When it comes to exploring the rich biodiversity of our mysterious planet, there is no better venue than South America. Teeming with lush rainforests, towering peaks and rugged coastlines, this verdant continent holds a lifetime of birdwatching and wildlife-viewing opportunities for the avid naturalist. From the Orinoquian and Amazonian lowlands of Guyana, Colombia and Ecuador all the way down to the rocky islets off the coast of Tierra del Fuego, South America is a mandatory addition to the adventurer’s bucket list.
Our Trinidad and Tobago birding tour
is a wonderful introduction to the mind-boggling variety of bird species found in South America. Here we can find a taxonomic sampling from the dozens of families of birds found on the main continent, but in a relaxed setting on two idyllic Caribbean islands. Located just seven kilometres off the mainland, only two endemic birds can be found here: the Trinidad Motmot and Piping Guan; however, other species are easier to find, including the enigmatic cave-dwelling Oilbird, the gawdy Tufted Coquette, and the blazing Scarlet Ibis.
The adage, “When you’ve seen one waterfall, you’ve seen them all” does not apply to either Kaieteur or Iguazu Falls, both of which we visit on our Guyana pre-tour and Iguazu pre-tour offerings. Birding becomes secondary when gazing upon these watery wonders, but it’s still incredibly good birding! Guyana, an English-speaking country in the north, has an astounding percentage of protected forest. We can find the photogenic Sun Parakeet, White-winged Potoo and White-plumed Antbird among others.
When it’s time to step up the numbers game, heading across to the Andes or the Amazon is a safe bet for an extensive bird list. However, you won’t see every possible species in a single Andean adventure, not only due to the astounding diversity, but because new species are being discovered all the time! The Jocotoco Antpitta and the Sira Barbet are but two examples. Endemic birds—those found only in one place— are high priorities for traveling birders and are often correlated with isolated Andean sub-ranges. No less than eighty bird species are found in Colombia and nowhere else! The Buffy Helmetcrest, Yellow-eared Parrot and Santa Marta Screech-Owl are but three of the more exciting examples on our Colombia birding tour. The Santa Marta mountains alone are home to over twenty endemics, most of which you can find on our enjoyable Santa Marta extension.
The highest biodiversity on the planet is found where Andean slopes dip into the humid Amazonian rainforest, on the eastern flanks of Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. The latter republic is small, but home to the most bird species on the planet for the area, many of which can be encountered during our Grand Ecuador voyage. Even the most devout listers will take a few minutes to comprehend the Sword-billed Hummingbird’s bill or the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock’s plumage as they appear beside our cozy mountain ecolodge. Further south, along the Andean spine in culturally diverse Peru, the variety of animals and landscapes remains very high, and we visit everything from desert to alpine paramó. Northern Peru is emerging as an alluring birding destination, offering some incredible species such as the Long-whiskered Owlet and Marvelous Spatuletail along with three or four hundred others. Tanagers are well-represented here and are a favoured photographic subject. Indeed, bird photography is a hobby that is blossoming and goes hand-in-hand with our birding tours. But for those committed shutterbugs we offer dedicated photo tours, such as our Ecuador photography tour.
We showcase several birding trips to Brazil, such as our Amazon and Pantanal, Central Brazil and Northeastern Brazil tours. This hulk of a country holds many ecological treasures, including many endemics from rare habitats including Caatinga, Cerrado and Atlantic Rainforest. Cotingas, macaws, and manakins are popular targets on these forays. With so much of the Amazon basin taking up Brazil’s landmass, lowland rainforest is obviously a focal point during our tours. Hyacinth Macaw and Harpy Eagle are two frequently encountered species we find here, but also the ultra-rare Brazilian Merganser. On the mammal side of things, Brazil holds some great viewing opportunities, including a variety of primates, the incredible Giant Anteater and, of course, the elusive Jaguar. This denizen of the Pantanal is relatively easy to see on a river outing during one of our Pantanal tours.
Further south in Argentina and Chile, we’ve catered our Patagonia Wildlife Safari to optimize the chances of encountering a puma (or cougar, mountain lion, etc!). During a relatively exciting three-hour span on one particular tour we spotted seven of these cats roaming the pampas! We also find sea lions, elephant seals, whales, dolphins, guanacos, armadillos and foxes on this journey, not to mention penguins and petrels. Cameras are a must when visiting Torres del Paine, Pali Aike or Peninsula Valdes—each offering spectacular landscapes.
Come see what all the fuss is about, and join us on one of our South American wildlife and birding adventures!