Amazonas Birding

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Amazonas Birding
From: <>
Date: Sat, 14 Oct 2006 11:05:56 +1000
Hi all,

Rather than a trip report, this note offers a few hints on birding
in this magnificent region of Brasil and Ecuador.

I helped organize a boat trip leaving from Manaus primarily NW up the
Rio Negro River in the Amazonas...including 5 Brazilian staff ,there were 20
of us from various parts of the world....speaking Portuguese, Spanish,
German and English would be an advantage...anyway 220 odd species,
numerous mammals and reptiles, it was extraordinary trip spanning 4 weeks
in September.

For others planning similar trips, I felt it worth making a few recommendations.

1. Use local boats one which was recommended
to me was Amazon Expeditions...a family run company based in Manaus... Mo Fortes
runs 5 well appointed vessels with great too...if organized 
These locals know the region and some speak some English...Portuguese is the
spoken language though.

2. Airfares to South America booked in Australia are very expensive...AUD3000 
just to get there,.....excluding internal flights. This was my second trip. My 
next trip will
take me to Miami or Panama as cheaply as possible. Once there, there are 
numerous flights
to any of the cities you want to get to half or less the price booked in 
Australia.We visited
,in order, Sao Paulo (horrible place), Rio, Manaus ,Panama City, Quito, 
Guayaquil, Baltra,
back to Quito and finally Santiago in Chile before heading home via Auckland. 
You can
get cheap flights once there...easily EG Whilst waiting in Quito, there were 
numerous seats
at USD99 one way to Buenos Aires in 4 or 5 times a day at 

3. Buy the Lonely Planet phase books...I had Brasilian Portuguese and 
Spanish...cost about
10 dollars....Learn and practise those 10 or 15 phases essential to everyday 
life before you
go....practise them from day is amazing how you pick up on things...Use 
the book in
front of the locals...they really appreciate you trying to communicate in their 
Brasilians in particular like Australians...differentiate yourself from both 
British and Americans
early on .....they like to be shouted drinks too.....they'll do anything for 
you then!.....I thought
I left my wallet in a taxi....locals ran with me through the streets of 
Santiago...flagged a car,...
chased the poor taxi through red lights...eventually caught the taxi...wrong 
the wallet was on the ground and returned....anyway everyone was brilliant

4. Know your visa issues in the countries visiting...sort all this stuff out 
before leaving.
We had an Airline (Varig International) go broke...they tried to put us into a 
hotel in Panama....
We would have needed a visa...which we didn't have....By the way most countries 
eg Chile
only charge  few international travellers entry and exit fees as a reciprocal 
charge because
of Australia's entry charges!

5.Have a good medicine want to handle most things 
yourself...A general
anti-biotic for say diarrhoea etc will save you lost days and a lot of pain and 
I needed my supply this trip.

6. Use private drivers and their cars...I was told this last time and didn't do 
it...this time I did.
Great idea....they drive on the wrong side of the road and traffic to get to 
birding places can be
extremely difficult to negotiate....a driver recommended by the hotel with a 
pre-organized daily
price is brilliant....that way, as birders, we can do our research before we 
go.....ask the driver
to take us to the various places...stop as long as you like....a few hundred 
hummingbirds at
Mindo Lomas in the montane forests of Ecuador meant that we stayed in one spot 
for 3 hours!
You can't do that with organized....(AKA boring and expensive) tours.
Including fuel ,you should pay no more than USD100 for the a gesture, 
paying for lunch
for the driver etc is well received...tipping is really appreciated too...screw 
down the price
to start with and be generous at the end I reckon

I won't rabbit on other than to say.....the Amazonas is sensational. The locals 
need tourism.
It help them value their environment and provides work for these usually poor 
(but happy) people.

Best bird was Wire-tailed Manakin from the flooded forests of the Rio Negro.
Best animal was the Southern Tamandua....
Best experience was swimming with Botos and hand-feeding them Red-bellied 
Best wine Mendoza Cab Sav from Argentina.

We had a week boating around the Galapagos Islands on the way home 
was nice too.

Specific queries are welcome also...including contacts over there.


Bill Moorhead

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