Brazil - The Amazing Pantanal 2015

Sunday 4th Oct – Wednesday 14th Oct 2015

Hyacinth-Macaws-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. The sheer number of birds has to be seen to be believed and many of these offer close views which makes for great photography. 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 one of our three 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, manakins, antbirds, motmots, tinamous and tanagers. We should not forget the awesome Harpy Eagle – which often nests in the area! Note that you can extend your stay to the superb Iguazu Falls after the trip. Please contact us for more details. Check out our last trip report to help you decide - here

  • Hyacinth Macaw
  • Harpy Eagle
  • Southern Screamer
  • Spot-backed Puffbird
  • Helmeted Manakin
  • Greater Rhea
  • Red-legged Seriema
  • Golden-collared Macaw
  • White Woodpecker
  • Sungrebe
  • Jaguar 
  • Horned Sungem
  • Maguari Stork
  • Sunbittern
  • Nacunda Nighthawk 
  • Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl
  • Curl-crested Jay
  • Chestnut-bellied Guan
  • Giant Anteater
  • Giant River Otter
Day 1   Arrive - Cuiaba - 4th Oct 
Greater-RheaFor those arriving from an international destination we advise arriving today where we will overnight near the airport ready for the start of the tour tomorrow. Note this is purely an arrival day.  

Day 2   Cuiaba - Pantanal - 5th Oct   
After breakfast we will begin the day 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. Here we will keep a look out for Greater Rhea and Red-legged Seriema plus countless waterbirds, storks and ibis. As we near our lodge our first Hyacinth Macaws of the trip will hopefully put in an appearance. Night Hotel Pantanal, Mato Grosso

Day 3    Pixiam River - Porte Jofre – 6th Oct
Dawn is shattered by the territorial duets of Chaco Chachalacas, the haunting cries of Helmeted-Manakin by Steve BirdSouthern Screamers, and the distinctive calls of Buff-necked Ibis. We then take a fabulous early morning 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 alongSunbittern-3 the Transpantaneria through 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 the end of this road and our lodge where we spend the next 2 nights. Night Porte Jofre. 

Day 4    Porte Jofre  - 7th Oc
Our well positioned base allows us ample opportunities to find some of the areas best birds, Jaguar by Steve Birdincluding the world’s largest parrot, the fantastic Hyacinth Macaw. This is sure to be a memorable experience and one of the major highlights of the tour, as we watch these spectacular birds fly to and from their roosting trees.The main focus of today however, will be to embark on a boat trip onto 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! There will be plenty of avian distractions as we search for Jaguars and we can expect species such as Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns, Black Skimmer, Rufescent Tiger-Heron and Wattled Jacana. We could also come across Giant River Otters. In the evening we may make use of spotlights to search for a variety of nocturnal wildlife. With luck we could find Tapir, Giant Anteater, Crab-eating Racoon, Margay and Ocelot, as well as both Nacunda and Band-tailed Nighthawks. Nights Porte Jofre.

Day 5    
Porte Jofre - Rio Claro
- 8th Oct  

Maguari-Stork by Steve BirdWe have today to catch up with any species in the area that we may have missed before driving back towards Pocone and yet another fabulous lodge along the Transpantaneria. As we leave those fabulous Hyacinth Macaws behind us we will once again find that photo opportunities abound and we could add species such as Pied Lapwing, Azure Gallinule, Collared Plover, Pectoral Sandpiper and Bare-faced Ibis, Fawn-breasted Wren, Greater Thornbird, Amazonian Motmot, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Striped Cuckoo, Lesser Seed-Finch, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Crested Oropendola, Black-collared Hawk, Fuscous Flycatcher and Green-barred Woodpecker, Band-tailed Antbird, Little Woodpecker, Rusty-collared Seedeater, Masked Gnatcatcher, Large Elaenia, Wattled Jacana, Maguari Stork, Capped Heron, White-wedged Piculet, Yellow-billed Cardinal, Red-pileated Finch, Great Horned Owl and more opportunities for both Band-tailed and the huge Nacunda Nighthawks. Night Pousada Rio Claro

Day 6   Rio Claro - Pousa Alegre – 9th Oct 
Today we will have opportunities for an early morning boat trip followed by a walk amongst some areas 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, Pale-crested Woodpecker, 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, Blue-crowned Trogon, Solitary Black Cacique, Thrush-like Wren, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Purplish Jay, Yellow-billed Cardinal, Rusty-fronted Tody-Flycatcher, Unicoloured and Scarlet-headed Blackbirds amongst many, many other possibilities. We will then drive the short distance to a different lodge where we will have time to explore the surrounding area. Here mammals abound and we have good opportunities to look for Brazilian Tapir and even Giant Armadillo. Our day will be well spent and to add to the wealth of birds we also have opportunities to see many species of dragonfly and butterfly, 
Night Pousa Alegre

Day 7   Pousa Alegre - Currupira das Araras - 10th Oct 
This morning will see us bird around our lodge grounds and surrounding habitat before setting off on our journey to the dry Chapada. Some of the species we could see this morning include Red-billed Scythebill, Great Rufous Woodcreeper, Orange-backed Troupial, Rufous Cacholote, Lesser Kiskadee, Black-and-gold Howler and Black-tailed Marmoset. 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 Currupira das Araras. As we leave the Pantanal we will keep a look out for Greater Rheas and Red-legged Seriema as we say goodbye to the countless Wood Storks, herons, Limpkins, ibis, and Southern Screamers. We should arrive at our lodge in the late afternoon and if we have time we can familiarise ourselves with some of the commoner birds in and around the gardens. Night Currupira das Araras

Day 8   Currupira das Araras - 11th Oct
Harpy-Eagle-by-Gina-NicholToday will be spent exploring several different sections of dry Amazonian forest, with special attention on locating the awesome Harpy Eagle. A pair of these birds have bred here since their discovery in 1998, and they were nest building during our 2014 tour so all being well they should be around the nest site when we visit, giving us a very good chance to see this much wanted bird. If they are true to their cycle of nesting then the views of these magnificent birds will be nothing short of spectacular. The rest of the birding here will also be spectacular, with a host of species very different from those seen in the Pantanal, including Blue-and-Yellow, Red-and-Green and Red-shouldered Macaws, Blue-headed Parrot, Orange-winged Parrot, Lettered and Chestnut-eared Aracari, Burrowing Owl, Purplish Jay, Guira Cuckoo, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, White Woodpecker, Black-fronted Nunbird, Swallow-winged Puffbird, Fork-tailed Palm Swift, Spectacled Owl, Scaled and Ruddy Pigeons, Flame-crested, White-shouldered, Blue-necked, Magpie and Turquoise Tanagers, Cocoa Thrush, Warbling and Black-throated Antbirds, White-backed Fire-eye, Little Cuckoo, Orange-backed Troupial, Spix’s Guan, Pied and Striolated Puffbirds the tiny Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant, Rusty-fronted Tody-flycatcher and Grey-crowned Flycatcher amongst many others. In the evening we also have the chance for Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls, Southern Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl, Ocellated Poorwill and Great Potoo. Night Currupira das Araras

Days 9 - 10   Currupira das Araras - Pousada do Parque – 12th & 13th Oct
This morning we will spend time birding around our lodge before making our way towards our Spot-backed-Puffbird-by-Steve Birdnext 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, riverine and cerrado forest with ferns, orchids and bromeliads. This stunning area offers excellent birding amidst spectacular scenery. A whole new range of bird species await us and from our well positioned lodge we will have birds and wildlife right on our doorstep. Just a 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, Plain-crested Elaenia, Southern Scrub Flycatcher, White-eared and Spot-backed Puffbird, Large-billed Antwren, Planalto Slaty Antshrike, Masked Tityra, Band-tailed and Helmeted Manakins, White-bellied Warbler, Campo Flicker, Thick-billed Euphonia, Guira, Black-faced, Grey-headed, White-banded, Cinnamon, 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 Toco-Toucan by Steve Birdsee the elegant and rare Maned Wolf here! Nights Pousada do Parque

Day 11   Pousada do Parque - End  – 14th Oct
Today we have a final mornings birding around our lodge where we could find such species as Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Laughing Falcon, Channel-billed Toucan, Rufous-bellied Thrush, Green-barred Woodpecker, Masked Tityra, Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch, Rusty-backed Spinetail and White-backed Fire-Eye. Pheasant Cuckoos are also in the area but are incredibly difficult to see so we would need luck on our side to actually see one. After a final day birding this wonderful area we will make our way to Cuiaba in time for our farewell dinner. Because of flight schedules we will now overnight in a hotel in Cuiaba before catching international or domestic flights the following morning - 15th Oct.

Anyone wishing to add an extension to Iguazu Falls please not you would fly from Cuiaba to Iguazu on the morning of 15th Oct. 4 nights at Iguazu Falls, birding and visiting the falls from the Argentine side (the nicest). Departing Iguazu on 19th Oct
Flights should be included with your international flight, the extension is all inclusive of transport, meals, entrance fees and guide.

The cost for this extension is £895.00 and £195 Single Sup

Steve Bird, Gina Nichol & Local Guide

Ground Price: £2695.00 - Cuiaba/Cuiaba 

Airfare: £850.00 - £950.00
(Approx) - UK/UK

Zoothera tour prices explained
Single supplement: £375.00

Group size: Maximum 11.

Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, ground transport throughout, boat trips, all entrance fees to national parks and nature reserves, night drive in truck for mammals, bottled water, transfers, all meals from dinner on 4th to breakgfast on 14th and services of leaders.

Caimen by Steve BirdNot included: International airfare, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.

Accommodation: All lodges are of a good standard and offer en-suite rooms. 

Tour Code: This tour is a 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. We have 3 boat trips on 3 different rivers including one specifically 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.

Check out our latest trip report - Here 

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