Day 1 Depart UK
- We reach Sao Paulo International Airport in the early morning and take a connecting flight to Campo Grande in the southern Pantanal. From here we drive 190 kilometres east on a paved road to our lodge, Pousada Aguape, which sits among biodiverse wetlands, grassland and gallery forest.
- Over 300 bird species have been recorded here including roseate spoonbill, crimson-crested woodpecker, toco toucan, yellow-chevronned parakeet and the dazzling hyacinth macaw.
- Mammals found here include yellow armadillo, crab-eating fox, and herds of portly capybaras.
- Accommodation: Pousada Aguape, 4-nights on full board basis.
- We spend three full days exploring the savannah, wetland and woodland of Pousada Aguape. Birding will keep us busy at all times, whether we are watching tiny gilded sapphire hummingbirds or majestic jabirus and greater rheas.
- Around wetlands there should be abundant capybaras and yacare caiman. With them we are likely to see snowy and great egrets, plumbeous, buff-necked and bare-faced ibises, and plenty of noisy limpkins. Southern crested caracaras, savannah hawks, roadside hawks and black-collared hawks are all common.
- Mammals which can be seen here, by day or night, include grey brocket deer, South American coati, crab-eating fox, crab-eating racoon, black howler monkey, southern tamandua and even the magnificent giant anteater.
- There should be plenty of photographic opportunities. In addition to the abundance of bird, reptile and mammal life, ipe trees may be laden with pink or yellow blooms at this time of year.
- Today we drive back to Campo Grande and fly north to Cuiaba. From here we drive along the Transpantaneira to Pousada Rio Claro, passing first through cerrado vegetation and gallery forest, and then the wetlands of the Pantanal. The road offers some of South America’s most spectacular wildlife-watching.
- In open grassland and around wetlands greater rheas are common, accompanied by a wealth of waterbirds including southern screamers, wattled jacanas, rufescent tiger herons and wild muscovy ducks. On every telegraph pole there seems to be a rufous hornero nest while the trees are heavy with the giant colonial nests of monk parakeets and the pendulous nests of yellow-rumped caciques.
- Among the many mammals possible here are silvery marmoset, black howler monkey, yellow armadillo, Azara’s agouti, southern tamandua, giant anteater and South American coati.
- Accommodation: Pousada Rio Claro, 3-nights on full board basis.
- We spend two days exploring this northernmost section of the Pantanal. As it represents a transition from the dry cerrado, Rio Claro supports plenty of wildlife not commonly seen in the south. Among the many special birds we hope to see here are red-legged seriema, burrowing owl, black-headed parakeet, chestnut-bellied guan, sunbittern, long-tailed ground-dove and red-winged tinamou.
- This is also a good area for mammals, with grey brocket deer, South American tapir and collared peccary all possible.
- After an early bird walk and breakfast we continue the marvellous drive south along the Transpantaneira to Porto Jofre. We make plenty of birding and photographic stops as we travel one of South America’s finest roads for birds and mammals.
- Chaco chachalacas, smooth-billed anis, guira cuckoos, yellow-billed cardinals, yellow-chevronned parakeets, grey-necked wood-rails and turquoise-fronted parrots are among the common birds here. We may also see the stunning scarlet-headed blackbird and lovely white-headed marsh-tyrant in permanent wetlands. In the same habitat elegant marsh deer may be seen.
- Herds of capybaras are a common sight, while yacare caiman haunt every roadside pool. We may even encounter an enormous yellow anaconda or a yellow-footed tortoise.
- We expect to reach our lodge after dark, spotlighting as we go in the hope of seeing owls, nightjars, ocelot and a number of other nocturnal mammals.
- Accommodation: Hotel Pantanal Norte, Porto Jofre, 3-nights on full board basis.
- We spend two full days exploring the rivers and gallery forest around Porto Jofre in search of mammals and birds, with our main goal being the magnificent jaguar. Thanks to local interest and now legal protection, the jaguars here are increasingly comfortable being watched. Sightings are often superb, giving fine opportunities for photography.
- From our comfortable lodge in Porto Jofre we will make four half-day boat trips on the Cuiaba and surrounding rivers, exploring areas where jaguars are regularly seen.
- Birds commonly seen from the boats here include white-eyed parakeet, golden-collared macaw, nesting large-billed terns and black skimmers, and handsome bare-faced curassows. We also have good chances of watching noisy families of giant otters, the region’s other top predators.
- Other mammals which can be seen here include brown capuchin, South American tapir, ocelot, black howler monkey and neotropical river otter.
- Leaving Porto Jofre after breakfast, we drive all the way back along the Transpantaneira towards Cuiaba. Along the way we can make stops for any of the region’s sensational wildlife we have not seen previously or to take yet more photographs of this wonderful wetland.
- Accommodation: Pousada Piuval, 1-night on full board basis.
- We leave our hotel after breakfast and drive to Cuiaba International Airport to check in for a flight to Sao Paulo, where we connect with a flight back to London.
Day 14 Arrive UK
- A morning flight via Sao Paulo takes us south, to the Brazil-Argentina border and the renowned Iguaçu (or Iguazú in Spanish) Falls, perhaps the most exciting waterfall in the world.
- Iguazu National Park, a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, consists of the humid subtropical forest around the falls that offers superb birdwatching. Tanagers, antbirds, toucans, manakins, parrots, motmots, trogons and tyrant flycatchers are all present here. A series of walkways leads right to edge of the Falls, and in the early evening we visit the most impressive waterfall of all: the so-called Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat), a perfect spot to watch thousands of dusky swifts diving through the foaming spray as the sun goes down.
- We stay in a hotel on the Argentinian side, close to the falls, with excellent birdwatching in its grounds. During our stay we also go birding nearby in the near-pristine forests of Urugua-í Provincial Park, where the forest is at a somewhat higher altitude. Different species are found here, including some endemics and endangered birds.
- Accommodation: Iguazú Falls, 3-nights on full board basis.
- This morning we visit the falls from the Brazilian side before transferring to the airport for our flight home via Rio de Janeiro.
Day 17 Arrive UK
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
We stay in hotels and lodges with all rooms en suite.
All main meals are included.
On our tour to Brazil we will meet many fabled bird species – too many to list here – but among the most noteworthy are spectacular hyacinth macaws at their nest holes, nesting large-billed and yellow-billed terns on riverine sand flats, and the greater rhea, largest bird in the Americas.
- Jabiru stork
- Red-legged seriema
- Scarlet-headed blackbird
- Southern screamer
Amongst the many species commonly seen on this tour, an abiding memory will undoubtedly be the placid herds of capybaras seen wherever there is water in the Pantanal, sometimes in the company of elegant marsh deer.
- Giant otter
- Giant anteater
- Silvery marmoset
The habitats of southern Brazil are highly diverse – from the fabulous Pantanal wetlands, seasonally the largest wetland in the world, to the dry wooded savannahs of the cerrado.
Walks will be mostly easy and taken at a slow pace, covering no more than five kilometres a day. A few trails can be rocky and uneven in places.
We will make at least four half-day boat trips into the heart of the Pantanal, offering excellent opportunities to get close to birds and mammals, and maximising our chances of seeing the elusive jaguar.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Sao Paulo – London, and domestic flights Sao Paulo – Campo Grande / Cuiaba – Sao Paulo.
Ground transportation is by minibus, with driver.