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Birdquest's Jaguars & Birds of Brazil birding tour is a classic birdwatching and wildlife experience. This unusual tour focuses on both the birds and the wonderful Jaguars of the Pantanal (with special boat trips to see the latter), but is also a great sampling tour of Brazil as it features visits to the cerrado (Brazilian Merganser is the star here) and the threatened Atlantic Forest with its numerous endemic birds.
Tuesday 16th July —
Monday 29th July 2019
Leader: Eduardo Patrial
Group Size Limit: 8
Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations
Jaguar! Its evocative name conjures up images of an almost never seen, cold-eyed, powerful, spotted cat inhabiting large stretches of virgin and impenetrable rainforest. Birders visiting places like Chan Chich in Belize or Manu National Park in Peru are sometimes lucky enough to see this most appealing of Neotropical mammals, but to really have a good chance of observing this fabulous creature, it is necessary to spend plenty of time and to visit the very best places. 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 hope to encounter Brazilian Tapir, Giant Otter, Crab-eating Fox and Marsh Deer here (and perhaps even Ocelot).
Designed as the perfect two-week sampling tour of the southern part of Brazil, but with a special emphasis on seeing Jaguar, during our travels we will explore three different areas, the wonderful Pantanal, the Atlantic Forest zone at Intervales State Park and the cerrado and campo habitats of Serra da Canastra.
Every birdwatcher 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 330ft (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 during 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 avian prizes that await us here.
On this exciting journey we will also visit one of the best remaining stretches of Atlantic Forest, as it is in the southeast corner of Brazil that the richest concentration of localized, rare and little-known birds survives. Through a succession of ice ages and inter-glacial periods, the largest concentration of endemic birds to be found on the continent (over 170 species) evolved in the southeastern region of this huge country and immediately adjacent areas, isolated from the mainstream of Amazonian evolution by the dry cerrado and caatinga of central Brazil. Attacked for centuries by its new human colonists, the coastal forests that once covered vast areas have now shrunk to small remnants of what once was. Less than five percent of the original Atlantic Forest remains, but in the fine Parque Estadual Intervales we have good opportunities to observe a splendid selection of the region’s specialities, including the impressive Long-trained Nightjar, the lovely White-bearded Antshrike, retiring Ferruginous, Rufous-necked, Dusky-tailed and Squamate Antbirds, the adorable Swallow-tailed Manakin, the noisy Grey-hooded Attila, and colourful Brassy-breasted and Gilt-edged Tanagers.
Our final port of call is the celebrated Serra da Canastra National Park, which contains some of the finest cerrado and campo remaining in central Brazil. It provides an aspect of rolling grasslands with scattered trees and patches of gallery forest quite unlike other parts of tropical South America and is more reminiscent of the plains of East Africa. Mammalian and avian delights include the amazing long-snouted Giant Anteater, the long-legged Maned Wolf, the huge and stately Greater Rhea and the bizarre little Cock-tailed Tyrant, 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. Our visit to these three very different Brazilian wildlife paradises will definitely produce an amazing collection of high quality mammal and bird observations.
Birdquest has operated tours to the Pantanal and other regions of Brazil since 1989.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are of good or medium standard throughout. Road transport is by minibus and roads are mostly good.
Walking: The walking effort is mostly easy, but there are some moderate walks.
Climate: Generally warm or hot, dry and sunny at lower altitudes, but cool (even quite cold in the early morning) in upland areas. Overcast weather is quite regular and there may well be some rain. It will be rather humid in places.
Bird/Mammal Photography: Opportunities are quite good.
These are provisional prices
Tour Price: £4490, €5300, $5880 Cuiabá/São Paulo.
Price includes all transportation (including the Cuiabá-São Paulo flight), 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.
Single Room Supplement: £455, €537, $596.
Deposit: £550, €660, $720.
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.
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
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