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BRAZIL -- PARADISE REVISITED: Birding the remote upper Rio Negro
Bret Whitney will guide this exploration of wilderness areas along the Rio Negro in northern Brazil in search of numerous specialty birds and rarities.

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Christmas on the Equator...in Brazil, meaning the depths of Amazonia...wouldn't, or would, that be crazy? Indeed, it's a far-fetched plan, but then "afar" is in our spirit, and "fetching" in our birding bones. And who wouldn't want to revisit paradise?* Ok, it's settled, grab a ticket to Manaus, and Field Guides will do the rest!

Our gateway is Manaus, a mostly modern city of 2+ million, the largest population center in all of Amazonia. We'll fly some 850 kms northwest to the little town of Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, founded in 1668 and now supporting a population of about 13,000 mostly indigenous people. More than five miles wide near Manaus, the Negro is much narrower way up here; it is choked with rapids, and gorgeous white-sand beaches mark every curve. Based in a simple but comfortable hotel, we'll have easy access to extensive forest of several types on the left bank of the Rio Negro, including some patches of campina (low-stature forest on white-sand soils) habitat. Among the super-specialties of the upper Negro are Tawny-tufted Toucanet, Gray-bellied Antbird, Yellow-throated Antwren, Chestnut-crested Antbird, and Brown-headed Greenlet, and this is a good area for seeing some other little-known birds, like Brown-banded Puffbird, Fiery Topaz, Pavonine Quetzal, Pearly Antshrike, Cinnamon Manakin-Tyrant, Yellow-crowned Manakin, and Guianan (Rio Negro) Gnatcatcher. Even Rufous-winged Ground-Cuckoo is a realistic possibility.

After a few days birding around Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, we'll transfer to our floating hotel, several hours down the Negro and up the Rio Marié, which is a right-bank, blackwater tributary of the Negro ("left" and "right" banks are defined as one faces downriver). Our lodge is a truly luxurious fishing boat that spends several months each year, during the best fishing season, on the Marié. This is indigenous territory, usually off-limits to outsiders, but the lodge has entered into a mutually beneficial agreement with the indigenous community and FUNAI (Brazilian Bureau of Indian Affaris) to allow a limited amount of visitation for appreciation of the natural environment, including catch-and-release fishing and birding tourism. We'll have several days to explore the lower/middle Marié region, probably moving position at least once to afford ideal access to different forest habitats. Because we'll be based on the boat, essentially a floating hotel, we'll have relatively short, easy transfers for night-birding excursions that could produce several species of owls and nightjars, potoos, and perhaps even Nocturnal Curassow!

Please note that your tour guide, Bret Whitney, may not have had a chance to visit the Marié area before the tour -- although he will be trying to arrange some time in 2019 to get in there. Thus, we may be doing more original exploring than is usually the case on a Field Guides tour, but that can be very exciting and lots of fun -- and we're sure to find a great variety of birds and mammals in these undisturbed forests. If the spirit of adventure is in you, and you are in reasonably good physical shape with good stamina for forest birding, you are going to immensely enjoy this unusual Christmas-season birding getaway to a remote region of the Amazon basin!

* We say "paradise revisited" because we used to do tours in the Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira region (before commercial flights were suspended for several years), and because many tour participants have birded the lower Rio Negro, nearer Manaus, on our "Rio Negro Paradise: Manaus" tours, which always run in September.

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2019 Departures
Dec 17-27

2020 Departures
Dec 18-28

2021 Departures
Dec 17-27

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Guides for our tours
Bret Whitney

What to Expect
Good accommodations, easy to moderate terrain, warm to hot climate.

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