The Amazon rainforest captivates the imagination of any traveler to South America. Birders and wildlife enthusiasts will have read about it years before they actually have the opportunity to visit the world’s greatest tropical forest biome. The names of such early naturalists as Alexander Von Humboldt, Henry Walter Bates, Emilia Snethlage, Alfred Russell Wallace, and Theodore Roosevelt have become synonymous with Amazonian exploration, and for many, represent the enthralling mystery, magic, and possibility for new discoveries held within this grand forest.
The Amazon basin occupies parts of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. The majority of its area lies in Brazilian territory, and in fact Amazônia makes up 49.29% of Brazil’s area – all of the states of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Pará, Rondônia and Roraima, and parts of Maranhão, Tocantins, and Mato Grosso. The Brazilian portion of the Amazon alone is 27% larger than India. The Amazon river system drains roughly 20% of the world’s fresh water, and the basin holds more than a third of the world’s tropical forests, along with dizzying biodiversity. To date, in excess of 40,000 plant species, ca. 430 mammals, more than 3,000 fishes, and some 1300 bird species have been catalogued in the Amazon. Biodiversity surveys in the vast region are scarce, and the majority of the Amazon Basin has been poorly sampled; cryptic species have doubtlessly gone overlooked to date, and we can expect many new discoveries from the Amazonian rainforests in the years to come still.
A customized birding tour to the Amazon is not only a great way to see more species of birds than you can imagine. It is also a journey to the lungs of the Earth, and a natural history extravaganza without parallel. At first glance the rich and mystifying tapestry of life in the Amazon can be difficult to spot amongst an unending green backdrop, but with patience and an attentive eye we are privileged to catch a glimpse into the intricate web of interaction between plants, animals, insects, and the evironment. Birding Mato Grosso would be delighted to share an Amazonian experience with you: beyond showing you as much wildlife as possible, we also try to educate, entertain, and inform.
Suggested Tour Itineraries
Birding Mato Grosso is proud to offer tailor-made custom tours to all points in the Brazilian Amazon. Please take a look at a few suggested itineraries which we have been perfecting with each trip we do in the Amazon. These are amongst our most popular tours, but by no means are they our only offerings! Don't forget to explore the interactive map of birding sites in the Amazon at the bottom of this page if you are interested in more remote or lesser known sites in the Brazilian Amazon.
Our signature trip is a two-week Amazonian extravaganza in the Southern Amazon region out of the town of Alta Floresta (where the Birding Mato Grosso office is located) in the north of Mato Grosso state. No other operator offers such an extensive trip in the Southern Amazon, and to date we are still the only tour operator running regular trips to the fabulous Rio Azul Jungle Lodge. Our Southern Amazonia tour spends an introductory day in Alta Floresta to get our feet wet with parrots, toucans, and riverine forest specialties, 4 nights at the Rio Azul, home of the Bald Parrot and many white-sand specialists, and 6 nights at the world famous Cristalino Jungle Lodge, with its two canopy towers, 20+ kilometres of forest trails, and a birdlist of more than 550 species. A great tour for specialties of the Southern Amazon such as Cryptic Forest-Falcon, Blue-cheeked Jacamar, Bare-eyed Antbird, Snow-capped Manakin and more. Ask us whether the urban Harpy Eagle nest is active! This is also usually an excellent tour for mammals, with good chances for Brazilian Tapir in addition to endemic primates such as White-faced Spider Monkey and the White-nosed Bearded Saki.
Our Heart of the Amazon tour begins in Manaus, a chaotic jungle metropolis which is like no other city in the world. From Manaus we will bird two remarkable canopy towers in addition to visiting a vast reserve to bird tall terra firme Guianan Shield rainforest; a couple of hours to the north lies the small town of Presidente Figueiredo, where we bird more terra firme, stunted white sand campinarana forest and shrubby campina habitats, highlighted by a visit to the spectacular lek of the Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock. With most of the Guianan Shield specialties under our belts, we head for the mighty Solimões river, spending an unforgettable day birding river islands, lakes and oxbows. Two days will be spent birding the amazing Anavilhanas archipelago on the Rio Negro, a river so beautiful it will leave you speechless. Heading south, we cross the Solimões to its south bank and travel another 150 kilometres to the Tupana Bird Lodge, a new lodge situated south of the Amazon river and west of the Rio Madeira. Several long trails in terrific terra firme forest, along with a new canopy tower and boat trips on the nearby Tupana river, will keep us busy for a few days. At least four species recently described to science occur here, along with another as-yet undescribed species! During the course of this 17-day tour we are likely to see more than 500 species of birds, a list which will undoubtedly include some of the most evocative birds of South America.
Birders and wildlife lovers looking for the Amazon at its wildest need look no further than the Rio Roosevelt. Surrounded by millions of acres of pristine forest, the Rio Roosevelt Lodge lies in a remote location in the southern Amazon between the headwaters of the Madeira and Aripuanã rivers. The river was named in honour of the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, who joined an expedition to chart the course of the then-unknown River of Doubt in 1914 as documented in his book Through the Brazilian Wilderness and in Candice Millard's The River of Doubt. The expedition encountered many difficulties and nearly cost Roosevelt his life; the river was later renamed in his honour. One hundred years later, we may now tread in Teddy's footsteps and visit the Rio Roosevelt in great comfort, sleeping in spacious air-conditioned chalets while being looked after by friendly and attentive staff. The forest itself has changed little since Roosevelt passed this way: at least twelve species of primates dwell here, including healthy populations of woolly monkey (usually the first species to disappear anywhere there is hunting), along with other rare mammals such as Jaguar, Short-eared Dog, and Giant Otter, in addition to a bird list numbering over 500 species with such rare delights as Harpy Eagle, Zigzag Heron, Green-winged Trumpeter, Black-bellied Gnateater, Buff-cheeked Tody-Flycatcher, and several new species to science!
There is no doubt that the Amazon rainforest is the most likely area on the planet to hold new discoveries for science, proof of which came in 2013 when no fewer than 15 new bird species were described in a special edition of the Handbook of the Birds of the World. A number of those discoveries came from the extremely poorly known region of the Aripuanã river of the Southern Amazon in Brazil lying between the Madeira and Tapajós rivers. So naturally we decided to start offering tours to the region! The headliner of this tour is the endemic Rondônia Bushbird, a species so rare only a handful of birders have ever seen it since it was first described to science in 1986 -- a mega in every sense of the word. We also target more than a half dozen other newly described species to science in addition to a strong supporting cast of regional endemics and near-endemics. This trip to the remote reaches of the southern Amazon in the vicinity of the Campos Amazônicos National Park offers an opportunity to see some of the least known birds of the Amazon. It is an antbird enthusiast's dream trip, with chances for Rondonia Bushbird, Pale-faced Bare-eye, White-breasted Antbird, Ferruginous-backed Antbird, Alta Floresta Antpitta, Banded Antbird and five newly described antbirds. Add in Campina Jay, Chico's Tyrannulet, White-browed Hawk, Cryptic Forest-Falcon, Buff-cheeked Tody-Flycatcher, Snow-capped Manakin, and Red-and-black Grosbeak, and one has the makings of some of the most exciting forest birding on the planet.