Trip report: Brazil: The Pantanal and Amazon (Aug-Sept 2017) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Andrés Vásquez. This was a set departure tour.

This tour is just impossible to match when it comes to tropical South America, since it has absolutely everything people imagine when they think of the Neotropical lowland jungles. Once again multiple sightings of the mighty Jaguar adorned an impressive list of mammals and birds that included Fiery-tailed Awlbill, Agami Heron in gorgeous light, Zigzag Heron posing for photos, White-browed Hawk, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, about five Amazonian Umbrellabirds, Red-fan Parrot, Hyacinth Macaw, Red-legged Seriema, Black-girdled Barbet, the best views of Coal-crested Finch I have ever had, Tapajos Hermit, Greater Rhea, Southern Screamers, multiple Jabiru storks on nests, five New World kingfishers in one afternoon, tons of antbirds (among the favorites were Bare-eyed and Rufous-faced plus Black-spotted Bare-eye), Rose-breasted Chat, “Tapajos” Scythebill, Amazonian Pygmy-Owl at eye-level, Crested Owl, and Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak, lots of woodpeckers, jacamars, puffbirds, manakins, and toucans.

When it comes to mammals, apart from the “big cat” (we saw four different jaguars), we scored 22 species, out of which the undisputed favorite were the Brazilian Tapirs; yes, plural, in fact we had 10 different sightings of at least 7 different individuals, twice a day in the Cristalino Reserve including an ultra-cute baby that walked behind its mom in front of a blind we were sitting at. Multiple sightings of Giant Otters, a horde of over 70 White-lipped Peccaries that almost surrounded us, and a peaceful Southern Tamandua will also remain in our minds for a long while.

Despite our great overall luck, fate played a bad prank on us since we could not see the Harpy Eagle that was sighted by another group from tower 1 in Cristalino while we were on tower 2, and we did not see it again the next day from tower 1 while it was being seen from tower 2 by the same other group of Brazilian photographers!

It was all part of an unforgettable tour that took us through the dry and scrubby cerrado, the exuberant and lush Amazon rainforest and the vast and open Pantanal in almost 15 days of pleasant boat rides, enjoyable hikes, and a couple dust baths along the unique Transpantaneira Highway during roadside birding, occasionally walking over the famous wooden bridges that sometimes look like they are about to crumble under the car while crossing (click link below to read more).

Click this link to view the full report in PDF format (file size: 3.7 MB).