A “Nowhere but Northeast Brazil” experience

This post-tour evaluation comment from participant Mike Walsh on our two-parted Nowhere but Northeast Brazil! tour with guides Bret Whitney and Marcelo Padua earlier this year caught our eye (as did photographs from another participant, Markus Lagerqvist!)…

“One of the marks of a truly great bird tour company is the ability and willingness to be flexible during a tour. Part I of the Nowhere but Northeast Brazil! tour was wrapping up, and we had a lot of travel staring us in the face. Bret decided to try a new area, one that was recommended to him by some of his birding pals in Brazil. We headed out to a dry, nondescript patch of land (in a beautiful setting) to take a look. We piled out to take some pics and see what was moving. Down the road a bit, we find a field of flowers, and in the field, the most magical assemblage of hummingbirds I will probably ever see. Front and center is the Ruby-topaz hummer, an absolutely fantastic bird…

Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Brazil
A male Ruby-topaz Hummingbird flashes through those flowers. (Photo by participant Markus Lagerqvist)

“As the shutterbugs are getting their thrills, Marcelo calls out ‘Horned Sungem!’ Not one, but two!  There were at least eight species of hummers in the field.  In the dry scrub adjacent to the field, we found crescentchests, tachuris, and the Rufous-sided Pygmy-Tyrant…

Collared Crescentchest, Brazil
Collared Crescentchest at the same stop, photographed by participant Markus Lagerqvist

“On the way back to the bus, I stopped to take in the view one last time and a Horned Sungem flies up to me, stopping a meter away at eye level, checking me out.  I was just stunned and didn’t move for the five seconds he hovered there.  What an experience!”

Horned Sungem, Brazil
Horned Sungem, a Brazilian specialty and fantastic bird (as are so many hummers!), photographed by guide Bret Whitney

Check out our Nowhere but Northeast Brazil! tour page for more info on our January 2013 and 2014 departures.

Wild and Wonderful Suriname

There are not many places left nowadays where you can go to “escape it all.” There is internet even at many remote lodges on the Amazon–lodges that didn’t have electricity until a few years ago–and guests can log on to find out the latest news, stock prices, and football scores. You can be in the middle of nowhere and yet not miss a step.

It’s hard to imagine seeing trumpeters—here a Gray-winged—any better than you can in Suriname. Photo by guide Dan Lane.

But wait a second–what about visiting a place where you can leave the outside world behind, where the ups and downs of politics and the bad news that never seems to end simply melt away and you instead find yourself in the midst of vast stretches of pristine wilderness and incredible wildlife (including birds, of course!), with two full weeks to totally immerse yourself in this truly wild and wonderful place? If that’s what you’re looking for, think Suriname.

Suriname is South America’s smallest sovereign nation with a population under half-a-million people of a dozen tongues, the vast majority of whom live near the Caribbean coast. This immediately translates to “tens of thousands of square miles of undisturbed habitats with no people and no tongues,” definitely a wild & wonderful thing. Consider next that there are few roads anywhere into the interior, which means you have to take wild & wonderful charter flights into dirt airstrips in the middle of nowhere. As the porters scramble up to unload the plane at Foengoe Island and it hits you that the friendly pilot will now be leaving for…how many days was it?…you are overcome with the strangest mix of trepidation and excitement (after all, two hours in a big turbo-prop covers a good piece of ground) that, amazingly, vanishes instantly as a troop of earnestly prayed-for Red-fan Parrots squeals into the trees to check us out; yes, another w & w thing! One hour and nine lifers later, at the lodge down by the river, still trying to wrap your head around those macaws, you’re pleasantly surprised to see that the rooms are really neat and as you lather up in the shower, you find yourself smiling so much that you catch a mouthful of soap. Nothing like a frosty drink to reset the palate and, as we wrap up the daily list, it smells like there’s something tasty coming out of the kitchen. When it gets there, no one can identify it but heck, this is Suriname, and as you dig in, it actually turns out to be one of the best meals you ve had in forever.

More Wild & Wonderful, from left: Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Bronzy Jacamar, Crested Bobwhite, and Rose-breasted Chat. Photos by guide Dave Stejskal & participant Paul Thomas.

In this world where we can Skype from one side of the globe to the other, it’s nice to experience what it was like to travel just a few decades ago. If you are interested in refreshing your memory, come join us in Suriname!

Dan Lane, who, while he admits that it may sound a bit old-fashioned, says, “This is the way I like to spend time on a tour, enjoying the antics of Gray-winged Trumpeters or listening for the mooing call of a Capuchinbird high in the canopy, rather than checking on stocks at the end of the day…” will be taking a small group this March 2-17 to Suriname. For full details visit our tour page where you may download a detailed tour itinerary. You may also check out Dan’s bio and upcoming schedule at this link.

Guide Bret Whitney and his group enjoying looks at a riverside Zigzag Heron. Photo by guide Dan Lane.