Northeast Brazil Route

Good all year; 13 days; 350+ species, 9 endemics, 12 threatened species

Photo by: Ciro Albano

About This Route

This is a great route to discover unique ecosystems of northeastern Brazil, especially the arid Caatinga, and Atlantic Forest. The route includes great opportunities to see two of Brazil’s specialty birds, the Araripe Manakin and the spectacular Lear’s Macaw.

The route starts in the coastal northern city of Fortaleza in the Ceara state and slowly arcs southeast to end in the coastal northeastern city of Recife in Pernambuco state. Water is the key in this region, as annual rainfall is significantly lower here than in other parts of Brazil. Survival depends on land form types that can successfully capture water and release it slowly to the earth and allow for vegetation to grow and birds to thrive. This phenomena is why one reserve here is called the Oasis Araripe Reserve.

Many of the reserves promoted in this Northeast Brazil Route are just starting to grow bird tourism, so accommodations are variable, and works in progress, but we can assure you, you will be visiting some of the friendliest areas in Brazil where people will go out of their way to make sure you are comfortable.

Route Information

Follow The Trail

  • Grey-breasted Parakeet Refuge

    Day 1. Fly to the city of Fortaleza where you can rent a car and travel two hours south to the Baturite Mountains. Head to the small touristy town of Guaramiranga, where the Grey-breasted Parakeet Refuge is located. The town is a popular weekend escape for residents of Fortaleza looking to beat the heat of the city, so try to plan your stay during the weekdays, where the local hotels are pretty empty. That afternoon, coordinate with Aquasis a visit to the Refuge for some helpful orientation and to get the excellent regional bird guide “Aves da Serra de Baturite.” The area is recuperating in areas, so Aquasis staff can indicate good spots to find certain birds and where to spend the night.

    Grey-breasted Parakeets by Fabio Nunes

  • Baturite Mountains

    Day 2 & 3. We suggest enjoying this pleasant humid forest and visiting the variety of forest areas with trails to find all the species in the area. You will want to tread quietly to find the Spot-winged Wood-Quail, the White-browed Guan, the Band-tailed Manakin, the Rufous-breasted Leaftosser, and the Short-tailed Ant-thrush.

    Gould's Toucanet by Fabio Nunes

  • Travel to Oasis Araripe Reserve

    Day 4. Early morning birding in the Baturite Mountains, and then you can either continue driving south (around 7 hours) to the town of Crato, or return to Fortaleza to catch a late afternoon flight to the town of Juezeiro do Norte, which is your entry point to the Oasis Araripe Reserve. This is another reserve run by Aquasis to protect the Araripe Manakin (make your reservation beforehand). The Oasis Araripe Reserve has lodge with rooms with private bathrooms and they can offer full meals. They also created the regional bird guide “Birds of Chapada do Araripe” which covers all the birds in the region.

    Oasis Araripe Reserve

    7 hours

    Band-tailed Manakin by Ciro Albano

  • Oasis Araripe Reserve

    Day 5. This area is defined by a unique geological feature: a 400 m high plateau and accompanying escarpment. This feature has created two isolated ecological zones within the surrounding dry forest: the moist semi-Atlantic forest along the base of the escarpment and the Cerradon forest on top of the plateau. We suggest you spend the first day at Oasis Araripe in the moist forest searching for the Araripe Manakin and other forest birds like the Barred Forest-Falcon, Blond-crested Woodpecker, and Scarlet-throated Tanager. One could bird the forest along the Oasis Araripe trails in the morning, returning for lunch as the base, a siesta during the midday heat, and back out on the trails for the afternoon.

    Oasis Araripe Reserve

    Araripe Manakin by Ciro Albano

  • Oasis Araripe Reserve

    Day 6. On your second day at Oasis Araripe Reserve we recommend travelling up the escarpment to spend the morning (early morning as this place really heats up) walking the trails of the plateau forest. Here you find very specialized birds such as the Cactus Parakeet, Striped-backed Antbird, Great Xenops, Caatinga Cacholote, White-browed Antpitta, Silvery-cheeked Antshrike, and Caatinga Antshrike. We suggest birding the Oasis Araripe Trails in the afternoon to beat the heat.

    Oasis Araripe Reserve

    Great Xenops by Ciro Albano

  • Travel to Canudos

    Day 7. Visit the Cerradon plateau forest again bright and early to find the skulkers. You can have lunch at Oasis Araripe and the either continue the drive (~6 hours) to Canudos, or from Juezeiro do Norte catch a connecting flight to Petrolina. From Petrolina you can rent a car to the town of Canudos, where you can stay at the Lear’s Macaw Reserve.

    Canudos Biological Station

    6 hours

    Caatinga Antshrikes by Ciro Albano

  • Canudos Biological Station

    Day 8. You want to be at the top of the breeding and roosting site before first light, as the Lear’s Macaw can often fly off at the crack of dawn. It is worth the effort, as you will witness the spectacle of hundreds of birds calling and flying about as they prepare to travel in groups to foraging locations. Depending on the time of year, birds may be seen throughout the day taking care of flightless chicks, or the area may be quiet for most of the day. In the afternoon, you can either return to the site above the cliff, or try seeing the birds arrive from a spot below the breeding cliffs in the valley.

    Canudos Biological Station

    Lear's Macaw by Ciro Albano

  • Travel to Recife

    Day 9. Early morning repeat viewing of the Lear’s Macaw spectacle. Return to Petrolina for a late afternoon flight to Recife (or a 6-hour drive to Lagoa dos Gatos). From Recife you can rent car at the airport. We recommend staying a night at Recife. Recife is a popular beach town with interesting historical significance in the region.


    6 hours

    Lear's Macaw by David Fisher

  • Travel to Serra do Urubu Reserve

    Drive to Lagoa dos Gatos (2 hours) and the further on to Serra do Urubu Reserve. This is the best protected Atlantic Forest in the region, with a variety of forest trails, and a fantastic hummingbird garden. SAVE Brasil are working on accommodations in the area. Make your reservation beforehand, and inquire about housing and food preparation possibilities.

    2 hours

    Seven-colored Tanager by Ciro Albano

  • Serra do Urubu Reserve

    Day 11 & 12. Serra do Urubu has trails through a variety of forest types, where like all tropical forests, as you give it time, it will reveal its secrets. The area is a hill forest, so temperatures are lower, and frequently bird activity continues through-out the day. The hummingbird garden is a spectacular place to have lunch while watching over 16 species of hummingbird visiting the feeders. Some of the great—and often threatened—birds in this forest are Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Long-tailed Woodnymph, White-collared Kite, Golden-tailed Parrotlet, Alagoas Tyrannulet, and Orange-bellied Antwren.

    Ruby-topaz Hummingbird by Aisse Gaertner

  • Travel to Recife

    Day 13. Spend the morning in the forest of Serra do Urubu. Afternoon drive to Recife for a return flight home.

    Overnight in Recife

    2 hours

    Golden-tailed Parrotlet by Vivek Tiwari


  • Canudos Biological Station

    This route features the Canudos Biological Station, a lodge that can accommodate up to 12 people, has private bathrooms, and full dining facilities.

    Ciro Albano.

  • Oasis Araripe Reserve Lodge

    This route also features lodging at the Oasis Araripe Reserve, a lodge that can accommodate up to 8 people.

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