A fabulous male Crimson Fruitcrow by Dubi Shapiro.
Guiana Shield Endemics (Out of about 80 in the Guianas, southern Venezuela and Brazil north of the Amazon River)
Marail Guan, Black Curassow, Black-headed and Caica Parrots, Yellow-billed Jacamar, Guianan Puffbird, Black Nunbird, Black-spotted Barbet, Green Aracari, Guianan Toucanet, Golden-collared Woodpecker, Chestnut-rumped and Lineated (Guianan) Woodcreepers, Black-throated Antshrike, Brown-bellied and Rufous-bellied Antwrens, Black-headed, Guianan Warbling and Rufous-throated Antbirds, Guianan and Olive-green Tyrannulets, Painted Tody Flycatcher, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Capuchinbird, Saffron-crested and Tiny Tyrant Manakins, White-fronted and White-throated Manakins, Dusky Purpletuft, Collared Gnatwren, Blue-backed Tanager and Golden-sided Euphonia.
Pavonine Quetzal, Bronzy Jacamar, Varzea Piculet, Amazonian, Blackish-grey and Glossy Antshrikes, Cherrie's, Klage's and Leaden Antwrens, Guianan Red Cotinga, Pompadour, Purple-breasted and Spangled Cotingas, and Fulvous Shrike Tanager, as well as river island forms of Band-tailed Nightjar, Plain Softtail and Streaked Flycatcher. Also a chance of Harpy Eagle, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Black-faced Hawk, Long-tailed, Rufous and White-winged Potoos, Racket-tailed Coquette, Crimson Fruitcrow and Amazonian Umbrellabird.
Horned Screamer, Muscovy Duck, guans, Capped and Boat-billed Herons, King Vulture, American Swallow-tailed Kite, Sungrebe, Wattled Jacana, Large-billed and Yellow-billed Terns, Black Skimmer, Blue-and-yellow, Red-and-green and Scarlet Macaws, Hoatzin, Common and Great Potoos, hummingbirds, Black-tailed and Green-backed Trogons, hummingbirds such as Black-eared Fairy and Crimson Topaz, all five South American kingfishers, Great, Green-tailed and Paradise Jacamars, Spotted Puffbird, Swallow-wing, Black-necked, Chestnut-eared and Lettered Aracaris, Channel-billed and Red-billed (White-throated) Toucans, woodpeckers, spinetails including Red-and-white, Point-tailed Palmcreeper, foliage-gleaners, woodcreepers including Long-billed, antshrikes, antbirds including Black-and-white and White-plumed, antthrushes, Chestnut-belted Gnateater, tyrannulets, tody tyrants, Lesser Wagtail Tyrant, flycatchers, Spotted Tody Flycatcher, Screaming Piha, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Golden-headed, Wire-tailed and Yellow-crested Manakins, Slaty-capped Shrike Vireo, Black-capped Donacobius, Musician Wren, tanagers, Black-faced and Yellow-bellied Dacnises, honeycreepers, oropendolas, Oriole Blackbird and Orange-backed Troupial. Also a chance of Agami Heron, Sunbittern and Crested Owl.
Bald and Golden-backed (Spix's Black-headed) Uakaris, Grey (Tucuxi) and Pink (Boto) River Dolphins, Giant Otter, Brown-throated and Pale-throated Three-toed, and Southern Two-toed Sloths, Gold-and-white, Maues, Santarem and Satere Marmosets, Pied (Bare-faced) Tamarin, Golden-faced, Gray's Bald-faced and Guianan Bearded Saki Monkeys, Brown-tufted, Humboldt's (White-faced/fronted) and Spix's White-fronted Capuchin Monkeys, Spix's Night Monkey, Black and Red Howlers, Bare-eared and Humboldt's (Common) Squirrel Monkeys, Ashy-grey, Chestnut-bellied, Hoffmann's and Lake Baptista Titi Monkeys, Grey Four-eyed, Little Rufous Mouse, Southern (Common) and Western Woolly Opossums, Common Vampire Bat, and Greater and Lesser Fishing Bats. Also a chance of Southern Tamandua, Golden-handed Tamarin, and Black-tailed Hairy Dwarf, Dwarf and Prehensile-tailed (Brazilian) Porcupines.
Reptiles, Amphibians and Fish
Numerous butterflies including several species of Morpho and a multitude of insects including nomadic columns of Army Ants which eat every animal in their path up to the size of small snakes and are often followed by birds such as antbirds, foliage-gleaners and woodcreepers which pick off fleeing insects.
Possibly the greatest diversity on Earth; a single hectare (2.5 acres) may support 480 tree species.
The River Amazon is the largest river in the world by far and the second longest river in the world at 6515 km (4050 miles), just 180 km (110 miles) short of the River Nile at 6695 km (4160 miles), although some scientists argue that the Amazon is the longest. It has over a thousand tributaries which together with the main river hold about 20% of the planet's fresh water, and the Amazon Basin is the largest drainage basin of any river in the world at over 5 million sq km (2 million sq miles).
Solimoes-Negro interfluvium ('The Meeting of the Waters') Near Manaus, 2250 km (1400 miles) inland from the River Amazon's mouth at the Atlantic Ocean, the two largest rivers in South America meet. Ten km (six miles) downstream from Manaus the warm, dark water of the Rio Negro, on which the city is situated, meets the cooler, muddy water of the Amazon (called Solimoes to the west) and they flow side by side and do not mix completely for several kilometres (miles).
The River Amazon usually floods between June and October after the wet season which usually lasts from November to April, with water levels reaching a peak in mid-June the best time to look for primates because the flooded forest (up to 15 metres higher than before the flood) is more accessible. This is also true of September-October the best time to look for birds. Alas, heat and humidity also peak between June and October.
Birds of Brazil by K Zimmer and A Whittaker. PUP, due 2020+.
A Field Guide to the Birds of Brazil by B van Perlo. OUP, 2009.
Birds of Venezuela by D Ascanio, G Rodriguez and R Restall. Helm, 2017.
Birds of South America: Non-Passerines by J R Roderiguez Mata et al. Harper Collins, 2006 hbk/Princeton University Press, 2006 pbk.
Birds of South America: Passerines by R S Ridgely and G Tudor. University of Texas Press/Helm, 2009 (Updated paperback edition of books listed next with 400 more illustrations).
The Birds of South America: Passerines by R S Ridgely and G Tudor. University of Texas Press, 1989 and 1994 (Two volumes).
Birds of Northern South America by R Restall, C Rodner and M Lentino. Helm, 2006 (Two volumes).
Mammals of South America by R D Lord. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.
Globetrotter Wildlife Guide: Brazil by J Malathronas. New Holland Publishers, 2008.
All Birds Northern Brazil by Bloomsbury/Sunbird Images.
Birds of Brazil.
Where to watch birds in South America by N Wheatley. Helm, 1994.
Don’t know which country/countries to visit in South America? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them on the continent, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.
Many trip reports, some for the Amazon, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to the Amazon. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to the Amazon' below.
The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.
There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.
While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.
Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to the Amazon include the following.