Mark Pretti Nature Tours, L.L.C.

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Birding and Natural History in Amazonas, Brazil: Manaus, the Rio Negro, the Anavilhanas Archipelago, and the Guianan Shield

August, 2018 or 2019 dates TBA - 12 days/11 nights

The rainforests of Amazonia are the richest and most extensive on Earth.  At the heart of this vast bioregion, near Manaus, Brazil, the world’s largest river, the Amazon, meets its largest tributary, the Rio Negro.  During this natural adventure, we’ll explore the unique ecologies of these two rivers and learn about their important roles in shaping the evolutionary history and biogeography of the region.  The extensive tracts of undisturbed habitat in the area harbor a unique variety of distinct ecosystems, and on this trip we’ll spend time in varzea, igapo, terra firme, white sand forest, the rainforest canopy, and the Amazon's unique and dynamic river islands.

Our home base in Manaus is the Novotel Manaus where we'll have several opportunities to enjoy the birdy grounds.  We've seen over 50 species of birds around the hotel, including 7 parrot species, green and black-necked aracaris, mouse-colored tyrannulet, golden-bellied euphonia, variable chachalaca, wing-banded seedeater, orange-fronted yellow-finch, turquoise tanager, and much more.  

From Manaus, we make an early start our first morning to visit the Adolfo Ducke Reserve.  This large patch of pristine rainforest, right on the edge of a city of two million people, has some nice trails and an excellent canopy tower.  Though tower visits vary, we've had good luck here with Guianan puffbird, Guianan woodcreeper, Todd's sirystes, black-spotted barbet, green aracari, black-faced hawk, red-necked woodpecker, buff-cheeked greenlet, Guianan tyrannulet, dusky and Caica parrots, scarlet and blue-and-yellow macaws, black-bellied cuckoo, and, occasionally, some nice mixed flocks.  On the trails we'll look for ferruginous-backed antbird, chestnut-rumped woodcreeper, Guianan and black-tailed trogons, and others.  

From the Ducke Reserve we head north to the terra firme and white sand forests of the Presidente Figueiredo area.  This region, north of the Rio Amazonas and east of the Rio Negro, is know for its Guianan Shield endemics.  Our first stop will be at the Hotel Iracema Falls where we'll stay three nights.  Though the lodging is on the basic side (but with good food, AC, and a pool), the grounds and the adjacent forest have great birds, including white-thighed swallow, moriche oriole, crimson topaz, great jacamar, sulphury flycatcher, plumbeous euphonia, black-headed antbird, black curassow, Marail guan, waved woodpecker, rufous-bellied antwren, rufous-tailed xenops, and many more.  

We'll then travel less than an hour to Pousada Aldeia Mari Mari, a nice lodge with both terra firme and white sand forest.  While the lodge is famous for its lek of Guianan cock-of-the-rock, it also has other special birds such as white-winged potoo, sapphire-rumped parrotlet, olivaceous schiffornis, variable chachalaca, green and black-necked aracaris, black-spotted barbet, golden-collared woodpecker, Guianan trogon, paradise tanager, ash-winged antwren, golden-spangled piculet, black-spotted barbet, Guianan warbling antbird, black nunbird, and capuchinbird.  

Near these two lodges, we'll have good access to white sand forests where we'll look for specialties such as Guianan slaty-antshrike, saffron-crested tyrant-manakin, rufous-crowned elaenia, black manakin, red-shouldered tanager, Pelzeln's tody-tyrant, and bronzy jacamar.  Among the mammals in the area are black spider monkey, Guianan saki monkey, golden-handed tamarin, and red-rumped agouti.  

We then travel west to the Anavilhanas Archipelago, a series of vast river islands in the Rio Negro.  From our home base at the luxurious Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge, we’ll spend time in nearby terra firme and take several boat trips in search of river island and igapo specialists.  Among the hundreds of species possible are some widespread species such as festive parrot, greater ani, dusky antbird, white-crowned and golden-headed manakins, long-billed woodcreeper, white-throated toucan, mouse-colored and Amazonian antshrikes, paradise jacamar, gilded barbet, golden-green, yellow-throated, and scale-breasted woodpeckers, black-faced and dusky antbirds, and screaming piha.  The less common birds, including several regional specialties, include black-faced hawk, green-tailed jacamar, yellow-crowned manakin, opal-rumped tanager, black-chinned, white-cheeked, and ash-breasted antbirds, Cherrie’s, leaden, and Klage’s antwrens, Zimmer's woodcreeper, spot-backed antwren, and blackish-gray and black-crested antshrikes.  While in the Anavilhanas area, we’ll also have chances to see several mammals, including Spix’s night monkey, Guianan saki monkey, black agouti, and both pink and gray river dolphins. 

We return to Manaus for our final two nights at the Novotel Manaus.  From here we’ll take a boat trip to Ilha Marchantaria and other islands where river island specialists abound.  While we should see black skimmer, large-billed and yellow-billed terns, collared plover, and southern lapwing, we’ll focus on the specialties, which include white-bellied, red-and-white, and Parker’s spinetail, river tyrannulet, black-and-white antbird, pearly-breasted conebill, and others.  We’ll also visit the famous “meeting of the waters” where the black water of the Rio Negro mixes with the cloudy Amazon.  Gray river dolphin, also called the Tucuxi, is possible in this area.  After a Brazilian buffet lunch on a floating restaurant, we’ll return to Manaus for a tour of the famous opera house.

During the last thirteen years, I've spent about a year and a half in Brazil exploring and learning about its diverse habitats and biodiversity and sharing the experience with many nature enthusiasts.  In addition to learning about bird behaviors and ecology on this trip, we’ll also learn about plants, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, insects, and the fascinating relationships between them.

The cost will be announced - probably in the $3800 - 3900 range - double occupancy, and includes all lodging, meals, tips, and ground transportation from Manaus. 

             Detailed itinerary and references available upon request.

Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Black-spotted Barbet, and Passiflora by Jerry Johnson

Last updated: November 29, 2017.