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Explore the world’s largest freshwater wetlands in Brazil with Puembo Birding Garden! See the big blue hyacinth macaw, followed by another top five targets like the greater rhea, helmeted manakin, greater rhea, toco toucan, and jabiru stork. Jaguar would be the main star when looking for Brazilian mammals, and not to be missed, the anacondas. You will be assisted with an English-speaking master naturalist guide, an expert on Brazil and the Pantanal. Join this tour and witness the exotic Brazilian wildlife with your own eyes!
On the first day, you will be accommodated at a local hotel in Sao Paulo for a night. You will then stay in various accommodations throughout the trip including Aguape Lodge for two nights, Fazenda San Francisco for a night, Mohave Hotel in Campo Grande for a night, a lodge in Pouso Alegre for one night, a lodge and a hotel in Porto Jofre for two nights, a lodge in Pousada Alegre for one night followed by two nights overnight in Pousada Penhasco. On the last days, you will stay in Cuiaba for a night and Santuário do Caraça for two nights.
The trip will begin when your international flight arrives in Sao Paulo. The next day, you will fly to Campo Grande, the southern gateway to the Pantanal, and immediately drive to your first lodge, Aguape Lodge, where you will spend the first two nights. After this, trying to change the habitats, you will stop one night in the next destination, Fazenda San Francisco, then return to Campo Grande and spend one night here as your last night in Mato Grosso do Sul state.
The next morning, you will fly to Cuiaba, the north entrance of Pantanal, and immediately drive through the Transpantaneira to Pouso Alegre, a ranch near Poconé where you will spend one night. Next, you will move 100 kilometers in distance to Porto Joffrey, the end of the Transpantaneira, where you will stay two more nights in order to search for a jaguar and different wildlife animals and birds.
After this, you will start your way back and stop in Piuval or Pousada Alegre for the last time in this unique habitat before going towards Chapada do Guimaraes north of Cuiaba (cerrado forest) to enjoy different habitats. After an overnight in Cuiabá, in order to catch a flight to Belo Horizonte, the trip finale will take two nights at a monastery in Caraça Sanctuary. For the return to home, international flights leave Belo Horizonte in the evening or domestic flights are available to other destinations in Brazil for post-trip travel which you may wish to plan.
Upon your arrival in Sao Paulo, you will be transferred to a local hotel to stay overnight.
After you arrive in Campo Grande International Airport (CGR), your first destination will be Aguape Lodge. It will take about three hours to reach this very comfortable lodge. The last 70 kilometers are unpaved and during this road trip, you will make some stops to enjoy sights of the biggest bird in America like greater rheas, red-legged seriema, blue and yellow macaw. There are also great chances to sight the iconic giant anteater crossing the road. It will indeed be a super driving time.
Upon arrival at the lodge, you will check in and have lunch. In the afternoon, you will walk in the surroundings of this typical Fazenda Pantaneira, looking for other birds like henna-capped foliage gleaner, plush-capped jay, hyacinth macaw, golden-chevroned parakeet, and blaze-winged parakeet among others. You will then proceed to make the checklist, have dinner, and stay overnight.
Early in the morning, you will wake up with nature. Just around the lodge, you will have the opportunity to enjoy over five species of Psittacidae including black-hooded parakeet, yellow-chevroned parakeet, blue-fronted parrot, scaly-headed parrot, blue-and-yellow macaw, red-shoulder macaw, hyacinth macaw. You will also see toco toucans, yellow-billed cardinals, red-crested cardinals, several kinds of blackbirds, saltators, finches, and jays visiting quite often the feeders around the lodge, providing great opportunities for great photos.
After breakfast, you will have your first walk by moving around the open areas and gallery forest of Aquidauana River. The highlights on this tour are planalto woodcreeper, blue-crowned trogon, campo flicker, buff-necked ibis, blue-throated piping-guan, red-billed scythebill, pale-crested woodpecker, crimson-crested woodpecker, blaze-winged parakeet, and white-fronted woodpecker.
In the afternoon, you will have your first safari truck in searching for amazing wildlife. This tour will provide a great chance to sight a good amount of mammals and incredible birds such as crab-eating fox, pampas deer, giant anteater, yellow armadillo, feral pigs, groups of coatis, jabiru stork, hyacinth macaw, burrowing owl, scarlet headed blackbird, bare-faced currasow, several seedeaters, and Pantanal caimans. At night is the social meeting and a time to make the bird list and another great dinner here.
In your last morning here, you will do a boat ride along the Aquidauana River, one of the main rivers in Southern Pantanal. Along the river, you can see black-and-gold howler monkey, brown capuchin monkey, Pantanal caiman, green iguana, black-capped heron, chaco chachalaca, one of the most colorful bird in Pantanal the band-tailed manakin, and one of the rarest bird in Pantanal the elusive, chestnut-capped foliage-gleaner.
Later, you will have breakfast and then leave to the next destination, Fazenda San Francisco. After a two-hour drive, you will arrive at San Francisco Farm, a huge ranch with 15 thousands of hectares. They are one example of sustainability. They have three economic activities at the farm: ecotourism, cattle raising, and rice paddies. Despite that, 45 percent of the areas are pristine forest reserve. A lot of research had been doing there including one of the most important jaguar research done in Southern Pantanal. Currently, it is a base of the Ocellot Research Project.
After check-in, you will have a walk in the surroundings, searching for tinamous, monjitas, hawks, falcons, grass-finches, and so on. Some birding prior to reaching the lodge will also be done. You will then have dinner and have an overnight stay at the farm.
You will have an early wake-up time and breakfast. After that, you will immediately have a nice walk along the gallery forest in the pristine reserve. There, you can work on canopy birds and ground birds of the forest, adding beautiful and secretive birds for your list such as golden-winged cacique, masked gnatcatcher, chestnut-vented conebill, guira tanager, ferruginous pygmy owl, buff-bellied hermit, yellow-olive flatbill, white-bellied warbler, blaze-winged parakeet, Mato Grosso antbird, green-backed becard, and so on.
Before midday, you will hop on a safari truck and have a board walk along the marshland of the reserve. It will be a great opportunity to see scarlet-headed blackbird, variable oriole, seedeaters, crakes, hawks, spinetails, antbirds, trogons, herons, egrets, tyrants, etc. Later, you will have lunch followed by checking out and start your way back to Campo Grande. Some birding stops on the way back can also be done. After arriving at Campo Grande, you will stay overnight at Mohave Hotel.
After an early morning of domestic airline flight to Cuiabá, the capital of Mato Grosso, you will immediately drive south to Poconé and continue the trip the Transpantaneira and Pouso Alegre, a huge cattle ranch known for excellent wildlife viewing (about one and a half hours). Even along the bumpy entrance road, you might see brocket deer, crab-eating fox, coatis, chestnut-bellied guan, and bare-faced curassow. Caimans can also be seen along the Transpantaneira road during the pick of the dry season.
Trails from the lodge offer chances to view rare giant armadillo, black-tailed marmoset, black howler, southern tamandua, and giant anteater. Among snakes to see is one of the greatest of them all, the yellow anaconda. Among the birds to see at Pouso Alegre are many parrots species, seven owls, 11 woodpeckers, and 16 hummingbirds.
Hyacinth macaws roost within earshot of the lodge. On the way to Pousada at the beginning of Transpantaneira, you will already see some good birds like southern lapwings, crane hawk, spoonbills, black-collared hawk, peach-fronted parakeet, etc. You will check-in at the lodge in the early afternoon, get the setup, and start exploring the surroundings if there is time available, do the checklist, and enjoy staying overnight at the lodge.
You will spend the morning with birding and enjoying your last time here, enjoying and getting more birds and mammals around the area, and then return to breakfast. After this, you will drive straight to Porto Jofre, your base for the next two nights. On the Transpantaneira, you will do some stops in order to get more birds. Upon arrival at the lodge, you will have your lunch and your first afternoon canoe ride to look for the jaguar, then followed by dinner and overnight.
After an early breakfast and then a full morning boat ride in a very comfortable speedboat in Cuiaba River looking for jaguars. That will be your main target here. On the way, the chances to see giant otters are great. You will return for lunch or box lunch, and then in the afternoon you will be looking for another sight of jaguar and local birds. You will return to the hotel after, have dinner, and stay overnight.
After breakfast and a short morning birding in the surrounding, you will start your way back to Pousada Alegre. At the Transpantaneira, you will do some stops to enjoy the view of the lively activity on bridges, searching for rarities like the little cuckoo, maguari stork, cinereous-breasted spinetail, etc.
Upon arrival at Pousada Alegre, you will have lunch first and in the afternoon, you will have a visit to the hide to enjoy the views of animals and birds coming to this place. The highlight of this trip is the largest mammal in South America, the lowland tapir. Besides tapir, red-brocket and grey-brocket deer, coatis, brown-capuchin monkey, tayra, and black-tailed marmoset are seen quite often. You will enjoy dinner and sleep overnight after the long day.
Spend the morning in the field at Pouso Alegre, then say farewell to the hyacinth macaws. In the afternoon, you will be driven north toward Chapada dos Guimaraes National Park to Pousada Penhasco where a cerrado specialties birds can be found. These areas are really impressive, it is truly impressive. You will have the first contact and will experience the first impressions on the Cerrado Forest.
With a full day birding in the local area and surroundings, today you will enjoy a great time looking for cerrado endemic and local birds like helmeted manakin, white-rumped tanager, shrike-like tanager, plain-creste elaenia, white-eared puffbird, blue finch, and coal-crested finch among many others. There will also be another group of nice birds like king vulture, red-and-green macaw, yellow-tufted woodpecker, and swallow Tanager. Dinner and overnight time will follow afterward.
Today you will enjoy the whole day looking in a different location of all those birds that you have missed on the prior day. There are also chances to look for giant anteater and birds like red-legged seriema, chesnut-winged antshrike, collared crescenchest, plumbeous seedeater, suiriri flycatcher, etc. Later in the afternoon, you will drive back to Cuiaba where you will spend just a few hours to rest and then get a very early flight on the next day.
This could be a very early departure for your flight to Belo Horizonte, but the reward will be worth it. Your destination is the Santuário do Caraça, an hour and a half east of Belo Horizonte. The sanctuary was founded in 1774 to be the House of Holidays for the reception of pilgrims and visitors who wanted to convert and change their lives.
It was reactivated as an Inn in the 1970s and now has simple accommodations for guests as well as an entry into the nature reserve. The specific goal here is to see the maned wolf, South America’s largest and one of its few rare wild canines. An after-dinner ritual is a pure magic as a priest sets out a ceremonial plate of scraps for the wolves. All watchers are silent in anticipation as one of these beautiful creatures quietly grabs a quick meal and then returns into the night.
You will have all day to explore the very different habitats of Parque Natural do Caraça – cerrado (savanna) transitioning into Mata Atlântica, (Atlantic Rainforest). Isolated from the rest of the world by a mountain ridge, the former monastery is nestled in a bowl-shaped valley, with side creeks forming waterfalls and natural swimming holes.
At this place, you will have chances to see a lot of endemic birds such as pin-tailed manakin, hyacith visorbear, pale-throated pampa-finch, snesthgale's tody-tyrant, dusky-tailed antbird, and so on. The hillsides are lined with hiking trails. The evening provides another opportunity to watch for the maned wolf before you have the farewell party.
You will still have time today to search for more new birds like velvety black-tyrant, amethist woodstar, scale-throated hermit, dusky-legged guan, gilt-edged tanager, swallow-tailed cotinga, brasy-breasted tanager, etc. but in the afternoon, you will begin to head back to Tancredo Neves International Airport (CNF) near Belo Horizonte.
From there, you can have evening flights that go directly to Miami or afternoon flights that go to Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. Puembo Birding Garden has already spoken with the guide and with their concessionaire about possibly arranging a four to five days of a post-trip excursion to the fabulous Iguaçu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina. More information will be available to participants when they have signed up for this trip.
Rene Santos is one of the tour guides for this trip.
Xavier Muñoz is one of the tour guides for this trip.
The Pantanal is a place of superlatives: the world’s largest freshwater wetlands. It is 10 times the size of the Everglades, covering about 200,000 square kilometers mainly in the southeastern Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Mato Gross do Sur. “Pantanal” is derived from a Portuguese word meaning “swamp”. It is a gently sloping basin with meandering rivers which slowly releases water to a single drainage channel, the Paraguay River.
Annual flooding nourishes the producers of the Pantanal, which in turn nourish all other species as well. The sheer numbers of birds and animals have to be seen to be believed, considered by the American Birding Association to be one of the ten top places to bird before you. Even a relaxed birding can yield more than 100 species a day, and on some days, dozens of mammals (especially capybaras), hundreds of yacaré (one of the smaller crocodilians), and thousands of birds; and the quality of these sightings is top-notch.
How about the big blue hyacinth macaw for starters? Another five of the top targets might be the greater rhea, helmeted manakin, greater rhea, toco toucan, and jabiru stork. A jaguar sighting would be the ultimate mammal sighting, followed by five other large mammalian targets, the Brazilian tapir, giant anteater, giant otter, maned wolf, and puma. As for reptiles, one serpent tops every visitor’s “wish list”, the world’s biggest snake, the anaconda. The rarer of the two species in the region, the green anaconda, is the largest reaching six meters and 250 kilograms.
The only road to penetrate deep into the Pantanal, the “Transpantaneira”, is actually an unfinished project from years ago (1970). It provides amazing elevated viewing from something close to a levee. Created during road construction, roadside ditches are now filled with water and have become a magnet for waterbirds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
All drives along this “highway” are the true “safaris”. The road crosses a wide range of habitats, from dry grasslands and open scrub in the north to large semi-deciduous forests and extensive swamps further south. This habitat gradient means that each of the lodges and fazendas (cattle ranches) has its own distinctive wildlife community even though they may be actually quite close together.
Brazil is a surprisingly large country. In square miles, it is larger than the 48 states. Distances within the country are long and flights from the USA are even longer, typically nine hours. Furthermore, Brazil is almost a continent itself - not cheap, but worth it.
São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport
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