This was a holiday that we organised ourselves. We stayed for 5 nights in a Bed and Breakfast in Rio de Janeiro, 3 nights in a hotel at Iguassu Falls and 8 nights at a Reserve in the Atlantic Forest about 45 miles north of Rio.
Our visit to Rio was just after the Olympics and so the city was relatively quiet. The scenery is spectacular for such a large city and we spent the first day on a city tour using a local guide and this included a trip to Corcovado to see the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer. The second day we went up Sugar Loaf Mountain which give an excellent view of the city and where we were able to do our first bit of birding. The third day was spent with n excellent local bird guide (Ricardo Barbossa) in the Tijuca Forest which is on the outskirts of the city. Unfortunately the weather was very poor but we saw a good number of species. We had a final leisurely day in the Botanical Gardens which are very pleasant and give some good opportunities for birding.
So it was then on to Iguassu Falls where we stayed at the excellent Belmont Hotel situated within the National Park on the Brazilian side of the Falls. The views of the Falls are really spectacular and if you ever have the opportunity to visit then go. We took a day tour to the Argentinean side which gives an opportunity to see the Devil’s Throat where a huge volume of water descends to the river below. The rest of the time we spent wandering around the Falls getting some great views, with few tourists around at the beginning and end of each day. We also did some gentle birding.
Then it was the flight back to Rio to be picked up at the airport for our visit to Regua. This is a reserve of about 5800 hectares set up to conserve and restore the Atlantic Forest of which only 7% of the original forest remains. It is a remarkable story of conservation in action. Supporters from the UK, and elsewhere, are helping the organisation to continue the work and to purchase more land for restoration. The Atlantic Forest is one of the best places on earth for biodiversity. Of the 682 bird species in the Forest, more than 470 have been recorded at Regua. Also found on the Reserve are 377 species of butterflies, 204 species of dragonflies and damselflies and 264 species of mammals. More details of Regua may be found on their excellent website (http://regua.org/) and they are also represented at the Bird Fair. Some of the bird tour companies such as Limosa, who were there at the same time as us, visit Regua.
The accommodation for visitors is very good and we were given a very warm welcome by all the staff. We went on a number of day trips to the surrounding areas and also enjoyed walking the trails within the reserve, either with a guide or taking a leisurely walk on our own.
It was particularly exciting to witness a White-bearded Manakin lek with the males producing noises like firecrackers by clapping their wings. We did not know that such a small bird as a Manakin held a lek! We also saw Rufescent Tiger Herons mating and enjoyed watching the hummingbirds and other species from the comfort of a seat on the veranda. We very much recommend a visit to this wonderful place, either as a single destination or as part of a multicentre holiday such as ours.
We found Brazil a rewarding place to visit and may return one day and perhaps include the Pantanal, as well as another visit to Regua.
Mike and Elaine Landen