Many of our guests arriving to enjoy our Patagonia Wildlife Safari also choose to join the Iguazu Falls birding pre-tour. It is relatively convenient to experience this natural wonder while in the general vicinity, based out of Buenos Aires (which is also worth a couple days’ worth of exploring!). Iguazu does not fall into the category of “If you’ve seen one waterfall, you’ve seen them all,” and it takes more than a day to explore the actual falls.
Like the other great waterfalls of the world, Iguazu provides a different experience depending on water levels. If in flood, a visit can be overwhelming, but at any moment the experience of hiking the walkways above and below the falls is simply nature at its finest. And when a small group of Plush-crested Jays or Toco Toucans arrive on the scene it is icing on the cake. The subtropical Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay hosts a large diversity of endemic birds and other rainforest specialties that seem more common here than in the Amazon.
We explore the national park surrounding the falls on the Argentine side, which is extensive and offers a chance to encounter animals that require larger tracts of forest such as piping-guans and jaguars. During our visit we explore the falls several times and also go farther afield to varied habitats that host a suite of different species. Guests can expect to encounter one or two dozen Atlantic Rainforest endemics during the tour along with several mammals and reptiles, and are guaranteed to fill memory cards, and, more importantly, memories, with the drama of Iguazu Falls.
Pretour Day 1 – Arrival in Buenos Aires
Meet for an evening meal if your flights allow to discuss our Iguazu Falls birding pre-tour. Night in Buenos Aires.
Pretour Day 2 – Flight to Iguazu
After breakfast we catch a morning flight to Iguazu. We arrive to the airport and we’ll head straight to the national park where most of the action is, including lunch. We may have our first glimpse of Toco Toucan in the parking lot and any number of other Atlantic rainforest specialties. This habitat is only a remnant of a once-vast forest and therefore many of the species we’ll encounter are endemic or difficult to find elsewhere. The Argentine side of Iguazu hosts a large, contiguous tract of intact Atlantic rainforest in a subtropical climate.
The falls themselves are a large, spectacular network of various cascades, some of which almost don’t seem real. We’ll choose one of numerous trails that best suits afternoon photography and wildlife viewing. Today we just get a taster of what these falls are all about. In the evening we’ll drive into town and enjoy a patio dinner at a quaint restaurant featuring some classic Argentine fare: beef and wine (but tasty, non-meaty offerings exist!). Night in Puerto Iguazu.
Pretour Day 3 – Iguazu National Park
We’ll spend a full day exploring Iguazu National Park where over 350 bird species have been sighted, not to mention being the home of jaguars and other cats. It’s possible to see these elusive animals on the roadways early in the morning. We'll see other interesting wildlife such as the Argentine Tegu lizard and overly friendly coatis and monkeys too. Birds are abundant and include such Atlantic forest beauties as Surucua Trogon, Swallow-tailed Manakin, Green-headed Tanager, Blond-crested Woodpecker, and Black-fronted Piping-Guan. But none is more emblematic of the falls than the Great Dusky Swift, seen powering over and around the impressive cascades themselves. As for this magnificent spectacle, Iguazu Falls really is a must-see and we will be right in the heart of the action. Today we’ll explore at least two trails that lead us over the top or below the falls and coincidentally past some spectacular birding and photographic areas. When we don’t want to walk, there is a small train that can take us around the park.
Back in town, we’ll visit some excellent hummingbird gardens where Black Jacobin and Swallow-tailed Hummingbird can be found, and Violaceous Euphonia. There is also a tract of rainforest near the hotel that is excellent for birds including Buff-bellied Puffbird, Sibilant Sirystes and Black-goggled Tanager. Night in Puerto Iguazu.
Pretour Day 4 – Urugua-í Provincial Park
Today we’ll travel farther afield, leaving the Iguazu Falls area to explore another large parcel of forest to the south, within Urugua-í Park. The commute will allow us to see some of the countryside of Misiones province.
Near the park headquarters we’ll choose a trail where we can enter the forest on the lookout for more exciting birds. One of these is the mysterious Spotted Bamboowren, which has recently been deemed a relative of the tapaculos (after variously being grouped with wrens, antbirds, and gnatcatchers). Either way, it’s another sought-after Atlantic forest endemic! Others that can be more easily found include Chestnut-bellied Euphonia, Robust Woodpecker, White-browed Warbler, Tufted Antshrike and Rufous Gnateater. With much luck, we could encounter something rarer like the Helmeted Woodpecker, Bay-ringed Tyrannulet or Canebrake Groundcreeper. Anything could lurk around the corner here, including mammals such as Jaguar, South American Tapir or Giant Anteater, but these are elusive. Optional owling near Iguazu falls is possible tonight, depending on energy levels. Night in Puerto Iguazu.
Pretour Day 5 - Route 101
A final morning on an excellent secondary road nearby the airport gives us a chance to clean up on some other interesting birds and wildlife. Harpy Eagle has been recorded here in recent years but for regular birds it is a particularly good location for Ochre-collared Piculet, Pavonine Cuckoo, Slaty-breasted Wood-Rail and up to five species of foliage-gleaner! Ocelot has been sighted in previous years. Before our afternoon flight back to Buenos Aires we may have a chance to view the falls one last time. Dinner and night in Buenos Aires.
Pretour Day 6 - Buenos Aires
This morning we are back in Buenos Aires for a relaxing breakfast before the main Patagonia Wildlife Safari tour starts later in the afternoon. You have the morning to explore downtown Buenos Aires. Lunch on your own.
Departures & Prices
Tour Price Includes
- 2 nights in Buenos Aires, 3 nights in Puerto Iguazu
- All Meals from Dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on day 6
- Return flights between Buenos Aires and Iguazu
- Ground transportation
- National Park entrance fee
- Gratuities to local guides
- Local birding guide on four days
- 4-8 Participants will be guided by one EET guide, 9-12 participants will be guided by 2 guides
Tour Price Does Not Include
- Travel to and from start/end location
- Travel Insurance
- Items of a personal nature
What to Expect
What to Expect
On this short tour we focus heavily on the waterfalls area, which are inside a popular national park with restaurants and gift shops, but also plenty of greenspace (for example, jaguars and other animals roam freely!). Therefore, exploring the falls involves easy to moderate walking along boardwalks and overlooks. A train can whisk us to different falls.
On another day we explore some regional forest accessed by road. Another morning is more adventurous, taking us a couple of hours away from the falls to a very good reserve consisting of rainforest with bamboo. On this trip, we’ll walk a 3.2km-long trail through the forest. The condition of this trail depends on how much maintenance the park custodians have completed recently. There’s an option to remain with the driver and van next to a creek. We have a boxed lunch here.
Expect warm to hot weather with a chance of showers in this subtropical border area next to Brazil. It should be the dry season but the falls can be pumping due to rains in the Amazon. Comfortable hiking shoes are fine (rubber boots should not be necessary).
There may be a few mosquitoes. You can leave all of your cold weather clothing at the hotel in Buenos Aires. In the evenings we discuss the day’s activities and review the list of birds and wildlife seen, and outline events for the next day.
Even though we cannot guarantee a sighting of the animals below, we feel quite confident that an encounter with the ones listed below is quite likely.
- Black-fronted Piping-Guan
- Toco Toucan
- Great Dusky Swift
- Green-headed Tanager
- Chestnut-bellied Euphonia
- Surucua Trogon
- Plush-crested Jay
- Rufous-capped Motmot
- Swallow-tailed Hummingbird
- Blond-crested Woodpecker
- Rufous Gnateater
- Argentine Tegu
Past Tour Checklists
Past Tour Checklists
View the list of birds and other wildlife we encountered on our past tours.