THE TREASURES OF MINAS GERAIS
Duration: 10 days (Best of Minas) Difficulty: Easy, with one or two more difficult walks.
6 days (Blue-eyed Ground-Dove Extension)
Tour summary: One of our favourite tours. The spectacular state of Minas Gerais offers some of the country's best birding, against a backdrop of stunning scenery, amiable people, and excellent food (the famed country cooking of Minas Gerais -- comida mineira -- is well-known throughout Brazil). The Treasures of Minas Gerais tour is comprised of two parts: first, our 10-day Best of Minas itinerary, which covers the three most famous birding sites in the state: the fabulous Serra da Canastra and Serra do Cipó national parks, which between them protect some of the best upland cerrado in the country; and the truly charming Caraça monastery, where rocky campo rupestre cerrado meets Atlantic rainforest. Iconic birds such as the Critically Endangered Brazilian Merganser, Greater Rheas, Red-legged Seriema, Toco Toucan, Hyacinth Visorbearer, Horned Sungem, Collared Crescentchest, Brasilia Tapaculo, a suite of fantastic flycatchers of open country such as Cock-tailed Tyrant, Sharp-tailed Grass-Tyrant, Streamer-tailed Tyrant, and Gray-backed Tachuri, the amazing Swallow-tailed Cotinga, Helmeted Manakin are amongst the birds we expect to see. Great chances for Giant Anteater and Maned Wolf.
The 6-day Blue-eyed Ground-Dove extension takes us to the northern reaches of the state, where we bird in the dry forests and caatinga at the Lapa Grande and Cavernas do Peruaçu parks looking to track down a number of scarce endemics including Moustached Woodcreeper, Bahian Nighthawk, Great Xensops, White-browed Antpitta, Minas Gerais Tyrannulet, Reiser’s Tyrannulet, São Francisco Sparrow and Scarlet-throated Tanager. We then continue on to the northern terminus of the Espinhaço mountain range, site of the recent re-discovery of the charming Blue-eyed Ground-Dove. With fewer than 25 individuals known to exist in the world, this is one of Brazil's most threatened species -- our visits contribute directly to the conservation of the species in the form of contributions we make to support the private reserve established to protect the birds, and indirectly through the tourism dollars we leave behind in the humble corner of the state where the doves have been found. The Botumirim area has a strong supporting cast of birds including Horned Sungem, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, Stripe-backed Antbird, Narrow-billed Antwren, Cinereous Warbling-Finch and Blue Finch.
When: April to December.
Starting point: The tour begins and ends in Belo Horizonte, the capital of the state of Minas Gerais. Belo Horizonte is reached by frequent daily flights from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia, and also directly from Orlando, Panama City, and Lisbon.