Brazil: North-East

Certainly one of the most threatened avifaunas in the world, this special tour visits the endemic Caatinga biome, together with the best remnant sites of rich Atlantic Forest, plus bit of Cerrado and Campo Rupestre from the Tepui-like Chapada Diamantina. Offering a chance for 100+ endemics (more than any other region in Brazil), this incredible tour targets many superb species such as Lear’s Macaw, Giant Snipe, Araripe Manakin, Hooded Visorbearer, Great Xenops, Slender Antbird, Fringe-backed Fire-eye, Banded Cotinga and more. Please note that the entire tour will be conducted in two comfortable SUV vehicles, rather than a minibus or van.

Next dates

17 January - 5 February 2024

Tour length: 20 days

Group size limit: 6


Eduardo Patrial and Joshua Bergmark

Tour full

17 January - 5 February 2025

Tour length: 20 days

Group size limit: 6


Eduardo Patrial and an assistant leader

Spaces available

Day 1: Arrivals into Fortaleza International Airport (FOR) in the northern state of Ceará. We will transfer to Sobral for an evening hotel check-in and overnight.

Day 2: Early morning in Sobral, we will be visiting lowland Caatinga (Carnaubal forest habitat) nearby, mainly in search of the rare endemic Moustached Woodcreeper. Other likely birds include Caatinga Parakeet, Caatinga Puffbird, Caatinga Cacholote, Pale Baywing, Ochraceous Piculet, Ochre-backed Woodpecker, Planalto Woodcreeper, Stripe-necked Tody-Tyrant, Campo Troupial, White-naped Jay and Red-cowled Cardinal.

The rest of the day we will be exploring the interesting Serra da Meruoca, with deciduous forest on foothills and tropical forest at higher elevations. This is the last remaning habitat for a major endemic targert, the smart Hooded Gnateater. These forests are birdy, usually offering several other Brazilian endemics like Ceara Woodcreeper, Planalto Slaty Antshrike, Grey-headed Spinetail, and Ash-throated Casiornis. Additional species might include Planalto Hermit, Ochre-cheeked Spinetail, Black-bellied Antwren, and Black-capped Antwren. The scarce Buff-fronted Owl occurs in Meruoca and we will try for it at few known sites in the evening, but it has become much less reliable here in recent years. Overnight in Sobral.

Day 3: Early morning at an incredible site for Yellow-breasted Crake, Grey-breasted Crake and Rufous-sided Crake. Spotted Rail and Least Bittern should be seen too before our drive to the Atlantic Forest of Guaramiranga, on the hills of Serra do Baturité. The rest of our day will include good sites to look for the endemic Grey-breasted Parakeet, Ceara Leaftosser, Ceara Gnateater and Buff-breasted Tody-Tyrant. Several other nice species are available in this area like Gould’s Toucanet, Yellow-chevroned Parakeet, Red-necked Tanager, and cearensis Variable Antshrike. There is a small chance to see the very rare Yellow-faced Siskin. Overnight in Guaramiranga.

Day 4: Following some morning birding in the area, we’ll drive to Juatama (more precisely to the nice Hotel Pedra dos Ventos), usually welcoming birders with amazing views of endemic Pygmy Nightjars roosting right by their porch! White-naped Jay is common here while other endemic targets could include Long-billed Wren, White-throated Seedeater, and the erratic Scarlet-throated Tanager. By the end of the day we will hope to have seen White-browed Guans coming to the feeder, and maybe come across White-bellied Nothura or Small-billed Tinamou.

Day 5: Transferring early to Crato, we will arrive at Arajara Park with plenty of time to enjoy time the fascinating and Critically Endangered endemic Araripe Manakin, one of the most wanted birds of the tour. We may also see “Tawny” Ochraceous Piculet here before moving to the edge of Araripe National Forest in search of Pale-bellied Tyrant-Manakin, plus our first chances for the endemic White-browed Antpitta, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, Caatinga Antwren, Stripe-backed Antbird and others. At dusk we will continue on to Potengi for two-night stay.

Day 6: Full day around Potengi and Sítio Pau Preto, looking for any missing Caatinga endemics like Broad-tipped Hermit, Great Xenops, Red-shouldered Spinetail, Scarlet-throated Tanager and Copper Seedeater. Other species could include Masked Duck, Pinnated Bittern, Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, the isolated Bahia forms of both Greater and Lesser Wagtail Tyrants, White-naped Xenopsaris, and Grey-eyed Greenlet. Dusk at Pau Preto usually comes with several Least Nighthawks flying around at close range!

Day 7: We will depart early towards Canudos, stopping near Bendegó at a Blue-winged Macaw nesting site where we should also find Suriri Flycatcher and Southern Scrub Flycatcher. After check-in at our guest house, we will bird along the entrance road of Canudos Biological Station to look for the endemic Stripe-breasted Starthroat and other Caatinga species mentioned in previous days (this area particularly good area for Ruby-topaz Hummingbird and Red-shouldered Spinetail), plus Blue-crowned Parakeet, Caatinga Parakeet, Little Nightjar and the stunning Scissaor-tailed Nightjar.

Day 8: Early morning at Canudos Biological Station for the spectacular sunrise show as dozens of Lear’s Macaw prepare for the coming day at their nesting site. Seeing this spectacular Critically Endangered species at close range as the dawn light hits the red cliffs is for sure one of the best birding experiences of the tour, and indeed the world! The middle of the day will see us transferring southeast to the coastal Atlantic Forest of Bahia, with a brief stop for the endemic Pectoral Antwren near Jeremoabo. We should arrive at our lodge for a late afternoon attempt at Fringe-backed Fire-eye, another Endangered and localized endemic of this region.

Day 9: Early morning birding to find Rusty-margined Guan, “Ariel” Channel-billed Toucan, Golden-capped Parakeet, Kinglet Manakin, Sooretama Slaty Anthsrike, Bahia Antwren, “Southern” White-fringed Antwren, “White-bellied” Turquoise Tanager, “Silver-breasted” Opal-rumped Tanager, and perhaps the rare Golden-tailed Parrotlet or Pernambuco Foliage-gleaner if we are lucky. More widespread birds include Black-necked Aracari, Red-headed Manakin, and Blue-backed Manakin (the birds here sometimes split as Turquoise Manakin). This afternoon we will drive to the lovely Lençois in Chapada Diamantina for overnight.

Day 10: Full day of birding in the stunning landscape of Chapada Diamantina, another exciting day! The main star here certainly is the fantastic endemic Hooded Visorbearer, while the fascinating campo rupestre habitat holds other endemics like Sincora Antwren, Spotted Piculet, Grey-backed Tachuri, Serra Finch, and Gilt-edged Tanager. Other species include Rufous-winged Antshrike, Collared Crescentchest, Small-headed Elaenia, White-bellied Seedeater, and Cinnamon Tanager. The afternoon in some nearby forest will hopefully yield the stunning Helmeted Manakin, plus aurantius Surucua Trogon, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Grey-headed Elaenia, and Sibilant Sirystes. Our guesthouse in Lençois will offer a few hummers on the feeders, with a chance for the rare disjunct Chapada population of Brown Violetear. Around dusk, we will search the area for the endemic East Brazilian Chachalaca, plus Rufous Nightjar.

Day 11: Transfer to the southern Chapada Diamantina, with lots of birding stops along the way! Early on, some more Caatinga habitat should provide the uncommon endemic Sao Francisco Sparrow and more chances for Broad-tipped Hermit and other Caatinga endemics if necessary. Later, we will look for the mind-blowing Horned Sungem, along with many dry-zone Brazilian specialties like White-vented Violetear, Red-legged Seriema, White-eared Puffbird, Rusty-backed Antwren, Rufous-sided Scrub Tyrant, Shrike-like Tanager, White-rumped Tanager and Black-throated Saltator. Arriving in the breath-taking landscape of Mucugê in the afternoon, we will try for the endemic Diamantina Tapaculo and Narrow-billed Antwren, plus have more chances for Great Xenops, Ceara Gnateater, Caatinga Antwren, and Ash-throated Casiornis. Overnight in Mucugê.

Day 12: Early morning around Mucugê to try again for Yellow-faced Siskin, and visit a site for Sharp-tailed Grass Tyrant. Then we drive to Boa Nova, hopefully arriving in time for a late afternoon session in mata de cipó (transitional forest) to look for the endemic Slender Antbird, and there will be an  evening attempt for Tawny-browed Owl.

Day 13: Full day of birding in Boa Nova. We will search the rich Atlantic Forest slope at dawn for uncommon endemics like Rio de Janeiro Antbird, Bahia Spinetail, Striated Softtail, Bahia Tyrannulet and an amazing new array of Atlantic Forest specialties which we will be seeing for the first time here. These might include Crescent-chested Puffbird, Spot-billed Toucanet, East Brazilian Pygmy Owl, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, White-collared Foliage-gleaner, White-eyed Foliage-gleaner, Orange-eyed Thornbird, Black-billed Scythebill, Tufted Antshrike, Scaled Antbird, Ferruginous Antbird, and White-bibbed Antbird, Spot-breasted Antvireo, Rufous Gnateater, Grey-hooded Attila, Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant, Cinnamon-vented Piha, Pin-tailed Manakin, Blue Manakin, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Rufous-brown Solitaire, Yellow-green Grosbeak, and many others.

An afternoon at Lajedo in some dry outcrop habitat often provides excellent encounters with Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Sapphire-spangled Emerald, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird and Stripe-breasted Starthroat. Then at dusk, we will hopefully be able to find the impressive Giant Snipe!

Day 14: A day-trip to the neighbouring towns of Poções and Itororó. Early morning in Poções will see us searching for Wied’s Tyrant Manakin, Reiser’s Tyrannulet and Buff-throated Purpletuft, Hangnest Tody-Tyrant, Greenish Schiffornis and Southern Antpipit at Serra do Arrepio. After a nice meal and coconut juices at lunch, we will target the rare Scalloped Antbird in a forest fragment before a last stop at Seera do Amolar should provide the endemic Three-toed Jacamar. Back to Boa Nova for dinner and overnight.

Day 15: First up this morning we will visit Reserva Sapucaia where we will try for the rare Bahia Tapaculo, but perhaps on the way we will make our first stop to look for the tricky endemic Pink-legged Graveteiro. Reserva Sapucaia has good birding and we should expect to find here other endemics like Band-tailed Antwren, Black-cheeked Gnateater and Kinglet Manakin, plus White-crowned Manakin, White-fronted Nunbird, Cinereous Mourner, Smoky-fronted Tody-Flycatcher, Brazilian Tanager and others. Before arriving at Itacaré, there will be a quick roadside stop for Cinereous-breasted Spinetail before lunch and a quick visit to some fruit feeders where we hope for close views of “White-bellied” Turquoise Tanager, “Silver-breasted” Opal-rumped Tanagers, Red-legged Honeycreeper, and East Brazilian Chachalaca. This is also a very good area for the rare Golden-tailed Parrotlet.

The afternoon will be spent visiting mussununga habitat near Pontal, where we can look for Black-faced Tanager, Bare-throated Bellbird, Russet-crowned Crake, and have more chances for several previously mentioned species. There is a good site for the endemic Black-capped Screech Owl here too, which we will try after dinner. Overnight at Itacaré.

Day 16: An early morning visit to Conduru State Park to look for endemics like “Margaretta’s” Great-billed Hermit, Bahia Antwren, Black-headed Berryeater and White-winged Cotinga. Later we can make a stop near Ilhéus for more chances of Pink-legged Graveteiro and also the magnificent Golden-headed Lion Tamarin. There will be a little time after lunch for some initial exploration of the Serra Bonita lowlands forests, which are possibly the best place to see a trio of difficult endemic parakeets: Golden-capped, White-eared and Ochre-marked. Some stops on the way uphill to the wonderful Serra Bonita Lodge could produce Mantled Hawk, Swallow-tailed Cotinga, or even the Critically Endangered Banded Cotinga. By the lodge, some excellent feeders are often visited by the endemic Sombre Hummingbird, plus maybe Red-necked Tanager, Green-headed Tanager, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, and occasionally Spot-billed Toucanet! Overnight at Serra Bonita Lodge.

Day 17: Full day of birding uphill at Serra Bonita Lodge, mainly to look for endemics like Plumbeous Antvireo, Salvadori’s Antwren, the still undescribed Heliobletus Treehunter and Bahia Tyrannulet. However birding here goes far beyond the endemics, and we expect to find several nice birds such as Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Buff-bellied Puffbird, Scale-throated Hermit, East Brazilian Pygmy Owl, Star-throated Antwren, Black-capped Foliage-gleaner, Pale-browed Treehunter, Plain-winged Woodcreeper, White-throated Woodcreeper, Sharpbill, Lemon-chested Greenlet, Sooty Grassquit, Rufous-brown Solitaire and with luck, Variegated Antpitta. Overnight at Serra Bonita Lodge.

Day 18: Early morning at Serra Bonita again, mainly to have more chances for Banded Cotinga. We should have more chances for White-eared and Ochre-marked Parakeet before transferring to Porto Seguro for afternoon birding at Reserva Veracel. This is a great area to look for two localised endemics: Hook-billed Hermit and Red-browed Amazon. There will also be more chances for Bahia Antwren, Black-headed Berryeater and White-winged Cotinga if necessary, before we make an evening attempt for the rare White-winged Potoo. Overnight in Porto Seguro.

Day 19: Full day of birding at Reserva Veracel in Porto Seguro. More chances for Banded Cotinga and White-winged Cotingas, Black-headed Berryeater, Red-browed Amazon, Ochre-marked Parakeet, Hook-billed Hermit, Bahia Antwren, Sooretama Slaty Antshrike, and Golden-tailed Parrotlet. We also will be looking for “Reichenow’s” Blue-headed Parrot, White-chinned Sapphire, Rufous-throated Sapphire, and if we are lucky, a nice male Racket-tailed Coquette! In Porto Seguro, we will also the check some mangroves in search of White-bellied Emerald, Mangrove Rail and hopefully the endemic Little Wood Rail. Evening at Veracel and a last night birding foray if necessary! Overnight in Porto Seguro.

Day 20: Early morning at Veracel if time allows before transfers to Porto Seguro International Airport (BPS) for the end of tour around midday.

Tour details

Cost: $ 7,800 $ 7,000
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ 600

Accommodation: Comfortable hotels throughout. Please note that the entire tour will be conducted in two comfortable SUV vehicles, rather than a minibus or van.

Walking difficulty: Mostly easy roadside birding with short forays onto forest trails.

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.