirds will compete for our attention with many other species, including the striking Hyacinth Macaw. In the lower Amazonian basin we'll relish the pristine setting of our comfortable lodge along the Cristalino River and marvel at the mixed-species flocks in the forest: how can so many birds appear (and disappear) so quickly? The rare treat of being able to observe cotingas and canopy flocks at eye level from a unique free-standing tower will make canopy birders of us all. A brief sojourn to Chapada dos Guimarães National Park, along the western edge of the Brazilian plateau, will complement the rest of the trip with new species and superb scenery.
This ornithological extravaganza, combined with an excellent infrastructure of lodges, friendly people and superb food, sets the stage for one of the best birding experiences imaginable. Comfortable accommodations situated close to our birding sites will maximize our time in the field while offering optional opportunities for those who may desire a respite from intensive all-day birding.
Day 1: The tour begins in the Saõ Paulo International Airport at 8:00 a.m. We'll take a morning flight from São Paulo to Cuiabá, capital of the state of Mato Grosso. On arrival we'll drive south to Poconé, where we'll connect with the Transpantaneira highway. Not a highway by modern definition, it is actually a raised dirt track that crosses part of the world's largest freshwater wetland, the Pantanal, which covers approximately 90,000 square miles across Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. The Transpantaneira extends for 148 kilometers to Porto Jofre, with excellent roadside birding throughout its length. By basing ourselves in a comfortable lodge, we'll have easy access to the Pantanal and its birds. Walks from the lodge, boat trips on streams and rivers and drives along the Transpantaneira will provide opportunities to feast from dawn to dusk on the avian offerings of this vast wetland. Dawn flights of parrots as they leave their nighttime roosts, Nacunda Nighthawks hawking in the early morning, Greater Rheas walking sedately through the grasslands with the calls of Buff-necked Ibises and Red-legged Seriemas in the background are just a few of the visions we'll hope to encounter along the way. Night in the Pantanal.(Dinner,Breakfast, Box Lunch included)
Days 2-3: We'll have two days to explore the forest and open areas of our lodge and the Transpantaneira between Poconé and Pixiam. In addition to enjoying the spectacle of herons, ibises, Jabirus, Sunbitterns and parrot flocks, we'll spend time looking for such gems as Chaco Chachalaca, Chestnut-bellied Guan, White-lored Spinetail, Mato Grosso Antbird, Helmeted Manakin and the recently described Gray-crested Cachalote. Nights in the Pantanal (Dinner, Breakfast, Box Lunch included)
Day 4: After some early morning birding near the lodge we'll return to Cuiaba in time for our flight to Alta Floresta in the southern Amazon basin. Here we'll feel as though we have entered a different world. After a transfer to the Teles Pires River we'll enjoy a boat trip on the pristine Cristalino River as we make our way to the lodge. Late afternoon along the river can hold many surprises and our introduction to the Amazonian forest could include Scarlet, Red-and-green or Blue-and-yellow Macaws flying overhead, an Amazonian Umbrellabird crossing the river in front of us, Red-throated Piping Guans perched high in trees or, with incredible luck, a tapir taking a cooling swim in the river. Our lodge is located minutes away from the river with comfortable rooms, friendly and helpful staff and birds, birds, birds! Night at Rio Cristalino Lodge.(Dinner,Breakfast, Box Lunch included)
Days 5-9: We'll quickly realize that five days, five weeks or even five months would not allow us to absorb all that the lower Amazon Basin has to offer. We'll spend our days walking trails near the lodge, surveying the canopy from a 30-meter tower and exploring the riverine forest by boat. With luck we may encounter an antswarm, allowing us to watch at close range such species as Bare-eyed Antbird, Black-spotted Bare-eye or even White-chinned Woodcreeper. With the birdlist for Rio Cristalino and the surrounding area exceeding 500 species, the many woodcreepers, furnariids, antbirds and flycatchers, combined with the local Crimson-bellied Parakeet, Striolated Puffbird, Musician and Tooth-billed Wrens, Rufous-capped Antthrush and at times the rare and unexpected such as Gray-bellied Hawk or Kawall's Parrot, will have many of us birding from dawn to dusk and beyond with stops only for some more of the incredibly delicious food provided by the staff and rest breaks during the heat of the day. Nights at Rio Cristalino Lodge (Dinner, Breakfast, Box Lunch included).
Day 10: After a final morning birding this superb area we'll sadly say farewell and take a last boat trip along the river to meet our transport to Alta Floresta for our afternoon flight to Cuiabá. Following arrival in Cuiabá, we'll depart for Chapada dos Guimarães, where we'll spend two nights. Night in Chapada dos Guimarães (Dinner, Breakfast, Box Lunch included).
Day 11: We'll spend a bird-filled last day in Chapada dos Guimarães National Park and surrounding areas . Located on the edge of Brazil's central plateau, the Chapada offers impressive monolithic rock formations and a spectacular waterfall. We'll spend the morning in a cerrado area searching for targets including Red-winged Tinamou, White-banded and White-rumped Tanagers, Collared Crescentchest, and Chapada Flycatcher, a new species described in 2001. The final hours of the day will be spent at Véu de Noiva, where we'll watch for the evening return of Red-and-green and Blue-winged Macaws to their cliff-side roost sites. Night in Chapada dos Guimarães (Dinner, Breakfast, Box Lunch included)
Day 12: After breakfast, we'll return to Cuiabá in time for our connecting flight to Rio de Janeiro where the tour concludes.
Note: Maximum group size seven with one leader; 14 with two leaders.
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South America Brazil Nature & Wildlife Birdwatching Ecotourism