Brazil - Pantanal, Cristalino Lodge & Iguazu Falls

Cristalino Lodge Thur 26th Sept – Wed 02nd Oct - 2013
Pantanal  Wed 02nd Oct – Thurs 10th Oct  - 2013
Iguazu Falls Thur 10th Oct – Sun 13th Oct - 2013

Hyacinth Macaw by Steve BirdThe vast Brazilian Pantanal is one of the greatest wetlands anywhere on earth, where incredible number of water birds have to be seen to be believed. Situated close to the border with Bolivia, it astounds everyone who visits by its sheer size (around 55,000 square miles!). From huge Jabiru wading in the shallow marshes, to the truly spectacular Hyacinth Macaw, this region exceeds all the superlatives. It is also considered one of the best places in South America to see a wide variety of tropical animals including the much sought after Jaguar, and our special boat trips will go in search of this elusive species. The Chapada dos Guimaraes will provide a complete contrast, with huge waterfalls, cerrado, and riverine forest, which are home to some of Brazil’s special birds, and a cross-selection of neotropic families including hummingbirds and manakins, antbirds, motmots, tinamous and tanagers. We should not forget the awesome Harpy Eagle – which often nests in the area. For something completely different we are offering a pre tour extension to the fabulous Cristalino Jungle Lodge set in a pristine private rainforest reserve. The area around this exclusive lodge is home to a very diverse and unique ecosystem, protecting 29,652 acres of primary rainforest with over 570 species of birds and many mammals. With a great variety of eco zones, different types of forest cover, lakes and micro habitats we will use boats, a tower and forest trails to search for many range-restricted Brazilian endemics. Some of our target species will include Rufous-capped Nunlet, Kawall's Amazon, Zigzag Heron, Peruvian Recurvebill, Snow-capped and Flame-crested Manakins, White-browed Purpletuft, Spangled and Purple-throated Cotingas and much more beside. For those who want to cap off this fabulous tour we are also offering a few days at the fabulous Iguazu Falls. These impressive falls tumble over 70 metres and host hundreds of Great Dusky Swifts, while several nearby parks will have us looking for a multitude of fabulous birds and mammals.

  • Hyacinth Macaw
  • Harpy Eagle
  • Kawall's Amazon
  • Zigzag Heron
  • Helmeted Manakin
  • Greater Rhea
  • Red-legged Seriema
  • Rufous-capped Nunlet
  • White Woodpecker
  • Sungrebe          
  • Jaguar
  • Horned Sungem
  • Maguari Stork
  • Sunbittern
  • Flame-crested Manakin
  • Nacunda Nighthawk
  • Spangled Cotinga
  • Chestnut-bellied Guan
  • Giant River Otter
  • Giant Anteater
Pre Tour - Cristalino Lodge:

Day 1   Arrival – Sau Paulo - Thursday 26th Sept
Please arrange to arrive in Sau Paulo today. This day is simply an arrival day and you will be booked into an airport hotel for this night. The official tour itinerary will start tomorrow. - Fri 27th Sept

Day 2   Sau Paulo – Alta Floresta
This morning we will fly out at 10.00am from Sau Paulo to Alta Floresta. Here we will have the afternoon to introduce ourselves to many wonderful Southern Amazonian species but pride of place should go to the pair of Harpy Eagles that regularly nest within a few minutes walk of our comfortable hotel. Night Alta Floresta.

Days 3 - 6  
Cristalino Jungle Lodge
As a pre tour to our wonderful Pantanal trip we are pleased to offer a 6-day extension to the very special Cristalino Jungle Lodge in the lower Amazonian basin. Situated in the middle of a private rainforest reserve in the Southern Amazon, this superb lodge (and we really mean superb!) offers access to a diverse variety of habitats and was chosen as one of the best hotels in Brazil by National Geographic Traveler. Perhaps one of the best lodges in the world, Cristalino lodge boasts some 600 species of birds with new species still being found. This amounts to half the avifauna in the Amazon and a third of all the Brazilian bird species! As the forests echo to the sounds of Undulated and Brazilian Tinamou, we will spend time in the most productive parts of the endless trails that surround this haven for wildlife. Our days here will offer the chance to see a mouth-watering array of spectacular and rarely seen species. Forest trails and waterways hold possibilities such as Fiery-capped, Flame-crested, Red-headed and Snow-capped Manakins, Black-bellied, Pavonine and Ash-coloured Cuckoo, Rufous-capped Curl-crested-Aracari by Will CarterNunlet, Manu Antbird, Chestnut-throated Spinetail, Peruvian Recurvebill, , Dusky-cheeked Foliage-gleaner, Guianan Gnatcatcher, Ornate Antwren, Rose-breasted Chat, Red-throated Piping-Guan, Razor-billed Curassow, Zigzag and Agami Herons, Amazonian Umbellabird, and Blue-necked, Bronzy, Paradise and Great Jacamars. The lodge’s canopy tower will offer the chance to look for birds in the canopy and overhead and could include up to six stunning species of macaw – Scarlet, Blue-and-yellow, Chestnut-fronted, Red-and-green, Blue-winged and Red-bellied – joined by noisy flocks of White-bellied, Orange-cheeked, Blue-headed, and Red-fan Parrots, Kawall’s Amazon as well as Painted, White-eyed, Dusky-billed, Golden-winged and Crimson-bellied Parakeets. Other birds living high in the tree tops include the spectacular Spangled, Pompadour and Purple-throated Cotingas, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Paradise and Opal-rumped Tanagers, Red-billed Pied-Tanager, and White-browed Purpletuft, while Curl-crested and Red-necked Aracaris are usually seen amongst the palm trees. With luck we could come across a variety of superb raptors including the impressive Harpy Eagle and Crested Eagle, as well as Black Caracara, Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, and even Slaty-backed and Cryptic Forest-Falcons which will present a challenge to find. There will be plenty of puffbirds including Brown-banded, Striolated, Collared, Rufous-necked, Spotted, and Swallow-wing, and if that’s not tempting enough we could also come across Pavonine Quetzal, Dark-winged Trumpeter, Sunbittern, Grey-breasted Sabrewing, White-bearded Hermit, Fiery-tailed Awlbill, Black-bellied Thorntail, Rufous-throated Sapphire, Green-and-rufous Kingfisher, Black-girdled Barbet, Gould's Toucanet, Red-stained, Scaly-breasted, Red-necked and Cream-coloured Woodpeckers, Cinnamon-throated, Elegant, Lafresnaye's and Spot-throated Woodcreepers, Curve-billed Scythebill, Chestnut-winged Hookbill, Para' Foliage-gleaner, Natterer's Slaty, Amazonian and Saturnine Antshrike, Sclater's Antwren,Striated Antbird, Warbling Antbird, Black-spotted Bare-Eye, Chestnut-belted Gnateater, Rufous Casiornis, Helmeted Pygmy-Tyrant, Zimmer's Tody-Tyrant, White-crested Spadebill and Tooth-billed Wren. Among the possible nightbirds we could encounter are Black-banded and Crested Owls, Amazonian Pygmy-Owl, Long-tailed and Great Potoo, Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl and Ocellated Poorwill, while Spectacled and Dwarf Caiman should be easy to find in torchlight at night. With plenty of exciting mammals including Night Monkey, Tapir and Dusky Titi Monkey this truly is a paradise for nature lovers and somewhere everyone should visit. Nights Cristalino Jungle Lodge.   

Day 7   Alta Floresta - Cuiaba - 2nd Oct
Leaving Today we will fly from Alta Floresta to Cuiaba where we will meet up with any persons starting the Pantanal tour, arrival 15.27. See Pantanal itinerary for the rest of this day.

Hyacinth-Macaw-in-flight by Steve BirdMain Tour - The Pantanal:
Day 6   Arrive Sau Paulo - 1st Oct
For those arriving from an international destination we advise arriving today because of difficulties in connecting with internal flight times tomorrow. Overnight airport hotel

Day 7   Cuiaba - Pantanal
Flight time from Sau Paulo to Cuiaba depart Sau Paulo 12.15 midday and arrive 13.25. Whether arriving from Cristalino Lodge or from an international destination, our Pantanal tour will begin today with a drive through Pocone to the first part of the 120km long Transpantaneria, a dirt road that goes into the heart of this magnificent wetland. We should get our first taste of this truly magical area and we should have time today to drive and walk amongst patches of natural forest surrounded by dry floodplain and savannas, where our first Hyacinth Macaws of the trip will hopefully put in an appearance. Night Hotel Pantanal, Mato Grosso.

Day 8   Pantanal – Pixiam River – Jaguar Lodge
Dawn is shattered by the territorial duets of Chaco Chachalacas, the haunting cries of Giant River Otter by Gina NicholSouthern Screamers, and the distinctive calls of Buff-necked Ibis. We then take a fabulous boat ride onto the quiet waters of the Pixiam river. Here along weedy river edges and floating vegetation we can hope to get close and personal with many wonderful species. Sunbitterns are often absurdly approachable, Agami Herons incredibly shy and the Sungrebe always a challenge to spot. Our tranquil hours spent on the river should produce other excellent species such as Blue-throated Piping Guan, Bare-faced Curassow, Chestnut-bellied Guan, Boat-billed Heron, Pale-legged Hornero, huge Jabiru, Grey-necked Woodrail, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Green Ibis, Black-collared Hawk, Blue-crowned Trogon, Cocoi Heron, Roseate Spoonbill and a few other creatures such as Caiman, Capybara, Black-and-gold Howler Monkeys and if were lucky the superb Giant River Otter. Returning for a late breakfast we will then search some of the nearby forests and open wetland habitat for a multitude of species such as Whistling Heron, Plumbeous Ibis, Long-tailed Ground-Dove, Campo Oriole, Greater Thornbird, Rufous Cacholote, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Mato Grosso Antbird, Ashy-headed Greenlet, Dull-capped Attila, Forest Elaenia, Pale-crested and Golden-green Woodpeckers, Campo Flicker, Rusty-backed Spinetail and the gorgeous Helmeted Manakin. We will then continue our journey along the Transpantaneria into the heart of the Pantanal, with plenty of opportunities to fully appreciate and enjoy one of the greatest avian spectacles anywhere in the world, as an amazing abundance of water birds, including a wide variety of ibis, storks, herons and egrets compete for our attention. We can expect extremely close views as many species feed next to the road, allowing superb photographic opportunities. Eventually we will arrive at our lodge where we spend the next 2 nights. Night Jaguar Lodge.

Day 9   Jaguar Lodge
Toco-Toucan by Steve BirdOur well positioned base allows us ample opportunities to find some of the areas best birds, including the world’s largest parrot, the Hyacinth Macaw. This is sure to be a memorable experience and one of the major highlights of the tour, as we watch these huge birds fly to and from their roosting trees. This morning we will take a walk amongst some of the highest bird diversity in the region. Birds are literally everywhere, and by covering various forest types and swamps we may find Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Aplomado and Bat Falcons, Pearl and Snail Kites, Crane and Black-collared Hawks, Sungrebe, Buff-necked and Green Ibises, Undulated Tinamou, Brazilian Teal, Capped and Cocoi Herons, Sunbittern, the endemic Chestnut-bellied Guan, Blue-throated Piping Guan, Bare-faced Curassow, Toco Toucan, Green-winged Macaw, Peach-fronted, Yellow-chevroned and Monk Parakeets, Turquoise-fronted Parrot, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Large-billed Tern, Pale-crested Woodpecker, Spot-backed Puffbird, Red-billed Scythebill, Great Rufous Woodcreeper, White Monjita, Gilded Hummingbird, Buff-bellied Hermit, Glittering-throated Emerald, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Pale-legged Hornero, Pale-crowned and Yellow-chinned Spinetails, Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Black-capped Donacobius, Yellowish Pipit, Flavescent Warbler, Silver-beaked Tanager, Solitary Black Cacique, Thrush-like Wren, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Purplish Jaguar-1Jay, Yellow-billed Cardinal, Rusty-fronted Tody-Flycatcher, Unicoloured and Scarlet-headed Blackbirds amongst many, many other possibilities. We will then continue on to what is in effect the end of the Transpantaneria at Porte Jofre where we will have lunch. Our afternoon is then spent on a boat on the Cuiaba River where our primary target species is the magnificent Jaguar, and absolutely awesome predator that is on most wildlife watchers wanted list. In the heat of the day these animals come down to the river banks to rest in the cool breeze that comes off the water’s surface. The success rate of seeing Jaguars here has improved enormously over the last few years as the locals guides knowledge on how to find them has also improved. We stand a very good chance, but no guarantees as it is nature and not a zoo! After our hopefully successful boat trip we will make our way slowly back to Jaguar lodge through the dusk and into the night where we use spotlights to search for a variety of wildlife. With luck we could come across Tapir, Giant Anteater, Crab-eating Racoon, Margay and Ocelot. 2nd Night Jaguar Lodge.

Day 10   Jaguar Lodge - Rio Claro
We have today to catch up with any species in the area that we may have missed before driving back towards Pocone and our last lodge Maguari-Stork by Steve Birdalong the Transpantaneria. Once again photo opportunities abound and we could add species such as Pied Lapwing, Collared Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper and Bare-faced Ibis, Fawn-breasted Wren, Greater Thornbird, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Striped Cuckoo, Lesser Seedfinch,White-tailed Goldenthroat, Crested Oropendola, Fuscous Flycatcher and Green-barred Woodpecker, Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns, Band-tailed Antbird, Little Woodpecker, Rusty-collared Seedeater, Masked Gnatcatcher, Large Elaenia, Wattled Jacana, Maguari Stork, Capped Heron, White-wedged Piculet and if we haven’t yet seen them both Band-tailed and the huge Nacunda Nighthawks. Night Rio Claro Lodge

Days 11 - 12   Rio Claro - Chapada dos Guimares
This morning we bird around our lodge before making our way slowly back along the Transpantaneria towards our next destination in the dry Chapada dos Guimaraes for a two night stay. Here, the high plains of central Brazil abruptly come to an end, with the habitat changing to reveal rocky outcrops, canyons, cerrado forest with ferns, orchids, bromeliads, and riverine forest that offers excellent birding amidst spectacular scenery. A whole new range of bird species await us with Greater Rhea and Red-legged Seriema good possibilities along our journey. From our well positioned lodge we will have birds and wildlife right on our doorstep, and just short distances away amongst the dry Chapada we can see a variety of species such as Red-winged Tinamou, Yellow-ridged Toucan, King Vulture, American Swallow-tailed Kite, Crested Black-Tyrant, Peach-fronted and White-eyed Parakeets, Curl-crested Jay, Red-and-Green Macaw, Blue-headed Parrot, Biscutate and Greater Dusky Swifts, Horned Sungem, Dot-eared Coquette, Cinnamon-throated Hermit, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Blue-crowned Motmot, the endemic Rufous-winged Antshrike, Chapadas Flycatcher, White-eared Puffbird, Large-billed Antwren, Masked Tityra, Band-tailed and Helmeted Manakins, White-bellied Warbler, Campo Flicker, Thick-billed Euphonia, Guira, Grey-headed, White-banded, White-rumped and Swallow Tanagers, Stripe-tailed Yellow Finch, Coal-crested Finches, Collared Crescentchest, and possibly the mighty Crowned Eagle amongst a host of other species. We have even been lucky enough to see the elegant and rare Maned Wolf here! 

Days 13 - 14  
Chapada dos Guimares - Serra das Araras
White-WoodpeckerDawn After our final mornings birding in this area it will be hard to tear ourselves away, but there will be further chances of new birds as we head to Serra das Our afternoon and following day will be spent exploring several different sections of dry Amazonian forest, with special attention on locating the awesome Harpy Eagle. The birds have bred here since their discovery in 1998, and juveniles are often present in the nearby forest for several years after fledging. But we would still need to be very lucky to find them! However, the birding here is nothing short of spectacular, with Blue-and-Yellow, Red-and-Green and Red-shouldered Macaws, Blue-headed Parrot, Orange-winged Parrot, Lettered and Chestnut-eared Aracari, Purplish Jay, Guira Cuckoo, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, White Woodpecker, Black-fronted Nunbird, Fork-tailed Palm Swift, Spectacled Owl, Scaled and Ruddy Pigeons, Flame-crested, White-shouldered, Turquoise and Blue-necked Tanagers, Cocoa Thrush, Warbling and Black-throated Antbirds, White-backed Fire-eye, Little Cuckoo, Orange-backed Troupial, Spix’s Guan, Pied Puffbirds the miniscule Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant, Rusty-fronted Tody-flycatcher, and Grey-crowned Flycatcher amongst many others. We also have the chance for Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls, Austral Screech-Owl, Ocellated Poorwill and Great Potoo. Nights Serra das Araras.

Day 15
   Serra das Araras - Cuiaba - 10th Oct
Today we will make our way to Cuiaba in time for our early afternoon flight back to Sau Paulo in time for our international departure. For those staying on we will spend the night in an airport hotel.

Iguazu Falls:
Days 16 - 18    Sau Paulo/Rio to Iguazu Falls
Today we will fly to the world famous Iguazu Falls for a 3 night stay. We have an afternoon and 2 full days to enjoy this world famous wonder of nature. Arriving in time for some afternoon birding both around the hotel grounds and a local garden, we will introduce ourselves to some of the resident birds and enjoy Iguazu Fallsa myriad of hummingbirds coming to feeders. The following two days will be spent birding this fantastic area with walks along a number of trails and of course opportunities to view these spectacular falls from several different viewpoints and boardwalks including a walk to the epicentre called “The Devil’s Throat”. Tumbling down over 70 meters we can look for flocks of Great Dusky Swifts that make their homes behind these foaming waters. This huge park has pristine forest, laden with bromeliads, epiphytes and beautiful orchids, and plays host to over 250 species of birds. Amongst the species we will look for are Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Black-fronted Piping-guan, Black-Billed Scythebill, Surucua Trogon, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Chestnut-bellied Euphonia, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Green-headed Tanager, Solitary Tinamou, Spot-backed Antshrike, Tufted Antshrike, Spot-winged Wood-Quail, Rufous-capped Motmot, Chestnut-eared Araçari, Red-breasted and Toco Toucans, Rufous Gnateater, Blond-crested, White-spotted and the rare Helmeted Woodpeckers, White-throated Woodcreeper, Swallow-tailed Manakin and Southern Antpipit. Nights Iguaza.

Day 19   Iguazu Falls - End of Tour - 14th Oct 
This morning we depart the fabulous Iguazu and fly to Rio de Janerio where we then connect with our international flights home.

Leaders: Steve Bird, Gina Nichol (All 3 Tours) and Paulo Boute (Cristalino & Pantanal), Local guide (Iguazu)

Pale-crested-Woodpecker by Steve BirdCristalino Lodge:  £1795.00 per person
The Pantanal:   £2395.00 per person
Iguazu Falls:  £895.00 per person

Cristalino Single supplement: £220.00  
Pantanal Single supplement:  £325.00  
Iguazu Falls Single supplement: £165.00  

Airfare:£850 - £1300.00 (Approx) UK/UK
Note airfares may need to include some domestic flights.

Deposit: £500.00 to secure any section/s or all of the tour

Group siz Minimum for tour to go ahead 6, max 10 with min 2 leaders

Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, ground transport throughout, boat trips, all entrance fees, bottled water and services of leaders.
All meals as described:
Cristalino from Breakfast on 27th to Dinner on 2nd Oct
Pantanal from Dinner on the 2nd Oct to Lunch on 10th Oct
Iguazu Dinner on 11th Oct to Breakfast on 14th Oct

Not included: International flight, Domestic Flights (if doing extensions), insurance, drinks, tips, meals in and around airports during the various tour connections, and Rufous-capped-Nunlet by Will Carteritems of a personal nature.

All lodges and hotels are of a good standard and offer en-suite rooms. The food is always of a good standard and plentiful. Note that Cristalino Lodge is an expensive very unique and exclusive lodge and although highly priced it really is somewhere very special. In Iguazu we stay in a standard quality hotel just outside the park.

Tour Code: These tours are pretty much standard birding tours with regular birding walks along roads and well marked trails. There are early morning options and pre-breakfast excursions, followed by morning and afternoon sessions. Several excellent boat trips including an afternoon in search of Jaguar. The weather is generally good to warm, even hot, with possibilities of rain in the afternoons. Be prepared for all eventualities. The Iguazu extension will not only be birding but is an opportunity to see one of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls.

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