HEART OF THE AMAZON
GUIANAN SHIELD, RIO NEGRO & TUPANA
Our Heart of the Amazon tour begins in Manaus, a chaotic jungle metropolis which is like no other city in the world. Manaus exploded onto the world stage in the late 19th century thanks to the rubber boom which caused immigrants, wealth and disease to pour into the Amazon. Traces of that opulence mark the city today, including the famous Teatro Amazonas opera house, built at great expense at the peak of the boom. Remarkably for a city of its size (2 million inhabitants), there are still great tracts of Amazon rainforest surrounding the city, a boon for the birder.
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 forest in addition to 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, seasonal lakes, and beautiful 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 down the infamous BR-319 highway, a road which disappears from the map each year during the height of the rainy season, its middle reaches impassable as mud and the jungle try to undo man's nefarious work and erase the highway from memory. Our destination is the Tupana Bird Lodge, a new lodge situated south of the Amazon river and west of the 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! The trail system here is also typically a great place to encounter obligate ant-following birds at they attend the army ant swarms which are common on the forest floor at Tupana.
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.
Duration: 17 days Difficulty: Easy
Tour summary: A longer trip designed to take full advantage of the vast biodiversity found in and around Manaus; we visit three distinct centres of bird endemism -- the Guianan Shield (north of Manaus), the Imerí centre (west of the Rio Negro), and the Inambari centre (south of the Amazon and west of the Rio Madeira) -- and will see a high percentage of each region's endemic birds. Unforgettable boat trips on the Rio Negro and the Solimões. Three different canopy towers. Expect to see many cotingas, manakins, parrots, puffbirds, potoos, and antbirds. Comfortable accommodations and good food throughout the tour. All walking is on flat ground on trails or forested roads.
When: Mid-June to November.
Starting point: Manaus. Direct flights from Miami and Panama City, and daily connections from Brasilia, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro.