Brazil: Pantanal & Alta Floresta

Enjoy two of the wildest natural areas in Brazil, from the seasonally flooded grasslands and woodlands of the Pantanal to extensive protected tracts of Amazon rainforests of Alta Floresta. Standout species include Hyacinth Macaw, Bald Parrot, Black-girdled Barbet, Red-necked Aracari, Bare-eyed Antbird, Black-spotted Bare-eye, Giant Otter, and Jaguar!

Next dates

1-16 May 2024

Tour length: 16 days

Group size limit: 6


Eduardo Patrial

Spaces available

Day 1: The tour begins with arrivals into Sao Paulo International Airport (GRU) for dinner and overnight near the airport.

Day 2: Catching a morning flight to Alta Floresta in the central-north of Mato Grosso State, we will disembark and drive north across the border into Pará State to reach the delightful and bird packed Rio Azul Jungle Lodge, our home for the next four nights.

Day 3-4-5: We will have three full days to enjoy the Amazon from the delightful Rio Azul Jungle Lodge. The main clearing and forest edges around our rooms is amazing place to be introduced to the hundreds of possible birds, where we should find beauties like the endemic Bald Parrot (Rio Azul’s specialty), Kawall’s Amazon, White-bellied and Red-fan Parrots, Red-necked Aracari, Scaly-breasted and Ringed Woodpeckers, Black-girdled Barbet, Eastern Striolated Puffbird, Pavonive Quetzal, Uniform and Dusky-capped Woodcreepers, Spix’s Warbling Antbird, Pygmy Antwren, colourful little birds like Rufous-bellied Euphonia, plus stunning Blue-necked and Green-and-gold Tanager. Hummingbirds such as Green-tailed Goldenthroat and Gould’s Jewelfront feed on the flowering bushes, and some vigils from the nicely-located canopy tower will increase our chances to see Bald Parrot and others.

The trail system will also be explored, as we hope to find highlights such as Razor-billed Curassow, White-browed Hawk, Cryptic Forest Falcon,  Blue-necked, Bronzy and Great Jacamars, Curl-crested Aracari, Gould’s Toucanet, the endemic Tapajos Hermit, Brown-banded, Spotted and Collared Puffbirds, Spix’s Woodcreeper, Para Foliage-gleaner, Rufous-faced and Yellow-browed Antbirds, endemics Tapajos Fire-eye, Bare-eyed Antbird and Black-breasted Gnateater, Cinnamon Neopipo, Flame-crested Manakin, Para Gnatcatcher, uncommon Dotted Tanager, the rare White-bellied Dacnis and more.

Boat trips along the beautiful river here should add several others species, such as the endemic Glossy Antshrike, the stunning Crimson Topaz and the mysterious Zigzag Heron. We also have  access to a small area of campina white-sand habitat, where in the stunted vegetation we can look for specialists like Black Manakin, Pale-bellied Mourner, Red-shouldered Tanager and Plush-crested Jay. Frequently seen mammals include White-whiskered Spider Monkey and White-nosed Bearded Saki.

Day 6: Most of morning at Rio Azul Lodge, then transfer to the Teles Pires River for our fast boat upstream to reach the famous Cristalino Jungle Lodge in the afternoon. Check in and a little time for birding around the lodge.

Day 7-8: We will have two full days to enjoy this fantastic and very luxurious Amazonian experience. Here, the tall terra firme offers our best chance for the endemic Bare-eye Antbird, Alta Floresta Antpitta, Dark-winged Trumpeter, Tapajos Fire-eye and Cryptic Forest Falcon. Birding in the terra firme is difficult to summarise since there are so many potential species, but some specialties we will be on the lookout for include Rufous-necked Puffbird, Uniform Woodcreeper, Para Foliage-gleaner, Banded Antbird, Tapajos Antpitta, Cinnamon-crested Spadebill, and Southern Nightingale-Wren. This is arguably the best place in the world to see the endemic Scaled Ground-Cuckoo, however sightings are rare and we will count ourselves incredible lucky to see this one!

Cristalino also has two excellent 50m canopy towers with hundreds of species recorded from their viewpoints alone. Rare raptors such as White-browed Hawk, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Harpy Eagle and Crested Eagle are all possible! We always hope to see some difficult birds from the towers, including Pompadour Cotinga, Crimson-bellied Parakeet, Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet, Tooth-billed Wren and Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak.

Checking some Guadua bamboo stands will allow us to target specialists such as Rufous-capped Nunlet, “Tapajos” Curve-billed Scythebill, Bamboo and Rufous-crowned Foliage-gleaners, Striated and Manu Antbirds, Dot-winged Antwren and Dusky-tailed Flatbill. Boat trips are always very nice along the Cristalino as well as down to the river islands on the larger Teles Pires River. Great opportunities for lekking Amazonian Umbrellabirds, Red-throated Piping Guan, Amazonian Inezia, Black-collared Swallow, Dusky-billed Parrotlet, more chances to see Razor-billed Curassow, Zigzag Heron, Sunbittern, Dot-backed Antbird, Glossy Antshrike, Amazonian Streaked Antwren, Blackish and Silvered Antbirds and mammals such as Giant Otter and Brazilian Tapir. Some night birding will hopefully allow us to find Long-tailed Potoo, amongst others.  All in all, a genuine feast of birds!

Day 9: We should get some final early morning birding in before transferring back to Alta Floresta Airport for our flight to Cuiabá. Transferring to the Pantanal of Poconé, we will for check in at the very comfortable Pousada Piuval. The surroundings will gives us our first taste of the avifauna we will be exploring over subsequent days, with initial possibilities including Greater Rhea, Red-legged Seriema, Chaco Chachalaca, Buff-necked, Plumbeous and Bare-faced Ibis and the iconic Jabiru, Southern Screamer, Nacunda Nighthawk, Large-billed Tern, Ringed and Amazon Kingfishers, Toco Toucan, Turquoise-fronted Amazon and of course the impressive Hyacinth Macaw! Overnight at Pousada Piuval.

Day 10: Full day of birding around Pousada Piuval, covering varied habitats from open fields to dense woodlands with an impressive amount of biodiversity. Large groups of Capybara and Pantanal Cayman, Crab-eating Foxes around the lodge, our first chances to spot a Jaguar and, of course, hundreds of birds for our delight. Highlights from Piuval should include the endemic Chestnut-bellied Guan; Bare-faced Curassow, Blue-throated Piping Guan, Great Potoo, Band-tailed Nighthawk, Cinnamon-throated Hermit, Yellow-breasted and Grey-breasted Crakes, Black-collared Hawk, Black-banded Owl, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Pale-crested and White-fronted Woodpeckers, White-wedged Piculet, Golden-collared and Hyacinth Macaws, Great Rufous Woodcreeper, Red-billed Scythebill, White-lored Spinetail, Grey-crested Cacholote, Greater Thornbird, Planalto Slaty Antshrike, Mato Grosso Antbird, Black-bellied and Large-billed Antwrens, the stunning Helmeted Manakin, Rufous Casiornis, Rusty-fronted Tody-Flycatcher, White-eyed Attila, Ashy-headed Greenlet, Saffron-billed Sparrow and hundreds more. Overnight at Pousada Piuval.

Day 11: We will be birding the grounds of Piuval in the morning before we drive to Porto Jofre, located right at the end of the Transpantaneira Road. We should have some birding stops around the Campo Jofre area, where we can look for Scarlet-headed Blackbird, Cinereous-breasted and Chotoy Spinetails, Rusty-collared Seedeater, Subtropical Doradito (the form here  maybe best considered an entirely new species of Doradito) and others.

Day 12: This is the Jaguar Day of the tour. We will be on a fast boat in the morning and in the afternoon, mainly to looks for Jaguars, but Giant Otters usually give their show too! In terms of birds, we will expect Pied Plover, Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns, Blue-throated Piping Guan, Jabirus and many more of the typical Pantanal birds. From the boat, we can also hope for less frequent birds such as Long-winged Harrier, Crane Hawk, uncommon Buff-bellied Hermit, Little Cuckoo and Blue-crowned Parakeet. After a nice break in the noon heat with a delicious lunch, we will continue chasing Jaguars, venturing along the Cuiabá, Piquiri and Three Brothers Rivers in the Encontro das Águas State Park. We are usually able to end the day after some fabulous sightings of South America’s most formidable big cat!

Day 13: Morning of birding at Porto Jofre, in particular searching for Fawn-breasted Wren and any missing species from the previous days. We will transfer after lunch to Pousada Pouso Alegre, a wonderful area which should increase our chances to catch up with special birds, like Chestnut-bellied Guan, Undulated Tinamou, Great Horned Owl, Long-tailed Ground Dove, Scarlet-headed Blackbird, Rufous-fronted Thornbird and others. Pouso Alegre is also a well-known place for mammals, especially to find Brazilian Tapir and the handsome Marsh Deer.

Day 14: Early morning to enjoy a last Pantanal blast in the amazing garden of Pouso Alegre with Chestnut-eared Aracaris, Great Rufous Woodcreeper, Pale-crested Woodpecker, Hyacinth Macaw, some chances for Spotted Rail, Red-crested and Yellow-billed Cardinals and so many others that compose the fabulous local wildlife. After breakfast, we will be leaving the Pantanal and heading to the beautiful tableland of Chapada dos Guimarães, north of Cuiabá. We will have time for some inital birding this afternoon.

Day 15: A full day around Chapada will be focusing on specialties of the third and final biome of our tour, the Cerrado. In this rich savanna we will be looking for Small-billed and Red-winged Tinamous, Yellow-faced Parrot, Blue-winged Macaw, Checkered and White Woodpeckers, the stunning Horned Sungem, White-eared and Caatinga Puffbirds, Pale-breasted Spinetail, Rufous-winged Antshrike, Collared Crescentchest, Plain-crested Elaenia, Suiriri and Chapada Flycatchers, White-rumped and Shrike-like Tanagers, Blue and Coal-crested Finches and more. We will also be covering some forest pockets to find birds like Pheasant and Pavonine Cuckoos, Western Fire-eye, Brown Jacamar, Southern Antpipit and even Fiery-capped and Band-tailed Manakins. By the end of the day, we will drive back to Cuiabá for a celebrator dinner and overnight.

Day 16: We will take a flight back to Sao Paulo International Airport (GRU) where the tour ends mid-morning. NOTE: Please let us know at the time of booking if you prefer to make your own arrangements to depart Cuiabá so that we can reduce your tour cost accordingly. We can also help organise a short extension or give advice on how to easily target Cone-billed Tanager and a few other range-restricted species close to the Bolivian border after the tour, however all involve lots of driving!

Tour details

Cost: $ 9,000
Deposit: $ 1,500
Single room supplement: $ 950

Please note that our tour price includes all domestic flights from Sao Paulo and back to Sao Paulo, plus several nights at some very luxurious birding lodges!

Accommodation: Comfortable to luxurious hotels and lodges throughout.

Walking difficulty: Mostly easy roadside and trail birding, with several excellent river cruises.

Tour cost includes: All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes: Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.