Our last safari will be a Santa's gift to wildlife enthusiasts once we will explore the famous Pantanal, not reaching all the way to Porto Jofre due to all hotels and lodges down there are closed for the fish spawning season from November until March. But, we will concentrate our efforts in the northern portion, where water from outside the lowlands should be arriving if rain conditions are favourable. In the other hand, the endless grasslands of Emas NP should be receiving more rain and at night the bioluminiscent will be glowing in the termites just like city lights seen from the distant. Burned fields (both natural and man-made) will be recovering attracting several birds and mammals species who feed on them.
Birdlist is impressive: Hyacinth, Golden-collared, Blue-and-yellow, Red-shouldered Macaws, Yellow-faced Parrot, Red-legged Seriema, Chesnut-bellied Guan, Greater Rhea, Toco Toucan, Jabiru, Cone-billed Tanager, Giant Snipe, Cock-tailed Tyrant, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Helmeted Manakin, Red-billed Scythebill, Blue-crowned Trogon, Collared Crescentchest, Aplomado Falcon, and many, many more.Mammals list is even more impressive, because there are serious chances to see Maned Wolf, Brazilian Tapir, Marsh Deer, Pampas deer, Gray-brocket Deer, Black-and-Gold Howler Monkey, Black-tailed Marmoset, Brown Capuchin Monkey, Lesser Tamandua, Giant Anteater, Ocelot, Capybara, Azara's Agouti, South American Coati, Hoary Fox, Crab-eating Fox and even Jaguar!
Christmas Special: The Pantanal & Emas NP: 09 Days / 08 Nights Itinerary
DAY 01, December 20th, CUIABA to the PANTANAL
Tour will start at Hotel reception in Cuiaba at 07:00am. Immediate transfer to the PANTANAL, the first 100km of good paved road crosses a disturbed cerrado transition ecosystem, featuring examples of cerrado vegetation, gallery forests and a unique tall cerrado forest, we will stop for some birding when necessary. The pavement stops just after Pocone, and the Transpantaneira dirt road starts. A different habitat, birds all over, from Greater Rheas to tiny Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrants, the pantanal is full of life and is hard to don't see a bird in any bush we put our binoculars on! Two lodges will be used in the pantanal, all with different landscape. Our first lodge was a research base for a big Brazilian-Germany project to study the "Ecology of the Pantanal" because has nearly all habitats found in the whole floodplain. Several walks and birding from our vehicle will be a routine here. A festival of parrots an raptors await for us here, there are Hyacinth macaws nesting in the near forest, Golden-collared Macaws, Blue-crowned, Monk & Golden-chevroned Parakeets, Turquoise-fronted & Orange-winged Amazons as well as Southern Crested & Yellow-headed Caracaras, Savanna, Black-collared, Great Black, Roadside & Crane Hawks, Pearl & Snail Kite, Laughing Falcon, American Kestrel, Black, Turkey & Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures. While in the forest island we may see Black-and-Gold Howler monkey, Brown Capuchin monkey, Black-tailed Marmoset, Azara´s Agouti and South American Coati. At night, Great Potoos and Great Horned Owls share with Pauraques and Tropical Screech-Owl our attention in our night outings. Our checklist will produces over 100 species of birds a day! (L,D)
DAY 02, December 21st - PANTANAL at FAZENDA IPIRANGA
Today we will explore the forest islands and open fields of this amazing place, exploring the dry forest looking for Spot-backed Puffbird, Black-bellied Antwren, Planalto Slaty Antshrike, Sooty-fronted Spinetail, Saffron-billed Sparrow, Great Rufous Woodcreeper, Pale-crested Woodpecker, Chesnut-bellied Guan, Red-billed Scythebill, Masked Gnatcatcher, Russet-crowned Crake, Rusty-backed Antwren, while forest islands harbor Blue-crowned Motmot, Buff-throated Woodcreeper, White-eyed Attila, Gray-headed Tanager, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Chesnut-eared Aracari, and many more. Our afternoon will end in a tower watching the sunset over the forest islands. (B,L,D)
DAY 03, December 22nd - PANTANAL to the RIO CLARO RIVER
Today we will go deep into the pantanal, we already had seen all common birds and several specialties but we want more! Our eyes are used to the birds and we can find them in every stop we do along the road. There are Rufous Hornero, Greater Thornbird, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Scarlet-headed & Unicolored Blackbirds, Black-capped Donacobius, Plumbeous Ibis, Jabirus. But, not only birds, there are numerous Yacare Caiman sharing ponds with Capybaras, the world´s largest rodent, while majestic Marsh Deer, the largest deer species in South America could be seen feeding in almost always in or near water on a wide range of plants, from water lilies to grass and legumes. Its large hooves can each spread more than 10cm (4 in) apart so the deer can walk and run more easily across mud and aquatic vegetation.
Our goal is the Rio Claro river with its rich gallery forest and this time of the year the only remnant of water. We will get there for lunch. This afternoon we will explore this area by boat, several birds are waiting for us among them all five kingfishers in South America: Ringed, Amazon, Green, Green-and-Rufous and American Pygmy Kingfisher, Rusty-backed Spinetail, Sunbittern and Sungrebe, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Lesser Kiskadee, Band-tailed Antbird, Boat-billed Heron and with some luck Agami Heron as well. Band-tailed Nighthawks fly over the river catching insects. But our main target has no feathers but fur, once occurred throughout Amazonian South America from Venezuela to northern Argentina, but it is now absent from most of this range. Its huge size (up tp 2m, 6.5ft, and 34kg, 75lb) and noisy vocalisations in family groups make it easy to find. Its luxurious pelt makes it a target of intense persecution by people. It remains now only in isolated and highly protected patches of its former range. There are only a few places left in South America where you can still hear the haunting whistles, screams, and hums of a group of theses wondrous animals as they frolic in the water of pristine lakes or river just like the one we are in looking for Giant Otters! (B,L,D)
DAY 04, December 23rd - PANTANAL at RIO CLARO
Early breakfast and birding the gallery forest will produce some of the best specialties among them Mato Grosso Antbird, White-lored Spinetail, Ashy-headed Greenlet, Gray-crested Cacholote, Helmeted Manakin, Red-billed Scythebill, Rufous Casiornis, Pale-crested Woodpecker, Plain Tyrannulet, Green-backed Becard, Rufous-fronted Tody-Flycatcher, Plain Antvireo, Large-billed Antwren, Stripe-necked Tody-Tyrant and many more. This afternoon will find us crossing the pantanal along the famous Transpantaneira road, this road get wild every single kilometer we go ahead, along 83km we will cross 97 wood bridges! Capybaras are along the road and do not want to move. The road is warm from the heat of the day and several reptiles are using it to warm their bodies, with luck we may see Yellow Anaconda, Black-and White Tegu Lizard (a kind of monitor lizard), Green Iguana, Amazonian Whiptail lizards and the Paraguayan Caiman Lizard (rare). On our return, our spotlight will be looking for Red-brocket Deers, Brazilian Tapir, Crab-eating Racoon, Ocelots and who knows something bigger. (B,L,D)
DAY 05, December 24th - PANTANAL to CUIABA
Our last morning in the pantanal will find us once again in the river. We had seen most of our targets. After lunch, we will return to Cuiabá in our way to the Brazilian Central Plateau. (B,L,D)
DAY 06, December 25th - CUIABA to EMAS NP
Today we will witness how the cerrado vegetation is being transformed into monocrops, and you will reflect if cattle ranching is really as bad as we heard while we eat our soybean products. But before arriving to Emas NP we will stop in our stakeout for Horned Screamer. Emas NP presents a vivid landscape of golden grasslands dotted with red termite mounds, and dissected by narrow green ribbons of gallery forest that follow the many clear, rushing streams. Here, spritely Cock-tailed Tyrants hover above the grass like so many toy helicopters, while flocks of Yellow-faced Parrots and Blue-and-yellow Macaws noisily commute between roosting sites and feeding sites in the nearby cerrado. (B,L,D)
DAYS 07 and 08, December 26th and 27th - EMAS NP
Two full days to explore one of the finest preserved examples of campo/cerrado habitats in central Brazil. Majestic maned wolves, atop impossibly long legs, stalk tinamous in the grass, while Aplomado Falcons maintain watchful vigilance atop the termite mounds. Giant anteaters, improbable in every respect, roam the grasslands, which resound with the songs of Red-winged Tinamous, Sharp-tailed Tyrants, Grass Wrens, and Black-masked Finches.
Ephemeral marshes may host a mixed-species flock of migrant seedeaters, among them such prizes as Marsh, Chestnut, Rufous-rumped, and Black-bellied seedeaters. The next bend in the road may reveal a group of huge Greater Rheas, or a herd of pampas deer. Following a typical blazing sunset, the grasslands again come alive, as bioluminescent termites light up their mounds like so many Christmas trees, and elegant White-winged Nightjars hawk insects from atop their perches on the same termitaria. For its landscapes, ease of birding, and abundant mammal-viewing opportunities, Emas has been compared to the savannas of east Africa.
In addition, it is an excellent place to see the many specialties of Brazil's campo-cerrado habitats, including such prizes as Lesser Nothura, Red-legged Seriema. We have timed our tour to coincide with the best period for migrant seedeaters, many of which have extremely limited distributions. A major attraction is the opportunity to see the recently rediscovered Cone-billed Tanager, a bird that was long known from only a single specimen. Other rare or locally distributed birds that we hope to produce include Giant Snipe, Planalto Foliage-gleaner, White-striped Warbler, and Great-billed Seed-Finch. Most birding in-and-out of van, with short walks along roads, trails in gallery forest, or into grasslands; easy terrain; full mornings in the field, usually returning to lodge for lunch and midday break, followed by late afternoons back in the field; some night drives; moderate to warm temperatures and relatively dry climate. (B,L,D)
DAY 09, December 28th - EMAS NP to CUIABA
Today is a transfer day but we will stop for some birds we may not seen until now, maybe better views of the odd-looking Horned Screamer. Arrival in Cuiaba and end of our services. (B,L)
INCLUDED: Our Christmas Special Tour is all included: lodging, meals from lunch on day 01 to lunch on day 09, outings, ground transportation, professional English-speaking naturalist guide, fauna checklist, fees (except to any source of drinks, available to buy at lodge) and start and end in Cuiaba, Brazil.
NOT INCLUDED: Air tickets to Cuiabá, any kind of beverages at lodges and hotels, medical costs or hospitalization, insurance, personal expenses as laundry, phone calls.
ACCOMMODATION: The Pantanal lodges used are the Piuval Lodge and the Rio Claro Lodge (at the Rio Claro river). Both lodges with private bathrooms, air-conditioning & swimming pool. In Emas NP we will use the Vitor's Hotel, the closest accommodation from the National Park.
GROUP SIZE: Group Size is limited to 06 participants, unless special arrangements are made for private tours. Should only one space remain on a tour, our policy is to accept a couple traveling together, even at the risk of exceeding our stated tour limit.
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