After a casual visit from UK birders in 1996 and subsequent generous financial support from the UK and elsewhere, the NGO Reserva Ecologica de Guapiacu (REGUA) was created in 2001. It now owns and protects an area of over 6,258 hectares and has a mission to save the remaining forests in the catchments of the Guapiacu River basin.
Guapi Assu Bird Lodge is situated on a small hill at the edge of the restored wetlands, overlooking the forested Serra dos Orgaos Mountains. The lodge has 10 rooms divided in to 6 double, 2 twin and 2 single rooms with a total capacity for 18 guests. Three of the doubles are premier rooms with their own private balconies offering superb views.
Guapi Assu Bird Lodge is an excellent base from which birders and wildlife enthusiasts can explore Brazil’s fast dwindling remnant Atlantic rainforest. The reserve contains forest ranging in altitude from 30 to 2,000 metres, as well as other habitats such as restored wetlands and farmland, and there are several trails through these habitats. Excursions can also be organised to a variety of other habitats, which lie outside the reserve, such as coastal lagoons, high altitude elfin forest and Atlantic dry forest.
The reserve supports a wide variety of Atlantic forest birds, including rarities such as golden-tailed parrotlets, Salvadori’s antwren, white-bearded antshrike and spotted bamboo-wren (though some of these are difficult to find). The reserve represents a total cross section of the Atlantic rainforest including valuable lowland habitat that protects many species of birds endemic to these forests as well as rare species like shrike-like cotinga. A substantial area of primary forest at higher altitudes protects species such as blue-bellied parrot and solitary tinamou. To complete this mosaic of habitats, REGUA now protects a large wetland offering a sanctuary for aquatic wildlife including capybara and broad-snouted caiman. Each evening there is an impressive roost of cattle egrets on the islands in the wetland.
All of 55 mammal species have been recorded in the reserve, including 14 bat species and carnivores such as puma and ocelot.
While the prime objective has always been to provide protection from hunting and exploitation of Atlantic forest products, REGUA is now also engaged in habitat restoration, and in 2005 planted over 8,500 trees. The endangered red-billed curassow has also been reintroduced into the reserve, and there are plans for the future reintroduction of black-fronted piping guan and various locally extinct mammals.
Swimming pool, lounge, dining area, extensive natural history library, and 24-hour electricity. Wi-Fi internet access (in the lounge area only) and laundry service.
From October to March many birds are breeding and much more vocal, making them easier to find. Between April and September fewer birds are calling but this is the peak time for large mixed species feeding flocks. Many birders visit between late July and October when mixed flocks are still common and many species have started calling. The lodge can get busy at peak times so it’s worthwhile booking accommodation, local guide and excursions well in advance.
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The bird list for the reserve is now over 460 species including 61 Brazilian endemics and 117 Atlantic forest endemics, and many range-restricted and naturally rare species can be found. Many trails through different ages of forest and wetland habitats offer the chance to see a wide variety of birds, as well as butterflies, amphibians, and mammals such as brown-throated three-toed sloth, opossum, capybara, paca, nine-banded armadillo and sometimes brown howler and black horned capuchin monkeys. There is an impressive roost of over 400 cattle egrets in the evening at the wetlands and many broad-snouted caiman can be seen.
There are plenty of well-marked trails around the reserve to explore independently or with a guide. Off-site excursions are available to different habitats to see specialist birds not found in the reserve. These include high altitude elfin forest and the highest mountain peak in the region, dry forest, restinga (cacti sand dunes), costal lagoons and a local primate rescue centre.
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