Remote Amazon Bird & Wildlife Cruise
AT A GLANCE
Bird & Wildlife River Cruise: birds, river dolphins, monkeys, rainforest scenery and photography
Manaus (Brazil) – Amazon River – Rio Negro – Manaus
Agami Heron, King Vulture, Harpy Eagle, Sunbittern, Sungrebe, Black Skimmer, Blue-and-Yellow Macaw, Festive Parrot, Hoatzin, Crested Owl, Great Potoo, Rufous Potoo, Great Jacamar, Green-backed Trogon, Capuchinbird, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Screaming Piha, Pompadour Cotinga, Wire-tailed Manakin, Pied Tamarin, Guianan and Humboldt’s Squirrel Monkeys, Colombian and Guianan Red Howlers, Spix’s Night Monkey, Spix’s Black-headed Uacari, Three-toed Sloth, Amazonian River Dolphin, Tucuxi, Spectacled and Black Caimans and mile after mile of virgin rainforest
Warm to hot. Generally fine with occasional showers
22 passenger comfortable live-aboard river boat, twin cabins with bunk beds and private facilities, (we only put 18 passengers onboard.)
Rainforest, River Dolphins, Monkeys, Macaws, Toucans and Caimans
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 unique trip will be 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.
For the first few days of our expedition, we plan to travel along the Amazon and Solimões 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 our specially chartered vessel can carry 22 passengers, we are limiting this cruise to only 18. In addition, the motorized canoes can carry up to eight people, but we will limit these to six each plus a guide.
After a few days, we will return to Manaus to allow the ship’s crew to pick up fresh supplies and will then begin exploring the Rio Negro and its tributaries. Whilst the “white waters” of the Solimões and Amazon are rich in sediments, the Negro’s “black water” carry less nutrients (as it generally flows over more sandy soils) and as a result, there is a subtle difference in the forest and thus the wildlife.
One of the places we plan to explore along the Rio Negro is Anavilhanas which is one of the world’s largest fresh water 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 and Wire-tailed Manakin.
Further upstream, we plan to visit the Jau 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 saw well in 2015. The rarely seen Rufous Potoo and Nocturnal Curassow were also both found on our inaugural tour 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 at least two afternoons 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.
Throughout the voyage, our days will generally start at first light and we will spend much of the time exploring in the canoes. These give us considerable flexibility as we are able to either use the motors or our ‘boat boys’ can paddle us quietly along as we search for wildlife.
During the heat of the day we will often return to our ship and whilst the temperature remains high and the wildlife is relatively inactive, we will move to another area, with another cruise or landing in the afternoon.
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.
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.
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 maximise their ‘Amazon experience’ we plan to offer a short extension which will include a visit to a Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock lek and a canopy tower where we will be able to watch many forest bird species at eye level. Please contact us for further information.
We are also now offering a new Amazon itinerary, Primates and Parrot, operating in May 2018, full details here.
Day 1: Manaus, transfer to live-aboard and sail. Visit to the ‘meeting of the waters’ where the Rios Negro andSolimões meet to form the Amazon.
Day 2-13: Explore river islands, varzea (flooded) forest,terra firme (never flooded) forest along the Amazon,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 will also return to Manaus for a day to collect fresh supplies.
Day 14: Disembark in Manaus.
Please note: All itineraries are subject to weather, local conditions and final approval by the relevant authorities.
Dates: 30th August – 12th September 2020
Naturalists/guides: Chris Collins & Regina Ribeiro plus the vessel’s guide & crew.
Cost: £3299 sharing a twin cabin
Single supplement £799
Max no of participants: 18
Deposit: £600 per person
Price includes: Travel and accommodation aboard the Iracema, a Brazilian registered riverboat built in 2011, in air-conditioned twin (upper & lower berth) cabins. Cabins include a window and private shower, toilet and washbasin. There is a restaurant/bar area for relaxing, socialising and eating, plus a small library, laundry facilities and a satellite phone. The upper deck is open with seating for enjoying wildlife and the world passing by (largely shaded by a roof) and there is plenty of space facing forward on this deck. We will have three motorized canoes for exploring from the main vessel. All meals are included aboard, transfers to the vessel from our group hotel and to the airport for our group flights at the end of the voyage, services of leaders, canoe and shore excursions, local permits, WildWings pre-trip information pack plus a bird and mammal checklist for use during the cruise.
Price excludes: Flights (from £900pp return), pre cruise hotel in Manaus (approx. £75 per person twin share b&b), drinks, crew gratuities aboard vessel (we suggest $10 per person per day), and other items of a personal nature plus travel insurance.
We can combine your cruise with other areas of Brazil eg Regua Lodge (Atlantic Forest) The Pantanal, Iguazu Falls etc.
The trip report and species list from our September 2015 and August 2016 departures can be read by clicking the trip report tab above.
30th August – 12th September 2020
Chris has birded in over 80 countries and territories around the world and now spends the quite a lot of his time at sea. Although professionally qualified as a Chartered Accountant, these days Chris concentrates on wildlife-related projects and was very instrumental in setting up the Western Pacific Odyssey and also guides our Russian Far East voyages.