Day 0   Arrival in Palmas - 18th October 
This is purely an arrival day into Palmas, the capital city of the state of Tocantins in central Brazil. Night in Palmas.

Day 1   Palmas -  Lagoa da Confusão
This morning we will drive 240kms to Lagoa da Confusão where we will begin our birding adventure amidst the natural fragments of floodplain forests, called "Ipucas", arising within sub-formations of the countryside regionally called "varjões".  It is sometimes compared or even called a “mini pantanal” because of the animal concentration in this location. To top it off, there are many rice farms around, so abundance of birds is guaranteed.

It is a great location to look for many interesting species such as Large-billed Antwren, Spot-throated Woodpecker, Rusty-fronted Tody-Flycatcher, Band-tailed Nighthawk, Chestnut-bellied Guan, Long-billed Woodcreeper, Spotted Puffbird and many more. In one day, we could easily spot more than 100 bird species! Not to count on the mammals we could encounter such as Marsh Deer.

Days 2 - 3   Lagoa da Confusão - Canguçu Research Center
We will continue our search for the specialities of Lagoa da Confusão for the first few hours of the morning before driving 180kms to Canguçu Research Center, where we will stay for 2 nights.

Pium and Caseara (the next localities that we will visit) are part of the same region in Tocantins State, the western region. Tocantins shares in its territory two of the biomes with the greatest biodiversity on the planet, the Cerrado and the Amazon. These peculiar and contrasting biomes makes Tocantins a land of inestimable potential. The region is still marked by its socio-cultural aspect with the Indigenous Park of Araguaia, which brings together various indigenous peoples such as the Carajás, Javaés, Tapirapés and the Tuxás e Avá-canoeiros. The Canguçu Research Center is located 250 km from the capital, and is in a strategic region between the Cerrado and Amazon biomes, still possessing characteristics of the Pantanal due to the flood regime of the great plain of the Araguaia. This great ecotonal gradient of western Tocantins and the mosaic of environments create unique ecosystems with high biological diversity, endemic species and avifauna composition of the three biomes mentioned above. Located on the banks of Bananal Island, the largest river island in the world, the Canguçu Research Center is a Private Natural Heritage Reserve, which belongs to a protected area complex that includes the State Park of Cantão with over 830 lakes, the Araguaia National Park, whose importance is internationally recognized and the area of Environmental Protection Bananal/Cantão. Together they form the ecological corridor Araguaia-bananal, one of the richest systems of biodiversity in the world.

In the vicinity of this singular ecotone and vast floodplain, we can see endemic species of the Bananal Island and the Araguaia River basin. One yet not described to science, a kind of Yellow-chinned Spinetail "Bananal Spinetail" (Certhiaxis. Sp.), endemic to the Bananal Island. It is also possible to observe restricted species such as Araguaia Spinetail, Bananal Antbird and Araguaia Cardinal. Other possibilities include the majestic Orinoco Goose and the pre-historic Hoatzin, as well as Chestnut-bellied Guan, Kaempfer's Woodpecker, Zimmer's Tody-tyrant, Amazonian Tyrannulet, Amazonian Streaked Antwren, Ringed Antpipit, Spotted Tody-flycatcher, Agami Heron, Rothchild’s Blue (Amazonian) Grosbeak, Maranhao Hermit, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Dwarf Tyrant-manakin, Band-tailed Manakin, Long-billed Woodcreeper, Cinnamon Attila, Amazonian Antshrike, Masked Tityra, Blackish Nightjar, Band-tailed Nighthawk, Great Potoo, Black-banded Owl and Austral Screech-Owl, among numerous other surprises that may come along our way, such as the magnificent Harpy Eagle amongst many others. 

Day 4   Canguçu Research Center - Miranorte - Dois Irmaos
Mornig birding around the research center before driving 230kms this afternoon to Miranorte. On our afternoon transfer to Miranorte we will have our first chances of seeing on of the most special birds of the trip, Kaempfer’s Woodpecker, a species that was thought to be extinct for 80 years until it was rediscovered in 2006 in Tocantins.

Dois Irmãos do Tocantins is a municipality located in the eastern portion of the Tocantins State. It is a small city with less than 10 thousand inhabitants, which had its origins in the exploration of diamond rocks. The municipality is located in the Araguaia River Valley, giving the opportunity to record a variety of bird species such as Purple-throated Fruitcrow and Maranhao Hermit. Here we will also have second chances to see Kaempfer's Woodpecker, as well as Santarem Parakeet, Jandaya Parakeet, Orange-winged Amazon, Channel-billed Toucan, Gould's Toucanet, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Eastern Striolated Puffbird, Smoky-fronted Tody-Flycatcher,Cinereous-breasted Spinetail and Blue-necked Tanager amongst many others.

Day 5   Miranorte - Taquaruçu
We can spend most of the day at Miranorte searching for any species we still need before setting out on the 130kms drive to Taquaruçu.

Days 6 - 7  Taquaruçu - São Domingos
Day 6 is really a driving day as we travel 660kms from Taquaruçu to São Domingos, with just a few short stops along the way for a little roadside birding. But it will surely be worth it as we then have a full day at São Domingos

On our first night in São Domingos, we will sleep in a pousada quite far from downtown so that we could try to guarantee views of Pfrimer’s Parakeet in the Gruta Terra Ronca, which is right next to our pousada. If we do not see it this afternoon, we have all the next day to search for them.

The town of São Domingos is located in the foothills of the Serra Geral Mountain Range, a natural border between the states of Bahia and Goiás. Inside the political boundaries of this small town is the Terra Ronca State Park with approximately 57.000 hectares that protects natural Cerrado, dry and gallery forest habitats and fundamental water sources. A marking feature of this region is the deciduous or semi-deciduous dry forest growing on limestone outcrops or limestone-derived soils. And it’s in this specific habitat that Pfrimer’s Parakeet lives in the forested slopes of the limestone cliffs. One of the largest speleological complexes in Brazil, there are numerous caves with clear subterranean rivers running through, which all combined, makes the Park very picturesque. We will also be birding outside of the State Park, in Cerrado and Gallery Forest habitats to look for other targets.

The main reason we come to this faraway location is because this is one of the only places where Pfrimer's Parakeet could be found. In this dry forest/limestone area, we will also have chances of seeing Jandaya Parakeet, Biscutate Swift, Black-fronted Nunbird, Buff-breasted Wren, Golden-crowned [white-bellied] Warbler, Buff-necked Ibis, Chestnut-capped Foliage-gleaner and, with luck, we might see Ornate Hawk-Eagle. In the Cerrado and Gallery Forest habitat we visit on arrival day, our targets will be Chapada Flycatcher, Point-tailed Palmcreeper, Large-billed Antwren, Rusty-backed Antwren, White-rumped Tanager, Toco Toucan, Horned Sungem, Curl-crested Jay, Nacunda Nighthawk and more. Not guaranteed, but we occasionally see Coal-crested Finch and White-striped Warbler here as well. For the parrot-lovers we have a very good chance to see the fantastic Hyacinth and Red-and-green Macaws, who roost in the cliffs of Serra Geral. Besides these two we could also see Red-bellied Macaws and Turquoise-fronted Parrots.

Days 8 - 9   São Domingos - Peruaçu National Park
Day 8 is another long travelling day of around 570kms to reach the wonderful wooded caatinga habitat of Peruaçu National Park. There are a number of specialities to search for here including the rare endemics Moustached Woodcreeper, Plain-tailed Nighthawk and White-throated Seedeater, Other endemics here are White-browed Guan, Sombre Hummingbird, Outcrop (Dry Forest) SabrewingGreat Xenops, Red-shouldered Spinetail, Sao Francisco Black Tyrant and Sao Francisco Sparrow, as well as near-endemics such as Rusty-margined Guan and Sibilant Sirystes. We also hope to see the uncommon endemic Wagler's Woodcreeper - a potential split from Scaled Woodcreeper.

Other possibile species include White-bellied NothuraYellow-legged Tinamou, Grey-cowled Wood-Rail, Black-banded Owl, Rufous NightjarGrey-headed Kite, Plumbeous Pigeon, Pearly-breasted Cuckoo and many more..

Days 10 -11  Peruaçu National Park - Botumirim
After some early morning birding in the national park, we will drive 400kms to Botumirim

Day 12   Botumirim - Montes Claros
How could we talk about Botumirim without talking about the rediscovery of the Blue-eyed Ground-Dove, one of the most exciting findings of the century! In 2015, a good friend of ours, Rafael Bessa, was on an environmental consultancy in the Botumirim area. As usual, when we do this type of work, we have designated coordinates to go for the bird surveys. To get to one of the coordinates, Rafael decided to take a shortcut and passed exactly in front of what is today the Blue-eyed Ground-Dove Nature Reserve. He told us he was astonished with that beautiful and somewhat different habitat that grasped his attention. Although curiosity had already aroused, he could not stop since he had to get to the coordinate to proceed with the surveys. As soon as the field campaign finished, Rafael decided to visit that interesting location early the next day. As soon as he jumped out of the car, he heard something quite different, that sounded a bit like a frog, but not quite: surely something he had never heard before, so he decided to record the vocalization and play it back to reel in the thing that was making that sound. As soon as he played it back, the Blue-eyed Ground-Dove instantly jumped right in front of him. Today, this species is still only found in Botumirim and one of the main areas where the Ground-Dove lives is a Nature Reserve managed by Brazilian NGO SAVE Brasil. The Reserve, together with the Botumirim State Park, protect an area of 35.000 hectares of preserved Cerrado and Campo Rupestre. Botumirim is a very interesting area of ecotones; here we can find Caatinga, Cerrado and Atlantic Forest specialties.

It is obvious that our main target here will be Blue-eyed Ground-Dove (Columbina cyanopis). The Ground-Dove is critically endangered and an extremely sensitive species, therefore it is prohibited to use playback. But with patience, as the territories are well-known, we have very good chances of seeing this beautiful bird. Since we will be in the Espinhaço Mountain Range, there will be a few species associated with this rocky environment that we will also target like Hyacinth Visorbearer, Cinereous Warbling-Finch and, with a lot of luck, Cipo Canastero. There are a few other interesting species that we might see such as White-wedged Piculet, White-browed AntbirdCopper Seedeater, Pin-tailed Manakin, Pale-throated Pampa-Finch (Also known as Serra Finch), Spot-tailed Nightjar, Narrow-billed Antwren, Greater Thornbird, Chotoy Spinetail, Greenish Schiffornis, Pale-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, Horned Sungem, Scarlet-throated TanagerChesnut-capped Foliage- gleaner and others.

Day 13 - 14   Montes Claros - Caraça Sanctuary
Another long drive of 540kms to get to Caraça Sanctuary but we'll have a full day here to explore such a fantastic area. The “Santuário do Caraça” complex comprises about 11.000 hectares and it is property of the Catholic Church. It is a private reserve where the vegetation is characterized by its transition between Atlantic Forest and Cerrado, with outcrops of campo rupestre in higher altitudes. Due to these aspects, there is a rich biodiversity, including many mammals such as Maned Wolf, Giant Anteater and maybe some species of monkeys, such as Black-fronted Titi Monkey. This place is famous for its great architecture, cozy breakfast facility and, of course, the Maned Wolf that sometimes comes to feed close to the facilities in the evening. Here, we generally bird in altitudes ranging from 1200 to 1300 meters. The facilities where we sleep are practically inside the forest and the trails will be nearby.

Our main target here is the Serra Antwren and we will have chances to see many other birds such as Blackish Rail,Hyacinth Visorbearer, Scaled WoodcreeperWhite-shouldered Fire-eye, Pin-tailed ManakinGrey-backed Tachuri, Orange-eyed Thornbird, Cinnamon Tanager, Gilt-edged Tanager, Brassy-breasted TanagerHepatic Tanager, Pale-throated Pampa-Finch,,Rock TapaculoVelvety Black-Tyrant and many others.

Days 15 - 16 Caraça Sanctuary - Serra do Cipó
We can spend the whole morning at Caraça Sanctuary before setting of on the 170kms drive to Serra do Cipó. The Cipó National Park includes 33,800 hectares of designated parklands being acquired to preserve the highly endemic plant and animal life of this “serra system”. A remarkable place with fantastic and very local birds. A place you could not miss on a visit to the state of Minas Gerais.

There are 2 local endemics in this region that are worth highlighting, Cipo Canastero and Cipo Cinclodes. We will have to give these 2 targets a special effort since they are not at all easy targets to find. Other specialties include Rock Tapaculo, Hyacinth Visorbearer, Horned Sungem, Checkered Woodpecker, Lesser Grass-Finch, Pale-throated Pampa-Finch, Blue Finch, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Stripe-tailed Yellow-Finch, Long-tailed Reed-Finch and Cinereous Warbling-Finch. There is another very interesting target; the range-restricted and recently described [2017] Diamantina Sabrewing. However, only 20-30% of the groups are lucky enough to see it. We will of course also try for Marsh Tapaculo, another ghost! Let us consider ourselves lucky if we even hear this bird.

Day 17   Serra do Cipó - Pompéu
After spending the morning at Serra do Cipó we will drive 210kms to Pompéu.

Day 18    Pompéu - Serra da Canastra
Pompéu is considered a crake paradise in Brazil. Two brothers, the “Pompeu Twins”, have been taming quite a few species of crakes. As of today, we have good opportunities of seeing some “true ghosts” such as: Ocellated Crake, Russet-crowned Crake, Grey-breasted Crake and more. Unlike “Serra da Canastra” or “Serra do Cipó”, the habitat here is not protected. We will cover long distances of degraded habitat from our hotel, based inside town, to go from patch to patch of good preserved cerrado looking for the specific targets we need. Besides the ghostly crakes mentioned above, there are a few other species we will look for such as Least Nighthawk, Caatinga Puffbird, Checkered Woodpecker, Chapada Flycatcher, Chestnut-capped Foliage-gleaner, Coal-crested FinchBlack-faced Tanager and many more.

After we have finished our birding here we will drive 300kms to Serra da Canastra where we will spend the next 3 nights.

Days 19 - 20 Serra da Canastra
The Serra da Canastra National Park, in southwest of Minas Gerais, has some of the most breathtaking and undiscovered landscapes in Brazil. It has almost 200.000 hectares and covers 6 municipalities: São Roque de Minas, Vargem Bonita, Sacramento, Delfinópolis, São João Batista do Glória and Capitólio. We will be based in São Roque de Minas. The region is the cradle of many rivers that help form the São Francisco and Paraná basins. The landscape alternates between rocky fields (campo rupestre) full of delicate flowers, typical cerrado (open grasslands, wooded savanna, typical savanna) and gallery forests with lush Atlantic vegetation. It is in these environments that endangered animals such as the Giant Anteater, Maned Wolf, Giant Armadillo and Brazilian Merganser are protected. Our main target here is, of course, Brazilian Merganser and our first day will be solely dedicated to finding it. Depending on local up-to-date information, the guide will decide if the group will begin the search in the lowlands or highlands. Due to its rarity and sensibility, it is forbidden to use playback for the merganser. The strategy here is to choose one of its many territories/visiting/feeding areas and wait. Patience is key in this situation. Besides the merganser, there are several cerrado birds that we will have to look for in the highlands (plateau). To access this area of the park we will have to drive 8km in a treacherous dirt road until we reach the plateau. Entering the park, we will be birding on the main road looking for cerrado specialties.

In addition to having good chances of seeing the rare Brazilian Merganser, there are several other species that live in this habitat of high altitude cerrado, such as Campo Miner, Grass Wren, Cock-tailed Tyrant, Sharp-tailed Tyrant and Black-masked Finch among others. We also have great chances of finding Brasilia Tapaculo in the streams that are in the high part of the mountain range. There are also some areas of gallery forest, where we can find the beautiful Helmeted Manakin, whilst other species include Greater Rhea, Red-legged Seriema, Toco Toucan, Golden-capped Parakeet, White-wedged Piculet, Large-billed Antwren, Firewood GathererYellow-rumped Marshbird, White-striped Warbler, Ochre-breasted Pipit, Collared Crescentchest, White-banded & White-rumped Tanagers, Cinereous Warbling- Finch, Great Pampa-Finch, Collared Crescentchest and many more.

Day 21     Serra da Canastra - Belo Horizonte - End of Tour  - 8th November
After some final birding we will transfer 350kms to Belo Horizonte where the main tour will end. Plan on booking your flight back home late this afternoon after 4pm if not continuing with the post-tour extension. 


                 **************** Carajás National Forest Extension ***************


Extension Day 1    Belo Horizonte - Carajás National Forest  - 9th November
Following a short flight from Belo Horizonte we should arrive at our base close to Carajás National Forest in time to do a little birding before dinner.

The Carajás National Forest is where there is the biggest mining project in Brazil, with tons of Iron, Gold, Manganese, Granite and Copper are exported daily. With an area of 400,000 hectares. It also has the conservation of biodiversity as its goals, being home for many magnificent and restricted bird species.

Extension Days 2 - 5   Carajás National Forest
We have 4 full days to explore the amazing Carajás National Forest. Key target species include Dark-winged Trumpeter (dextralis), White-crested Guan, Chestnut-headed Chachalaca, Cryptic Forest-Falcon, Silky-tailed Nightjar, Pearly Parakeet, Rufous-throated Sapphire, Dot-eared Coquette, Guianan Red Cotinga, White-tailed Cotinga, Para Foliage-Gleaner, Carajas & Brigida's Woodcreeper, Snethlage's Scythebill, Peruvian Recurvebill, Rufous-faced Antbird, Variegated & Snethlage's Antpitta, Purple-breasted Cotinga, Ash-throated Casiornis, Chestnut-belted Gnateater, Rose-breasted Chat & Opal-crowned Manakin

Other species present include Brazilian Tinamou, Small-billed Tinamou, Bare-faced Curassow, Red-throated Piping-Guan, Rusty-margined Guan, Marbled Wood-Quail, Hoatzin, Harpy Eagle, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet, Red-fan Parrot, Hyacinth Macaw, Pavonine & Pheasant Cuckoos, Black-bellied Thorntail, White-throated & Waved Woodpecker, Rufous-necked Puffbird, Rufous-capped Nunlet, White-browed Purpletuft, White Bellbird, Great Jacamar, Dusky Leaftosser, Curve-billed Scythebill, Uniform Woodcreeper, Para Woodcreeper, Chestnut-throated Spinetail, Sharpbill, Natterer's Slaty-Antshrike, Xingu Scale-backed Antbird, White-browed Antbird, Wing-banded Antbird, Manu Antbird, Spix's Warbling Antbird, Blackish Antbird, Banded Antbird, Grey Antbird, Amazonian Antpitta, Amazonian Royal Flycatcher, Black-and-white Tody-Flycatcher, Blackish Pewee, Ruddy, Chestnut-throated, Sooty-fronted & Pale-breasted Spinetails, Black-bellied Gnateater, Plain-crested & Lesser Elaenias, Zimmer's Tody-Tyrant, Black-chested Tyrant, Pale-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, Fiery-capped Manakin, Riverbank Warbler, White-naped Jay, Wing-barred Seedeater and Yellow-bellied Dacnis amongst many more possibilities.

There are a few nightbirds that we could look for as well, such as Xingu Screech-Owl, Tawny-bellied Screech-OwlBlack-banded Owl & Crested Owl, Ocellated Poorwill.

Extension Day 6   Carajás National Forest - Belo Horizonte  - 14th November
Depending on our flight time we may have the mornig to catch up with any species still missing from our lists before taking the return flight to Belo Horizonte where the tour concludes this evening.