Welcome to Birdquest
Sunday 11th June —
Saturday 24th June 2017
Campos Amazônicos Extension: Wednesday 7th June — Sunday 11th June (5 days)
Leaders: Eduardo Patrial and a local bird guide
Group Size Limit: 8 (6 only for extension)
Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and mostly good quality hotels (but some nights of simple accommodations on the main tour and 3 nights of camping on the extension)
No other place on the planet is so rich in term of species than the Amazon Forest of South America. One of the reasons for this extraordinary biodiversity is the complex mosaic of vegetation types that covers the entire region, which includes several types of forests and savannas at different altitudes. This ecological complexity over such huge area also results in a remarkably diverse avifauna, with over 1300 species of birds. Another important factor helping to create diversity is the influence of the main rivers of the Amazon basin on the distribution of bird species. The large Amazonian rivers represent important geographic barriers that help isolate their own biotas and create an interesting pattern of evolutionary relationships. As result, there are eight recognized centres of endemism in the region, based on both bird and primate studies: Guiana, Imeri, Napo, Inambari, Rondônia, Tapajos, Xingu and Belem.
In this context, this exciting new tour aims to offer a thrilling birdwatching opportunity in one of the richest area of the whole Amazon, the Madeira River basin in Brazil, a region possessing more than 800 species of birds, almost half of Brazil’s total. The Madeira River watershed in Brazil comprises two of the endemism centres, the Inambari in the west and the Rondônia in the east, both of which are very little covered in terms of birding tours.
From Porto Velho, the capital of Rondônia state, the main tour will cover three distinct areas: two localities in eastern Rondônia, Tabajara and Campos Amazônicos National Park, and the Campina habitats around Humaitá in the southern part of Amazonas state. After that there will be an optional extension to the Rio Branco area in the neighbouring state of Acre. Despite being part of the ‘arc of deforestation’ in Amazonia, the region still guards some dazzling examples of wild and conserved areas, containing a rare avifauna with at least a dozen of the fifteen new species of birds described for the Amazon basin in 2013 alone!
Commencing at Porto Velho, we first will cover the northeast portion of Rondônia state, giving special attention to the endemics and other rarities of Rondônia. Five hours by car will bring us to the village of Tabajara by the bank of the beautiful Machado River, a large tributary of the Madeira. We shall stay here in simple accommodation in the village in order to explore the heterogeneous habitats present in the area, which include areas of ‘campina’, ‘campinaranas’, ‘terra firme’ and ‘varzea’ forest. In addition, boat trips will be taken to cover the riverine forest along the Machado River. Among the over 400 species recorded in the area, we can expect to find a number of specialities, including the endemic Roosevelt (Stipple-throated) and Aripuana Antwrens, Manicore Warbling Antbird, the gorgeous White-breasted Antbird, the secretive Pale-faced Bare-eye, Hoffmanns’s and Rondonia Woodcreepers, Chico’s Tyrannulet and rarities such as Wing-banded Antbird and Black-bellied Gnateater.
From Tabajara we will return to Porto Velho for a three nights stay. We will be crossing the Madeira River to the west bank in search of the specialities of the Inambari endemism centre. Taking the highway BR-319, we will drive about an hour to reach some birding sites in the Campinas of the Humaita area of southernmost Amazonas state, sites which include areas of ‘campina’, ‘campinarana’ and ‘terra firme’ forest. Here we will be seeking such specialities as Western Striolated Puffbird, Humaita Antbird, Madeira (Stipple-throated) Antwren, Inambari Woodcreeper, Tupana Scythebill and the Brazilian endemics Predicted Antwren, Inambari Gnatcatcher and Campina Jay. While covering this region we also will be looking for some other fascinating birds such as Ocellated Crake and the army-ant followers Hairy-crested and White-throated Antbirds, and Reddish-winged Bare-Eye.
After an amazing journey through Rondônia and southern Amazonas, we shall continue to the neighbouring Brazilian state of Acre. Based at the state capital Rio Branco, our goal is to give special attention to the ‘terra firme’ forests of the region, especially the bamboo-dominated habitats which are responsible for the presence of several rare and localized species. Here we will cover several dirt roads that lead through some superb birding areas, where we will be looking for recently-described species such as Bamboo Antwren, Acre Tody-Tyrant and Rufous Twistwing, plus a fantastic array of additional bamboo specialties that include Rufous-headed Woodpecker, Rufous-capped and Fulvous-chinned Nunlets, Bamboo Antshrike, Manu, White-lined and Striated Antbirds, Rufous-fronted Antthrush, Bamboo Foliage-gleaner, Peruvian Recurvebill (which as so often is rare here), White-cheeked Tody-Flycatcher, Dusky-tailed Flatbill and Sulphur-bellied Tyrant-Manakin.
As well as this remarkable array of bamboo inhabitants, the forests of Acre are home to hundreds of other bird species, and we should also expect to find such goodies as Blue-headed Macaw, Chestnut-capped Puffbird, White-throated Jacamar, Curl-crested Aracari, Fine-barred and Rufous-breasted Piculets, Goeldi’s Antbird, Amazonian Antpitta, Black-faced and Purple-throated Cotingas, and Opal-crowned Tanager among others.
During the optional pre-tour extension there will be the chance to visit an even more remote part of Rondonia. From Porto Velho we will drive to the Vista Linda farm on the banks of the Machado River. With a small boat we will navigate for about eight kilometres to get to our campsite at Alto do Bode. During our time here we will travel another six kilometres by boat from the camp to a small tributary of the Machado called Igarapé São João, which is part of an isolated corner of the Campos Amazônicos National Park. Here we will be exploring a five kilometres-long trail that covers superb stretches of ‘terra firme’ and ‘varzea’ forests.
We will have more than two days in this fine and isolated area to search for our major target endemic, perhaps one of the rarest birds in the whole Amazon, the enigmatic Rondonia Bushbird. This species was, until recently, known only from a single female specimen and two sightings of males at the type-locality in Rondônia state in 1986 and a few subsequent records after the year 2000. Still very poorly known and naturally rare, it inhabits ‘terra firme’ forest dominated by dense vine-tangles and bamboo. This ‘mega-bird’ was recently found (and documented) in the area we will be exploring, so we do have real chances to find and observe it.
Of course, the bushbird is not the only special bird here. Another endemic rarity that we shall look for is the little Buff-cheeked Tody-Flycatcher, plus the same specialities found around Tabajara and some other interesting species such as Pearly Antshrike, Ferruginous-backed Antbird and Yellow-browed Warbling Antbird.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels in Porto Velho and Rio Branco are of good standard. At Tabajara we will stay in simple homestay accommodations. During the extension there will be three nights of simple camping at Alto do Bode, in 2-person tents. Road transport is by minibus or cars and roads are mostly good but sometimes poor.
Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, but there are some moderate grade walks.
Climate: It is generally hot and humid. Periods of sunshine alternate with overcast spells and there is regular rainfall.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.
Important Information for Pound Payers: Kindly note that the Pound prices shown here are based on post-EU-referendum exchange rate reality, unlike the website prices of most UK bird tour operators which are still based on outdated and hugely higher pre-referendum exchange rates. Consequently you can rest assured that we will not have to adjust these prices upwards at invoicing, unless the Pound falls significantly further, and if there is any recovery by the Pound you will receive the full benefit of the cost-saving by way of a price reduction at invoicing.
Tour Price: £3990, €4710, $5230 Porto Velho/Rio Branco. Campos Amazônicos Extension: £990, €1170, $1300.
Price includes all transportation, all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.
Base prices for this tour are determined in US Dollars, the currency in which we pay for most tour services. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.110. For those not paying us in US Dollars, prices may be adjusted (either downwards or upwards) at the time of invoicing should there be a change in the exchange rate. See booking information.
Single Room Supplement: £429, €506, $562. Extension: £50, €59, $66 (Porto Velho only).
Deposit: £350, €450, $550. Extension: £150, €200, $250.
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.
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