Amazonian Brazil: Aug 11—28, 2007

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Departs: Manaus
Tour Limit: 14
Download Itinerary: PDF (123.2 KB)

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Guianan Cock-of-the-rock

Guianan Cock-of-the-rock— Photo: Andrew Whittaker

An exploration of the magical Amazon rainforest; great food and creature comforts; excellent birding along flat trails, from a wonderful canopy tower, and from covered boats along the mighty Amazon River, with breaks during the heat of the day.

Manaus is nestled deep in the heart of the immense Amazon rainforest, home to the greatest avian-rich ecosystem on our planet. This bustling city is positioned at the junction of the world’s two mightiest rivers, the Amazon and the Rio Negro, where vast quantities of warm black water collide with immense volumes of cooler, silt-laden white water from the Andes, forming the “wedding of the waters,” flowing side by side for miles. These two rivers have formed a natural barrier to countless birds and other fauna, causing many replacement sibling species to be found on opposite banks, thus making Manaus a perfect base for exploration of its lush, lowland rainforest and the biogeographic barriers that are home to a mega-diversity of plants and animals.

During the early twentieth century Manaus was the center of the Amazon’s rubber boom, which financed its famous Opera House (now restored to its full glory). A floating harbor constructed in 1902 is still intact and receives ocean-going vessels, an amazing 2,000 km inland from the Atlantic Ocean.

We have designed this tour to sample the birds of both the Imeri and Guianan endemic centers while based at well-positioned lodges. We will bird trails through lush, towering lowland rainforest and orchid-rich stunted campina (sandy-belt forest), searching for Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, leks of colorful manakins, ant swarms and their attendant bird followers such as White-plumed and Chestnut-crested antbirds, Reddish-winged Bare-eye, and huge mixed-species flocks, as well as shy forest-falcons and skulky antpittas. On relaxing boat trips to bird-rich Amazon riverine islands, we will float through seasonally flooded igapó (black-water) and varzea (white-water) forests where annual floods cause the rivers to rise and fall a staggering 15 meters or more. We will seek many unique specialists (known only from this dynamic habitat) and observe two species of fresh water river dolphins, including the legendary Pink River Dolphin, which has to be seen to be believed!

Spix's Night Monkey family

Spix’s Night Monkey family— Photo: Andrew Whittaker

One of the many highlights of our trip to this majestic rainforest will be a visit to the famous INPA canopy tower where colorful cotingas, macaws, parrots, toucans, puffbirds, jacamars, tanagers, trogons, and primates will pass by at eye level. On previous trips here we have seen Harpy or Crested Eagles and the rare Crimson Fruitcrow.

This tour will provide exceptional opportunities to see some of South America’s most wanted birds such as Guianan Cock-of-the-rock (at a lek), Crimson Topaz, Pompadour Cotinga, Guianan Red-Cotinga, countless parrots, manakins, antbirds, and up to four species of potoo, as well as several species of primates and much more.

Magnificent panoramic sunsets; starlit nights along secluded rivers while searching for mythical potoos; gazing upon the breathtakingly clear Milky Way—nothing can fully describe the magic of Amazonia. Its mega-biodiversity represents the most complex ecosystem anywhere on earth.

Good accommodations; two lodges in jungle clearings; electricity, air-conditioning, and private bathrooms; good food; birding excursions along forested trails; motorized covered canoes; one day at canopy tower; midday breaks; climate warm and humid, and very pleasant at night.