Prepare yourself for a fabulous wildlife experience…
The Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland, bigger even than France, with an amazing diversity and abundance of wildlife, including over 700 species of birds, and the highest density of large predators on Earth! In this exciting World Biosphere Reserve, the open savanna setting offers a superb safari-style experience, with easy birding, and so we should see around 370 species, as well as Paraguayan Caiman, massive Anacondas, and many mammals including Giant River Otter, Giant Anteater, Black Howler Monkey, Marsh Deer, Brazilian Tapir, Ocelot, Tayra, Crab-eating Fox, Crab-eating Racoon, Coati, and Capybara, the world’s largest rodent. There is even a very good chance of seeing the magnificent Jaguar, and we shall make a special effort to find at least one, and quite possibly more, with the aid of our local guide, as they are more common (and bigger) here than anywhere else on earth! In fact so many are seen so often that many of them have been given names!
Our visit coincides with the cooler dry season, making it a comfortable time to be here, and so we shall see this fabulous wetland at its very best, when the birds are in breeding plumage and spectacular concentrations of water birds and other wildlife congregate around the receding pools, representing the biggest concentration of wildlife anywhere in the Americas! We will enjoy several boat rides, providing close views of all this wonderful wildlife.
In addition to the Pantanal, we shall also visit the nearby uplands of the Serra das Araras and Chapada dos Guimarães National Park, thus extending our lists of birds and other wildlife.
We will be joined on this trip by my long-standing friend and colleague Josele Saiz, who has led over 150 tours in Spain and Morocco alone. I have previously worked with Josele on trips to Spain, Morocco, Lesvos, Iceland, Uganda, Turkey and Cuba and we are very privileged to have Josele with us on this exciting tour, which promises to be hugely productive and enjoyable.
Day 1 We take an afternoon flight from Heathrow to Munich with Lufthansa, arriving early evening whereupon we transfer to a flight to Sao Paulo, arriving early the following day, with meals and overnight in flight.
Day 2 We transfer to the 09.20 flight to Cuiabá, where we shall be met by our local English-speaking driver/bird guide and transferred to Currupira Lodge in the scenic Serra das Araras. The lodge grounds have Dusky-headed Parakeets and Red-shouldered Macaws, while the surrounding area of forested mountains offers a good chance of seeing majestic Crowned and Harpy Eagles, Dinner and overnight at Currupira Lodge.
Day 3 We have a full day to explore the Serra das Araras in search of the Harpy Eagle as well as a good selection of other birds such as Blue Ground-Dove, Bicoloured and Grey Hawks, Lettered Aracari, Red-necked, Cream-coloured, Lineated and Yellow-tufted Woodpeckers, White-necked and Spot-backed Puffbirds, Rufous-capped Nunlet, White-flanked Antwren, Warbling Antbird, White-eyed Attila, Sharpbill, Band-tailed Manakin and Magpie Tanager. After dark, we can go out in search of Black-banded and Spectacled Owls and Tawny-bellied Screech-Owl. Dinner and overnight at Currupira Lodge.
Day 4 We transfer to the Pantanal, arriving at the Piuval Lodge in time for lunch. Along the way, we may see Snail Kite, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Hyacinth Macaw, Monk Parakeet, Scarlet-headed Blackbird and Red-billed Scythebill. In the afternoon, we shall enjoy the fabulous combination of a forest walk, followed by a lovely boat ride to an observation tower, providing a marvellous view of the Pantanal flood plain, and a nesting colony of Roseate Spoonbills, American Wood Storks and Cocoi Herons. In the forest, we can see Blue-crowned Trogon, Black-fronted Nunbird and Narrow-billed, Straight-billed and Great Rufous Woodcreepers. From the boardwalk to the tower, we may see Unicoloured Blackbird, Black-capped Donacobius, Mato Grosso Antbird and Yellow-chinned Spinetail. We shall return around sunset with wonderful photo-opportunities and good chances of nocturnal animals such as Ocelot and Crab-eating Fox, as well as nocturnal birds such Tropical Screech-Owl, Pauraque and Great and Grey Potoos. Dinner and overnight at Piuval lodge.
Day 5 Today we cross the Pantanal on the Transpantaneira dirt road, with frequent stops for birding and spotting lots of other wildlife along the way including Capybara, Caiman, Black Howler Monkey and hopefully the mighty Anaconda. The spectacular profusion of bird life should include Jabiru Stork, Greater Rhea, Sunbittern, Red-legged Seriema, Southern Screamer, Brazilian Teal, Plumbeous Ibis, Black-collared, Great Black and Savanna Hawks, Laughing and Aplomado Falcons, Golden-collared Macaw, White-bellied Seedeater and various herons and egrets in their thousands! Dinner and overnight at the Porto Jofre Hotel.
Day 6 It’s Jaguar Day! Yes, we have a full day’s boat ride (in two parts, with lunch back at the lodge) on the CuiabáRiver, following up on news of recent sightings of this magnificent big cat. Our chances are very good as this is the most reliable place for Jaguar in the whole world! At this time of year, they can often be seen loafing in the shade of the trees and on the sandy beaches of the river, and have even been seen across the river from the hotel garden! We should also see plenty more amazing wildlife like Green Iguana, families of Giant River Otters, colonies of Black Skimmers, Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns, plus Rufescent Tiger-Heron, Wattled Jacana, Collared Plover, Pied Lapwing and Nacunda Nighthawk. Dinner and overnight at the Porto Jofre Hotel.
Day 7 By now we will have seen plenty of lovely Hyacinth Macaws, which are quite common around Porto Jofre and roost in the hotel grounds. Other likely birds here include a dazzling variety of tanagers, tyrannulets and ‘hummers’ along with Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Pale-crested Woodpecker, Chestnut-vented Conebill, Rufous Casiornis, and Little and Squirrel Cuckoos. Moving on, with birding stops en route for Maguari Stork, Crimson-crested Woodpecker and Chotoy and Cinereous-breasted Spinetails, we arrive at the Hotel Pantanal Mato Grosso in time for lunch, followed by an afternoon boat ride in search of Agami and Zigzag Herons and all five South American Kingfishers! (Ringed, Amazon, Green, Pygmy and Green-and-rufous). We will also be looking out for Giant and Neotropical River Otters, and will stay long enough to appreciate the sunset as well as the Band-tailed Nighthawks which fly low over the water at the end of the day. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Pantanal Mato Grosso.
Day 8 We have a full day near the hotel enjoying the combination of a morning forest walk and an afternoon boat ride on the Pixaim River. Birds of the forest include Toco Toucan, Chaco Chachalaca, White and Golden-green Woodpeckers, Campo Flicker, Green-backed Becard, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Plain Antvireo, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Ashy-headed Greenlet, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet and Rusty-fronted Tody-Flycatcher, while the boat ride may produce Sungrebe, Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Band-tailed Antbird, Pale-legged Hornero, Rusty-backed Spinetail, Lesser Kiskadee and the endemic Chestnut-bellied Guan. On top of all this, the return drive after dark offers the chance of nocturnal wildlife such as Crab-eating Raccoon and Spot-tailed and Scissor-tailed Nightjars. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Pantanal Mato Grosso.
Day 9 We transfer to the beautiful Chapada dos Guimarães National Park, arriving in time for lunch in a local restaurant and then we check in to the Penhasco Lodge. Local birds include White-collared, Sooty and Biscutate Swifts, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Blue-headed Parrot, White-eyed Parakeet and Blue-winged Macaw, and we can also try for Tropical Screech-Owl and Rufous Nightjar after dark. Dinner in a local restaurant, and overnight at Penhasco Lodge.
Days 10 & 11 We have two full days in the national park in search of the ‘Cerrado’ dry scrub specialties such as Small-billed and Red-winged Tinamous, King Vulture, Red-and-green Macaw, Curl-crested Jay, Chequered Woodpecker, White-rumped and White-banded Tanagers, Pale-breasted Spinetail, Collared Crescentchest, Rufous-winged Antshrike, Rusty-backed Antwren, Chapada Flycatcher, Rufous-sided Pygmy-Tyrant, White-eared Puffbird, White-vented Violetear, Black-throated Saltator, Grey Monjita, Coal-crested and Blue Finches, Plumbeous Seedeater, and with luck, even the rare Horned Sungem. Dinners in a local restaurant, and overnights at Penhasco Lodge.
Day 12 We transfer to the airport for an early morning flight to Sao Paulo, to connect with a late afternoon onward flight to Munich, with plenty of magic to dream about. Dinner and overnight in flight.
Day 13 We arrive in Munich at 09.35 and arrive at Heathrow at 13.05.
Cost £3600 This will be reviewed in line with airline price increases, but clients who book at this price will not pay any extra.
What the price includes:
Return flights from London Heathrow to Cuiabá, via Munich and Sao Paulo, with Lufthansa and GOL (overnight flights on both legs), ten nights full board en-suite accommodation, all transport in Brazil, excursions (including five motor boat rides), reserve entry fees, field checklist and the services of your guides.
Single supplement: £360
The flights between Munich and Sao Paulo take around 12 hours and the internal flights to and from Cuiabá take about 2 hours.
A visa is not required for British citizens to enter Brazil.
It is advisable to be vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B and Yellow Fever, but there is little risk of Malaria as there are no Mosquitoes at this time of year.
In July, daily temperatures range from 13 – 32°C, with no rain, as this is the cooler dry season.
Road travel in Brazil will be by air-conditioned minibus. There will be motor boat rides on days 4, 6, 7 and 8.
We shall be staying in five different comfortable and charming hotels.
The birding and wildlife watching involves easy walks with excellent photo-opportunities.