Centralwest Brazil

This huge area is predominately ‘cerrado’ and ‘caatinga’ habitats, plus the huge wetland known famously as the Pantanal. Typical ‘cerrado’ vegetation of this ecoregion is characterized by low thick-stemmed plants, Cacti, thorny brush, and dry grasses. The core areas of the Cerrado biome are the Brazilian highlands, the Planalto, where vast amounts of research have proved that this habitat which mainly consist of forest savanna and wooded savanna is one of the richest of all tropical savanna regions and has a high levels of endemism. The ‘caatinga’ is one of 6 major ecoregions of Brazil, and covers 850,000 km², nearly 10% of the country’s territory. The name “caatinga” is a Tupi word meaning “white forest” or “white vegetation” and is made up of xeric shrubland and thorn forest, which consists primarily of small, thorny trees. Most of this vegetation experiences a brief burst of activity during the three-month long rainy season which lasts from December to February. In complete contrast to the dry desert-like habitats is the seasonally flooded Pantanal which forms one of the world’s greatest spectacles and concentrations of wildlife. Rivers, wetlands, ponds and marshes teem with life and have become one of South America’s most famous natural wonders.

Hotspots & Wildlife: 
Chapada dos Guimaraes National Park: The Chapada dos Guimaraes represents rugged terrain with dramatic red sandstone cliffs rising from 600 to 800 metres (2,000 to 2,600 ft) in height, huge waterfalls, riverine forest, and dry savannah called ‘cerrado’. The typical vegetation of the cerrado comprises colourful flowers, low and twisted trees, and gallery forest that contains many diverse plant species. The park was created in 1989 and covers some 32,630 hectares (80,600 acres) and is home to some of Brazil’s very special birds, and a cross-selection of neotropic families including hummingbirds, manakins, antbirds, motmots, tinamous and tanagers. Red-legged Seriema and Greater Rhea are typical grassland species that may be encountered. And among the special mammals and other creatures that can be found here are Puma, Pampas Deer, Brazilian Tapir, Giant Anteater, Giant Armadillo and the rare and very beautiful Maned Wolf. This elegant canid is closer to a dog than either fox or wolf and is sometimes referred to locally as Golden Dog. It feeds mostly on fruit and specifically the Wolf Apple and is a solitary animal that is shy and rarely encountered.

Pantanal: The vast Brazilian Pantanal is one of the greatest wetlands anywhere on earth, as well as the largest flooded grasslands where an incredible number of water birds have to be seen to be believed. Located mostly within the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, it extends into Mato Grosso and portions of both Bolivia and Paraguay. Seeing the wealth of wildlife on offer never fails to astound everyone who visits. Covering an area of around 55,000 square miles, roughly 80% of the Pantanal’s floodplains are submerged during the rainy seasons with most of this rainfall occurring between November and March. The sheer numbers of birds has to be seen to be believed and many of these offer close views which makes for great photography. From huge Jabiru wading in the shallow marshes, to families of Southern Screamers, Sunbitterns and more storks, herons, ibis and waterbirds than its possible to count, the Pantanal is like a Safari in South America. Many species of parrots and macaws brighten the treetops, while the truly spectacular Hyacinth Macaw, represents the largest parrot in the world. This is also one of the best places in South America to see a wide variety of tropical mammals including the much sought after Jaguar which is now almost guaranteed from special boat trips along the Cuiaba river. The whole area is also good for chances to see Giant Anteater, Capybara, Brazilian Tapir, Giant River Otters and with luck Yellow Anaconda. 

Serra da Canastra National Park:
This National Park is situated south west of Minas Gerais to the north of Rio Grande and is formed by a fantastic grass covered tableland that protects the mighty São Francisco River. The park was created in 1972, and covers 197,810 hectares (488,800 acres) and is made up of two isolated high plateaus that rise to 900-1500m above sea level and are separated by a large valley. The vegetation is spread across rocky fields and ‘cerrado’ with clumps of riparian forest and many scattered waterfalls and rivers. The lower part of the park is mostly humid gallery forest and even patches of Atlantic Rainforest, while the high plateau is typical ‘cerrado’ with vast areas of grasslands and ‘campo rupestre’ (rocky scrub). This park is probably the most famous bird watching site in Minas Gerais since it holds the largest population of the rare Brazilian Merganser. It is also one of the best sites in Brazil to see two amazing mammals, the Giant Anteater and the threatened Maned Wolf. Some of the other sought after birds here include, Chaco Eagle, Lesser Nothura, Red-winged and Dwarf Tinamous, Red-legged Seriema, Ocellated Crake, Golden-capped Parakeet, Collared Crescent-Chest, Campo Miner, Firewood Gatherer, Helmeted Manakin, Sharp-tailed Grass Tyrant, Cock-tailed and Streamer-tailed Tyrants, Grey-backed Tachuri, Southern Antpipit, Curl-crested Jays, Ochre-breasted Pipit, Black-masked Finch, Blue Finch, and the rare endemic Cinereous Warbling-Finch.

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SPECIES of interest

Lodges in Centralwest Brazil

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Places To Stay

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