After relaxing at our complimentary airport lounge, we depart London on an overnight flight.
We arrive in Brazil and connect with our local flight to Cuiaba, deep in the heart of Brazil. Early afternoon we rendezvous with our local guide at Cuiabá City Airport and drive to Chapada dos Guimarães. This road is one of the best in the region for birding, and there will also be photo opportunities among the most spectacular landscapes in this part of Brazil. Chapada dos Guimaraes is a region of seasonally dry woodland-savanna interspersed with spectacular cliffs and waterfalls. We spend time birding the surrounding area, including forested sections that allow us chances to observe such wonderful birds as colourful Band-tailed and Fiery-capped Manakin, endearing Southern Antpipit, Tataupa Tinamou, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper (often located by its striking calls), Streaked Xenops, Sepia-capped Flycatcher and eye-catching Pectoral Sparrow. Overnight Pousada do Parque
We spend today exploring this stunning area. The cliffs and strange rock formations of Chapada dos Guimaraes offer a habitat quite distinctive and different to the Pantanal, so the species present are completely different. Chapada National Park sits on the divide of the Amazon and Parana River basins, over the western edge of the Cerrado grasslands of the Central Planalto Plateau. The Cerrado, or Campo Cerrado, corresponds to the arboreal savannah of other tropical continents. It spans over more than 2 million square kilometres, covering 23.5% of Brazil’s land area dominating west-central Brazil, and it extends all the way south into Paraguay.
The habitat is shaped by sparsely scattered low trees, and bushes with twisted branches, thick grooved bark and leathery leaves. Reddish-colored termite nests are prominent on the trunks and give shelter to nesting Campo Flicker and Peach-fronted Parakeet, who tunnel into their depths. The bird specialities here include Stripe-tailed Yellow-Finch, White-rumped and Shrike-like Tanager, Coal-crested Finch, Red-legged Seriema, Red-winged Tinamou, Yellow-faced Parrot, secretive Collared Crescentchest and endemic Rufous-winged Antshrike.
The forested riverine Cerradão is home to Helmeted Manakin, a common sighting during our tour. Narrow, true riverine forests cover the banks of streams and rivers in this area, and are home to such spectacular birds as Dot-eared Coquette, Cinnamon-throated Hermit, Blue-winged, Red-shouldered and Red-and-Green Macaw to name but a few.
The raucous calls of Blue-winged Macaws and Blue-headed Parrots might welcome us to the scenic Veu de Noiva Waterfall, where Swallow Tanager, the scarce Blue Finch (Yellow-billed Blue-Finch) and Bat Falcon also occur. In a nearby forested area we’ll search for Euler’s Flycatcher, the often vocal White-backed Fire-eye, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Ornate Hawk-Eagle calling overhead and elusive Russet-crowned Crake, with an outside possibility of both Pheasant and Pavonine Cuckoo. In more open and thorny habitat we may find localised Chapada Flycatcher, Collared Crescentchest, Rufous-sided Pygmy Tyrant, Rufous-winged Antshrike, Shrike-like and White-rumped Tanager, Small-billed Tinamou, Sooty-fronted Spinetail, delightful Coal-crested and Red Pileated Finch, Black-throated Saltator and perhaps even sleek Horned Sungem. Overnight Pousada do Parque.
After a final morning exploring the area around Chapadas, we set off for the Pantanal. We take the only road across the northern Pantanal to the small village of Poconé, the last village before entering the Transpantaneira. We then continue along the unmade road to our lodge, where we hope to see Planalto Slaty Antshrike, Black-bellied Antwren, Cinereous-breasted Spinetail, Red-legged Seriema, Rufous-sided Crake, Golden-collared Macaw, Orange-winged Amazon and many other birds. Two nights at Pouso Alegre Lodge.
Days 5 and 6:
This morning we take a boat ride to see spectacular Giant River Otter, a family of which lives close to our lodge. The rest of our time here is spent exploring the
northernmost section of the
Transpantaneira, which is drier and quite different in terms of
wildlife from the southern part. We expect to find a wide variety of localised birds here
Seriema, Chestnut-bellied Guan,
Sungrebe, Sunbittern, Long-tailed Ground-Dove and Red-winged Tinamou, all of which we have to work to connect with. Mammals are quite widespread at the Pantanal, though given the open savanna-like vegetation of this area, some species including Brazilian Tapir, White-lipped Peccary and Marsh Deer are often easier to spot here than further south.
We wake early this morning, to the sounds of birds and Black-and-gold Howler Monkeys roaring in the distance, and enjoy a pre-breakfast birding walk in the surroundings of our lodge. After breakfast we drive south along the Transpantaneira all the way to the Porto Jofre area, where we’ll spend the following three nights. We’ll make several birding and photo stops as we drive, and also enjoy Pantanal’s vibrant wildlife. Birds might include Campo Oriole, Blue-fronted Parrot, White Woodpecker, Greater Thornbird, Grey-crested Cacholote, Pygmy Kingfisher, Ashy-headed Greenlet, Buff-bellied Hermit and many more during our frequent stops. One of Pantanal’s most sought-after birds is Hyacinth Macaw, and this striking large parrot may be a common sighting along the way. As we enter into the richest lower area of the Transpantaneira, plant and animal diversity increases. Herds of Capybara, the world's largest rodent, are likely to be seen, and Pantanal Cayman dwells in streams and ponds by the roadside. Chances for mammals, including South American Coati, Brown Capuchin, Crab-eating Fox, Bare-eared Marmoset and Crab-eating Raccoon are quite high, and we might come across some remarkable reptiles, including huge and colorful Yellow Anaconda. We expect to arrive to our lodge in the early evening. Overnight Porto Jofre.
Days 8 and 9:
We spend two full days exploring the Porto Jofre from a superb boat – Southern Transpantaneira area, searching for mammals, birding and enjoying local wildlife. One of our main targets here is Jaguar, protected here by the Brazilian Government, and sightings of this striking cat have become fairly regular in the last few years. From our lodge in the Porto Jofre area we will have the chance to make half-ay boat trips along the Cuiabá River, to reach some isolated areas where Jaguars are frequent. Most sightings are made from the boat, and the animals normally offer good photo opportunities. The boat tours also offer excellent chances for other mammals and of course for a diverse array of colourful birds. We also have more chances for Giant Otter, and Capybara should be frequent along the riverbanks. Two nights at Porto Jofre.
After breakfast we transfer back towards the northern Transpantaneira. Birds en route will be many, but we shall keep a particular eye out for Red-legged Seriema, Greater Rhea and the beautiful Buff-necked Ibis. We should arrive at our Pousada in good time to explore the garden and surrounding wetland where the birding can be excellent. Photography will be tempting as we pass close to many waterbirds that may include numerous Jabiru, herons and kingfishers. After dinner we head out for some 'spotlighting', and hope to find Giant Anteater or its smaller cousin Southern Tamandua, as well as Crab-eating Fox and deer species. Overnight Pousada Piuval.
We leave Pousada Piuval after breakfast, and drive all the way back along the Transpantaneira to Cuiabá. On the way, we have several stops for birds and mammals we might have missed in previous days. Overnight in Cuiabá.
Some early birding prior to our transfer back to Cuiaba to take the early pm flight to Sao Paulo, and our international flight back to the UK.