For an informative overview of all our current itineraries to this country--and how to choose among them--see Field Guides Brazil Tours.
Enjoy an INFORMATIVE SLIDESHOW of images from guide Bret Whitney's scouting, with some great photos and several video clips of the areas we'll visit.
There are six "major" river systems that are south-bank tributaries of the Amazon. From west to east, these are the Jurua; the Purus; the Madeira (the longest of all); the Tapajos; the Xingu; and the Tocantins. All of these rivers have been the focus of research at one time or another, or at one point or another -- but none of them has been surveyed systematically. This is to be expected: Amazonia is a truly vast, and trackless (to "gringos") wilderness; access to the majority of the basin is difficult, and, for a diverse set of reasons ranging from invisible invertebrates "that are just trying to make a living" through innocent but unfriendly vertebrates "that don't like surprises" to the fortitude and resilience of one's own being "...alright, who wants to split one more caipirinha?") -- it is potentially dangerous. Thus, there are hundreds of square miles of forests, oxbow lakes, and river margins which, due to their very remoteness, no scientists have yet trodden. But, we might ask, "What about birders?" Actually, it's the same story, just worse: almost zero birders.
Field Guides is aiming to change a lot of that, because nowadays, with some boots-on-the-ground know-how and "a little help from our friends," we are taking you to places in the Amazon no birder (except maybe Bret) has been before. One of these places is the Ecolodge da Barra, a luxurious, floating lodge anchored to an island on the remote upper Rio Tapajos where that great river is formed by the confluence of two second-order (but still enormous!) rivers, the Juruena and the Teles Pires -- at the only place where the huge states of Para, Amazonas, and Mato Grosso share a border. Most of the region in the latter two states was declared Juruena National Park in 2006; the Para portion (right bank of the Tapajos) in indigenous territory, probably off-limits to us (but we'll see...). The Ecolodge was inaugurated just a few years ago to cater to sport-fishermen seeking an adventurous yet eminently comfortable, high-end experience, in the remote upper Rio Tapajos region. Having an elegant lodge in a place as far out as this is, well, amazing! Waterfalls downriver on the Tapajos close off access by larger boats; you get there by arduous, overland transport in trucks or buses followed by multi-hour, variably rough rides in aluminum fishing boats -- or (and this is the way we do it) charter flights that come into the dirt airstrip at Barra de Sao Manoel, a 110 year-old community of fifty-some families on the left bank of the Tapajos.
Based for eight days (nine nights) at the Ecolodge, we'll bird both varzea (seasonally flooded) and terra firme (never flooded) rainforests, campinaranas (low-stature, white-sand forests), and a variety of river islands. We'll also venture up some narrow tributaries of the main rivers where tall, undisturbed forest lines the banks, and make at least a couple of paddling trips on ancient oxbow lakes some distance in from the rivers. Among the many birds we may find are Razor-billed Curassow, Nocturnal Curassow (could we be so lucky?!), White-crested Guan, Dark-winged Trumpeter, Pavonine Quetzal, Rufous-necked Puffbird, Red-necked Aracari, Black-girdled Barbet, a long list of woodpeckers (including a rather mysterious piculet), the recently described Bald Parrot, Kawall's Parrot, Crimson-bellied Parakeet, Blackish-gray Antshrike, White-breasted Antbird, the rarely seen Pale-faced Antbird, a couple of antbirds awaiting description as species new to science, Chestnut-belted and Black-bellied gnateaters, Buff-cheeked Tody-Flycatcher (really a tody-tyrant), Cinnamon Manakin-Tyrant, Snow-capped Manakin, and White-tailed Cotinga. The enigmatic Rondonia Bushbird has not been found around the Ecolodge, but Bret has recorded it not far away, and we'll certainly be searching diligently for it, trying to become the first-ever tour group to see this fabulous bird. Join Bret and John for this rare opportunity to bird in pristine habitats in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon.
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