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BRAZIL'S PANTANAL & CERRADO

Birdquest's Brazil's Pantanal & Cerrado birding tour is one of a series of Brazil birdwatching trips that we offer. This exciting tour focuses on Brazil's wonderful Pantanal and the cerrado (home to Hyacinth Macaws and Brazilian Mergansers respectively), not to mention the incomparable Jaguar.

Tuesday 2nd October — Sunday 14th October 2018
(13 days)


Leader: Eduardo Patrial

Group Size Limit: 8

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations

Bare-faced Curassows have a fabulous hairdo and are regularly encountered along the Transpantaneira (Tommy Ekmark)

Bare-faced Curassows have a fabulous hairdo and are regularly encountered along the Transpantaneira (Tommy Ekmark)

On this exciting journey through the large states of Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais we will visit the endless rolling cerrado and campo of the Brazilian interior and the foremost wetland of the entire Neotropics in search of the many endemics and other specialities, including such marvels as Hyacinth Macaw, Brazilian Merganser and Cock-tailed Tyrant.

Every birdwatcher and naturalist has heard about the remarkable Pantanal, one of the largest wetlands in the Americas and a place that harbours one of the greatest wildlife concentrations in the New World. Called ‘Terra de Ninguem’ (No Man’s Land) by the Brazilians, this vast alluvial plain, half the size of France, is situated at only about 100m above sea level and is inhabited by just a few thousand people.

In this immense and seasonally watery world, which has been the subject of some awe-inspiring wildlife films, the number of waterbirds defies the imagination. The Pantanal is home to untold thousands of herons, egrets, storks, ibises, spoonbills and other waterbirds, but it should be borne in mind that they are spread over an immense landscape, with local concentrations here and there. We shall be visiting the area at the end of the long dry season, when throngs of these piscivores compete with fierce-looking jacarés (caimans) for wriggling fish in the drying pools.

However, the bird that epitomizes the Pantanal more than any other is not a waterbird at all but the unique and gorgeous Hyacinth Macaw, the largest and easily the most impressive parrot in the world. Small numbers of this resplendent violet-blue marvel of the avian world live in the semi-deciduous woodlands and nut-rich palm groves of the Pantanal, and seeing a pair flap lazily across an azure sky will unquestionably be one of the highlights of our stay.

We will visit the northern fringes of this huge area along the famous Transpantaneira, a well-maintained dirt road with 118 sometimes precarious-looking bridges, that allows access to the many different habitats of the region. Bare-faced Curassow, Chestnut-bellied Guan, Sunbittern, Toco Toucan and Mato Grosso Antbird are amongst the many other prizes that await us here.

The Pantanal is also renowned for its variety of mammals. That holy grail of Neotropical animals, the powerful Jaguar, can still be found here. Its evocative name conjures up images of an almost never seen, cold-eyed, powerful, spotted cat inhabiting large stretches of virgin and impenetrable rainforest. The Brazilian Pantanal is now probably the finest area in the Americas to see this near-mythical cat and is recognized by wildlife enthusiasts and naturalists as the place where one can sometimes experience close encounters. Boat trips will offer us excellent opportunities and we have a good chance of being able to stare into the golden, telltale eyes of this fabled predator. The Pantanal also holds a splendid selection of other mammals and we will hope to encounter Brazilian Tapir, Giant Otter, Crab-eating Fox and Marsh Deer here.

Before we travel to the Pantanal we will explore two superb reserves that protect large tracts of cerrado and campo habitat. The celebrated Serra da Canastra National Park contains some of the finest cerrado and campo remaining in central Brazil, and provides an aspect of rolling grasslands with scattered trees and patches of gallery forest quite unlike other parts of tropical South America and more reminiscent of the plains of East Africa. Mammalian and avian delights include the amazing long-snouted Giant Anteater, the huge and stately Greater Rhea and the bizarre little Cock-tailed Tyrant, along with most of the other special birds of this unique habitat, but our main quarry here, the much dreamed-of Brazilian Merganser, inhabits the wild rivers that originate in these hills. Serra da Canastra is without doubt the very best place to find this extremely localized and highly-threatened species. Here too, we hope to lay eyes on the unobtrusive Brasilia Tapaculo, a bird that skulks in dense shrubbery in isolated patches of woodland.

Our next port of call is the Serra do Cipó National Park near Belo Horizonte, an area renowned for its spectacular gorges and waterfalls, but of greatest interest to us because of its avian specialities, which include several highly localized endemics. One of these, the elusive Cipo Canastero, was discovered as recently as 1985, whilst the stunning Horned Sungem, the spectacular Hyacinth Visorbearer, Grey-backed Tachuri, the recently-described Rock Tapaculo and Serra Finch (or Pale-throated Pampa-Finch) will add to the excitement.

Finally, after our exploration of the Pantanal, we will visit the spectacular canyonlands of the Chapada dos Guimarães, where eroded rock formations, spectacular waterfalls and deeply-carved ravines with slivers of forest are surrounded by cerrado, a chaparral-like habitat with low gnarled trees and shrubs. Cliffs harbour colourful macaws and speedy Biscutate Swifts, while dignified Red-legged Seriemas stride over the shrubby plains.

Birdquest has operated tours to the Pantanal and Cerrado since 1989.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are of good or medium standard throughout. Road transport is by minibus and roads are mostly good.

Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy.

Climate: Generally warm or hot, dry and sunny at lower altitudes, but cool in upland areas. Overcast weather is quite regular and there may well be some rain. It will be rather humid in places.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are quite good.

Can be taken together with: ALTA FLORESTA

Tour Price: £3990, €4710, $5230 Belo Horizonte/Cuiabá. Single Room Supplement: £336, €396, $440. Deposit: £500, €600, $650.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Also includes this flight: Belo Horizonte-Cuiabá.

Base prices for this tour are in US Dollars. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.110.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

The bird that epitomizes the Pantanal more than any other is the unbelievable Hyacinth Macaw (Ian Lewis)

The bird that epitomizes the Pantanal more than any other is the unbelievable Hyacinth Macaw (Ian Lewis)

The lovely Collared Crescentchest is an aberrant tapaculo that favours cerrado habitat (Tommy Ekmark)

The lovely Collared Crescentchest is an aberrant tapaculo that favours cerrado habitat (Tommy Ekmark)

The rivers of the Serra da Canastra hold the largest population of the enigmatic Brazilian Merganser (Tommy Ekmark)

The rivers of the Serra da Canastra hold the largest population of the enigmatic Brazilian Merganser (Tommy Ekmark)

The attractive White-eared Puffbird can often be very approachable and is for that reason called João Bobo (Crazy John) by Brazilian birdwatchers (Tommy Ekmark)

The attractive White-eared Puffbird can often be very approachable and is for that reason called João Bobo (Crazy John) by Brazilian birdwatchers (Tommy Ekmark)

The magnificent Cock-tailed Tyrant lives in the endless grasslands of the Serra da Canastra  (Tommy Ekmark)

The magnificent Cock-tailed Tyrant lives in the endless grasslands of the Serra da Canastra (Tommy Ekmark)

The Pantanal is one of the last strongholds of the rare and declining Maguari Stork (Tommy Ekmark)

The Pantanal is one of the last strongholds of the rare and declining Maguari Stork (Tommy Ekmark)

The Pantanal is by far the best place to see the sedate Plumbeous Ibis (Tommy Ekmark)

The Pantanal is by far the best place to see the sedate Plumbeous Ibis (Tommy Ekmark)

Parties of glorious Giant Otters are a regular feature of the boat trips in the Pantanal (Tommy Ekmark)

Parties of glorious Giant Otters are a regular feature of the boat trips in the Pantanal (Tommy Ekmark)

The tiny Grey-backed Tachuri  is a Brazilian endemic  that we should encounter in the Serra do Cipó (Tommy Ekmark)

The tiny Grey-backed Tachuri is a Brazilian endemic that we should encounter in the Serra do Cipó (Tommy Ekmark)

The gorgeous Red-throated Piping-Guan (Mark Van Beirs)

The gorgeous Red-throated Piping-Guan (Mark Van Beirs)

The Limpkin is the only member of its family and its numbers depend on the occurrence of Apple Snails (Tommy Ekmark)

The Limpkin is the only member of its family and its numbers depend on the occurrence of Apple Snails (Tommy Ekmark)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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