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Birding Tours in Eastern India.... and beyond

Brazil…Amazonia & Pantanal

Brazil is the largest country in both South America and theLatin American region. It is the world’s fifth-largest country, both by geographical area and by population.

Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the east, Brazil has a coastline of 7,491 km (4,655 mi). It borders all other South American countries except Ecuador and Chile and occupies 47.3 percent of the continent of South America. Its Amazon River basin includes a vast tropical forest, home to diverse wildlife, a variety of ecological systems, and extensive natural resources spanning numerous protected habitats. This unique environmental heritage makes Brazil one of 17 megadiverse countries, and is the subject of significant global interest and debate regarding deforestation and environmental protection.

We wish to cover two areas of wildlife namely Amazon rain forest and Pantanal

Brazil has a dense and complex system of rivers, one of the world’s most extensive, with eight major drainage basins, all of which drain into the Atlantic. Major rivers include the Amazon (the world’s second-longest river and the largest in terms of volume of water), the Paraná and its major tributary the Iguaçu (which includes the Iguazu Falls), the Negro, São Francisco, Xingu, Madeira and Tapajós rivers.

The Amazon rainforest, also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon basin of South America. This basin encompasses 7,000,000 square kilometres (2,700,000 sq mi), of which 5,500,000 square kilometres (2,100,000 sq mi) are covered by the rainforest. This region includes territory belonging to nine nations. The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the rainforest, followed by Peru with 13%,Colombia with 10%, and with minor amounts in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. States or departments in four nations contain “Amazonas” in their names. The Amazon represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests, and comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world, with an estimated 390 billion individual trees divided into 16,000 species.

 

The Pantanal (Portuguese pronunciation: [pɐ̃taˈnaw]) is a natural region encompassing the world’s largest tropical wetland area. It is located mostly within the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, but it extends into Mato Grosso and portions of Bolivia and Paraguay. It sprawls over an area estimated at between 140,000 and 195,000 square kilometres (54,000 and 75,000 sq mi). Various subregional ecosystems exist, each with distinct hydrological, geological and ecological characteristics; up to 12 of them have been defined (RADAMBRASIL 1982).

Roughly 80% of the Pantanal floodplains are submerged during the rainy seasons, nurturing an astonishing biologically diverse collection of aquatic plants and helping to support a dense array of animal species.

The name “Pantanal” comes from the Portuguese word pântano, meaning wetland, bog, swamp, quagmire or marsh. By comparison, the Brazilian highlands are locally referred to as the planalto, plateau or, literally, high plain.

Day 1 arrive at Sao Paulo, stay overnight in a city hotel.

The first leg of the journey will be on a river boat which is in the Amazon Rainforest

 

The Jacaré-Açu – which means big caiman in Portuguese – has been inspired by the traditional charm of caboclo culture – the European-Indian racial mix that has arisen along the Amazon, and developed a distinct set of customs and practices. So the boat draws on their boat-building tradition, the cuisine is rich in local ingredients and influence, and the itinerary visits and supports Amazon riverside communities.

The eight-cabin boat is rustic and cosy, with room for only 16 passengers, but still boasts all modern amenities. So, all cabins are air-conditioned and with private facilities; and there are three inviting public areas for relaxation and socializing … and meal times!

And if you wish to include a dose of adventure amongst all the beautiful scenery and wildlife, then the Jacaré-Açu can additionally offer tree climbing, jungle hikes, parasailing, inflatable tubes and piranha fishing. There is even the option to stay overnight in the jungle in hammocks!

Please note that the Jacaré-Açu is the sister ship of the smaller Jacaré-Tinga. When a departure has eight or fewer passengers, the Jacaré-Tinga is used.

Quick Facts

Number of Cabins: 8
Types of Cabin: Standard Cabins
Capacity: 16 passengers
Option to Share: No
Interconnectable Cabins: No
Air-Conditioning: Yes
Bathrooms: Private ensuite facilities, though with no soap nor hot water.

Cabins

Beds: Bunk or double beds with high mattress density and goose feather pillows
Windows: Windows in each cabin with river-facing views.
Balcony: No
Features: Each cabin comes with shelves or storage under bed, desk, hooks, and chair.

 

 

Jacaré-Açu: 5-Day Cruise Anavilhanas & Jau National Park Cruise

The Jaú National Park is the largest freshwater forest park in the world, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with an abundance of wildlife and beautiful scenery; and yet it is still relatively unexplored by tourism. This five-day itinerary offers the full Amazon experience, in a relatively short timeframe, as you explore the Park’s paths, waterfalls, and creeks, and visit riverside communities bursting with genuine northern Brazilian charm.

Note: Please note that the Jacaré-Açu is the sister ship of the smaller Jacaré-Tinga. When a departure has fewer than eight passengers, the Jacaré-Tinga is used.

The itinerary below is dependent on the river water level, weather conditions, wildlife behavior, and accessibility to locations, so may vary.

Day 2: Fly to Manaus – Novo Airão – Anavilhanas

This morning at 9am we pick you up from your hotel or the airport in an air-conditioned van, and drive to the riverside town of Novo Airão. We arrive here in the early afternoon, and give you a briefing on the Amazon’s biology, history and the things you may see, along the way.

After boarding the Jacaré-Açu, we start sailing through the spectacular Anavilhanas Archipelago while enjoying our first delicious lunch on board.

In the afternoon, we take a ride on the motorised canoes through the islands and lagoons of the archipelago. This is an area rich in wildlife, and we hope to see two species of river dolphin, as well as multiple species of birds, such as herons, egrets, macaws, parrots, caciques, oropendolas and jacamars

To cool off, there is the chance to jump overboard for a refreshing swim in the Rio Negro.

Once back on the boat, we set sail to Madadá Observatory, a spectacular lookout over the Rio Negro, with basic bungalow facilities in the middle of the jungle.

After dinner on board, you can choose if you want to spend the night in your cabin or in a hammock at the Observatory.

Day 3: Anavilhanas – Madadá

After breakfast, we make a three hour round-trip hike through virgin rainforest to Madadá Caves, with our guides giving a mini jungle survival course, along the way.

We then visit an Amazon farmhouse to learn about local customs, farming techniques and crops.In the late morning, we have another chance to cool off with a dip in the Rio Negro.

After lunch on board, we take the canoes to an indigenous riverside community, where the locals speak Yanomami and Tukano, and have fascinating centuries-old customs.

Once back on the boat we set sail to Sleepy Beach, on the Rio Jau, where we will anchor for the night.

Day 4: Jaú National Park

This morning we sail to the Jaú National Park Ranger Station, and then along the Rio Jaú, a river of mirror-like waters, with likely sightings of aquatic mammals and birds.

The Park consists of three major rivers – Unini to the North, Carabinani to the South and Jau in the middle – along with countless smaller black water tributaries. The water level varies drastically during the course of the year and the igapó forest found near the waterways can be flooded for up to eight months of the year. This type of forest is tropical

and humid, with as many as 200 species per hectare.

In the rainy season, we moor the boat and take the canoes through the Park’s creeks, looking for families of Giant Otters.

In the dry season, we explore the Rio Pauini, a tributary filled with boulders and waterfalls.

On return to the Jacaré-Açu, we sail to the indigenous community of Aturia where we moor for the evening. After dark, we go looking for caiman and nocturnal animals in the canoes, using spotlights.

Day 5: Jaú National Park

This morning, after breakfast, we visit Aturia village, where we can learn more about traditional life in the Amazon. The children of the village are always extremely happy to interact with visitors, so be prepared to get involved in a game of soccer or swimming or some impromptu arts and crafts.

We have lunch on board the boat and then you have the option of climbing a giant chestnut tree using ropes. All instruction and equipment provided on request.

We have a guided hike to Itaubal Waterfall, through virgin rainforest which is good for spotting jungle mammals. We can have a welcome shower in the waterfall on arrival.

Once back on the boat, we sail out of Jaú National Park.

Day 6: Novo Airão – Manaus

Today we continue sailing from Jaú to Novo Airão. On the way, we may have the chance to swim with Pink River Dolphins. A real highlight.

Once back in Novo Airão, we take a city tour to see the ship-building, the craftsmanship and other attractions of this Amazon River town.

We have a farewell lunch on board, before taking the van back to Manaus, arriving at approximately 3.30pm.

 

Day 7:

Manaus to Cuiaba ‎(8h 41m)‎ by flight

 

Today we board a domestic flight to Cuiabá, the capital of Mato Grosso State. From here we drive approximately 3 hours into the Pantanal, to our first lodge, Pouso Alegre, where we stay for two nights.

Heading southwest on asphalt roads, we drive for 100km, to the town of Poconé, which, with 25,000 inhabitants, is the county seat for the 5 million acres of the north Pantanal. These 100km’s run through different types of tropical dry forest that go by the name of “cerrado” and “cerradão”. As you leave the south end of Poconé on your way into the Pantanal proper, you see the dry forests and fields drop slightly into the large flat floodplain of the Pantanal proper, and the 122 bridges begin. After 17km we will encounter the first wooden bridges, often seeing the first assemblage of herons, caimans, and Capybaras. Pouso Alegre’s entrance gate is located 12km further south along the well-known 145-km-long “Transpantaneira” raised dirt and gravel road. The lodge is famous for its excellent mammal viewing and birding, much of which one does along the lodge’s private 7-km-long, raised driveway. Slow drives on this long entrance road often yield good views of species such as Brown Brocket Deer, Bare-faced Curassows, Chestnut-bellied Guans, Brazilian Tapir, and even Giant Anteaters! On the first 29km of the Transpantaneira, and on the last 500m before reaching the Pouso Alegre Lodge, you will also enjoy your first good views of hundreds of Paraguayan Caimans and dozens of Capybaras. Other wildlife species often seen at Pouso Alegre include Azara´s Agouti, Black-tailed Marmoset and Lesser Anteater.

Day 7 -8

Pouso Alegre

 

We have two full days to explore all the major habitats of this incredible ranch, enjoying a mix of drives in our open sided safari truck and gentle walks in easy terrain. As dawn breaks we are likely to hear the raucous calls of the world’s largest parrot, the stunning Hyacinth Macaw, as they emerge from their onsite nests, whilst fruiting trees attract the attention of beautiful Chestnut-eared Aracari’s and Toco Toucans. Venturing into the forest, fly catching Rufous-tailed Jacamar’s vie for our attention alongside Blue-crowned Trogons and we shall target other specialist birds of the region including Mato Grosso Antbird, White-lored Spinetail and Ashy-headed Greenlet, to mention a few. The rich forest is also home to three species of monkey and we will be alert to their distinctive social calls. Black-and-Gold Howler Monkeys are highly arboreal, and typically spend much of their time in the upper reaches of the forest and can prove somewhat inconspicuous, unless of course a male unleashes one of his amazing lion-like roars, a sound which resonates through the jungle for up to 3km.

 

Smaller and more lightly built, Black-striped Tufted Capuchin Monkeys are very active and forage at all levels of the forest, from the canopy to the forest floor. Their diet is broad, consisting mainly of ripe fruit and insects, but also includes bird eggs, young birds, young squirrels and small lizards. The last of the three species, the Black-tailed Marmoset, is also the smallest of the monkeys in the area and restricted entirely to the Pantanal. Unlike the other primates in the area, Black-tailed Marmosets lack a prehensile tail and have feet with claws instead of flattened nails. Travelling in small family troops, they readily gouge tree bark to extract sap and gum, and can often be located by their bird like twittering and whistles.

The areas of wetland and small freshwater pools lining the approach track to the lodge attract a fabulous mix of waterbirds, including Rufescent Tiger, Striated, Cocoi and Whistling Herons, Roseate Spoonbills, egrets, storks and ibises. One of the most striking of these birds is the enormous Jabiru Stork, a scarce bird throughout most of its range but a familiar sight in the Pantanal. With the onset of dusk, nocturnal mammals, hidden from view during the day, become active and our evening spotlighting sessions have the potential to yield a fascinating array of mammalian species. There is an excellent chance of Brown Brocket Deer and Crab-eating Fox and with a little luck we can hope for such delights as Brazilian Tapir, Ocelot or possibly Giant Anteater.

 

DAY 9:  after breakfast we arrive at Jaguar Ecological Reserve in the late afternoon. Dinner at the lodge. After Dinner, enjoy a nighttime safari. We will search for nocturnal birds like Great Potoos, Nightjars and owls. We will also look for Mammals like Ocelots, Jaguar, Margay, Tapir, Pantanal deer, Armadillo, Crab-eating Fox, Raccoons etc.

 

DAY 10: Early Morning walk around the lodge to spot birds and some species of monkeys as well. Breakfast at lodge. Afterwards forest walk to see more birds, monkeys and other mammals such as coati, Azara’s Aouti and Armadillo.

Lunch at Lodge and some relaxation, we will drive about one hour to the Transpantaneira to beautiful marshes of Compo Jofre to see more birds, anacondas, capybaras, caiman and maybe Jaguars and then come back after a spectacular sunset.

Return to Lodge for Dinner followed by a nighttime safari in search of nocturnal Mammals and birds.

DAY 11:  Breakfast and then drive south to Porto Jofre (about one hour) to take a boat trip on our private 6 passenger boat on the Cuiaba or Piquiri Rivers as well as the smaller tributaries.  Common Bird species here include Black Skimmer, Large-billed tern, Yellow-billed Tern, Collared Plovers, Pied lapwing, Kingfishers etc. This Boat trip is excellent for spotting Jaguars (especially in dry season, when the beaches are exposed), Giant Otters and Monkeys.

Return to Lodge for Dinner followed by a nighttime safari.

 DAY 12:  Breakfast at Lodge and depart, Full day again boat trip.

 DAY 13:  Breakfast at Lodge and depart, Full day again boat trip.

Day 14: Transfer to Cuiaba and overnight at Cuiaba or Fly to Sao Paulo/Rio

Day 15: Fly out

 

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