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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Brazil: The Southeast Atlantic Rainforest

Tour Information

Note:The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Brazil. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

ENTERING BRAZIL: A passport and visa are required for Americans traveling to Brazil for any purpose. Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the date the tour ends. Brazilian visas must be obtained in advance from the Brazilian Consulate General with jurisdiction of the traveler’s place of residence. There are no “visas upon arrival,” and the airline will not let you check in for your initial flight without one.

Note that this tour begins in Rio de Janiero and ends in São Paulo.

For current entry and customs requirements for Brazil, travelers may contact the Brazilian Embassy at 3009 Whitehaven St. N.W., Washington, D.C., 20008; telephone (202) 238-2818, e-mail consular@brasilemb.org.; Internet: http://washington.itamaraty.gov.br/en-us/

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information here: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1072.html, and the CIA World Factbook background notes here: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/wfbExt/region_soa.html.

PACE OF TOUR: We’ll be making early starts most days (5:00-6:00 a.m.) so as to be out in the field for the first few hours of the day when birds are most active. We will normally have early breakfasts at our lodging before birding, rather than come back for a later breakfast. There will be occasional optional owling excursions in the early morning or evening, and these will of course be longer days. Such days could start as early as 4:30 a.m., allowing us to have a later breakfast, but we’ll also end earlier on such days; other days might have us owling and out until 10:00 p.m., after which we won’t have an extra-early morning. 

Participants should be able to be on their feet for five to six hours at a time (on the longest mornings) with frequent long stops (the longest walks are only about 2-3 km), and a small travel stool is handy for those who find stand for long periods especially tiring. Be aware that you may not always be able to return to the lodge or vehicle on your own if you become tired. 

On non-travel days we will return to our hotel for lunch and a siesta, venturing out into the field again in mid/late-afternoon. When we stay multiple nights at a lodge, the birding outings are of course optional giving the opportunity to take a few hours off to relax. 

Most of our birding will be on wide, little-traveled or disused roads; one we do one morning is very steep, but we take it slowly. Some birding will be on narrower forest trails near a couple of our lodges; these can be steep and muddy in places, so you must be in relatively good physical condition. 

Since we will continue to bird in light rain or may be out during unexpected showers, a travel umbrella in your daypack is highly recommended. 

If you have any concerns regarding your physical ability for the walking demands of this tour, please contact the WINGS office. 

If there are walks you do not feel you are able to do, there is excellent birding around the grounds of all of our hotels and lodges. 

HEALTH:  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. 

Yellow Fever: Yellow Fever vaccination is recommended by the CDC and by the Brazilian embassy but is not required to enter Brazil unless you have been to any of several South American, Central American, or African countries in the past 90 days. 

Malaria: Malaria is basically nonexistent in the areas we will visit, there having been no outbreaks in over 20 years. If you choose to take anti-malarial drugs, please remember that many must be initiated one or more weeks before the period of exposure and continued for several weeks after it concludes; there are some potential side effects to consider. 

Please contacting your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations for Brazil can be found on the CDC’s  Travel Health website: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/brazil

Altitude:  Locations visited during this tour range from sea level to as high as 8,000 feet (2450 m) on one day; most days are below 3000 feet. 

Insects: Many potential health problems can be prevented by adequate protection against insects. Even when mosquitoes may be sparse, biting gnats and chiggers can still be a nuisance. To be protected, bring plenty of spray repellent and wear long sleeves and pants when in the field. 

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

Miscellaneous: We avoid tap water but filtered and bottled water are readily available. Gastrointestinal problems are always a possibility while traveling. 

We do not often encounter snakes and take time to observe them whenever possible; most are not venomous, and venomous ones are not aggressive; we’ll always be within driving distance of medical assistance in the case of an emergency.  In any event, a small flashlight or headlamp is a necessity for navigating the paths between your room and dining areas at each lodge in the evenings. 

CLIMATE: Strong cold fronts are unlikely, and it will probably be quite tropical on most days, especially near the coast, so be prepared for warm and humid weather with daily highs usually in the lower 80’s to lower 90’s° F. But weather is very fickle here: we could experience rain on several days or none at all; and since we will be at a variety of elevations, a jacket for cool days is also necessary. Trails may be muddy in places, but not enough to warrant rubber boots; good quality hiking boots (waterproof is best) will suffice. As we’ll be at lower elevations during much of the tour, it will be hot in the sun and a hat is recommended. 

ACCOMMODATIONS: We’ll be staying in good quality hotels or lodges throughout. All rooms will have a private shower and toilet, including hot water. Wifi will be available at all of our hotels in some from throughout, some only from the dining hall or communal area. As is typical in the tropics, occasionally, small lizards, amphibians or unusual insects may visit a hotel room, especially in the lower elevations.

FOOD: The food is varied and scrumptious throughout, typically served buffet style. A green salad (often with locally grown greens), rice, and beans are standard fare, and the main dishes, sides, and desserts vary continually. 

Drinks: Bottled water and/or a soft drink or a beer is provided at lunch and dinner, as is coffee or tea. All other drinks or ‘personal’ drinking water for use in your room etc. is the responsibility of the individual; our lodges typically have filtered water available for refilling your own bottles. We also keep bottled water on the bus for use during the day and for refilling your personal water bottles. As it can get hot and dry, we recommend you bring a large, good quality water bottle and keep this topped up. 

TRANSPORTATION: During most of the tour we will have a van/minibus and driver. Some roads may be quite bumpy and/or winding; anyone susceptible to motion sickness should bring an appropriate remedy. Participants should be able to sit in any seat in our vehicles.

Updated: 02 March 2016