South America was always very far for us, however our urge to explore and being pinned to our homes due to the global travel restrictions finally made us plan a trip to South America.
Amazon rainforest naturally came to our mind, however, we soon realized that for our time of travel, the Atlantic forests were the best bet, and we went through numerous trip reports on Cloudbirders planning our trip. We also contacted several bird guides and debated traveling independently, eventually settling with Cirilo Vieira to guide us for this trip.
Birding with Cirilo:
Cirilo is a gem with immense knowledge of the Atlantic Forest birds. He came up with a great sounding itinerary and we agreed that Cirilo will guide us throughout the trip and Rishi would do the driving part.
We highly recommend Cirilo, trustworthy, flexible, a great human and above all hardworking on the field with great knowledge of the birds. We would have seen nothing without Cirilo.
Contact Details: +55 21 99888-3807 and cirilovieira28(at)gmail(dot)(com)
Travel Dates: 04 Aug 2022 – Sat, 20 Aug 2022
We visited the Atlantic forest part of Brazil which is heavily Portuguese influenced; people, culture, food, language, everything was Portuguese. An independent trip without speaking Portuguese seems pretty difficult and Cirilo was always translating for us.
Driving: We rented a Renault Captur from Localiza at the Rio airport. It was the first time for Rishi to drive a left-hand car, but soon got adjusted, peak time traffic in Rio and Sao Paulo was manageable and the countryside was easy driving. In total we drove approximately 2000 kms.
Food: It was no problem for us vegetarians, breakfast was always bread, jam, cheese and lots and lots of cake :). Lunch was mostly buffet consisting of rice, beans and vegetables which was weighed and billed. Dinner was pizza. We also enjoyed Goiabada and Cirilo treated us to some amazing Churros at Ubatuba.
Birding Highlights: Too many to mention, Cirilo was the key to find most of the localized birds and the notorious skulkers. A full list of birds that we saw can be found here.
Misses: Out of the possible birds, we missed birds like the Crescent-chested Puffbird, Spotted Bamboowren, Brazilian Laniisoma, Half-collared Sparrow and the Buff-throated Purpletuft.
Trip Reports: We mostly relied on the following trip reports available on Cloudbirders:
Daniel Branch & Lia Kajiki: Brazik: Mata Atlantica
Toon Spanhove and Lieven De Temmerman: SE Brazil
Måns Grundsten: SE Brazil (Espírito Santo & Rio de Janeiro)
Visa: Indians require a visa: we filled an online application at https://formulario-mre.serpro.gov.br/ and then visited the Brazilian embassy in New Delhi to submit the application and then to collect the visa.
We flew Qatar airways Delhi-Doha-Sao Paulo-Rio (LAN Airlines) taking us over 24 hrs to reach Rio, return was a bit more painful with long layovers taking us over 33 hrs to reach Delhi.
Itinerary: We drove from Rio along the Atlantic forest covering Nova Friburgo area -> Regua -> Agulhas Negras lower and higher elevations -> Intervales -> Campos do Jordão -> Ubatuba -> Pereque and then back to Rio. Birdlife at the visited sites is already well documented in the above mentioned trip reports and most of the birds were seen in the same area as documented.
Please feel free to contact us if any specific information is required on the sites visited.
Bird list with pictures is here