& wildlife cruise: birds, primates, river dolphins and remote Amazon rainforest.
Manaus-Manaus, Brazilian Amazon
Optional extension for Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock.
Numerous rainforest birds including trogons, kingfishers, toucans, parrots, woodpeckers.
Both species of Amazonian river dolphins - Tucuxi and Pink River Dolphin.
Other mammals seen previously include Brown-throated and Linnaeus's Two-toed Sloth, Brazilian Porcupine and Common Silky Anteater.
Dates: September 2022
Often described as “the green lungs of the planet”, the Amazon rainforest is the most biologically diverse place on Earth and on this exciting tour we plan to spend two weeks in this wildlife paradise. Whilst many visitors to the rainforest base themselves at a single lodge and then explore the surrounding area, this trip is very different, as we will travel and sleep on a comfortable river boat giving us the ability to explore more widely and visit a diverse range of habitats.
Our adventure starts in Manaus, home of the famous 19th Century Opera House, where we will board our specially chartered live-aboard and home for the next two weeks. Manaus sits close to the confluence of the Rios Negro (a “black water” river) and Solimões (a “white water” river) and this is where the two merge to form the mighty Amazon. The rivers do not, however, mix for several miles and we plan to visit the ‘meeting of the waters’ to witness the extraordinary spectacle of the two seemingly flowing next to each other, separated only by their different temperatures, acidities and speeds.
We then plan to begin our adventure exploring side channels, larger tributaries, river islands and varzea (annually flooded) and terra firme (never flooded) forests. This will allow us to look for a wide range of birds and animals and our live-aboard comes equipped with motorised canoes to give us maximum flexibility. Whilst the vessel can carry 24 passengers, we are limiting this cruise to only 18. In addition, the motorised canoes can carry up to eight people, but we will limit these to six each plus a guide.
One of the places we plan to explore along the Rio Negro is Anavilhanas which is one of the world’s largest freshwater archipelagos with 400 river islands and a maze of channels and waterways. Only accessible by boat, these islands are almost entirely uninhabited and home for many interesting birds. We hope to see several localised specialities here including Klages’s and Leaden Antwrens but there are many more widespread species such as Festive Parrot, Green-tailed Jacamar, Wire-tailed Manakin and Amazonian Umbrellabird.
Further upstream, we plan to visit the Jaú National Park which is considered one of the most pristine reserves in Brazilian Amazonia. There is plenty of wildlife to look for here including the range-restricted Spix’s Black-headed Uacari, a spectacular monkey which we have seen on all our previous visits. The rare Rufous Potoo and Nocturnal Curassow were also both found on our inaugural tour (with the potoo seen again in 2018) but there should be plenty of colourful wildlife to enjoy as this region is, for example, an excellent place to find Blue-and-Yellow Macaws.
Cruising up the Rio Negro and its tributaries is certain to be a very special experience, with mile after mile of untouched forest and we plan to spend some of our time wildlife watching from the top deck as we travel along the river. Adopting this strategy in 2015 meant we found an extremely obliging Harpy Eagle which we watched for an hour at 20 metres range. Whilst we would be extremely fortunate to see this species so close again, the region does have a good population of this ‘must see’ raptor, so we certainly hope to find it on future tours.
Depending on the location, we also plan to go cruising after dark on a number of occasions and this will give us an opportunity to look for nocturnal birds and animals. These trips can be really fascinating and over the course of the trip, we hope to find both Crested and Spectacled Owls, the bizarre looking Great Potoo and a host of nightjars and night mammals. Mammalian possibilities include Silky Anteater, Grey Four-eyed Opossum, Three-toed Sloth, Spotted Paca – all of which have been seen on previous trips.
The list of birds we could see during the tour runs into the hundreds and includes some of the most colourful species on the planet including macaws (Chestnut-fronted, Red-and-Green, Scarlet and Blue-and-Yellow), toucans and aracaris (Channel-billed and White-throated Toucans, Green and Black-necked Aracaris), trogons, cotingas and tanagers, as well as the more cryptically coloured antbirds, woodcreepers and flycatchers. This trip is, however, intended to be a general wildlife experience, rather than a hardcore birding tour, so it is important to appreciate that we will not be worrying about every ‘little brown job’ during our excursions.
This trip is also not just about birds and we can expect to see both the Amazon (Pink) River Dolphin and the less well-known Tucuxi on a regular basis. Indeed, we hope to visit an excellent eco-tourism project where it is possible to interact with wild dolphins. It is possible to stand in the water with the dolphins as they gently swim around us – a truly unique experience and one which previous participants have described as comparable with visiting the Mountain Gorillas in Africa or Grey Whales in Baja California.
When quietly cruising or during our walks through the forest, we can also expect to see a range of monkeys as the rivers act as natural barriers and different species often occur on opposite banks with over twenty species being possible. We will count ourselves fortunate if we see even half of this total but the possibilities include Guianan Bearded Saki, Humboldt’s White-faced Capuchin, Pied Tamarin, Humboldt’s Squirrel Monkey, Guianan Red Howler and Spix’s Night Monkey, so irrespective of your wildlife interests, this trip has plenty to offer.
For those wanting to maximize their ‘Amazon experience,’ we plan to visit an excellent canopy tower where we will be able to watch many forest bird species (and some mammals) at eye level on the morning of sailing and prior to the cruise, there will be an optional short extension to look for Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock.
Day 1: Manaus, transfer to live-aboard and sail. Visit to the ‘meeting of the waters’ where the Rios Negro and Solimões meet to form the Amazon.
Day 2-13: Explore river islands, varzea (flooded) forest, terra firme (never flooded) forest along the Solimões and Negro and their tributaries. Visit the world’s largest river archipelago, one of the most pristine national parks in Brazil and interact with wild Amazon River Dolphins. During this period we may also return to Manaus for a few hours to collect fresh supplies.
Day 14: Disembark in Manaus.
We deliberately plan to keep the itinerary flexible to maximise on wildlife opportunities.
NB: As applies to all expedition cruises, the exact itinerary will be subject to weather and local conditions. All landings are subject to government and local permissions.
Horned Screamer, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Muscovy Duck, Little Chachalaca, Nocturnal Curassow, Crestless Curassow, Buff-necked Ibis, Green Ibis, Boat-billed Heron, Capped Heron, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Greater Yellow-headed Vulture, King Vulture, Hook-billed Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite, Black Hawk-eagle, Black-and-White Hawk-eagle, Ornate Hawk-eagle, Harpy Eagle, Black-collared Hawk, Sunbittern, Sungrebe, Black Skimmer, Hoatzin, Crested Owl, Spectacled Owl, Great Potoo, Common Potoo, Sand-coloured Nighthawk, Short-tailed Nighthawk, Band-tailed Nighthawk, Amazonian Trogon, Pavonine Quetzal, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Green-and-rufous Kingfisher, Bronzy Jacamar, Great Jacamar, Guianan Puffbird, Black Nunbird, Red-necked Aracari, Toco Toucan, Varzea Piculet, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Ringed Woodpecker, Bat Falcon, Orange-breasted Falcon, Blue-and-yellow Macaw, Scarlet Macaw, Red-and-green Macaw, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Red-bellied Macaw, Peach-fronted Parakeet, White-eyed Parakeet, White-winged Parakeet, Golden-winged Parakeet, Tui Parakeet, Orange-cheeked Parrot, Black-headed Parrot, Short-tailed Parrot, Blue-headed Parrot, Dusky Parrot, Festive Amazon, Orange-winged Amazon, Mealy Amazon, Red-fan Parrot, Parker’s Spinetail, Long-billed Woodcreeper, Zimmer’s Woodcreeper, Glossy Antshrike, Cherrie’s Antwren, Klage’s Antwren, Leaden Antwren, Leaden Antwren, Amazonian Black Tyrant, Spangled Cotinga, Screaming Piha, Pompadour Cotinga, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Capuchinbird, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Wire-tailed Manakin, Golden-headed Manakin, Oriole Blackbird, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, Turquoise Tanager and Opal-rumped Tanager.
(selected species only)
Bare-tailed Wooly Opossum, Grey Four-eyed Opossum,
Brown-throated Sloth, Linnaeus's Two-toed Sloth,
Guianan Brown Capuchin,
Squirrel Monkey, Humboldt's Squirrel Monkey,
Spix's Night Monkey,
Spix’s Black-headed Uacari,
Guianan Bearded Saki, Colombian Red Howler,
Guianan Red Howler,
Northern Amazon Red Squirrel,
South American Coati,
Lowland Paca, Giant Otter, Amazon (Pink) River Dolphin and Tucuxi.
Potential other wildlife
(selected species only)
Spectacled Caiman, Black Caiman, Schneider's Smooth-fronted Caiman, Green Iguana, Amazon Tree Boa, Pink-toed Tarantula and Electric Eel.