Guided by Andrés Vásquez. This was a set departure tour.
It is difficult to put into words a trip like this when you have seen many of South America’s most iconic animals and birds in only 15 days of focused birding. While searching for every possible species, we repeatedly got out of our vans for another Red-legged Seriema or Giant Anteater, and on other occasions we birded from the comfort of canoes that ride along some of the most scenic rivers, to find Giant Otters, Sunbitterns, Agami Herons, Sungrebes, and the most wanted of all mammals in the region, the majestic Jaguar.
We did, in fact, cover three distinct biomes during the trip: the start of the tour visited the scrubby, dry Cerrado, then we continued to the vast Amazon rainforest, with its huge biodiversity enclosed in a mosaic of micro-ecosystems, and finished in the Pantanal where the open nature of the country let us scan long distances to see running Greater Rheas, Southern Screamers, Jaguarundi, and an uncountable amount of waterbirds concentrated on the remaining waterholes, co-existing with large number of caiman laying along the banks.
Yes, we saw all that, and the final numbers revealed 450 species of birds seen (plus another 32 heard) among which the highlights included, apart from those mentioned above: Collared Crescentchest, Dot-eared Coquette, Blue-tufted Starthroat, and Coal-crested Finch in the Cerrado, 43 species of Antbirds (largely in the Amazon), together with Pompadour Cotinga, Collared Puffbird, one of the few records of Green Oropendola in Cristalino Jungle Lodge, Cryptic Forest Falcon, and Razor-billed Curassow on the borders of the Cristalino River, Dark-winged Trumpeter, Common, Long-tailed and Great Potoos, the unique Hyacinth Macaw, and bright Toco Toucans in the Pantanal. I have to mention again the Jaguar, with multiple sightings and 5 individuals involved: one pregnant female, a fully mature male, plus a mother with a young cub, and its older brother. Magical.