Birding Brazil - Cerrado and Savannas of Minas Gerais

Canastra NP, Caraça & Cipo - Giant Anteater, Maned Wolf, and Brazilian Mergansers. Join us for a spectacular journey through the most bio diverse savannahs on the planet with over 600 bird species including many endemics. The Cerrado region consists mainly of tropical grassland savannah, but also a woodland savannah and dryland forest mosaic comprising Brazils' central high plains. The Amazon, Paraná-Paraguai and São Francisco rivers have their sources within this region.
11birdPhotographer: Frederico Tavares
 

Day 1 - 3: Serra da Canastra
After a short flight up to Belo Horizonte we will drive westwards to the remote Serra da Canastra for a four-night stay. Time permitting we will begin our exploration of this spectacular area in the afternoon. The Serra da Canastra National Park is 71,525 hectares and protects the source of the Rio São Francisco. Recently the Serra da Babalonia has been added to this park area, hugely extending the protected area. L:D
The Serra da Canastra is essentially a plateau surrounded by cliffs that tower over the surrounding rural landscape of Minas Gerais. It protects a variety scrubby and grassland habitats known as cerrado and campo. Although much of the undulating terrain is largely treeless, it is crossed by strips of gallery forest and woody thickets. The grasslands hold Greater Rhea, the bizarre Giant Anteater and Maned Wolf. In areas of taller grasses the odd looking Cock-tailed Tyrant may be seen asserting their territories together with Sharp-tailed Tyrant and other tall grass species. We shall also visit grasslands of differing structure in search of Ochre-breasted Pipit and Campo Miner. The latter dropping out of the sky, as if from nowhere, as soon as an area is burnt. The rocky rivers that cross the plateau are the haunts of the rare Brazilian Merganser and we shall devote much of our time here to finding this species. B:L:D
Along the rivers and streams we should also find Sharp-tailed Streamcreepers and in dense thickets throughout the area we may find the localized Brasilia Tapaculo. The gallery forests that line the wider stretches of the rivers hold many birds of the Atlantic forests. Amongst these we shall be searching for Chestnut-headed Tanager, Southern Bristle-Tyrant and Golden-capped Parakeet. Amongst the many other species we shall search for throughout the park are Lesser and Spotted Nothura, Red-winged Tinamou, Reddish-bellied Parakeets, Scaly-headed Parrot, Scissor-tailed Nightjar, Sick's Swift, Planalto Hermit, Swallow-tailed Hummingbird, White-vented Violetear, Stripe-breasted Starthroat, Amethyst Woodstar, Surucua Trogon, Red-breasted Toucan, Campo Flicker, Green-barred and Blond-crested Woodpeckers, Planalto and Narrow-billed Woodcreepers, Firewood-gatherer, Variable and Rufous-winged Antshrikes, White-shouldered Fire-eye, Collared Crescentchest, Plain-crested and Highland Elaenias, Sooty and White-crested Tyrannulets, Grey-hooded and Euler's Flycatchers, Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatcher, Masked Water-Tyrant, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, Yellow-browed Tyrant, Rufous Casiornis, Crested and Velvety Black-Tyrants, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Curl-crested Jay, Grey-eyed Greenlet, Hellmayr's Pipit, Yellow-rumped Marshbird, Cinnamon, White-rumped, Rufous-headed and Gilt-edged Tanagers, Great Pampa-Finch, Stripe-tailed Yellow-Finch, Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch, Capped Seedeater, Pileated-Finch, Black-masked Finch, Green-winged and Black-throated Saltators. B:L:D
Day 4 - 5: Serra do Caraça
After some final birding near Sao Roque we will retrace our steps to Belo Horizonte and drive to Caraça for two nights to stay in the old monastery. High up in the mountains it is quite cool and much fresher with both montane forests and scrubby cerrado to occupy us for our all too short stay. On arrival we will start to explore the wooded areas near the monastery where Dusky-legged Guans hang around in shabby groups. Orange-eyed Thornbird nests in the gardens and we may see both Blackish Rail and Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail at a small pond near the monastery. Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper is regularly found on a small stream below the monastery while Tufted Antshrike may be seen. A small patch of forest near the monastery often produces Pin-tailed Manakin, Cinnamon-vented Piha and Red-ruffed Fruitcrow. We may also find a noisy troop of Masked Titi Monkeys. In the evening the monks put out food for a pair of Maned Wolves that come to feed every night at the monstery steps. We will take an early morning walk from the monastery after breakfast to visit another area of woodland where we may see Swallow-tailed Cotinga; a speciality of the area. In the same area we will start to search for some cerrado species endemic to the Serra da Espinaca. The rare Buff-throated Pamp-finch and exquisite Hyacinth Visorbearer occur in the scrubby hillsides and with a little perseverance we should see these birds along with the localized very pretty Grey-backed Tachuri. In the bamboo patches forming a dense understory in these montane forests we have a good chance of seeing Rufous Gnateater, the recently described Rock Tapaculo, Dusky-tailed Antbird, Large-tailed Antshrike, Ochre-rumped Antbird, Drab-breasted Bamboo-Tyrant and others. We will also look for the Serra Antbird; a localized species endemic to this region. B:L:D
Day 6: Caraça to Serra do Cipo
After a morning around the monastery we head to Serra do Cipo for one night. We may have time for afternoon birding here. Night Cipo and dinner at the Best Pizza Restaurant in the World! B:L:D
Day 7: Serra do Cipo
Cipo: At this rather special site we will find Hyacinth Visorbearer, Grey-backed Tachuri and Buff-throated Pampa-Finch on the rocky slopes. It is here that the Cipo Canastero and Cipo Cinclodes were recently discovered and we shall make every effort to find these somewhat elusive species as they scurry around the rocks. Well also look for Giant Snipe. We should also see Rufous-winged Antshrike, Horned Sungem, Yellow-billed Blue-Finch and the now rare Cinereous Warbling-Finch. Night Cipo. B:L:D
Day 8: Serra do Cipo to Belo Horizonte
After some early morning birding we return to Belo Horizonte for our flights to Sao Paulo and home or join our Pantonal Tour. B:

Does not include domestic air within Brazil but we will purchase these on request, the price depends on when we get your full name, deposit and passport numbers. You can check current prices at www.tam.com.br

CAN BE COMBINED WITH THE SOUTH EAST ATLANTIC FORESTS AND THE PANTONAL TOURS

Customer Testimonials

Simon Peile - South Africa

The trip went very well and THE GUIDE deserves a lot of credit for that. Having myself led trips around other South American countries in the past I know the complexities involved. To have someone who can combine his significant knowledge of the birds and their calls with the patience to guide a group of bird tourists, while also being able to manage the logistics and the group dynamics is, I am sure, rare.

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Comments

The trip went very well and THE GUIDE deserves a lot of credit for that. Having myself led trips around other South American countries in the past I know the complexities involved. To have someone who can combine his significant knowledge of the birds and their calls with the patience to guide a group of bird tourists, while also being able to manage the logistics and the group dynamics is, I am sure, rare.

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