BRAZIL – PANTANAL
9–20 July 2017
This tour will give you the chance to see some of the most highly sought-after birds and mammals on the planet including the endangered Hyacinth Macaw and Jaguar. Against a backdrop of the immense Pantanal and spectacular Chapada we will look for a variety of waterbirds, raptors, parrots passerines together with animals including Yellow-throated Caiman, Giant River Otters, Capybaras and maybe even the rare Tapir.
Day 1 Overnight flight to Sao Paulo.
Day 2 Arrival in Sao Paulo and transfer to an internal flight to Cuiaba where we meet our local guide and spend the night. Depending on the time of arrival, we may be able to visit local sites for some introductory birding.
Day 3 This morning we will set off early to our first destination of Serra das Araras. We will check into our accommodation and swiftly begin our birding adventure! The habitat in this particular region is very interesting as it is the transition zone between the Cerrado habitat and the imposing Amazon rainforest. The highlight at Serra das Araras for many years was the magnificent Harpy Eagle with an active nest present, and, although there is still a chance of seeing this bird, its nest has been temporarily abandoned because of too much disturbance from tourists. We will also be on the lookout for Greater Rhea, Brazilian Teal, King Vulture, Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, Ornate Hawk-eagle, Hook-billed Kite, Crane, Grey-lined, Roadside and White-tailed Hawks, American Kestrel, Green Ibis, Ash-throated Crake, Picazuro and Pale-vented Pigeons, Eared, Grey-fronted and Scaled Doves, Blue-and-yellow, Red-and Green and Red-shouldered Macaws, Dusky-headed (an isolated population) and Yellow-chevroned Parakeets, Blue-headed Parrot, Sick’s Swift, Guira and Squirrel Cuckoos, Smooth-billed Ani, Burrowing Owl, Ferruginous Pygmy-owl, Brown Jacamar, Black-throated Mango, Gilded Hummingbird, Blue-crowned Trogon, Swallow-winged and White-eared Puffbirds, Chestnut-eared and Lettered Aracaris, Toco Toucan, White-wedged Piculet, Little, White and Yellow-tufted Woodpeckers, Layard’s Woodcreeper, Red-billed Scythebill, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Great Antshrike, White-backed Fire-eye, Purplish Jay, Common and Rusty-fronted Tody-flycatchers, Rusty-backed Antwren, Forest Elaenia, Masked Tityra, Helmeted Manakin, Thrush-like Wren, Black-capped Donacobius, Pale-breasted and Rufous-bellied Thrushes, Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Sayaca, Palm and the astonishing Magpie Tanager, Black-throated Saltator, Blue Dacnis, Grassland Sparrow and Orange-backed Troupial. After sunset we will spend some time searching for Tawny-bellied Screech-owl, Common Pauraque, Ocellated Poorwill and Spectacled and Black-banded Owls. We shall return to the lodge for dinner and complete our first checklist of the trip which is sure to be very long! Overnight Currupira das Araras Lodge.
Day 4 After an early breakfast we shall spend some more time in the vicinity of the Harpy Eagle nest and searching for various other species, we will then check out of our accommodation and begin our three-hour journey towards the famous Transpantaneira Road and into the vast Pantanal floodplain, with lunch en-route. We will be moving at a slow pace and making several stops to watch many species together with the chance for some great photographic opportunities. Species we should see include Red-legged Seriema, Anhinga, Snowy Egret, Capped, Little Blue and Striated Herons, Black-crowned Night-heron, Rufescent Tiger-heron, Bare-faced Buff-necked and Plumbeous Ibises, Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork, Muscovy Duck, Black-bellied and White-faced Whistling-ducks, Southern Screamer, Snail Kite (which are everywhere, often carrying huge snails), Black-collared and Savana Hawks, Great Black-hawk, Southern and Yellow-headed Caracaras, Chaco Chachalaca, Bare-faced Curassow, Limpkin (very noisy and dominating the area in both sound and number), Grey-cowled Wood-rail, Wattled Jacana, Black-necked Stilt (of the very distinctive subspecies melanurus, also called White-backed Stilt), Long-tailed, Picui and Ruddy Ground-doves, Monk and Peach-fronted Parakeets, Glittering-bellied Emerald, Campo Flicker, Black-bellied Antwren, Planalto Slaty-antshrike, Great Rufous and Straight-billed Woodcreepers, White-rumped Monjita, Black-backed Water-tyrant, Vermilion Flycatcher and Saffron-billed Sparrow. Our first Large-billed Terns will be hunting over the marshes and we have a chance of seeing Jaguarundi, Tayra or Marsh Deer crossing the road. Overnight Hotel Pantanal.
Day 5 We will start the day with early coffee and take a motor boat ride along the Pixaim River. Target birds for today include Agami and Zigzag Herons (very illusive, but there is still a chance of seeing them), Boat-billed, Cocoi and Whistling Herons, Blue-throated and Red-throated Piping-guans, Crested Oropendola, Rusty-collared Seedeater, Orange-winged and Turquiose-fronted Parrots, Yellow-collared Macaw, Maguari Stork, Laughing Falcon, Giant Cowbird, Band-tailed Antbird, Blue-crowned Trogon, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Purple-throated Euphonia, Sungrebe and Sunbittern together will all five species of South American kingfishers, Ringed, Amazon, Green, Green-and-rufous and American Pygmy. White-winged Swallows are the pearls of the river banks together with few Southern Rough-winged Swallows, Brown-chested and Grey-breasted Martins. After breakfast we have a walk along river forest, where we can see Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Black-fronted Nunbird, Pale-legged Hornero, Rusty-backed and White-lored Spinetails, Short-crested and Yellow-olive Flycatchers, Ashy-headed Greenlet and endemic to the area, Mato Grosso Antbird. After lunch we will check out of our accommodation and begin our drive towards Porto Jofre and the end of the Transpantaneira dirt road. On the way we will make regular stops for species like White-headed Marsh-tyrant, Cinereous-breasted Spinetail and, one of the most beautiful spinetails; Chotoy Spinetail, Greater Thornbird, Rufous Casiornis, Fawn-breasted Wren, Scarlet-headed and Unicoloured Blackbirds, Yellow-billed Cardinal, Greyish Saltator, Hooded Tanager and Chestnut-vented Conebill.. As dusk approaches, we may witness an amazing show with hundreds of magnificent Nacunda Nighthawks hawking over the endless marshes! Before we reach our hotel we will also spotlight the roadside bushes looking for Spot-tailed Nightjars. We will then check in to Hotel Porto Jofre for the next three nights.
Days 6–7 We will spend two full days exploring the Pantanal by boat. After early breakfasts, we will take boat rides both upriver searching for Jaguar and other mammals such as Giant River Otters, Capybaras and the rare Tapir. We will see many birds we already have recorded including Jabiru, Capped, Cocoi and Whistling Herons, Rufescent Tiger-heron, Black-collared and Savana Hawks, all 5 species of Kingfishers, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Toco Toucan, Black-fronted Nunbird, Orange-backed Troupial, Rusty-backed Spinetail, White-headed Marsh-tyrant and other birds at close range. Target birds for this area include Purple Gallinule, Pied Lapwing, Collared Plover, Yellow-billed Tern, Black Skimmer, Greater Ani, Silver-beaked Tanager, Red-crested Finch, hundreds of White-browed Meadowlarks, Variable Oriole, Rusty-margined Flycatcher, Lesser Kiskadee, Yellow-breasted Flycatcher and Solitary Black and Yellow-rumped Caciques. At the end of each day we will see dozens of Band-tailed Nighthawks flying above the water as we return to the hotel whilst during our lunch breaks Southern Screamer, Hyacinth Macaw, Scaled Dove, Picui Ground-dove, Greyish Baywing, Giant Cowbird, Thrush-like Wren, Cattle Tyrant, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Great Kiskadee, Wattled Jacana, Southern Lapwing and many others can be found in the hotel grounds.
Day 8 We will have our final breakfast and check out of our accommodation, driving back north along the Transpantaneira road with many stops along the way for further birding and photography. Birds we may see today include Sunbittern, Barred Antshrike, Rufous Cachalote, Little Cuckoo, White-banded Mockingbird, White-naped Xenopsaris, Southern Scrub-flycatcher, Bran-coloured Flycatcher, Bat Falcon, Golden-green, Green-barred and Pale-crested Woodpeckers, Scaly-headed Parrot, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Glittering-throated Emerald, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Lesser Kiskadee, Southern Beardless-tyrannulet, Green-backed Becard, Plain Antvireo, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Ashy-headed Greenlet, Helmeted Manakin, Rufous-fronted Thornbird, Flavescent Warbler, Buff-bellied and Moustached Wrens, White-rumped Monjita, Orange-headed Tanager, Shiny Cowbird, White-bellied Seedeater and Chestnut-bellied Seed-finch. We will take lunch at Hotel Pantanal again before stopping at a ranch to look for the range-restricted Nanday Parakeet, the critically endangered Chestnut-bellied Guan and other species. We will continue on to check into Piuval Lodge and take dinner after which, we will drive out across the grassland and into the riverine forest to look for nightbirds. We have a good chance of seeing Great Horned Owl as well as the stunning Black-banded Owl and Common Pauraques together with Crab-eating Foxes and other animals. In fact, we may even find Crab-eating Foxes on our lodge lawns when we get back!
Day 9 We shall have some early morning birding around the lodge before our departure our target species being the extremely illusive Grey-breasted and Rufous-sided Crakes, Red-crested Woodpecker, Sooty-fronted Spinetail, Planalto Slaty-antshrike, Yellowish Pipit, Undulated Tinamou, Dull-capped Attila and Band-tailed Antbird. There will be many species we have already seen like Greater Rhea and Red-legged Seriema but they are very accustomed to humans here so you will have fantastic photographic opportunities. After an early lunch we will start our way back to Cuiaba and then head in a north-easterly direction for a further 70 km and onto our next destination, the impressive Chapada dos Guimaraes National Park. Upon arrival we will hopefully have time to look for Blue-winged and Red-and-green Macaws, Curl-crested Jay, Grey Monjita and Crested Black-tyrant amongst others. Two nights Chapada dos Guimaraes.
Day 10 Early morning, before breakfast, we will head to the nearby Agua Fria Road where we will spend several hours birding whilst bird activity is high. The main targets for the day will include Rufous-sided Pygmy-tyrant, Small-billed Tinamou, Checkered Woodpecker, Horned Sungem, Pale-breasted Spinetail, Chapada Flycatcher, Lesser and Plain-crested Elaenias, the habitat-restricted Rufous-winged Antshrike, Curl-crested Jay, Black-faced, White-rumped and White-banded Tanagers, Wedge-tailed Grass-finch, Coal-crested Finch, Plumbeous Seedeater, Yellow-billed Blue Finch and Black-throated and Buff-throated Saltators. After returning to the hotel for a late breakfast, we will head to a patch of forest nearby to look for Band-tailed and Fiery-capped Manakins. We will then head to lunch at a nearby hotel with spectacular views south over Cuiaba and the Pantanal in the distance with Cliff Flycatcher being possible from the outlook. After a short break we will head out again with our target bird being the tapaculo-like and very skulking Collared Crescentchest. Other species we may see in the area include Swallow-tailed Hummingbird and Aplomado Falcon as well as many species we have previously seen. At dusk we will return to our hotel to change and head out for dinner. Either before or after dinner we will try for Striped Owl, which are usually around hotel grounds.
Day 11 Our last morning and we will bird the amazing Bridal’s Veil Waterfall area which is a traditional roost site for Blue-winged Macaw. Our other target birds include Suiriri Flycatcher, Yellow-ridged Toucan, Southern Antpipit and Biscutate and White-collared Swifts. We may also check a historical nesting site for the Ornate Hawk-eagle. We then return to our hotel, check out and head back to Cuiaba Airport for our flight back to Sao Paulo and our overnight international flight back to the UK.
Day 12 Arrival back in the UK at the end of the tour.
General Information Brazil can be hot and humid with rain likely at any time. The tour pace is moderate with generally easy walking. There are some health requirements which should be referred to your GP. Insects can be a problem at times and repellents are recommended. Visas are not required for EU citizens.
Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 6; maximum group size: 10 with 1 leader.