7–17 October 2015
Brazil is the second most endemic-rich country in the world, and this single-base tour is designed to see as many Atlantic forest endemics as possible. From watching birds at the feeders in the gardens of Itororo, our comfortable eco-lodge, to birding in the local mountains and lowlands, we will see a superb range of Neotropical species on this, one of our most popular tours.
Day 1 Overnight flight from London to Rio de Janeiro.
Day 2 On arrival in Rio de Janeiro we will be met by our guide and take the two-and-a-half-hour transfer to the beautifully located eco-lodge where we will be staying for the duration of the trip. The lodge is located in its own private valley at an altitude of 1200m and is surrounded by rainforest! We will have the choice either to explore the extensive grounds and trail network or to relax by the natural swimming pool. Eight nights at the eco-lodge Itororo.
Day 3 After an early breakfast, we will take a thirty-minute drive from the lodge and head up to spend a full day exploring the high-altitude area of the Serra do Mar Mountains (mountains of the sea). We will leave our transport and take a packed lunch with us as we slowly head up to an altitude of 2300m. Our targets today include many of the specialised endemics of this area: Plovercrest, White-throated Hummingbird, Brazilian Ruby, Pallid Spinetail, Black-billed Scythebill, Giant and Large-tailed Antshrikes, Rufous-backed Antvireo, Rufous-tailed Antbird, Serra do Mar Tapaculo, Black-and-gold Cotinga, the very rare and localised Grey-winged Cotinga, Swallow-tailed Cotinga, Serra do Mar Tyrant-manakin, Velvety Black-tyrant, White-browed Warbler, Brassy-breasted, Chestnut-headed and Diademed Tanagers, Bay-chested Warbling-finch and Green-winged and Thick-billed Saltators. At the summit of the mountain we will search for the endemic Itatiaia Thistletail (or spinetail), a bird that we discovered here only some ten years ago.
Day 4 The superb Theodoro Trail is just a twenty-minute drive from the lodge. Starting at an altitude of 1100m, this path offers wonderful birding. As we walk through both primary and secondary forest, birds that can be seen include Brown Tinamou, Mantled Hawk, Plain Parakeet, Black-throated Trogon, Saffron Toucanet, Yellow-browed and Yellow-eared Woodpeckers, Orange-eyed Thornbird, Rufous-capped Spinetail, Streaked Xenops, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Black-capped, Buff-browed and White-browed Foliage-gleaners, Planalto Woodcreeper, Red-crowned Ant-tanager, Variable Antshrike, Plain Antvireo, Star-throated Antwren, Such's Antthrush, Variegated Antpitta, Bare-throated Bellbird, Pin-tailed Manakin, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Euler’s and Yellow-olive Flycatchers, Sharpbill, Golden-crowned Warbler, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Azure-shouldered, Burnished-buff, Golden-chevroned and Sayaca Tanagers, Grey-hooded Attila and Greenish Schiffornis. We will then return to the comfort of the lodge for lunch. In the afternoon we will fully explore the gardens and trails around the lodge, which provide excellent birding opportunities. More than 150 species have been recorded within the lodge grounds, of which over 60 are endemic to the Atlantic rainforest! Some of the birds that we can expect to see include Scaly-headed Parrot, Scale-throated Hermit, Violet-capped Woodnymph, Surucua Trogon, Spot-billed Toucanet, Grey-bellied Spinetail, White-collared Foliage-gleaner, Lesser, Scaled and White-throated Woodcreepers, Bertoni’s and Ochre-rumped Antbirds, Brazilian Antthrush, Rufous Gnateater, Blue Manakin, Grey-hooded Flycatcher, Drab-breasted Bamboo-tyrant, Fawn-breasted Tanager and Uniform Finch.
Day 5 We will have an early breakfast this morning and head off for a full day at the Regua Wetlands. This wetland area was established in 2002 and has been very successful in the number of species it has attracted since then. The reserve management also protects a large amount of forest within the local area and employs rangers to ensure that the birds and mammals on the reserve are safeguarded. Species we will look for here include Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Pied-billed Grebe, Brazilian Teal, Masked Duck, Black-bellied and White-faced Whistling-ducks, Muscovy Duck, Capped, Striated and Whistling Herons, Black-crowned Night-heron, Rufescent Tiger-heron, Crane and White-necked Hawks, Grey-headed Kite, Limpkin, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Black-capped Donacobius, White-headed Marsh-tyrant, Yellowish Pipit and Chestnut-capped Blackbird. The wetlands are surrounded by lowland forest, a habitat hard to find within the local area, and after a couple of hours around the wetlands, we will spend the remainder of the day within this forest searching for Reddish and Rufous-breasted Hermits, White-chinned Sapphire, Rufous-capped Motmot, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Blond-crested and Yellow-throated Woodpeckers, Plain Xenops, Thrush-like Woodcreeper, Chestnut-backed Antshrike, Rufous-winged, Silvery-flanked and Unicoloured Antwrens, Sooretama Slaty-antshrike, Scaled and White-bibbed Antbirds, Shrike-like Cotinga, Eye-ringed Tody-tyrant, White-bearded Manakin, Long-billed and Moustached Wrens, Violaceous Euphonia, Brazilian, Flame-crested, Palm and Yellow-backed Tanagers, Red-crowned Cardinal, Buff-throated Saltator and Red-rumped Cacique. On the way back, we will also stop briefly at the Cedae Trail, where we hope to see Sombre Hummingbird, Versicoloured Emerald, Pale-browed Treehunter, Yellow-throated Woodpecker, Channel-billed Toucan, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Yellow-lored Tody-flycatcher, Chestnut-bellied Euphonia, Green-headed and Olive-green Tanagers and Black-throated Grosbeak.
Day 6 This morning will be spent birding the lodge trails and grounds for a number of important endemics. Species we hope to see include Black and Black and White Hawk-eagles, Dusky-legged Guan, Spot-winged Wood-quail, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Black Jacobin, Eared Pygmy-tyrant, White-throated Spadebill, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Creamy-bellied, Pale-breasted and Rufous-bellied Thrushes, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Golden-chevroned and Ruby-crowned Tanagers and White-rimmed Warbler. The afternoon will be free for photography at the lodge’s feeders or for some further birding in the grounds.
Day 7 One of the most sought-after birds of southeast Brazil is the endemic Three-toed Jacamar and today's full-day excursion will take us to several sites where this bird is regularly found. Along the way we will pass through a variety of habitats and make many stops to look for other species. These may include Slaty-breasted Wood-rail, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Plumbeous Kite, Savannah and White-tailed Hawks, Aplomado, Bat and Laughing Falcons, Red-legged Seriema, Blue-winged Macaw, White-eyed Parakeet, Blue-winged Parrotlet, Ruddy Ground-dove, Striped Cuckoo, Smooth-billed Ani, Burrowing Owl, Grey-rumped Swift, Sick’s and White-collared Swifts, Ringed Kingfisher, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, Planalto Hermit, Glittering-bellied and Sapphire-spangled Emeralds, Amethyst Woodstar, Crescent-chested and White-eared Puffbirds, Black-necked Aracari, White Woodpecker, Campo Flicker, Serra Antwren, Hangnest Tody-tyrant, Rufous and Wing-banded Horneros, Chicli Spinetail, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Tropical Kingbird, Yellow Tyrannulet, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Bran-coloured Flycatcher, Ochre-faced Tody-flycatcher, Grey and White-rumped Monjitas, Long-tailed, Streamer-tailed and Yellow-browed Tyrants, Southern rough-winged, Tawny-headed and White-rumped Swallows, Brown-chested Martin, Shiny Cowbird, Bananaquit, Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Masked Yellowthroat, Chestnut-vented Conebill, Curl-crested Jay, Gilt-edged, Hepatic, Hooded and Magpie Tanagers, Chestnut-bellied Seedfinch, Chopi and White-browed Blackbird and Hooded Siskin.
Day 8 Today we will take a thirty-minute drive from the lodge to a great area called the Portao Azul (the blue gate). We will take a packed lunch with us and bird this area until mid-afternoon. What makes this area so good is the mixture of habitats that it offers. It is also a stronghold for the endemic Half-collared Sparrow – sometimes difficult to see in other areas, this species is abundant here. Other birds that we expect to see during the morning include Blackish Rail, Squirrel Cuckoo, Amethyst Woodstar, Planalto Hermit, Green-barred Woodpecker, Saffron Toucanet, Tufted and White-bearded Antshrikes, White-breasted Tapaculo, Grey-capped and Planalto Tyrannulets, Southern Beardless-tyrannulet, Cliff, Rusty-margined and Swainson’s Flycatchers, Green-backed Becard, Yellow-legged Thrush, Black-goggled, Cinnamon and Rufous-headed Tanagers, Double-collared Seedeater and Crested Oropendola.
Day 9 After an early breakfast we will set off for the hour-and-a-half drive to the famous Serra dos Orgaos National Park. The National Park is split into upper and lower sections and we will begin in the lower section, where we will spend a couple of hours looking for White-necked Hawk, Yellow-fronted Woodpecker, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Spot-breasted Antvireo, Rufous-capped Antthrush and Ochre-bellied Flycatcher. We will then return to the vehicle and drive for a further 20 minutes to the upper section of the park. The rest of the day will be spent birding along a fantastic boardwalk. The boardwalk is a solid, fixed structure (it doesn't sway from side to side); some parts of it are at canopy level and other parts run through some great patches of bamboo. Some of the birds we aim to see include Plumbeous Pigeon, Sharp-billed Treehunter, Rufous-tailed Antthrush, Mouse-coloured Tapaculo, Hooded Berryeater and Rufous-crowned Greenlet.
Day 10 After breakfast and early morning birding around the lodge grounds, we will return to Rio de Janeiro for our afternoon flight to London, where we will arrive on Day 11.
General Information Brazil can be hot and humid with rain likely at any time. The tour pace is moderate with generally easy walking, although at altitude some extra effort is needed. The upper trail at Serra dos Orgaos National Park can be quite strenuous. There are some health requirements which should be referred to your GP. Insects can be a problem at times and repellents are recommended. Visas are not required for EU citizens.
Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 6; maximum group size: 10 with 1 leader.