Minas Gerais Jewels: Serra da Canastra, Caraça & Serra do Cipó
Toward the southeastern corner of the Brazilian Plateau are some discrete mountain ranges (serras) uplifted above the level of the Planalto Central. Their upper reaches are comprised of rocky outcrops full of strange xeric plants and surrounded by grass fields. In addition to a number of unique plant species (which are responsible for the designation of Cipo as a national park), these rocky grass fields support a handful of endemic birds as well: Hyacinth Visorbearer, Cipo Canastero (Asthenes luizae, discovered in 1985 at Cipo, 1400 kilometers from its geographically nearest congener!), Gray-backed Tachuri, and Pale-throated Pampa-Finch. We’ll seek these specialties in the upper reaches of Serra do Cipo and Serra do Caraca parks.
Most of the Serra do Caraça, at the southeasternmost corner of the Plateau, is covered with forest characteristic of the Brazilian Atlantic Forests Biome. Because much of the cloud-held moisture from the Atlantic spills onto the southeastern slope of the range, the northwestern slope (which we visit) is somewhat drier. This transitional forest seems to be prime habitat for a few additional specialties, including the little-known Gray-bellied Spinetail, Dusky-tailed and Ochre-rumped antbirds, and Gray-eyed Greenlet (a split from Rufous-crowned Greenlet). The stunted woodland at the margins of small grasslands is prime habitat for the endemic Serra Antwren, a split from Black-bellied Antwren, and for Hangnest Tody-Tyrant. We’ll target these specialties during our visit to Caraça. But we’ll also encounter a wonderful sampling of forest species typical of the humid forest habitats such as Dusky-legged Guan, Red-breasted Toucan, and Surucua Trogon to Large-tailed Antshrike, Rufous Gnateater, and an array of dazzling tanagers (most notably Gilt-edged and Brassy-breasted) that sometimes move right through the gardens. The gardens teem with hummingbirds, from Planalto Hermit, White-throated Hummingbird, and Glittering-bellied Emerald to Brazilian Ruby, Black Jacobin, and Violet-capped Woodnymph. We’ve seen Robust Woodpecker, Tufted Antshrike, nest-building Yellow-lored Tody-Flycatchers, and South American Coatis right from the corner of the garden wall. A small marshy pond at the edge of the parking lot supports Slaty-breasted Wood-Rails and Blackish Rails, and we’ve seen the fabulous Swallow-tailed Cotinga nest building just below the monastery. Nearby forest supports Crescent-chested Puffbird, Blue and Pin-tailed manakins, Cinnamon-vented Piha, and Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, among many other impressive representatives of southeastern Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. Caraça can also be a prime site for nightbirding, given clear, calm weather (which can be rare here). Besides the rare Long-trained Nightjar, possibilities include Band-winged and Scissor-tailed nightjars, Ocellated Poorwill, Tropical Screech-Owl, and the spectacular big Rusty-barred and Tawny-browed owls. Caraca is a great place for an introduction to Atlantic Forest birding.
Guide and ranger team
During our tours at the Atlantic Rainforest, some State Parks and Reserves require the escort of a local ranger. This local fellow can point out some nesting activity and help the group participants to spot the birds. With our tour leader, each one working at their best and doing what they are supposed to do better.
Quality of our guides
Our tour leaders are experienced and fully trained professionals who host our guest in a variety of diverse areas. These dedicated people transform an already great safari into one that is out of this world! A guide that hosts you for the duration of your safari provides a consistent, detailed interpretation that is tailored to your specific interests. Our safaris are led by our local naturalist tour leaders, they are equipped with 20-60X spotting telescope for seeing distant animals, recording equipment, shotgun microphone and voice library for luring in rare and hard to see animals that respond to their own call bringing them into view, a spotlight for nocturnal viewing, and the appropriate bird, mammal identification books and updated checklist for your enjoyment.
Our tour uses hotels which serve early breakfast and then we can go birding. All lodges offer rooms with private facilities and air-conditioning. We try to use lodges operated by locals because we firmly believe your money must to go to local hands because are those hands who hold the future of the region.
During the whole tour we will have a private transportation with air-conditioning.
25 years of Experience
Nearly three decades dedicated to show Brazil to different travelers from all over the world! We know Brazil as we know our backyard.
This quick message is to thank you for all your guiding expertise during our trip; you did a superb job, and I was delighted to be with you. I had no idea we were getting as knowledgeable a leader as you certainly are!. I certainly hope we can do something like it again, soon.
Dr. Robert S. Ridgely, Author of "The Birds of South America Vol. I and II" and "A Guide to the Birds of Panama", Senior Research Ornithologist at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia