Larger than all the Lower 48 United States combined, Brazil is one of those enormous countries that needs several trips to properly explore its magnificent diversity. The world’s largest wetland, the Pantanal, has stacks of bird species and teems with megafauna almost like Africa – this is one of the easiest places to find Jaguar, Giant Anteater, and a plethora of other charismatic mammals. Although the Pantanal extends into Paraguay and Bolivia, the lion’s share of it that is in Brazil is relatively well staked-out, making finding the most-desired species that much easier. It’s the classic site for the stunning Hyacinth Macaw along with loads of other excellent birds including all five South American kingfishers, Greater Rhea, and more.
It’s very easy to combine the Pantanal with a stay at Cristalino Jungle Lodge, which boasts one of the highest bird counts for any single site – an unbelievable 600 species! This is an excellent place to see a very large number of Amazonian birds. Of course, there are a great many other places to explore in the vast Amazon basin, if you have endless time. Many people also combine the Pantanal with a visit to one of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls, Iguazu, which borders on Argentina.
One of the most important habitats in Brazil is the Atlantic Forest. Easily accessed from Rio de Janeiro (one of the world’s most beautiful cities) and from São Paulo (which at times has been considered the largest city in the world), this habitat is full of endemic birds such as Buff-throated Purpletuft, Rio de Janeiro Antbird, Three-toed Jacamar, Black-and-Gold Cotinga, Gray-winged Cotinga and a very long list of others.
Saving the best for last, however, is the recently-described (only in 1998), Critically Endangered, charismatic beauty, Araripe Manakin. And while you’re here in the north-eastern corner of this huge country, the Caatinga is another famed endemic bird area which includes, among others, two very rare macaws, Lear’s Macaw and Spix’s Macaw, which unfortunately is now extinct in the wild. Contributor: Chris Lotz/Birding Ecotours.