Wild Brazil with the Pantanal

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    Destinations: Central and South America
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Tour Description

Brazil unfolds before us in all its stunning natural glory during this popular South America expedition. We visit several different biomes, see as many as 25 indigenous mammals, study ten times as many birds, and even meet some of the planet’s rarest primates. Of course, no Brazil expedition is complete without Iguaçu Falls; this two-and-a-half-mile-wide cataract is our introduction to this spectacular country. Also, included in our Brazil adventure travel tour is the massive Pantanal, the planet’s largest seasonal wetland area. We meet the capybara, the world’s largest rodent; view nocturnal mammals in their natural habitats; and glimpse jaguars, ocelots, and tapirs.

Wild Brazil Expedition Highlights:

  • Tour of Rio de Janeiro, including cable car ride to top of Sugar Loaf, the city’s iconic peak, commences our Brazil expedition.
  • Serra da Canastra National Park and Caraca Natural Park, where we glimpse toco toucans, hyacinth visorbearers, and the masked titi monkey.
  • Four-day exploration of the Pantanal; search for giant river otters on the Pixaim River and enjoy evening spotlighting excursions seeking out resident mammals.
  • Full-day tour of Iguaçu Falls, both the Brazilian and Argentinean sides, an unforgettable highlight of any South America adventure travel tour.
  • Acclaimed expedition leader and naturalist Mark Brazil, who considers Brazil to be his favorite eco-expedition destination.

What to Expect:

While our South America adventure travel tour is not overly strenuous, participants should be reasonably fit and capable of moderate exercise. There will be several opportunities for jungle hikes during the Brazil tour that will entail walking, unaided, over rugged trails with occasional inclines—the reward being glimpses of rare primates and abundant birdlife. Many of the days on our itinerary will require lengthy bus journeys along rough roads. Our Brazil expedition is best enjoyed by those who relish natural history and who travel with a sense of humor, flexibility, and a true spirit of adventure.

Itinerary

Day 1

USA

Depart from the USA on your independent overnight fl ight to Rio de Janeiro.

Day 2

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Arrive Rio de Janeiro and transfer to our hotel. After brunch depart for an afternoon at the Jardim Botanico do Rio de Janeiro, a microcosm of Brazil, showcasing Victoria Amazonica lilies, over 700 species of orchid, and supporting many of the region’s birds. We also ride a cable car to the top of Sugar Loaf for views of the city and beaches. Dinner at a local restaurant and overnight at the Caesar Park Hotel.

Day 3

Rio de Janeiro / Iguaçu Falls

After our short flight from Rio, we arrive at Iguaçu Falls. Enjoy a leisurely walk to admire the Brazilian side of the falls and enjoy a panoramic view. Dinner and overnight for the next two nights at Cataratas Hotel Iguaçu.

Day 4

Iguaçu Falls

We have a full day to explore Iguaçu Falls, one of the world’s most dramatic waterfalls. Today we visit the Argentinean side of the two-and-a-half-mile-wide falls to enjoy a combination of whitewater, rain forest, and birdlife, including caciques, toucans, and woodpeckers. Of special interest are the kettles of swifts as they swirl and dart through the spray behind the falls. The endangered tegu lizard is relatively common here, and the number of butterflies is astounding.

Day 5

Iguaçu Falls / Vitória /Santa Teresa

This morning we board our flight to Vitória, then drive to Santa Teresa, a charming city whose tiled-roof farmhouses reveal its 19th century Italian roots. Time permitting we visit the garden of the Mello Leitao Museum, where flowers and feeders attract multiple species of hummingbirds, including the swallow-tailed hummingbird, and perhaps the frilled coquette. Dinner and overnight for the next two nights at Solar dos Colibris.

Day 6

Santa Teresa / Muriqui Project / Lombardia Forest

After breakfast we drive to Santa Maria de Jetibá to visit the Muriqui Project whose mission is to study and conserve the populations and habitats of the northern muriqui. One of the world's most critically endangered primates, the muriqui is endemic to Brazil's Atlantic rain forest region. Our visit to the project will help support the conservation of this species.

This afternoon we visit the Lombardia Forest, which shares parkland with the Augusto Ruschi Reserve, home to the buffy-headed marmoset. Birding here is rich and rewarding and we hope to find antbirds, manakins, puffbirds, toucanets, and more.

Day 7

Vitória / Belo Horizonte / Serra da Canastra National Park

After breakfast we depart to the airport for our flight to Belo Horizonte. From here, an overland drive to Serra da Canastra National Park takes us across the central part of Minas Gerais. The hilly landscape is dotted with farms and pastures and the occasional dark patch of forest. Dinner and overnight for the next three nights at Chapadao da Canastra.

Day 8-9

Serra da Canastra National Park

This vast area of mountains and grasslands, Serra da Canastra National Park, presents a spectacular backdrop to our two days of exploration. The wooded gullies and rolling savannas support unusual birds, as well as the world's highest concentration of giant anteaters.

Day 10

Serra da Canastra National Park / Caraça Natural Park

Today we set out overland to Caraça National Park with stops for photos, birding, and lunch en route. Set among tall mountains and lush forest, this park was originally a seminary retreat. Our accommodations for the next two nights are in renovated rooms in a wing of the original 17th-century seminary, surrounded by parklands among high mountains and lush forest. Tonight we gather outside the church, hoping to witness the maned wolf that often comes to take meat.

Day 11

Caraça Natural Park

We have a full day to explore the Caraça wilderness on various walks with special focus on the endangered masked titi monkey, often located early in the morning by its laughing call. The birds of the area that we hope to find include the swallow-tailed cotinga and the hyacinth visorbearer.

Day 12

Caraça Natural Park / Belo Horizonte / Cuiaba River

We depart Caraça this morning and drive to Belo Horizonte. From there we fly to Cuiaba for dinner and overnight at Intercity Cuiaba Hotel.

Day 13

Cuiaba / Pantanal

We rise early and set out for the Pantanal, the world's largest wetland area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a Biosphere Reserve. The first 60 miles are through a disturbed cerrado transition ecosystem that leads to the raised-dirt highway known as the Transpantaneira. Suddenly, wildlife abounds; this is one of the finest birding regions on Earth. The astonishing biodiversity here includes an incredible array of mammals, birds, and reptiles. Fish concentrate in the few seasonal pools, which are crowded with storks, herons, spoonbills, ibises, and limpkins. We continue through a diverse blend of cattle country, forest, and swamps, with stops for observation and photography. Arrive at Araras Eco Lodge and watch the crowded bird feeders, look for the rare and beautiful hyacinth macaw, seek out local mammals, or simply relax. After dusk an entirely new wildlife world emerges and we set out for a spotlighting excursion after dinner to look for great potoo, crab-eating foxes and raccoons, and other mammals including the possibility of ocelots. Dinner and overnight at Araras Eco Lodge.

Day 14

Pantanal / Pixaim River

We enjoy wildlife viewing in the vicinity of Araras before moving south to the Pixaim River. Along the way, we make stops for birds, nature-viewing, and photography as we head deeper into the Pantanal. We scan wetland areas for capybara and marsh deer, and stop to admire the immense treetop nests of the jabiru stork. In the afternoon we spend time on the Pixaim River, searching for the family of giant river otters that makes its home here. Dinner and overnight at the Mato Grosso Hotel.

Day 15

Pixaim River

To fully explore this rich wetland area, we spend the day in boats on the Pixaim River to watch some of the area's innumerable riverine birds, including kingfishers, terns, and skimmers, and keep a lookout for howler and capuchin monkeys, jacaré caimans, and capybaras. Dinner and overnight at Mato Grosso Hotel.

Day 16

Curicaca Reserve

This morning, we depart for Curicaca Wildlife Reserve. Set back from the Transpantaneira Road, our wonderful lodge offers additional opportunity for exploration and possible mammal encounters as we keep a special lookout for Brazilian tapir. Dinner and overnight at Curicaca Eco-Lodge.

Day 17

Cuiaba / Sao Paulo / USA

After a morning at leisure we return to Cuiaba for our flight to Sao Paulo, then connect to your independent flight back to the USA.

Day 18

Arrive USA

Arrive in the USA and connect with your flights homeward.

Departures

Pricing Information

Land-based Accommodations

All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.

Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.

Options and Extras

Tour Notes

Flights are not included in the cost of expeditions; however, Zegrahm Expeditions has a fully-staffed air department that can assist you with flight arrangements. Since many of our expeditions embark and disembark from remote destinations, the airports that serve these areas often have limited carriers and/or daily flights. As such, our air team is well-versed in planning complex routings for our travelers.