11- Day Southeast Brazil Atlantic Forest Birding Tour
11 Days in the most biodiverse country in the World! Join us as we explore birding in Southeast Brazil, home to the most substancial collection of fauna and flora species on the planet. This is a bucket list birding destination with a bird list including 140 Brazilian endemic species, over 80 species at risk of extinction and 105 near endemics.
Next Group Tour Departure Date: August 2022
Full Itinerary – Southeast Brazil Atlantic Forest Tour
Arrival in São Paulo, transfer to Intervales State Park
Welcome to Brazil! Your fantastic birding tour in one of the most beautiful, dramatic, colourful and diverse countries in the world will start as soon as you touch down at the São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport. The airport, also known as “Cumbica”, is 25 km (16 mi) northeast of the city centre of São Paulo.
We will load up our comfortable vehicle and begin the drive to our first destination, the Intervales State Park. We will skirt the northern parts of the megacity as we make our way southwest.
After dinner we are off to bed for a good night’s rest; tomorrow the birding tour starts in earnest!
Intervales State Park
We have 4 full days here at Intervales, and most days will follow the same pattern.
We will wake up early to enjoy breakfast and then set off to the park itself. We will spend a full morning birding in the park and return to the lodge for lunch. We will then have a short rest and bird again in the afternoon around the lodge grounds.
Intervales State Park was formally created in 1995 and in 1999 UNESCO declared it as a Natural World Heritage Site. The name Intervales means “between the valleys”, and refers to the park’s location on the top of the Serra do Mar, the 1,000 metre high escarpment that runs along the coast of southeast Brazil between the basins of the Ribeira de Iguape and Paranapanema rivers. The park (actually a combination of 4 adjacent reserves) covers about 41,704 hectares (103,050 acres) of very important and pristine Atlantic forest habitat, over an altitudinal gradient from 20 to 1,100 metres above sea level.
Known fauna in the park include 751 species of invertebrates, 49 fish, 101 amphibians, 44 reptiles and 121 mammals, including 325 species of special interest for conservation. The park receives about 9,000 visitors annually. The park is known for its excellent trail network that makes spotting wildlife relatively easy. From the headquarters there are short and medium-length trails that give access to waterfalls and caves, with stretches of stunning forest all over.
Of special interest to us is the almost 430 species of birds that have been recorded here in the park and the surrounding buffer zones. We will target different areas every day, ensuring we see all our top targets and many more wonderful species.
In the central area of the park we will look for White-breasted Tapaculo (Near Threatened and a Brazilian endemic), Araucaria Tit-Spinetail (Near Threatened and Atlantic forest endemic), Giant and Large-tailed Antshrike, Swallow-tailed Cotinga, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Azure-shouldered, Palm, Sayaca, Golden-chevroned and Olive-green Tanager (the last two both Brazil endemics), Black-legged Dacnis (Near Threatened, Brazil endemic) and many more.
On one of the hilly trails we could see White-bearded Antshrike (Vulnerable, Atlantic forest endemic), Bertoni’s and Ferruginous Antbird (both Atlantic forest endemics), Cryptic Antthrush (Brazil endemic), Short-tailed Antthrush, Spotted Bamboowren (Near Threatened, Atlantic forest endemic) and Atlantic Royal Flycatcher (Vulnerable, Brazil endemic).
The Lageado Trail could yield Blue-bellied Parrot (Near Threatened, Brazil endemic), Oustalet’s Tyrannulet (Near Threatened, Brazil endemic), Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Russet-winged Spadebill (Vulnerable, Atlantic forest endemic), Crescent-chested Puffbird (Near Threatened, Brazil endemic) and many more.
On the famous Carmo road, that goes through well preserved forest surrounded by palm trees and bamboo, we will look for species such as Solitary Tinamou (Near Threatened), Mantled Hawk (Near Threatened), Black-fronted Piping Guan (Endangered, Atlantic forest endemic), stunning Saffron Toucanet, very rare Helmeted Woodpecker (Vulnerable, Atlantic forest endemic), Slaty Bristlefront (Near Threatened, Brazil endemic), Tufted Antshrike (Atlantic forest endemic), Star-throated Antwren (Brazil endemic), Scaled and Squamate Antbird (both Brazil endemics), Speckle-breasted Antpitta (Atlantic forest endemic), White-collared Foliage-gleaner (Brazil endemic), Pale-browed Treehunter (Brazil endemic), Grey-capped Tyrannulet (Near Threatened, Brazil endemic), Brown-breasted Bamboo Tyrant (Atlantic forest endemic), beautiful Pin-tailed Manakin (Brazil endemic), Serra do Mar Tyrant-Manakin (Brazil endemic), Hooded Berryeater (Near Threatened, Brazil endemic), Cinnamon-vented Piha (Near Threatened, Brazil endemic), Bare-throated Bellbird (Vulnerable, Atlantic forest endemic), Brown Tanager (Near Threatened, Brazil endemic), Buffy-fronted and Temminck’s Seedeater (both Vulnerable, Atlantic forest endemics), Rusty-breasted Nunlet, and Red-rumped and Golden-winged Cacique among many others.
The low section of the park has one of the best birding sites, Saibadela Trail, located about 200 feet from sea level and surrounded by a well-preserved forest. It offers the chance to see a high range of lowland birds, such as Yellow-legged Tinamou (Near Threatened, Brazil endemic), cartoon-like Channel-billed Toucan, Brown-backed Parrotlet (Vulnerable, Brazil endemic), Black-headed Berryeater (Vulnerable, Brazil endemic), Azure Jay, Green Honeycreeper and many more.
Other top targets we hope to see during our time in Intervales include Pavonine Cuckoo, Rufous-capped Motmot (Atlantic forest endemic), Spot-billed Toucanet (Atlantic forest endemic), Surucua Trogon, Cobalt-rumped Parrotlet, Red-and-white Crake, Common Potoo, Tropical Screech Owl, Grey-bellied Hawk (Near Threatened), Collared Forest Falcon, Black Hawk-Eagle, attractive Yellow-fronted Woodpecker, Campo Flicker, Ochre-rumped Antbird (Near Threatened, Brazil endemic), White-shouldered Fire-eye, Spot-breasted Antvireo (Near Threatened, Atlantic forest endemic), Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, Hangnest Tody-Tyrant (Brazil endemic), Variegated Antpitta, Bay-ringed Tyrranulet (Near Threatened, Atlantic forest endemic), Black-billed Scythebill (Atlantic forest endemic), Ochre-collared Piculet (Atlantic forest endemic), Red-necked, Ruby-crowned and Brazilian Tanager, Golden-rumped Euphonia, Sooty and Sick’s Swift, Green-crowned Plovercrest, Brazilian Ruby (Brazil endemic), Black Jacobin, Dusky-throated Hermit (Brazil endemic), Amethyst Woodstar and many, many more.
Birds we could see at the beautiful lodge include such wonderful species as Spot-winged Wood Quail (Atlantic forest endemic), Green-billed Toucan, Pileated Parrot, Maroon-bellied Parakeet, Plain Parakeet (Brazil endemic), Robust Woodpecker (Atlantic forest endemic), Rufous Hornero, Sharpbill, Giant, Black-goggled Tanager, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, abundant Blue Manakin, Streaked Flycatcher, Yellow-legged Thrush, Olivaceous Woodcreeper and many others.
Night birding could yield such special species as East Brazilian Pygmy Owl, Rusty-barred Owl (Near Threatened, Atlantic forest endemic), Mottled Owl, wonderful Long-trained Nightjar and Short-tailed Nighthawk.
We also have a reasonable chance of seeing the spectacular and Critically Endangered Muriqui, or Woolly Spider Monkey, the largest of South America’s many primates. Other fauna we could see include Guianan Squirrel and several amphibians and reptiles. After our exciting days in the park and on the lodge grounds we will freshen up and get together for dinner and to update our trip lists before turning in for a good night’s sleep.
Intervales State Park to Itatiaia National Park
A very early start will have us enjoy a quick breakfast and checking out of our wonderful lodge, thanking the superb staff as we head out.
Today we have a long drive to Itatiaia National Park, again skirting São Paulo and heading further northeast. We will only reach our destination at the end of the afternoon.
We will bird on our way up to the hotel, when we could find Green-headed Tanager, Green-billed Toucan and many more.
A long day of birding and driving will come with the reward of a quality meal and a good night’s sleep, located in beautiful surroundings with fabulous views.
Itatiaia National Park is the oldest national park in Brazil (established in 1937) and is mountainous and rocky with altitudes ranging from 540 to 2,791 metres (1,772 to 9,157 ft) above sea level. The highest point is the Black Needles peak (Pico das Agulhas Negras). Itatiaia means “many-pointed rock” in the Tupi language.
The higher part of this rugged but beautiful park contains the origins of 12 river basins that supply the Rio Grande (Grand River). The lower part of the park has lush Atlantic forest vegetation and wide rivers with natural pools and waterfalls. Almost 400 species of birds have been identified here, along with 5,000 species of insects and 50 mammals. It is, for many, the number one birding destination in Southeast Brazil. Tonight, we will be looking for one of the most famous residents of this hotel and surrounding area: the Tawny-browed Owl, an Atlantic forest endemic.
Itatiaia National Park
We will start our day with breakfast and some excellent coffee. Remember to scan the feeders in the gardens for colourful tanagers, amazing hummingbirds (including ridiculously beautiful Frilled Coquette), Dusky-legged Guan, loads of parrots (including the stunning Blue-winged Macaw), Saffron Toucanet and more!
Today we will be birding some of the great trails near our lodge, and among our targets today are the shy and rare Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail, Brown Tanager, Pin-tailed and Blue Manakin, Greenish Schiffornis (Atlantic forest endemic), Black-billed Scythebill, Spot-billed Toucanet, Plumbeous Pigeon, Black-throated Trogon, White-eared Puffbird, Rufous-capped Motmot, Bare-throated Bellbird, White-bibbed, Bertoni’s and Ochre-rumped Antbird, White-bearded Antshrike, Such’s Antthrush, Rufous Gnateater, taxonomically interesting Rough-legged Tyrannulet, Hangnest Tody-Tyrant, Large-headed Flatbill, stunning Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Gilt-edged Tanager, and Buffy-fronted and Temminck’s Seedeater.
At noon we will stop for lunch and have a short break at our hotel, to continue birding in the afternoon. We will also be on the lookout for mammals such as Tufted Capuchin and Masked Titi Monkey on the trails close to the hotel.
Itatiaia is famous not just for the birdwatching, but also for its ecological tours, numerous walking trails, rock climbing and other adventure sports, as well as its informative Natural History Museum.
We will have dinner and update our growing trip lists. We might chat a bit about future trips we have planned to other exotic places on the planet.
After dinner we will all enjoy a good night’s rest.
Highlands of Itatiaia National Park
This morning we will start very early and drive (for about 2 hours) to the upper part of the Itatiaia National Park (altitude of over 2,000 metres above sea level) where we will bird the famous Agulhas Negras road, looking for specialties of the highlands.
Here we have good chances of finding Black Hawk-Eagle, White-rumped Hawk, Green-crowned Plovercrest, White-vented Violetear, Itatiaia Spinetail (Brazil endemic), Giant and Large-tailed Antshrike, Rufous-backed Antvireo (Brazil endemic), Speckle-breasted Antpitta (Atlantic forest endemic), Rufous-tailed Antthrush, Rufous-tailed Antbird (Brazil endemic), Mouse-coloured Tapaculo (Brazil endemic), Brown-breasted Bamboo Tyrant, Grey-bellied Spinetail (Atlantic forest endemic), Oustalet’s and White-crested Tyrannulet, Black-capped Piprites (Vulnerable), Velvety Black Tyrant (Brazil endemic), Diademed and Fawn-breasted Tanager, Brassy-breasted Tanager (Brazil endemic), Pampa Finch, Buff-throated Warbling Finch (Brazil endemic), Thick-billed Saltator and Golden-winged Cacique. One of our top targets will be the Black-and-gold Cotinga (Brazil endemic), but we will hope to see many more wonderful birds here.
Mammals that have been spotted in the park include Maned Wolf, Southern Tiger Cat, Crab-eating Fox, Ocelot, Margay, Wild Boar, Tayra, Southern Tamandua, Nine-banded Armadillo, South American Coati, White-lipped Peccary, Muriqui, Black-fronted Titi Monkey, Black-horned Capuchin, Guianan Squirrel and many others. We will naturally keep our eyes wide open for any of these and more!
In the afternoon we start our way down the mountain, and plan to be at our lodge for sunset. If there is time we might visit a marshy area in the park, where we could see Ash-throated Crake, Giant Snipe, Yellow-rumped Marshbird, Tawny-headed Swallow and more.
We will get together in our birder-friendly hotel, update our lists around the dinner table and then get a good night’s rest after a good meal.
Itatiaia to Ubatuba
After an early breakfast, we will check out of our hotel, thank the friendly staff and drive to our next destination, the seaside resort town of Ubatuba. It is a drive of approximately 4 hours to the southwest.
Because there are no lodges in natural areas here, we will stay in the town of Ubatuba, in a comfortable hotel near the ocean. Ubatuba is an important tourist city, features over 100 beaches, hosts many important surfing contests, has a rich political history and is known for its incredible natural biodiversity.
In the afternoon, we will visit the forest and feeders at privately-owned Folha Seca, one of the highlights of the trip. Folha Seca means “dry leaf” and is located inside a pristinely preserved patch of Atlantic rainforest. The feeders here often produce up to ten different species of hummingbirds (although over 20 species have been recorded here!), not to mention lots of colourful tanagers. We could tick Festive Coquette, Saw-billed Hermit (Near Threatened Brazil endemic), Violet-capped Woodnymph, Black Jacobin, Sombre Hummingbird (Brazil endemic), Black-throated Mango, Glittering-throated Emerald, Cobalt-rumped Parrotlet, Blue Dacnis, Green-headed, Flame-crested, Red-necked, Sayaca and Olive-green Tanager, Bananaquit, Chestnut-bellied Euphonia and many more.
On the access road and in some marshy areas we could find Lesser Woodcreeper (Atlantic forest endemic), Black-cheeked Gnateater (Brazil endemic), Eye-ringed Tody-Tyrant (Near Threatened Brazil endemic), Long-billed Wren (Brazil endemic), Slaty Bristlefront, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Uniform Crake and Slaty-breasted Wood Rail among many others. We even have a very small chance to see the beautiful White-necked Hawk (Vulnerable, Brazil endemic) here. We will devote all afternoon to more birding in this fantastic area and return to our hotel for dinner and our overnight stay.
Ubatuba coastal forests (and maybe more)
Today we start with an early breakfast at our coastal hotel.
We will then drive about fifteen minutes to Fazenda Angelim, a private reserve on the foothills of the coastal mountain range, that boasts well-preserved forest, forest edge areas and also more open habitat. This place offers fantastic birding opportunities, and we will be looking for Buff-throated Purpletuft (Endangered Brazil endemic, and a top target for this trip), Brown-backed Parrotlet, Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant, Spotted Bamboowren, Long-billed Wren, Salvadori’s Antwren (Vulnerable Brazil endemic – small chance), Spot-breasted Antvireo, Spot-backed and Tufted Antshrike, Scaled and Squamate Antbird, Rufous-capped Antthrush, Blond-crested and Yellow-throated Woodpecker (both stunning!), Reddish Hermit, Ringed Kingfisher, Squirrel Cuckoo, Whiskered Myiobius, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Chivi Vireo and many others.
We have an extremely miniscule chance to make history here too. The Purple-winged Ground Dove Paraclaravis geoffroyi was seen here in 1997, one of only a handful sightings of this remarkably rare bird within its fragmented range over the last 25 years. It is now considered Critically Endangered, possibly Extinct, within Brazil. But you never know…
After an exciting morning we will stop for lunch and enjoy some good local cuisine.
In the afternoon we might continue to bird at Fazenda Angelim or drive to another birding spot. Other great spots in the area include Rancho Pica Pau, Pereque, Centro Cambuca and many more. We will decide, as a group, where to head to, depending on which target birds we might still need at this point in the trip.
We will return to have our Nature Travel Birding farewell dinner at our comfortable hotel after an amazing tour to Southeast Brazil.
Ubatuba to São Paulo and Departure
After a final breakfast at our hotel we will pack our bags, check out and leave Ubatuba for São Paulo.
Depending on your flight schedule there might be time for some more birding in and around Ubatuba, or on the way to São Paulo.
At the airport we will say our goodbyes after our fantastic, lifer-rich birding tour in brilliant Brazil.