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Brazil: Far South

This tour covers the endemics and near-endemics of Brazil’s south-eastern border. Moving from the lush coastal Atlantic Forest to the impressive woodlands and grasslands of the Araucaria Plateau before visiting the amazing Lagoa do Peixe National Park, this region feels somewhat like a coastal Pantanal! Highlights include Scaled Chachalaca, Sickle-winged Nightjar, South American Painted Snipe, Dot-winged Crake, Mottled Piculet, Blue-bellied Parrot, Red-spectacled and Red-tailed Amazons, Canebrake Groundcreeper, Marsh Antwren, Black-headed and Hooded Berryeaters, Kaempfer’s Tody-Tyrant, Creamy-bellied Gnatcatcher, Glaucous-blue Grosbeak, Chestnut-backed and Black-backed Tanager, Saffron-cowled Blackbird, plus the rare Tropeiro and Black-bellied Seedeaters.

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Price: $

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Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

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Group Size Limit:

6

Deposit: $

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Price: $

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Leaders:

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Single Room Supplement: $

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Group Size Limit:

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Accommodation:

Comfortable hotels throughout.

Walking difficulty:

Mostly easy roadside birding with short forays onto forest trails or into marshy flats.

Tour cost includes:

All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes:

Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks, and other items of a personal nature.

Day 1: Arrivals into Curitiba International Airport (CWB). Birding Araucaria forest and marshes in the afternoon/evening near Borda do Campo to look for Canebrake Groundcreeper, Grey-throated Warbling Finch, Glaucous-blue Grosbeak, and Long-tufted Screech Owl. Night in São José dos Pinhais.


Day 2: Morning of forest birding near Borda do Campo in search of Mottled Piculet, Olive Spinetail, Hooded Berryeater, Bare-throated Bellbird, Scalloped Woodcreeper, Dusky-tailed Antbird, Speckle-breasted Antpitta, Diademed, Brassy-breasted and Chestnut-backed Tanagers, and several other Atlantic Forest endemics from the diverse hills of Serra do Mar. In the afternoon, we should keep birding montane forest at Serra da Gaciosa, looking for Slaty Bristlefront (southern race), Brazilian Ruby, Scale-throated Hermit, Bertoni’s Antbird, Giant and Large-tailed Antshrikes, White-browed Foliage-gleaner, Rufous-tailed Attila, Pin-tailed Manakin, Brown-breasted Bamboo Tyrant, and others. In the afternoon, we transfer to Antonina, where we will spend the next two nights. Night in Antonina.


Day 3: Full day of birding in the gorgeous and well-protected foothills of Serra do Mar near Antonina, a true birding hotspot. Several Atlantic Forest highlights and rarities are part of the avifauna of Antonina, including such beauties as Yellow-legged Tinamou, Black-headed Berryeater, Festive Coquette, White-necked Hawk, Robust and Helmeted Woodpeckers, Saffron and Spot-billed Toucanets, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Unicoloured Antwren, Scaled Antbird, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Restinga and Bay-ringed Tyrannulets, Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant, Russet-winged Spadebill, Atlantic Royal Flycatcher, Buff-throated Purpletuft, Azure Jay, and Black-backed Tanager. We will be checking a Stygian Owl day roost in the town and trying for Black-capped Screech Owl in the evening. Night in Antonina.


Day 4: Morning in Antonina in search of possible rarities (Helmeted Woodpecker, Atlantic Royal Flycatcher and Buff-throasted Purpletuft can be very hard here, despite recent records). Lunch in Morretes and transfer to Pontal do Sul for an afternoon boat trip in the large Bay of Paranaguá, mainly in search of Rufous Crab Hawk, stunning flocks of Scarlet Ibis, and the main event: watching the endemic Red-tailed Amazon coming to its largest known roosting site. We go through some fascinating mangrove channels on this boat trip, with views of Serra do Mar in the background. We should also see Estuary Dolphin, Brown Booby, Cabot’s and Royal Terns, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Pale-vented Pigeon, and loads of Neotropic Cormorants. Dinner at a local brewery with very good pizza. Night in Pontal do Sul.


Day 5: Early transfer to Volta Velha Reserve in Itapoá, Santa Catarina state. Here, in restinga forest, we will be looking for a few more lowland endemics such as Scaled Chachalaca, the localised Kaempfer’s Tody-Tyrant, and the threatened “Parana” Marsh Antwren. We will have more chances for Yellow-legged Tinamou, White-necked Hawk, Robust Woodpecker, Unicoloured Antwren, Black-capped Foliage-gleaner, White-browed Treehunter, White-breasted Tapaculo, Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant, Restinga Tyrannulet, Three-striped Flycatcher, Long-billed Wren, Red-necked and Black-backed Tanagers, and will be trying our best for the rare Blue-bellied Parrot and Russet-winged Spadebill. Night birding in the reserve offers chances for the rare Silky-tailed Nightjar, Black-capped Screech Owl and Mottled Owl. Night at Volta Velha.


Day 6: Early morning birding at Volta Velha if necessary. For the most of morning, we should visit the the pretty hills of Vila da Glória, where we can look for Mantled Hawk, the uncommon Buff-bellied Puffbird, Rusty-breasted Nunlet, Tufted Antshrike, Spotted Bamboowren, Cinnamon-vented Piha, Oustalet’s Tyrannulet, East Brazilian Pygmy Owl, and sometimes, on bamboo seeds, the uncommon Temminck’s and Buffy-fronted Seedeaters. Late morning drive south-west to the picturesque hills around Rio dos Cedros for birding and overnight. In the afternoon, we will be birding good forest patches at around 700 m altitude, mainly to find the uncommon Atlantic Forest endemic Creamy-bellied Gnatcatcher. Night in Rio dos Cedros.


Day 7: Early morning of forest birding around Rio dos Cedros. Besides Creamy-bellied Gnatcatcher, we will also search in this area for Chestnut-headed Tanager, Blackish-blue Seedeater, and the rare Helmeted Woodpecker, which sometimes shows up for some lucky birders. Later, we continue driving south (about 3.5 hours) to reach the scenic little town of Urupema in the fascinating Araucaria region. We will visit Araucaria cloud forest (1600m), with dense bamboo and open bushy fields on hilltops. Here, we will look for the endemic Long-tailed Cinclodes, the southern populations of endemics Serra do Mar Tyrannulet and Bay-chested Warbling Finch, the secretive Rufous-tailed Antthrush, Speckle-breasted Antpitta and Mouse-coloured Tapaculo. Additional chances to find Mottled Piculet, Large-tailed and Giant Antshrikes, Greenish and Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulets, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Olive Spinetail, Diademed Tanager, and others. After checking in at the lovely Eco Pousada Rio dos Touros, we will search for Rusty-barred Owl and Long-tufted Screech Owl in the grounds of the lodge. Night at Rio dos Touros, Urupema.


Day 8: In the early morning, the Rio dos Touros garden will entertain us with Araucaria Tit-Spinetails, endemic Striolated Tit-Spinetail, Grey-throated Warbling Finch, and a good fruit feeder with frequent beauties like Chestnut-backed Tanager, Red Tanager, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Thick-billed Saltator, and eventually, Blacksmith Thrush. In the woodland of Rio dos Touros, we should also get amazing views of Planalto Tapaculo and possibly the first Vinaceous-breasted Amazons of the trip. Later in the morning, we can make a quick visit to a nice grassland area where we can find Red-legged Seriema, the stunning Black-and-white Monjita, Crested Black Tyrant, Lesser Grass Finch, Long-tailed Reed Finch, the endemic Black-bellied Seedeater, and if we are lucky, the rare Chaco Eagle. Later, we will transfer south to Vacaria in Rio Grande do Sul state (2 hours drive). Check-in at the hotel and afternoon of birding in remnant marshes habitats (which decades ago were part of a vast area of natural grasslands). These marshes are still home to several rare and threatened species, including Freckle-breasted Thornbird, the uncommon Straight-billed Reedhaunter, the shy endemic Marsh Tapaculo, uncommon Sharp-tailed Grass Tyrant, Black-and-white Monjita, and Black-bellied Seedeater. The evening here will reveal our main gem, the tiny and little-known Sickle-winged Nightjar. Night in Vacaria.


Day 9: Day transfer to São Francisco de Paula. In the morning, a two-hour drive south in the Araucaria region will take us to Canyon Palanquinhos, where the semi-open habitats are still home to the rare, threatened, and recently described endemic Tropeiro Seedeater. Tawny-bellied Seedeater should be found here, as well as other grassland and Araucaria woodland specialities – Red-winged Tinamou, Spotted Nothura, Red-legged Seriema, Sooty, White-collared and Biscutate Swifts, Striolated Tit-Spinetail, Mottled Piculet, Olivaceous Elaenia, Planalto Tyrannulet, Blacksmith Thrush, and others. Later stop for lunch and short transfer to the bird-packed area and lovely little town of São Francisco de Paula. After checking in, we will enjoy more grassland habitats in search of the uncommon Saffron-cowled Blackbird, Hellmayir’s Pipit and, with luck, the rare Ochre-breasted Pipit. More good views of Straight-billed Reedhaunter and Black-bellied Seedeater are on the agenda too. At sunset, we will have a very special experience visiting a roosting site of the threatened Red-spectacled Amazon. Overnight in São Francisca de Paula.


Day 10: We should have a busy but splendid day of birding around São Francisco de Paula. If still necessary, we can start the day at another good site for Vinaceous-breasted Amazon. We will then spend the morning at the impressive Araucaria Forest from the São Francisco de Paula National Forest. Our main target birds include the endemic Blue-bellied Parrot and the rare Black-capped Piprites, among many other great Atlantic Forest birds found here, such as Purple-crowned Plovercrest, Mottled Piculet, Pileated Parrot, Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, Grey-bellied Spinetail, Sharp-billed Treehunter, Scalloped and White-throated Woodcreepers, Giant Antshrike, Short-tailed Antthrush, Variegated and Speckle-breasted Antpittas, Mouse-coloured Tapaculo, Rufous-tailed Attila, Brown-breasted Bamboo Tyrant, White-bearded Bellbird, Swallow-tailed Cotinga (rare), Rough-legged Tyrannulet, Green-chinned Euphonia, and others. In the afternoon, we will have time to visit Canela National Forest for the amazing and uncommon Swallow-tailed Cotinga, or to visit more sites in the surroundings of São Francisco de Paula in search of any missing targets. Night birding includes more chances for Rusty-barred Owl, Long-tufted Screech Owl, and attempts for the poorly known Buff-fronted Owl and the uncommon Long-trained Nightjar. Night in São Francisco de Paula.


Day 11: Day transfer to Mostardas. We will leave São Francisco early in the morning, going down the southernmost part of Serra do Mar to enter the rich and very birdy zone of the coastal Pampa. By mid-morning (after around two hours driving), we will make our first birding stop at a coastal habitat (lacustrine ecosystems) in Nova Tramandaí. Here our main target birds is the tiny and uncommon Crested Doradito. This site offers good birding and we should expect to see several others, including Southern Screamer, Savanna Hawk, Long-winged Harrier, Firewood-gatherer, Wren-like Rushbird, Scarlet Flycatcher, White Monjita, Tawny-headed Swallow, Brown-and-yellow Marshbird, Red-crested Cardinal, hundreds of Chestnut-capped Blackbird and others. After lunch, quick stops near Cidreira can provide decent views of Giant Wood Rail, Silver Teal, and even Glaucous-blue Grosbeak if needed. After two hours heading south through the lowlands along the narrow strip of land between the coast and the large Lagoa dos Patos lagoon, we finally reach the little town of Mostardas. Here, we will head straight out for birding at the amazing area of Porto do Barquinho. This tranquil area combines water, reeds, marshes, open grassland and woodland (and spectacular sunsets!) and can easily be one of the most pleasant sessions on the tour. Highlights here include the uncommon Ringed Teal, Plumbeous Ibis, the coveted South American Painted Snipe, Pantanal Snipe, Spotted Rail, loads of Snail Kites, Great Black Hawk, Great Horned Owl, Sooty-fronted Spinetail, Spectacled Tyrant, Many-colored Rush Tyrant, Short-billed Pipit, Masked Gnatcatcher, Scarlet-headed Blackbird, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Rusty-collared Seedeater, and others. We will enjoy a seafood dinner to top off our first day in this fantastic area. Night in Mostardas.


Day 12: A full day in Mostardas to bird the impressive Lagoa do Peixe National Park. In the morning, we will be covering the proper lagoon Lagoa do Peixe and its edges along the Talha Mar track. This magnificent hotspot is a very important stopover for migrant shorebirds in southern Brazil. The abundance of food and good conditions of habitats favour a rich local avifauna and a great site for birding. Likely highlights from this morning include Greater Rhea, Spotted Nothura, White-tufted Grebe, Coscoroba and Black-necked Swans, Yellow-billed and Silver Teals, Yellow-billed Pintail, Red Shoveler, Rosy-billed Pochard, the shy Dot-winged Crake, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Hudsonian Godwit, South American Painted Snipe, Snowy-crowned Tern, Bay-capped Wren-spinetail, Common Miner, the rare Hudson’s Canastero, Correndera Pipit, and others. In the afternoon, we will be birding the marshy area of the National Park along the Dunas track. Like a mini Pantanal, this area will provide an enjoyable birding session including highlights such as Pinnated Bittern, Maguari Stork, Southern Screamer, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Gilded Sapphire, Spot-flanked Gallinule, Giant Wood Rail, Pumbeous Rail, Long-winged Harrier, Chimango Caracara, Monk Parakeet, Curve-billed Reedhaunter, Spectacled Tyrant and several others. Night in Mostardas.


Day 13: An early morning repeat visit to one of the birding sites in Mostardas, then transfer south to Rio Grande (via ferry) to the coastal Praia do Cassino. After check-in at the guesthouse, we will enjoy the afternoon covering more of these very birdy marshy habitats, this time at the large Banhado do Maçarico. Here, our main target birds will be Sulphur-bearded Reedhaunter and the threatened Marsh Seedeater. We also hope to find here other interesting birds such as Ringed Teal, Cinereous Harrier, Spotted Rail, Red-fronted Coot, Orange-breasted Thornbird, more chances for Hudson’s Canastero; Warbling Doradito, Scarlet-headed Blackbird and others. Night in Praia do Cassino.


Day 14: Early morning birding at Cassino and Banhado do Maçarico, then transfer back to Porto Alegre Airport (POA) where tour ends in the afternoon.