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Birdquest's Ultimate Southeast Brazil birding tour explores the extraordinarily endemic-rich but highly threatened Atlantic Forest region of this great birdwatching country. This very comprehensive tour surely deserves the epithet 'Ultimate' as it produces an extraordinarily high proportion of the many endemic specialities of this birdy and vibrant part of the world.
Monday 5th November —
Monday 19th November 2018
São Paulo to Rio Grande do Sul Extension: Monday 19th November — Saturday 1st December (13 days)
Leader: Eduardo Patrial
Group Size Limit: 8
Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part and comfortable accommodations
Brazil! Everything about this romantic country is impressive – its territory is larger than the whole of Western Europe, more than 3,300,000 square miles or 8,550,000 square kilometres, it contains almost the entire length (4311 miles or 6937km) of the world’s longest river, the mighty Amazon, and its human population of nearly 200 million people represents the greatest racial melting pot on earth.
To most of us Brazil conjures up images of the noise and colour of Carnival, the excitement of the samba, the crowds on Copacabana Beach, unstoppable Pele dazzling his opponents and, most of all, the huge, gleaming white statue of Jesus and the famous sugarloaf mountain that dominate the beautiful harbour of Rio de Janeiro.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the overcrowded cities, where the bulk of Brazil’s ever expanding population are concentrated, are to be found some of the continent’s most magnificent wildlife habitats and some of its finest birding. Brazil contains some of South America’s least known and most endangered birds.
Although birdwatchers tend initially to associate Brazil with the vast Amazonian rainforests and their unbelievable avian diversity, or perhaps with the supreme waterbird spectacle of the Pantanal, it is the southeast corner of the country where Brazil’s richest concentration of localized, rare and little-known birds survive. 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 and this specially designed tour focuses on the highly threatened avifauna of the states of Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Paraná. These coastal forest ecosystems represent the most endangered continental flora and fauna on Earth.
During our travels on this very comprehensive itinerary, we shall seek to observe a very high proportion of the fabulous endemic birds, which include a splendid smattering of glittering hummingbirds, skulking antbirds, retiring tapaculos and alluring cotingas. The quality of the birding in this marvellous region of Brazil is rivalled by the excellent standard of the accommodation, food and transportation.
First we shall explore the coastal forests of Espirito Santo, where a number of endangered birds maintain a precarious existence, protected by some fine reserves. On the way to the VALE Natural Reserve – where we hope to lay our eyes on treasures like Red-billed Curassow, White-necked Hawk and Red-browed Parrot – a brief stop at the Biological Station in Aracruz will provide the first extraordinary encounter with dozens, perhaps hundreds of hummingbirds, including the range-restricted Minute Hermit.
We will then visit Santa Teresa, the home town of the late Dr Augusto Ruschi, one of Brazil’s foremost naturalists and a world authority on hummingbirds. At the feeders we can expect to be dazzled and overwhelmed by a profusion of vociferous, iridescent and gaudy hummingbirds zipping in and out as they consume the sugar solution as an alternative to their natural diet of nectar. About 15 species can be expected here, including the adorable Frilled Coquette and the astonishing Black Jacobin.
In the nearby hilly forests a plethora of endemics may include the rare Wied’s Tyrant Manakin, Spot-billed Toucanet and the secretive Short-tailed Antthrush. Wirth luck we will find Rufous-brown Solitary here too.
Vargem Alta is our last port of call in Espirito Santo state, where a private reserve guards one of the rarest and most poorly-known species of birds in South America, the critically endangered Cherry-throated Tanager. Trying to find this enigmatic bird can be difficult and far from always successful, but this superb reserve always provides great rewards such as Cinnamon-vented Piha, Such’s Antthrush and even chances for the rare Brazilian Laniisoma.
Next we travel southwards to the Rio de Janeiro region, where a visit to the famous REGUA research station and the higher altitudes of the Tres Picos State Park should yield the virtually-unknown Gray-winged Cotinga, as well as Swallow-tailed Cotinga, Black-and-gold Cotinga and a second chance for the little-known Brazilian Laniisoma, while in drier habitats we should observe a fine but localized endemic, the perky Three-toed Jacamar. Not far away on the coast, the star attraction is the restricted endemic Restinga Antwren that shall be seen on our way before reaching REGUA.
In the cloudforests of the beautiful Itatiaia National Park we shall enjoy some of the finest birding this superlative region has to offer and add Plovercrest, Itatiaia Spinetail and Large-tailed Antshrike to our already impressive bird list.
Along the scenic coastline of Rio de Janeiro state a tiny population of the striking Black-hooded Antwren survives, while, further to the southwest, evocative-sounding species like Buff-throated Purpletuft, Slaty Bristlefront and Tufted Antshrike inhabit the verdant hills surrounding the coastal resort of Ubatuba.
During the optional extension we pass by the metropolis of São Paulo and travel southwards into the pristine forests of the Serra de Paranapiacaba, the largest continuous Atlantic Forest remnant in the wider geographical area known as the Serra do Mar, where our targets include such splendid birds as Black-fronted Piping-Guan, White-bearded Antshrike and Helmeted Woodpecker. After we finally leave the spectacular forested hilly country behind, we will look for Red-tailed Amazons in the coastal forests and mangroves situated below the southern portion of the Serra do Mar.
Further south along the coast, the dense humid bromeliad forest, restinga and marshes are home of peculiar and poorly known inhabitants such as Kaempfer’s Tody Tyrant, Restinga Tyrannulet and Parana (or Marsh) Antwren. Later, as we explore the plateau again, the area surrounding Curitiba, the capital of Paraná state, with its Araucaria-dominated forests will provide unique species like Chestnut-headed Tanager, Canebrake Groundcreeper and Long-tufted Screech-Owl.
Finally we will explore the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southernmost Brazil. The undulating grasslands, impressive Araucaria forests and freshwater marshes of the temperate, southern state of Rio Grande do Sul hold a handful of very special birds. The restricted range Long-tailed Cinclodes is endemic to this remote corner of Brazil, and we should also add spectacular Red-spectacled and Vinaceous Parrots, Mottled Piculet, Black-bellied Seedeater, Green-chinned Euphonia and Chestnut-backed Tanager to the tally.
By the time the tour ends we will have seen a high proportion of the avian wonders of Brazil’s highly-threatened Atlantic Forest.
Birdquest has operated tours to southeast Brazil since 1989.
Part-Tour Option: Subject to space being available, it is possible to take just the São Paulo to Rio Grande do Sul extension. Please contact us for further information.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are mostly of good standard, sometimes medium standard. Road transport is by minibus and roads are good.
Walking: The walking effort is easy for the most part, sometimes moderate.
Climate: Generally warm or hot, dry and sunny at lower altitudes, but cool in upland areas overcast weather is quite regular and we may experience rain. It will be quite humid in places.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.
These are provisional prices
Tour Price: £4430, €5230, $5800 Vitória/São Paulo. São Paulo to Rio Grande do Sul Extension: £3390, €4000, $4440 (ending in Porto Alegre).
Price includes all transportation (including the Curitiba-Porto Alegre 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: £420, €495, $550. Extension: £336, €396, $440.
Deposit: £550, €660, $720. Extension: £400, €480, $520.
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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