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Brasil: Birds & Natural History (23 days)

Brazilian AmazonBrasil abounds with an exceptional range of habitats and conversely birds and wildlife.  Experience the Atlantic rainforest, Pantanal, Amazon and Iguazu Falls.


2017 Departure Dates & Costs

October 7 - 29, 2017

Tour Cost:  $ 6,860 USD per person from Rio de Janeiro. Domestic airfare approximately $ 650 USD extra.

Groups of 6 or more may request this tour based on alternative dates!


Itinerary

OCT 07 – ARRIVE RIO DE JANEIRO (D)
Arrival at Rio, transfer to the hotel. Free afternoon. Welcome Dinner (included). Overnight at the Port Bay Hotel (2 nights).

OCT 08 – RIO DE JANEIRO – TIJUCA FOREST / SUGAR LOAFAND CORCOVADO (B)
Breakfast, we´ll know the Tijuca National Park. This park is known as the largest urban forest on earth. Its huge mountains covered with tropical vegetation contrast with dramatic granite rocks forming an unique background for Rio's beaches and constructions. In this tour we visit the Park's best viewpoints, waterfalls and hike up Tijuca Peak (Rio's highest at 3300 ft).

Afternoon departure to explore the Sugar Loaf. It is a dramatic granite rock, a well-known Rio landmark, and also an over-explored tourist attraction. We´ll  ride by a aerial cable car. Getting the first section, we´ll make a quick stop and after that we we´ll ride the second and most beautiful section. Up there you´ll have one the most wonderful views of the whole city.  You´ll be at 395  meters above the city, and the breathtaking view of Guanabara Bay. On the way down we take the cable car. During a very short stay in town it is important to visit Corcovado to see the most famous of all images of Rio, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, located inside the Park. Return to the hotel. Overnight. Return to the hotel. Overnight.

OCT 09 – RIO DE JANEIRO / SERRA DOS TUCANOS (BLD)
After a hearty Brazilian breakfast we will drive the 1.5 hours to the new charming well run Serra dos Toucanos Lodge in the “Tres Picos Park” for 3 nights stay. Here in this lovely setting we will be very well catered for by the owner a British birder who knows the local area and the wildlife better than anyone. The lovely gardens hold a great variety of special birds.

OCT 10 – SERRA DOS TUCANOS LODGE (BLD)
Full day exploring this rich region where some 400 bird species have been recorded. Possible excursions include the lodge grounds, the bamboo trail, a high altitude climb or a visit to the nearby wetlands.

OCT 11 – SERRA DOS ORGAOS NATIONAL PARK (BLD)
Today we explore the rich area in the Serra Dos Orgoas National park, named because of its strange organ-pipe shaped mountains. Accompanied by a picnic lunch we will bird and nature view into the upper area of the park.

The drive to this National Park in Teresopolis takes approximately 45 minutes. The National Park is split into two sections, the lower and upper. We begin at the lower park where we will spend an hour or so and hope to see White-necked Hawk, Violet-capped Woodnymph, Rufous-capped Motmot, Spot-billed Toucanet, Yellow-fronted, Yellow-eared and Yellow-throated Woodpeckers, Pale-browed Treehunter, Buff-fronted Foliage-Gleaner, White-eyed Foliage-Gleaner, White-throated Woodcreeper, Plain and Spot-breasted Antvireo, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Blue Manakin, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Gray-hooded Atilla, Rufous-headed, Yellow-backed, Olive-green, Flame-crested and Golden-chevroned Tanagers and Red-rumped Cacique.

OCT 12 – SERRA DOS TUCANOS/ ITATIAIA (BLD)
Leaving our hotel after early morning birding we drive to the fabulous Itatiaia National Park. The road to Itatiaia winds its way through bromeliad-laden cloud forests. This was Brazil’s first National park, preserved since 1937. The park protects some stands of endangered Atlantic forests. Giant conifers share the park with pre-historic ferns, orchids, bromeliads and bamboo. Mammals here include quatis, caxingueles, sloths and chubby antas. Of the primates here we find the muriqui, largest of the neotropical monkeys as well as the tiny marmoset. We will stop at the flora and fauna museum at the entrance to acquaint ourselves with the richness of the park. Overnight.

OCT 13 & 14  – ITATIAIA (BLD)
Two full days to explore Brazils foremost National Park, where one day we will visit the highlands for several higher altitude specialists. Lower down in the park we will walk lovely trails and along traffic free roads festooned with bromeliads and native bamboo. The bizarre voices of dueting groups of Masked Titi Monkeys echo around the wooded valleys and we may disturb a group of White-lipped Peccari or an Agouti or a Tyra may cross the trail. At a nearby marsh we could try for some of the wetland species.

OCT 15 – ITATIAIA/ RIO (B)
Morning birding, afternoon return to Rio.

OCT 16 – RIO/ CUIABA / CHAPADA DOS GUIMARÃES (BLD)
Breakfast and transfer to aiport to take the flight to Cuiaba. In Cuiaba a guide will pick you up at the airport at scheduled time then about 1.5 h drive north to the Chapada dos Guimarães area, which is located approximately 40 miles northeast of Cuiabá.  We will drive to the base of the escarpment where the plateau of central Brazil abruptly ends.  The Chapada is composed of orange-red sandstone that has been eroded away by wind and rain to create unusual rock formations.  We will then drive up onto the plateau and look down over 1,000-foot cliffs. The chapada represents a transition zone between the Savanna (Cerrado) and the Amazonian Rainforest.  The specialty birds of this area include Red-legged Seriema, Red-and-Green and Blue-winged Macaws, Collared Crescentchest, Rufous-sided Pygmy-Tyrant, Chapada Flycatcher, Band-tailed Manakin, and Curl-crested Jay. Overnight at Pousada do Parque.

OCT 17 & 18  – CHAPADA DOS GUIMARÃES (BLD)
We will have two full days to explore the Chapada dos Guimarães area. Each morning after early coffee, we will set out to explore the nearby gallery forests and shrubby grasslands.  We will then return to our lodge for breakfast.  During our stay, we'll visit Veu da Noiva (Bridal Veil Fall), which plunges over 250 feet into a deep, forested bowl.  From that high vantage point, we will overlook the forest canopy and be in an excellent location to view many species, including pairs of Red-and-Green Macaws that nest at the cliffs. Birds of particular interest in this area are the Red-winged Tinamou, Dot-eared Coquette, Horned Sungem, White-eared Puffbird, Yellow-ridged Toucan, Pale-crested Woodpecker, Crested Black-Tyrant Band-tailed Manakin, Blue Finch, and several species of tanagers. We should also be on the lookout for mammals including the Brown Capuchin and Bare-eared Marmoset.  We'll also visit the geodesic center of South America, located on the edge of a cliff with a spectacular view of the plains and forest below. This place gives us a good opportunity to find some large raptors, such as Ornate and Black-and-White Hawk-Eagles. Here, we might see the spectacular White-collared and Biscutate Swifts as they come to roost at the end of the day.

OCT 19 - CHAPADA DOS GUIMARÃES / CUIABA/PANTANAL (BLD)
After breakfast drive 1.5 h along the Transpantaneira and depart to the Pantanal, driving for about 2 hours to reach the famous Transpantaneira Road.  This is one of the best wildlife viewing areas in the world. Here you can admire the flora and fauna along the Transpantaneira and make several stops on the way to film or take photographs.

Arrival at Pantanal Wildlife Center late in the afternoon, check-in and dinner will be served. Pantanal Wildlife Center was once called Fazenda Santa Tereza. The “Fazenda” was a traditional cattle ranch. Today, it is an eco-lodge on 3,500 hectares of flooded lands situated at the end of Rio Pixaim River. Here you are deep into the Pantanal where you can take boat safaris on the rivers; see monkeys, many bird species, capybaras, caymans, and giant otters.  You can also explore the marked trails through the forest surrounding the Pantanal Wildlife Center. Canopy towers are strategically located at fruiting and flowering trees. Overnight at Pantanal Wildlife Center. Dinner included.

OCT 20 - PANTANAL WILDLIFE CENTER (BLD)
After breakfast there is the opportunity for an early morning walk in the surrounding area.  Return prior to lunch in time to relax and explore some on your own.  After lunch, in the afternoon you will take a boat tour of the Rio Pixaim. Pantanal Wildlife Center is an excellent location for bird watching. It is also one of the best sites for predictable viewing wild Giant Otters from a distance of only 3 to 16 feet away.  Often they will come close to the boat, craning their necks, and snorting loudly. Overnight at Pantanal Wildlife Center. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.

OCT 21 - TRANSFER TO JAGUAR RESEARCH CENTER SEARCH FOR JAGUARS (BLD)
After breakfast at PWC you will be driving south along the Transpantaneira to the Jaguar Research Center. The Tranpantaneira Highway provides some of the best opportunities to see a great variety of birds and wildlife.  It is a photo safari in and of itself. We will continue to the very end of this famous road, at km 140, to Porto Jofre.  Here we find the 250-m-wide (820-foot-wide) Cuiabá River, which is the border between the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. We will complete the journey to Jaguar Research Center by boating 1-1.5 hours upstream on the Cuiaba River and then to Three Brothers River.  The 270,000-acre Meeting of the Waters State Park begins about a third of the way up the river to the Jaguar Research Center. The Jaguar Research Center is in the very heart of this remote, wild park, and is composed of five 12-by-14-foot, walk-in tents made of thick canvas.

The roof of the tent reaches more than 8 feet high, allowing even the tallest guests to walk around most of the tent.  Each tent also features electric light, an electrical socket for charging cameras and other equipment (both 110 volt and 220 volts available), and a bathroom. Lunch and dinner at the Jaguar Research Center.

OCT 22 - SEARCH FOR JAGUARS AND TRANSFER TO PANTANALWILDLIFECENTER (BLD)
After an early breakfast, we leave the Jaguar Research Center for a boat trip to observe the diversity of the animals in the region.  We will watch for jaguars, tapirs, anteaters, giant otters, birds and other animals common to this region.  We’ll use small motor-boats to explore narrow and wild rivers in the core of this huge park.  Recent guest have seen several of these huge predators, during the day, many of them at very close range for extended periods. Return to the Pantanal Wildlife Center at the end of the afternoon in time for dinner. Overnight at Pantanal Wildlife Center.

OCT 23 – ALTA FLORESTA / CRISTALINO (D)
Arrival in Alta Floresta, pick up and transfer to Cristalino Jungle Lodge. Upon arrival, there will be an introduction to the lodge and to your accommodations. Library and maps are available.

OCT 24 – CRISTALINO (BLD)
Hike before daylight towards the 50 meter Canopy Tower. Watch the sunrise from above the canopy. Usually, many species of birds can be seen, including the White Bellied, Red-Fan, White-Necked Puffbird, Pompadour Cotinga and different species of toucan. In the afternoon, boat trip up river and hike the Brazil Nut Trail, a place with enormous trees and interesting birds such as the Musician Wren. On the way back, boat trip to "Corredeira do Limao", a location where 100's of Painted Parakeets can often be seen. Return downriver for observation of the wildlife at sunset.

OCT 25 CRISTALINO (BLD)
Boat trip in the early morning towards the Sierra Trail: a site with a low, drier and deciduous type forest. Birds often seen here include Natterer's Slaty Antshrike, Brown-Banded Puffbird, Xenopsaris and Rufous Casiornis. This trail has beautiful sights since it is located in a hilly landscape. In the afternoon, birding by the "Caja" Trail near the lodge grounds where possible Flame-Crested Manakin might be seen.

OCT 26 – CRISTALINO / ALTA FLORESTA/ FOZ DO IGUAÇU (BLD)
Early morning hike in the “Ficus Trail” and transfer to Alta Floresta. Lunch and departure to Cuiaba. Arrival at Foz, transfer to the Hotel and departure for a tour to the Brazilian side of Iguaçu Falls in private transfer.

Iguassu Falls – Brazilian Side – Half Day
Departure to Iguassu Falls, 24 kilometers from Foz do Iguaçu downtown. Arrival to Visitors Center, at the entrance of the Iguaçu National Park, about 12 kilometers from the Iguassu Falls. In this center it is possible to find, besides photo exhibits on the Park and the Falls, a large souvenir shop and a bank terminal. To ensure greater comfort to visitors, the Visitors Center has a Medical Post and Bath Rooms including those specially made for the physically impaired. After passing through the Visitors Center, the tour continues at the road that crosses the Park and takes us to the wonderful Iguassu Falls. Along the way, information and instructions about the area are given in Portuguese, Spanish and English. Once at the Falls the tour takes place over an easy-to-walk path of approximately 1.200 meters which allows contact with the host coatis. At the end of the tour, we are presented with a panoramic view of the Falls, from a platform where we feel elated after an energizing bath tanks to the Floriano, Deodoro and Garganta do Diabo Falls. The tour ends on the upper part of the Falls, reached by a panoramic elevator. From here, we go to the Porto Canoas area, that receives us with a soothing view of the Upper Iguaçu River. The Port Canoas Space also has the Porto Canoas Restaurant and snack bars, handicraft shop, toilets and a first aid outpost. The vehicle that will take us back to the hotel will be waiting for us there. Accommodation at the San Martin Hotel.

OCT 27 – FOZ DO IGUAÇU (BLD)
Very early in the morning about 06am we will start the Poço Preto track at Brazilian National Park. We'll have breakfast (included) and spend all day (about 6 hours) with a park guard in search of the birds and the hundreds of wildlife species that thrive here. Mammals are often hard to see as many species are nocturnal or elusive, birding is unparalleled. Lunch (included).

OCT 28 - FOZ DO IGUAÇU (BD)
Breakfast and departure for a tour to the Argentine side of Iguaçu Falls in private transfer.

Iguassu Falls – Argentine Side – Half Day
Departure from the Hotel bound to Iguassu Falls on the Argentine side, located in the Iguassu National Park, province of Misiones, 28 kilometers from the center of Foz do Iguaçu and 45 kilometers from the Tropical Hotel das Cataratas of the Cataracts. The bridge lies approximately 20 kilometers, downstream from Iguassu Falls and just 2 kilometers, upstream from the confluence of the Iguaçu and Paraná Rivers, where visitors will be able to have a pretty panoramic sight of the Three-Frontier Landmark on each corner of the three borders: Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Upon arrival at the Iguassu National Park visitors will pass through a Visitors Center equipped with an excellent infrastructure such as: toilets, medical emergency, and interpretation panels on the biodiversity of the Park, from where they will leave for the two stations of the ecological trains, idealized to transport people to the Parks attractions with a low environmental impact; with a duration of 20 minutes approximately as far as the several points of interest. The first stop will be at Cataratas Station from where the visit to the Upper and Lower part of Iguassu Falls begins. After the end of this tour passengers, will board the train again for the Devils Throat Station, this is one of the most important observation points of the Falls. Return to the Hotel.

OCT 29 – FOZ DO IGUAÇU / NEXT DESTINATION (B)
Checkout at 12:00pm and transfer to the airport for flight to your next destination.

Options are available to return to Sao Paulo to fly home or continue on to Argentina and fly home from Buenos Aires.