South America

2015 South America Tour Destinations

Brazil
North  Pantanal 
SOUTH AMERICA
10 DAY NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR
Arrival Details Day - 1
Arrival at the International Airport in Cuiaba and immediate transfer to the Pantanal. Hotel Pantanal Mato Grosso or Rio Claro Lodge.
Day 1 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date Upon Arrival at the Airport of Cuiaba
Pantanal
Marshes, Savannahs, Woods
Hot and Dry
Itinerary/Typical Fauna and Flora seen...


Arrival at the International Airport in Cuiaba and immediate transfer to the Pantanal. Field observation and birdwatching on route. While crossing the area down the Transpantaneira dirt road, spectacular chances to spot many birdlife such a Jabiru, Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill, Southern Screamer, Plumbeous, Buff-necked, Bare-faced & Green Ibises, Sunbittern, Long-tailed Ground-Dove, Black-collared, Great Black & Savanna Hawks, Snail Kite, Chaco Chachalaca and many others. Arrival at the hotel at the end of the day. Check in. Sunset and Nighthawks watch, followed by some Owling. Dinner. Field Check List Track (FCT). Overnight. Hotel Pantanal Mato Grosso or Rio Claro Lodge.
 Photo
 
Day 2 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 Pantanal
River and River Forests
Hot and Dry
Itinerary/Typical Fauna and Flora seen...


Early morning breakfast and birding on the gallery forest of the Pixaim river, good chances to spot the Helmeted Manakin, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, White-lored and Rusty-backed Spinetail, Mato Grosso and Band-tailed Antbird, Red-billed Scythebill, Flavescent Warbler, Moustached and Buff-bellied Wrens, Purplish Jay, Troupial, Crested Oropendola, Solitary Black-Cacique, Blue-crowned Trogon, Black-fronted Nunbird, Silver-beaked Tanager, Rusty-collared and White-bellied Seedeaters, Lesser Seed-Finch and many others. Return for lunch. PM: Boat ride, with chances to spot Anhinga, Rufescent-tiger, Striated and Boat-billed Herons, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Sungrebe, Southern Lapwing, Lesser Kiskadee, Black-capped Donacobius. All the five South American Kingfishers, Band-tailed Nighthawk and many others. After dinner night tour to owling and spot nocturnal wildlife, including Ocelots! Overnight. Hotel Pantanal Mato Grosso or Rio Claro Lodge.
 Photo
 
Day 3 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 Pantanal
River,River Forest
Savannahs,woods,
marshes
Hot and Dry
Itinerary/Typical Fauna and Flora seen...


Early breakfast and motor boat ride along the Pixaim River , searching the Pantanal wildlife on the river banks, in the water or on the sky, sometimes you don’t know in which direction you should point your lens. Everything seems beautiful and interesting. After lunch we will check out and begin our driving to the end of the Transpantaneira dirty road – Porto Jofre. If until this moment we didn’t get to see the Jaguar, we should be very anxious. Check in. In walk at the Hotel nearby, we might use a powerful spotlight to search for nocturnal wildlife. After returning to our lodge, we will have dinner and a deserved rest. Overnight Hotel Porto Jofre
 Photo Jaguar on the river bank
 
Day 4-5 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 05:00 Pantanal
River and River Forest
Hot and Dry. But, early morning at the boat can be coolish.
Itinerary/Typical Fauna and Flora seen...


Two full days exploring the Pantanal by motor boat. After our breakfasts, we will have boat ride up/down stream, searching for Jaguars and other mammals such Giant River Otters, Capybaras and the rare Tapir, among several species of interesting as birds and reptiles. During these days we will have a break to return to the lodge and enjoy our lunch and also take a rest. Don’t worry, you won’t miss anything, our magnificent felines use to take a nap during the hottest hours of the day. Dinners and overnights at the Porto Jofre Hotel.
 Photo Jaguar on the river bank 
 
Day 6 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 Pantanal
Savanah, marshes
Hot and Dry
Itinerary/Typical Fauna and Flora seen...


After Breakfast, we check out and transfer to another lodge with birding along the route with chances for Maguari Stork, Laughing Falcon, Whistling Heron, White-faced, Black-bellied & Muscovy Ducks, Bare-faced Curassow, Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Bay-winged & Giant Cowbird. We will move to a lodge with nesting Hyacinth Macaws and daytime roost for Great Potoo. This area is also "literally" packed with a great number of other birds. Check in. Lunch. Siesta. PM: Bird walk with chances to spot Rufous Cacholote, Red-crested & Yellow-billed Cardinal, Grayish & Buff-throated Saltator, White-rumped Monjita, Nacunda Nighthawk, Greater & Rufous-fronted Thornbird, Masked Gnatcatcher. Capped Heron, Toco Toucan, Chesnut-eared Aracari, Peach-fronted, Monk & Golden-chevroned Parakeets, Golden-collared Macaw, Striped Cuckoo, Scarlet-headed, Unicolored & Chopi Blackbirds, followed by some owling. FCT. Dinner. Overnight. Pouso Alegre Lodge
 Photo
 
Day 7 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 Pantanal
Savanah,marshes
Hot and Dry
Itinerary/Typical Fauna and Flora seen... This day, will be a day in “paradise” due the resident flock of Hyacinth Macaws, living around the lodge.  Pouso Alegre Lodge has very nice ponds, with many Caimans and Capybaras. FCT. Dinner. Overnight.
 Photo
 
Day 8 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 Pantanal
Savanah,marshes
Hot and Dry
Itinerary/Typical Fauna and Flora seen... After breakfast. Check out. Transfer to the Piuval Lodge, with birding and wildlife observation along the route.  We shall arrive by lunch time. Check in. Lunch. Siesta. PM: Forest walk with chances for the lovely Flavescent Warbler and Black-bellied Antwren. Owling for Great and Gray Potoos. FCT. Dinner. Overnight.
 Photo
 
Day 9 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 Pantanal
Savanah,marshes
Hot and Dry
Itinerary/Typical Fauna and Flora seen...


Our last full day at the Pantanal has to be appreciated on its fullest! So, let’s look for new birds and animals, at the same time, we shall have “farwell” looks on those that made this tour so special, such the Hyacinth Macaws,  Peach-fronted Parakeet, Bare-faced Curassow…All this with a lovely lunch & nice siesta. In the afternoon, we may have another great walk with lots of birds, and, with some luck Black-tailed Marmoset and Brown Cappuchin. FCT. Dinner. Overnight. Piuval Lodge.
 Photo
 
Day 10 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00
Savanah,marshes
Hot and Dry
Itinerary/Typical Fauna and Flora seen... Since it is our return. We will be looking for possible missing birds and animals, before our departure. The programation will depend of the flight schedule.
 Photo
 

Colombia South America 15 DAY NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR
Day 1 Time Location

Date ?
El Dorado International Airport 

 Arrival Details Pickup at El Dorado International Airport and transfer to hotel.
Day 2 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 Parque La Florida & Jardin El Encantado
Wetland, Private Garden
Cool/Mild
Itinerary/Typical Fauna and Flora seen...


We shall spend the morning at a wetland within the city limits of Bogota before taking an afternoon flight to Cali.  Parque La Florida is a recreational park enjoyed by Bogotanos (people from Bogotá) at weekends.  However, it is also home to two very local endemics, the enigmatic Bogota Rail and the Apolinar’s Marsh-wren.  We should also expect to see several hundred wintering Blue-winged Teals as well as the isolated race of Spot-flanked Gallinule.  Also usually found are American Coot, Common Gallinule, Noble Snipe and maybe the elusive Subtropical Doradito.
After lunch we shall visit a garden with not only an impressive number of hummingbird feeders, but hummingbirds as well.
 Photo White-bellied Woodstar
 
Day 3 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 04:00 El 18 & Finca Alejandria Subtropical Forest Cool/Wet
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...

West of Cali is a low pass in the western Andes where we will spend a productive morning along a jeep track which passes through remnant cloud forest patches, allowing us to reach one of the localities where another splendid endemic can be found, the attractive Multicolored Tanager. Other likely birds in this area include Sickle-winged Guan, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, White-collared Swift, Bronzy Inca, Speckled Hummingbird, Greenish Puffleg, Red-headed Barbet, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Montane Woodcreeper, Red-faced Spinetail, the furtive Spotted and Rusty-winged Barbtails, Streak-capped Treehunter, Streaked Xenops, Uniform Antshrike, the skulking Nariño Tapaculo, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Ashy-headed Tyrannulet, Variegated Bristle-Tyrant, Black- throated Tody-Tyrant, the hyperactive Cinnamon Flycatcher, the vocally impressive Andean Solitaire, Black-billed Peppershrike, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Three-striped Warbler, White-sided and Rusty Flower-piercers, Orange-bellied Euphonia and Oleaginous Hemispingus. Once again, colourful tanagers are much in evidence and whilst searching through the flocks for our multicolored prize, we will also find other new species such as Golden-naped, Saffron-crowned, Metallic-green and Summer Tanagers, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager and Ash-throated Bush-Tanager. If we are fortunate, we will find one or two of the more difficult species such as the retiring White-throated Quail-Dove or the aptly-named Dull-colored Grassquit.
We shall also visit a private house where an impressive set of feeders with an impressive hummingbird show. Some 600 individuals are estimated to visit daily, and among the many species that arrive to sip the artificial ‘nectar’ are White-necked Jacobin, Brown Violetear, Black-throated Mango, the gorgeous Blue-headed Sapphire, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Long-tailed Sylph, Long-billed Starthroat and Purple-throated Woodstar.
 Photo Multicoloured Tanager
 
Day 4 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 05:00 Laguna de Sonso Open Country, Lake
Hot/Dry
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...


Today we will continue northwards through the Cauca Valley to Laguna de Sonso, a fine wetland where we will scan the open waters and fringes for Neotropic Cormorant, Anhinga, Little Blue, Cocoi (or White-necked) and Striated Herons, Snowy Egret, Bare-faced and Glossy Ibises, , Cinnamon Teal, Osprey, Snail Kite, Wattled Jacana, Black-necked Stilt, Solitary, Spotted and Least Sandpipers, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs,  and Pied Water-Tyrant. If luck is on our side we will find one of the rarer species such as Pinnated Bittern or Horned Screamer. A nearby patchwork of fields, woodland patches, and brushy edges holds a variety of other birds including Northern Crested Caracara, Yellow-headed Caracara, Southern Lapwing, Pale-vented Pigeon, Common Ground-Dove, the smart Dwarf Cuckoo, Striped Cuckoo (much easier to hear than see!), Greater Ani, Ringed Kingfisher, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, the attractive Jet Antbird, Cinereous Becard, Southern Beardless and Mouse-colored Tyrannulets, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, the attractive Slate-headed Tody-flycatcher, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, Yellow Warbler, the attractive Orange-crowned Euphonia, Gray and Ruddy-breasted Seedeaters, Blue-black Grassquit, Yellow Oriole and the introduced Red-capped Cardinal. Around the accommodation there is often a roosting Common Potoo and roosting Common Nighthawks, and also confiding Spectacled Parrotlets and Blue-headed Parrots. We also have a good chance of finding the endemic Grayish Piculet, while flowering trees may hold the elusive Ruby Topaz.
In the late afternoon we shall continue on to the Otun-Quimbaya Reserve.

Trinidad is 50 miles long by about 37 miles wide, and dominated by the Northern Range, which rises to over 3,000 feet. This is where we will spend the next few adventure-filled days.
After settling into the world famous Asa Wright Nature Centre, a “Not-for-Profit” Trust established in 1967, by a group of naturalists and bird-watchers to “protect part of the Arima Valley in a natural state and to create a conservation and study area for the protection of wildlife and for the enjoyment of all.” It was one of the first nature centres to be established in the Caribbean.  we spend the afternoon relaxing at the veranda of the Centre familiarizing ourselves with some of the species well have many opportunities to photograph during our stay.
Photo Spectacled Parrotlet
 
Day 5 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 SFF Otún-Quimbaya Sub-tropical Forest
Cool/Wet
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...


This morning we will visit the Otún-Quimbaya Reserve where we shall find ourselves listening for the predawn calls of the endangered Cauca Guan, for it was at this site that this previously thought-to-be-extinct cracid was rediscovered during the 1990s. As the sky lightens we shall try to locate this Colombian endemic and also the furtive and very difficult Wattled Guan, whilst the booming calls of lekking Red-ruffed Fruitcrows (which are surprisingly common here) fill the air. Dense brush at the forest edge holds the inconspicuous and recently described Stiles’s Tapaculo, whilst almost pure whistles from the forest understory indicate the presence of Chestnut-breasted Wrens, perhaps more numerous here than anywhere else in the species’ range. It is also an excellent place for hearing, and with luck seeing, the secretive Chestnut Wood-quail. As mixed foraging flocks start assembling, we shall carefully scrutinize these for the localized Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet and Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, and amongst the tanager flocks we have another chance to find Multicolored Tanager. More widespread species may well see include the impressive Golden-plumed Parakeet, the colourful Collared Trogon, Slaty Antwren, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant and Inca Jay. Along the river, we are very likely to find a superb pair of Torrent Ducks alongside rather less impressive Black Phoebes and Torrent Tyrannulets.
Photo Torrent Duck
 
Day 6-8 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 Montezuma Lodge Cloud Forest
Hot/Humid/Wet/Cool
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...


After a final morning at the Otún-Quimbaya reserve we shall spend drive to Cerro Montezuma for the next three nights. On the higher slopes we shall look for the endemic Gold-ringed Tanager, Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer and Munchique Wood-wren. As we walk back down the slope towards the lodge we should start coming across the other most wanted tanager in the endemic Black-and-gold Tanager plus Parker's Antbird, Crested Ant-tanager and the as yet un-described Alto Pisones Tapaculo. We shall also hopefully see Beautiful Jay, Black Solitaire, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Glistening-green Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain-tanager, Bicoloured Antvireo, Club-winged Manakin and many other Chocó endemics.
Around the lodge there are several feeders for hummingbirds and tanagers and a Blackish Rail also frequents the garden in search of discarded rice. After a final morning here we shall drive to the city of Manizales for three nights.
Photo Purple-bibbed Whitetip
 
Day 9 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 07:00 Rio Blanco Sub-tropical Forest
Cool/Warm
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...

Today will be spent at the Rio Blanco reserve where we shall look for several Antpittas including Brown-banded, Chestnut-naped, Slate-crowned and Bicoloured, but also Dusky Piha, Black-billed Mountain-toucan, Occelated, Spillman's, Ash-colored and Blackish Tapaculos, Masked Saltator, Rusty-faced Parrot and Golden-plumed Parakeet. We shall also be alert for the jay-like calls of a party of White-capped Tanagers. Another feature of the reserve is the amazing set of hummingbird feeders where, as well as the ubiquitous Tourmaline Sunangel, we should see Speckled Hummingbird, Buff-tailed Coronet and White-bellied Woodstar. Other species that we will hope to see here include Green Violetear, Masked Trogon, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Tyrannine and Black-banded Woodcreepers, Long-tailed Antbird, Chestnut-naped Antpitta, Blackish Tapaculo, Rufous-crowned Tody-tyrant, Black-capped and White-tailed Tyrannulets, Smoke-colored Pewee, Pale-edged and Golden-crowned Flycatchers, Mountain Wren, Citrine and Russet-crowned Warblers, Masked and Glossy Flower-piercers, Capped Conebill (here with a white cap), colourful Grass-green Tanager, Gray-hooded Bush-tanager, Stripe-headed Brush-finch and Black-winged Saltator. We will also seek out bamboo specialists such as Black-eared Hemispingus and Plushcap.
Photo Grey-browed Brushfinch
 
Day 10 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 Nevado del Ruiz
Paramo, Temperate Forest
Cold
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
Our second day around Manizales we shall spend the day above 10,000ft in the high temperate zone of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, where patches of forest give way to the paramo. Here, our primary target is the endemic and the very localized Rufous-fronted Parakeet, which is often very hard to find. Newly installed feeders at the Hotel Los Termales attract a number of colourful hummingbirds including Viridian Metaltail, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Buff-winged Starfrontlet and Shining Sunbeam. On occasion, the somewhat nomadic Black-thighed Puffleg can be present in some numbers, but at other times it is largely absent. If we are lucky we will also come across Rainbow-bearded and Purple-backed Thornbills, Great Sapphirewing or even the enigmatic Bearded Helmetcrest. In the forest patches we will look out for the superb Grey-breasted Mountain-toucan, Paramo Tapaculo, White-banded Tyrannulet, Brown-backed Chat-tyrant, Golden-fronted Whitestart Blue-backed Conebill, Blue-and-black Tanager, the gorgeous Golden-crowned Tanager, Lacrimose, Hooded and Buff-breasted Mountain-tanagers, Black-backed Bush-Tanager and Slaty Brush-finch. In the more open areas and around a wetland we shall look for Andean Teal, White-tailed Hawk, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Andean Tit-Spinetail, the localized Stout-billed Cinclodes, the attractive Many-striped Canastero, White-chinned Thistletail, Grass Wren, Pale-naped Brush-Finch, and a variety of seedeaters including Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, and Paramo and Plain-colored Seedeaters
Photo Rufous-fronted Parakeet
 
Day 11-13 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 El Dorado Lodge Dry Forest, Sub-tropical forest

Hot/Cool/Humid

Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...

Dry Forest, Sub-tropical forestThis morning we shall catch a flight to Santa Marta. We shall then drive straight to the El Dorado lodge for a two-night stay.
Here we shall spend our time on the San Lorenzo ridge in search of the many endemics that the region has to offer including Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Bush-tyrant, Santa Marta Seedeater, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Mountain-tanager, Santa Marta Brush-finch, White-lored Warbler, Yellow-crowned Whitestart, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Streak-capped Spinetail, White-tailed Starfrontlet, Santa Marta Antpitta, and Santa Marta Woodstar. Other species may include White-tipped Quetzal, White-rumped Hawk, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Golden-breasted Fruiteater and Lined Quail-Dove. In the evening we shall look for the elusive and as yet un-described Santa Marta Screech-owl.
After breakfast on the final morning we shall head back down towards Santa Marta where we shall stop at selected spots to look for Santa Marta Tapaculo, Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner and Blossomcrown. In Minca we shall spend our time at some hummingbird feeders.
Photo Yellow-crowned Whitestart
 
Day 14 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 04:00 Los Flamencos Reserve
Desert Scrub Hot
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
Today we shall visit La Guajira for Coro endemics including Chestnut Piculet, Tocuyo Sparrow, Vermillion Cardinal and Buffy Hummingbird. We shall also hope to see Bare-eyed Pigeon, White-whiskered Spinetail, Black-crested Antshrike, Venezuelan Flycatcher, Orinocan Saltator, Pale-eyed Pygmy-tyrant, Glaucous Tanager, Slender-billed and Pale-tipped Inezia, Russet-throated Puffbird, Northern Scrub-flycatcher, Double-striped Thick-knee and Northern White-fringed Antwren.
Photo White-fringed Antwren
 
Day 15 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 05:00 Isla Salamanca
Desert Scrub / Mangrove
Hot/Humid
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
We shall spend the early morning in Isla Salamanca in search of the endemic Chestnut-winged Chachalaca, Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird and Bronze-brown Cowbird plus a great selection of commoner species including terns, waders and ducks before driving to Barranquilla for our lunchtime flight to Bogotá.
 Photo Short-billed Dowitcher & Eastern Willet
 

COLOMBIA SOUTH AMERICA 21 DAY NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR
Arrival Details Day 1 Pickup at El Dorado International Airport and transfer to hotel.
Day 2 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 Parque La Florida & Jardin El Encantado
Wetland, Private Garden
Cool/Mild
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
We shall spend the morning at a wetland within the city limits of Bogota before taking an afternoon flight to Cali.  Parque La Florida is a recreational park enjoyed by Bogotanos (people from Bogotá) at weekends.  However, it is also home to two very local endemics, the enigmatic Bogota Rail and the Apolinar’s Marsh-wren.  We should also expect to see several hundred wintering Blue-winged Teals as well as the isolated race of Spot-flanked Gallinule.  Also usually found are American Coot, Common Gallinule, Noble Snipe and maybe the elusive Subtropical Doradito.
After lunch we shall visit a garden with not only an impressive number of hummingbird feeders, but hummingbirds as well.
 Photo White-bellied Woodstar
 
Day 3 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 3-7 06:00 Cerro Guadalupe & Leticia
Treeline forest/Amazon
Cold/Hot/Humid
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
At dawn we shall find ourselves overlooking the vast city of Bogotá. Here we shall look for the endemics, Matorral Tapaculo and Silvery-throated Spinetail as well as the near endemics, Rufous-browed Conebill and Coppery-bellied Puffleg. Other species could include Tawny-rumped Tyrannulet, Agile Tit Tyrant, Pluchcap, Black-eared, Black-headed, Black-capped and Superciliaried Hemispingus and maybe the rare and local Black-chested Mountain Tanager.

We shall then catch a lunchtime flight to Leticia in the heart of the Amazon for the next four nights. Here we shall visit a variety of habitats in order to maximize the photography opportunities. With the abundance of species to be found in the Amazon it is difficult to predict exactly what we may see, but nevertheless we should see a good selection of Hummingbirds, Woodpeckers, Puffbirds, Jacamars, Raptors, Parrots, Antbirds, Flycatchers and Tanagers amongst others. After a final morning around Leticia on day 7 we shall catch a flight to Cali via Bogota.
 Photo Andean Guan
 
Day 8 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 04:00 El 18 & Finca Alejandria
Subtropical Forest
Cool/Wet
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
West of Cali is a low pass in the western Andes where we will spend a productive morning along a jeep track which passes through remnant cloud forest patches, allowing us to reach one of the localities where another splendid endemic can be found, the attractive Multicolored Tanager. Other likely birds in this area include Sickle-winged Guan, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, White-collared Swift, Bronzy Inca, Speckled Hummingbird, Greenish Puffleg, Red-headed Barbet, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Montane Woodcreeper, Red-faced Spinetail, the furtive Spotted and Rusty-winged Barbtails, Streak-capped Treehunter, Streaked Xenops, Uniform Antshrike, the skulking Nariño Tapaculo, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Ashy-headed Tyrannulet, Variegated Bristle-Tyrant, Black- throated Tody-Tyrant, the hyperactive Cinnamon Flycatcher, the vocally impressive Andean Solitaire, Black-billed Peppershrike, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Three-striped Warbler, White-sided and Rusty Flower-piercers, Orange-bellied Euphonia and Oleaginous Hemispingus. Once again, colourful tanagers are much in evidence and whilst searching through the flocks for our multicolored prize, we will also find other new species such as Golden-naped, Saffron-crowned, Metallic-green and Summer Tanagers, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager and Ash-throated Bush-Tanager. If we are fortunate, we will find one or two of the more difficult species such as the retiring White-throated Quail-Dove or the aptly-named Dull-colored Grassquit.
We shall also visit a private house where an impressive set of feeders with an impressive hummingbird show. Some 600 individuals are estimated to visit daily, and among the many species that arrive to sip the artificial ‘nectar’ are White-necked Jacobin, Brown Violetear, Black-throated Mango, the gorgeous Blue-headed Sapphire, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Long-tailed Sylph, Long-billed Starthroat and Purple-throated Woodstar.
 Photo Multicoloured Tanager
 
Day 9 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 05:00 Laguna de Sonso
Open Country, Lake
Hot/Dry
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
Today we will continue northwards through the Cauca Valley to Laguna de Sonso, a fine wetland where we will scan the open waters and fringes for Neotropic Cormorant, Anhinga, Little Blue, Cocoi (or White-necked) and Striated Herons, Snowy Egret, Bare-faced and Glossy Ibises, , Cinnamon Teal, Osprey, Snail Kite, Wattled Jacana, Black-necked Stilt, Solitary, Spotted and Least Sandpipers, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs,  and Pied Water-Tyrant. If luck is on our side we will find one of the rarer species such as Pinnated Bittern or Horned Screamer. A nearby patchwork of fields, woodland patches, and brushy edges holds a variety of other birds including Northern Crested Caracara, Yellow-headed Caracara, Southern Lapwing, Pale-vented Pigeon, Common Ground-Dove, the smart Dwarf Cuckoo, Striped Cuckoo (much easier to hear than see!), Greater Ani, Ringed Kingfisher, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, the attractive Jet Antbird, Cinereous Becard, Southern Beardless and Mouse-colored Tyrannulets, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, the attractive Slate-headed Tody-flycatcher, Southern Rough-winged Swallow, Yellow Warbler, the attractive Orange-crowned Euphonia, Gray and Ruddy-breasted Seedeaters, Blue-black Grassquit, Yellow Oriole and the introduced Red-capped Cardinal. Around the accommodation there is often a roosting Common Potoo and roosting Common Nighthawks, and also confiding Spectacled Parrotlets and Blue-headed Parrots. We also have a good chance of finding the endemic Grayish Piculet, while flowering trees may hold the elusive Ruby Topaz.
In the late afternoon we shall continue on to the Otun-Quimbaya Reserve.
 Photo Spectacled Parrotlet
 
Day 10 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 SFF Otún-Quimbaya
Sub-tropical Forest
Cool/Wet
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
This morning we will visit the Otún-Quimbaya Reserve where we shall find ourselves listening for the predawn calls of the endangered Cauca Guan, for it was at this site that this previously thought-to-be-extinct cracid was rediscovered during the 1990s. As the sky lightens we shall try to locate this Colombian endemic and also the furtive and very difficult Wattled Guan, whilst the booming calls of lekking Red-ruffed Fruitcrows (which are surprisingly common here) fill the air. Dense brush at the forest edge holds the inconspicuous and recently described Stiles’s Tapaculo, whilst almost pure whistles from the forest understory indicate the presence of Chestnut-breasted Wrens, perhaps more numerous here than anywhere else in the species’ range. It is also an excellent place for hearing, and with luck seeing, the secretive Chestnut Wood-quail. As mixed foraging flocks start assembling, we shall carefully scrutinize these for the localized Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet and Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, and amongst the tanager flocks we have another chance to find Multicolored Tanager. More widespread species may well see include the impressive Golden-plumed Parakeet, the colourful Collared Trogon, Slaty Antwren, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant and Inca Jay. Along the river, we are very likely to find a superb pair of Torrent Ducks alongside rather less impressive Black Phoebes and Torrent Tyrannulets.
 Photo Torrent Duck
 
Day 11-14 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 Montezuma Lodge
Cloud Forest
Hot/Humid/Wet/Cool
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
After a final morning at the Otún-Quimbaya reserve we shall spend drive to Cerro Montezuma for the next three nights. On the higher slopes we shall look for the endemic Gold-ringed Tanager, Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer and Munchique Wood-wren. As we walk back down the slope towards the lodge we should start coming across the other most wanted tanager in the endemic Black-and-gold Tanager plus Parker's Antbird, Crested Ant-tanager and the as yet un-described Alto Pisones Tapaculo. We shall also hopefully see Beautiful Jay, Black Solitaire, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Glistening-green Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain-tanager, Bicoloured Antvireo, Club-winged Manakin and many other Chocó endemics.
Around the lodge there are several feeders for hummingbirds and tanagers and a Blackish Rail also frequents the garden in search of discarded rice. After a final morning here we shall drive to the city of Manizales for three nights.
 Photo Purple-bibbed Whitetip
 
Day 15 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 05:00 Rio Blanco
Sub-tropical Forest
Cool/Warm
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
Today will be spent at the Rio Blanco reserve where we shall look for several Antpittas including Brown-banded, Chestnut-naped, Slate-crowned and Bicoloured, but also Dusky Piha, Black-billed Mountain-toucan, Occelated, Spillman's, Ash-colored and Blackish Tapaculos, Masked Saltator, Rusty-faced Parrot and Golden-plumed Parakeet. We shall also be alert for the jay-like calls of a party of White-capped Tanagers. Another feature of the reserve is the amazing set of hummingbird feeders where, as well as the ubiquitous Tourmaline Sunangel, we should see Speckled Hummingbird, Buff-tailed Coronet and White-bellied Woodstar. Other species that we will hope to see here include Green Violetear, Masked Trogon, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Tyrannine and Black-banded Woodcreepers, Long-tailed Antbird, Chestnut-naped Antpitta, Blackish Tapaculo, Rufous-crowned Tody-tyrant, Black-capped and White-tailed Tyrannulets, Smoke-colored Pewee, Pale-edged and Golden-crowned Flycatchers, Mountain Wren, Citrine and Russet-crowned Warblers, Masked and Glossy Flower-piercers, Capped Conebill (here with a white cap), colourful Grass-green Tanager, Gray-hooded Bush-tanager, Stripe-headed Brush-finch and Black-winged Saltator. We will also seek out bamboo specialists such as Black-eared Hemispingus and Plushcap.
 Photo Grey-browed Brushfinch
 
Day 16 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 Nevado del Ruiz
Paramo, Temperate Forest
Cold
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
Our second day around Manizales we shall spend the day above 10,000ft in the high temperate zone of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, where patches of forest give way to the paramo. Here, our primary target is the endemic and the very localized Rufous-fronted Parakeet, which is often very hard to find. Newly installed feeders at the Hotel Los Termales attract a number of colourful hummingbirds including Viridian Metaltail, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Buff-winged Starfrontlet and Shining Sunbeam. On occasion, the somewhat nomadic Black-thighed Puffleg can be present in some numbers, but at other times it is largely absent. If we are lucky we will also come across Rainbow-bearded and Purple-backed Thornbills, Great Sapphirewing or even the enigmatic Bearded Helmetcrest. In the forest patches we will look out for the superb Grey-breasted Mountain-toucan, Paramo Tapaculo, White-banded Tyrannulet, Brown-backed Chat-tyrant, Golden-fronted Whitestart Blue-backed Conebill, Blue-and-black Tanager, the gorgeous Golden-crowned Tanager, Lacrimose, Hooded and Buff-breasted Mountain-tanagers, Black-backed Bush-Tanager and Slaty Brush-finch. In the more open areas and around a wetland we shall look for Andean Teal, White-tailed Hawk, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Andean Tit-Spinetail, the localized Stout-billed Cinclodes, the attractive Many-striped Canastero, White-chinned Thistletail, Grass Wren, Pale-naped Brush-Finch, and a variety of seedeaters including Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, and Paramo and Plain-colored Seedeaters
 Photo Rufous-fronted Parakeet
 
Day 17-19 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 06:00 El Dorado Lodge
Dry Forest, Sub-tropical forest
Hot/Cool/Humid
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
This morning we shall catch a flight to Santa Marta. We shall then drive straight to the El Dorado lodge for a two-night stay.
Here we shall spend our time on the San Lorenzo ridge in search of the many endemics that the region has to offer including Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Bush-tyrant, Santa Marta Seedeater, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Mountain-tanager, Santa Marta Brush-finch, White-lored Warbler, Yellow-crowned Whitestart, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Streak-capped Spinetail, White-tailed Starfrontlet, Santa Marta Antpitta, and Santa Marta Woodstar. Other species may include White-tipped Quetzal, White-rumped Hawk, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Golden-breasted Fruiteater and Lined Quail-Dove. In the evening we shall look for the elusive and as yet un-described Santa Marta Screech-owl.
After breakfast on the final morning we shall head back down towards Santa Marta where we shall stop at selected spots to look for Santa Marta Tapaculo, Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner and Blossomcrown. In Minca we shall spend our time at some hummingbird feeders.
 Photo Yellow-crowned Whitestart
 
Day 20 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 04:00 Los Flamencos Reserve
Desert Scrub
Hot
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
Today we shall visit La Guajira for Coro endemics including Chestnut Piculet, Tocuyo Sparrow, Vermillion Cardinal and Buffy Hummingbird. We shall also hope to see Bare-eyed Pigeon, White-whiskered Spinetail, Black-crested Antshrike, Venezuelan Flycatcher, Orinocan Saltator, Pale-eyed Pygmy-tyrant, Glaucous Tanager, Slender-billed and Pale-tipped Inezia, Russet-throated Puffbird, Northern Scrub-flycatcher, Double-striped Thick-knee and Northern White-fringed Antwren.
 Photo White-fringed Antwren
 
Day 21 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date 05:00 Isla Salamanca
Desert Scrub / Mangrove
Hot/Humid
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
We shall spend the early morning in Isla Salamanca in search of the endemic Chestnut-winged Chachalaca, Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird and Bronze-brown Cowbird plus a great selection of commoner species including terns, waders and ducks before driving to Barranquilla for our lunchtime flight to Bogotá.
 Photo Short-billed Dowitcher & Eastern Willet
 

ECUADOR

SOUTH AMERICA
8,10,15 DAY NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR

Day 1 Time Location






Arrival Details DAY - 1
Pick up at airport, transfer by bus to Hotel in Quito, 1 hour 30 minutes drive.
Day 2 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date
NAPO WILDLIFE CENTER
AMAZON RAIN FOREST
HUMID, WET, SUNNY

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...


A rewarding 30 minute flight to Coca over the eastern Andes mountain range is the beginning of this amazing experience.

After landing, a short 5 minute drive to the port in the Napo River will take you onto a comfortable covered motor boat. Here we start a boat ride along the Napo for approximately 2 hours. Some aquatic birds can be spotted on the way.

After arriving at the lodge welcoming area, we take a magical and peaceful 2 hour dugout-canoe along a narrow creek that connects to the lake where the lodge is located. Great chances to spot wildlife, various species of monkeys as well as large birds like toucans, parrots or even macaws. Late afternoon arrival at the lodge.

 
Day 3 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s


NAPO WILD LIFE CENTER
AMAZON RAIN FOREST
HUMID, WET, SUNNY
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...

After a buffet breakfast, experience the life above the forest floor visiting the 36- meter canopy tower. This tower is located about 30 minutes from the lodge deep within the forest.

Get a very good sample of the 567 species recorded so far, with a close look at colorful tanagers, macaws, toucans, flycatchers and even Spider or Howler Monkeys feeding themselves on the nearby trees. The canopy tower opens a whole new world to the guests of the lodge. Return to the lodge for a typical Ecuadorian lunch. After lunch there are many options to choose from before you start the afternoon activity: climb the dinning room tree tower for more birds, or just relax in your hammock.

In the afternoon, hike through a marvelous terra- firme forest to discover the ecology and the role of plants in the complex world of the Tropical Rain-Forest: vines, ancient trees, bromeliads, orchids stand out in this impressive natural garden. After the hike, explore the surrounding creeks with possibilities of running into a Giant otter family. Dinner at 7:30pm.

 
Day 4 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date NAPO WILD LIFE CENTER
AMAZON RAIN FOREST
HUMID, WET, SUNNY
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...


This morning we visit the best parrot clay licks in Ecuador!!! Early start and paddle downstream on the creek as far as the welcome area. Then, take the motor boat for a 10 minute ride for a wonderful view of thousands of parrots such as Amazon-Mealy, blue-headed, orange –cheek, among others, landing on the earth to eat the clay. Later, back to the welcome area and a short hike to the parakeets’ clay lick, where hundreds of cobalt-winged parakeets remain on the top of the trees searching for the best time to eat the salts, chemicals and minerals contained in the organic matter. Lunch in the welcome area. In the afternoon, visit the interpretation area to see the traditions of the ancestral Kichwa community. Back to the lodge late in the afternoon where you’ll be welcomed back with a refreshing fresh juice. Dinner at 7:30pm.

 
Day 5 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date NAPO WILDF LIFE CENTER / CLOUD FOREST
HUMID, WET, SUNNY
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...


Early breakfast, and last excursion canoeing back to the Napo river, the creek may reveal new sights of Giant otters, Monk Saki monkeys, hoatzins, blackcapped donacobius or other birds.

The motorized canoe will return you back to Coca, for the flight back to Quito.

In the afternoon we will take you by bus to the lodge in the cloud forest. We will be there at night.

 
Day 6 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date BELLAVISTA / TANDAYAPA LODGE Cloud Forest
HUMID, WET, SUNNY
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...


PAZ DE LAS AVES RESERVE / COCK OF THE ROCK LEK / BELLAVISTA
 
Day 7
Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date
BELLAVISTA / TANDAYAPA LODGE CLOUD FOREST
HUMID, WET, SUNNY
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...

ALAMBI HUMMINGBIRDS / SILANCHE RESERVE
 
Day 8
Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date MASHPI LODGE
CLOUD FOREST
HUMID, WET, SUNNY
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...

SUAMOX RESERVE IN THE MORNING

IN THE AFTERNNON WE WILL GO TO MASHPI LODGE

MASHPI LODGE Mashpi lodge is located three hours away, 110 Km (70Milles) from Quito in the western slope of the occidental flank of the Andes. The rapid change in altitude (from 2800 msnm to 1000 msnm) allows you to discover the wanders of the Andean landscape. The road crosses the valley of Pomasqui dominated by Andean dry forest, and then to the western flank of the Andes through the Cloud Forest and the road ends in Mashpi at the beginning of the tropical rainforest. Half way to Mashpi you stop to visit Tulipe archeological museum, a set of ruins that belonged to the Yumbo culture, one of the last cultures that settled in Quito before the arrival of the Incas and the Spanish. You will enjoy coffee and an Empanada (Turnover) prepared by local citizens of Tulipe and then continue the road for 60 minutes and arrive to Mashpi.

 

TRAILS

Within the reserve we have 11 trails, where we do nature walks always accompanied by a bilingual naturalist guide and a local guide, they are responsible to teach our guests about the different wildlife: plants, insects and animal of this biodiverse forest. The guides they are not only environmental interpreters, they are also responsible for the safely and they will watch that everybody follow the rules for the conservation and protection of the reserve. Because of the mountainous topography of Mashpi, the trails have steep slopes and for that reason we have to place recycled plastic crates in order to make steps. The most of the trails are of moderate difficulty, but the inclination of the trails is an advantage because the slopes allow more light to penetrate into the different strata of the forest, increasing the diversity of plants and animals that can be observed at every level. The trails are on average between 1.50 and 2 meters wide.

Observation Tower

One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of Mashpi is from the observation tower. From here, guests can see the wonderful view of the canopy and the complex structure of the tropical forest, and in a clear day you can see the lodge imbibe within the forest. The tower is a metal structure with a staircase that rises about eight floors (26 m) ideal point for the wildlife lovers, the species spotted from here include toucans, woodpeckers, tanagers and parrots as well as birds of prey.

Hummingbird Viewpoint

The forests of Mashpi boast 22 hummingbird species identified to date, inhabiting different specific altitudes, with around 16 species alone observable by guests. In order to make it easier to see these amazing creatures, a shelter with seating provides the ideal setting, feeders for the birds strung from its roof. The site is located at a natural viewpoint, which, on clear days, provides breathtaking views of the Reserve’s forested hills.

Arrival and accommodation

After been comfortably settled in your room you will be greeted by one of our naturalists who will give you an introductory talk about the cloud forest and its conservation, the activities during your stay and some helpful tips about what to wear and what to bring to the excursions. This talk will take place before lunch at our library and lasts around 30 minutes..

Afternoon Excursion, Napa Trail.

At 15:30 we will gather together at the lobby in order to head to the Napa Trail. This trail starts at the side of the road, across areas where the forest is regenerating and large patches of pristine forest. For this reason this trail is ideal to explain the ecological succession processes and the importance of forest conservation for the Chocó region. Also this is a trail of great scenic beauty and toward the end of the trail you will find one of the unique attractions, a forest of “iron palm” (Iriartea deltoidea), which wood is used in different ways, mostly in house construction. This is also a very good trail for bird watching. It is a moderate difficulty trail and the excursion takes 2 hours.

Evening Excursion, Night hike (18:45).

The forest is transformed completely during the night, the sounds and smells are intensified and other senses are awakened. On this “night safari”, unlike others, our guests find the beauty in the small details, the croaking of frogs or the hum of insects. And if you turn off your flashlight you can observe the sparkling of fireflies in the woods, or listening to the flutter of bats and if you look carefully to the ground the faint glow of bioluminescent fungi (foxfire or fairy fire) surrounding you. When you turn on the lights again you can see the reflection of hundreds of tiny eyes of insects all around. As we continue our way you can hear the call of owls and night birds or the rustling of the branches above you when the kinkajous (Potos flavus), an arboreal mammal relative to the raccoons, open their road through the treetops, searching for ripe fruits. No doubt, this is an overwhelming experience. The excursion begins at 19:00 and takes about 45 min to an hour, and you will be back on time to enjoy a delicious dinner.

Or

Evening Lectures

Every evening for all our guests interested in knowing more deeply the cloud forest ecology, we have prepare a series of different lectures like the “Secret Wildlife of Mashpi, the trap camera project”, the “Chocó, a biological hotspot” about the formation and diversity of the Chocó, or about our scientific research projects. The lectures will be given by one of our naturalist or our resident biologist at 19:30.

 
Day 9
Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date MASHPI LODGE / CASA GANGOTENA CLOUD FOREST/ QUITO HUMID, WET, SUNNY
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...

Early Bird Watching.

For the early “birds”, the forest has its rewards, as the first rays of sun filtered the forest; the atmosphere is filled with the sound of birds in search for food. A good place for bird watching is the hotel terrace from where you can appreciate not only the beauty of the cloud forest essence but also many species of birds that come to feed on insects or fruit in the trees around. Always accompanied by a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate, our guides will share with you their skill in handling the telescope to show closely our incredible birds richness. This activity begins at 5:00 and last two hours, after this you enjoy breakfast.

Sky Bike and Observation Tower

We will depart at 08:30 to the Sky Bike and Observation tower, which are located close to the hotel, 15 minute walking. The Sky Bike makes for an original and exciting way to explore the forest canopy up close. Designed for two people to use at once, one person pedals the bike along a cable stretched between two points in the forest, around 200 m (655 feet) apart, crossing a gorge above a river flowing between rocks and trees below. Silent, easy-to-use and fun, it's an activity that provides guests with another chance to observe the natural world close to the lodge and even spot its denizens.

The minimum height for this activity is 1 meter tall (3.2 feet) and children have to be accompanied by an adult.

Towering above the treetops, Mashpi´s observation tower allows our guests appreciate all the protected forest in all its glory and the Lodge embedded within. With a height of 30 meters (100 feet) this is the ideal place for nature lovers and not only allows you to appreciate the complex structure of the forest but also the incredible species richness that inhabit the treetops and constitute 70% of the diversity throughout the forest. To reach the top, visitors have to climb up 162 steps, but the rewards are worth it.

The bike ride takes no more than 10 minutes and although it may be a round trip or if you want you can go just one way and walk back to the lodge walking one of our trails. The Oxibelis trail takes you to a small waterfall near the road and then back to the lodge. Another alternative is take the limones trail to the San Vicente´s waterfall; it will take between 45 minutes to an hour to reach this beautiful waterfall. This is a difficult hike and demands to be in good physical condition as the trail is steep. This combination of the bike, the observation tower and the hike, takes between 2-4 hours depending on the trail you choose to walk.

We will be waiting for you with a refreshing natural juice and fresh towels so you can get ready for lunch with a delicious variety of dishes that will delight your palate.

In the afternoon we will take you to Quito.

 

Overnight at Casa Gangotena Hotel.

 
Day 10 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s

CASA GANGOTENA QUITO / FINCH BAY HOTEL GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
City
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...

BREAKFAST AND TRANSFER TO THE AIRPORT

The perfect escape to the Galapagos, with visits to nearby islands within the National Park coupled with days roaming Santa Cruz Island. Highlights include snorkelling, yacht excursions, the Charles Darwin Research Station and giant tortoises.

 

North Seymour Island

Upon arrival, guests are met by the hotel naturalist guides and accompanied directly to the yacht. Welcomed by captain and staff, guests are briefed about safety issues as well as the National Park regulations. Lunch is served on board, while the yacht sails to North Seymour Island.

North Seymour was lifted from the ocean floor by a seismic event, and its origins as a seabed give the island its low, flat profile. Cliffs only a few meters high form the shoreline, where swallow-tailed gulls sit among the ledges and rocks. A tiny forest of silver-grey Palo Santo trees stand just above the landing, usually without leaves, waiting for the rains to burst into bloom.

This island is teaming with life! You might have to give way to a passing sea lion or marine iguana; blue-footed booby nests sit beside the trail where mating pairs perform their courtship dance. Further along, the rocky shore is interspersed with white sand, while large flocks of pelicans mass for a dive-bomb feeding-frenzy, painting a tableau from ages long past for us. The trail turns inland to reveal the largest nesting site in the Galapagos of the “magnificent frigate bird.” These huge, dark acrobats have two-meter (6-foot) wingspans, and males, with puffed up scarlet throat sacks, sit precariously perched in low bushes to watch over their equally large chicks. This is a walking excursion and involves uneven rocky terrain. Dry landing.

After the visit, the yacht sails to Itabaca channel, from where we cross by bus faster over Santa Cruz Island to reach the south shore (42 km by bus is shorter and faster, than 50 km by boat), where the Finch Bay Hotel is located.

Check-in and enjoy the glorious beach-front location and facilities.


 

Day - 11

Start Time

Locations

Habitat/s

Usual Climate/s

Date

FINCH BAY HOTEL GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...

El Manzanillo and Highlands of Santa Cruz

AM: After a relaxed breakfast, our guests will leave Academy Bay by bus 15 km up to the lush highlands of Santa Cruz Island. From there a short drive across the farming area will lead us to El Manzanillo, a site recently opened to visitors at the northern edge of the Giant Tortoise Reserve.

Manzanillo is on the natural path tortoises take every year as they either migrate to higher moist locations during the garúa season (June-September), or when they descend to the warmer lowlands during the wet season. Year round, tortoises can be seen grazing on the surrounding vegetation, or wallowing in muddy banks or in a small red-coloured pond (impressively colored by surface red pond-weeds). The area is teeming with life: chirping vegetarian-, small-tree, large-tree and woodpecker finches, mockingbirds and flycatchers, as well as ducks, herons and gallinules make this an exciting morning visit.

Lunch is served in the cooler highlands, with the stunning views of Santa Cruz Island.

After lunch, we visit a small farm, where coffee, sugar cane and cocoa beans are grown, harvested and prepared – all organic and sustainable. We have the chance to taste the products while learning about the artisanal way to burn island spirits! We then return to the hotel to enjoy the its pool, beach, or ask for suggestions for activities.

Day - 12

Start Time

Locations

Habitat/s

Usual Climate/s

Date

FINCH BAY HOTEL GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...

Santa Fe Island

Santa Fe offers one of the more beautiful and sheltered coves in the archipelago. Its turquoise lagoon is protected by a peninsula of tiny islets forming an ideal anchorage. The island lies to the southeast of Santa Cruz within sight of Puerto Ayora. Like North Seymour, Santa Fe has been uplifted, and you can see where underwater lava once cooled off (pillow lava).

A wet landing on a sandy white beach brings us into contact with one of the many sea lion harems. Bulls vie for the right to be Beach Master, while smaller males masquerade as females and make stealthy mating moves. Galápagos hawks are often easily approached, perched atop salt bushes.

The giant prickly pear cactus found here live up to their name, with tree-sized trunks! Our goal is to spot one of the large species of land iguana, native to Santa Fe. Beige to chocolate brown in color with dragon-like spines, these huge iguanas truly resemble dinosaurs.

An indigenous species of rice rat also inhabits the thickets, and lucky hikers can spot harmless Galápagos snakes. After the hike, there is nothing more inviting than a swim in the calm waters of the bay, a great snorkeling opportunity with diverse marine life.

Day - 13

Start Time

Locations

Habitat/s

Usual Climate/s

Date

FINCH BAY HOTEL GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...

Divine Bay

This is the magic of Galápagos: a short distance away from Academy Bay and the bustle of Puerto Ayora, lies the quiet and wildlife-rich Divine Bay. Named after one of the islands first settlers, this cove is protected from the swells by natural volcanic reefs on one side, by a gallery of mangrove trees on the other and cliffs created eons ago by the uplift of the lava plateau. The whole provides a wonderful natural shelter for wildlife.

Every morning, hundreds of herons cross Divine Bay on their daily foraging trips, to return before sunset to perch amid the trees. Noddy terns use the natural burrows in the cliffs for nesting, while Galápagos brown pelicans prefer the evergreen mangroves, under the watchful eye of non-breeding blue footed boobies perched along the cliffs.

Beneath the sea, sea turtles graze on sea weed, hundreds of reef fish species swim about the lava crevices, and young reef sharks and rays employ the brackish streams as havens from large predators while they mature.

We can explore this lovely cove by boat while more adventurous guests could take the tandem, sit-on-top kayaks straight from the hotel’s beachfront. The morning’s visit includes snorkeling on a calm, but active, sector of the cove. This is next to a wooden dock we use to explore Punta Estrada. A dry landing and a short walk (0.5 km) will lead us to the south shore of the island, to a small beach called “Playa de los Perros” (Dog Beach). This is a great place to see intertidal organisms and learn about marine iguanas in their nesting sites. Also, there’s a nearby natural terrace from where young white tipped reef sharks can be observed from above as they swim about the lava crevices.

After this morning’s visit we return to the Finch Bay Hotel for lunch. Afternoon visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station and the giant tortoise breeding programme, with time to enjoy the town, or the hotel’s facilities.

Day - 14

Start Time

Locations

Habitat/s

Usual Climate/s

Date

FINCH BAY HOTEL GALAPAGOS ISLANDS / CASA GANGOTENA HOTEL IN QUITO

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...

Departure

After breakfast we leave the Finch Bay Hotel and on the way to Baltra, stop at the Twin Pit Craters, great geological depressions of volcanic material, formed by a long process of slow sinking of the ground, where exceptional Scalesia trees, ferns, mosses and orchids can be seen in the surroundings. Then, overland transfer to the airport in Baltra to take the flight back to the continent.

OVERNIGHT AT CASA GANGOTENA HOTEL

Day 15 Start Time Locations Habitat/s Usual Climate/s
Date UITO
City
Itinerary/Typical 
Fauna and Flora seen...
Transfer to the airport.
 

PARAGUAY

SOUTH AMERICA

10 DAY NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR

Arrival Details DAY - 1

Pickup at airport the day prior to tour beginning, transfer by bus to Hotel Portal del Sol, 15 minutes’ drive. Overnight here. Alternatively if flights arrive in the morning pick up can be direct from the airport and we can depart from there.

Terrain throughout the trip is generally easy, with no hills. Light-fitting clothes with long sleeves and trousers are recommended and a pair of comfortable shoes for walking. Boots may be useful if it rains (when it may be muddy), but Paraguay can be hot and you won’t need them if it doesn’t!

Day - 1

Start Time

Locations

Habitat/s

Usual Climate/s

Date

7:00am

Ruta Trans Chaco

Humid Chaco, Palm Savanna

Hot and humid

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...

After a hearty breakfast at the hotel we set out over the Paraguay River and into the Chaco. By the end of the day we will be in the arid Dry Chaco, but we will pass through the fascinating Humid Chaco en route, a vast palm savanna full of roadside pools and teeming with birds. We will be stopping wherever the best photo opportunities present themselves. Lunch is at the nationally famous Parador Pirahú, at km250 which is said to make the best empanadas (pasties) in Paraguay. From here it’s another 180km to our final destination Laguna Capitán and with more stops along the way we will be arriving shortly before nightfall – youll notice the scenery turn gradually more arid as we get closer. While dinner is prepared we can settle in or do a short night walk or drive. We are in the middle of an area of salt lagoons and swamps here and the wildlife is abundant.

We´re likely to notch up a surprisingly large list of some spectacular species at the roadside pools of the Trans-Chaco Highway, not least among them Jabiru, Maguari and American Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill, Black-collared Hawk, Plumbeous and Buff-breasted Ibis, Limpkin and Cocoi Heron. In grassier areas Chotoy Spinetail, Whistling Heron, Screaming and Shiny Cowbird, Savannah Hawk, Long-winged Harrier and Yellow-headed Caracara are all likely, while in the palm savanna proper Southern Screamer, Giant Wood Rail and Blue-crowned and Black-hooded Parakeets are characteristic. We´ll be stopping at reedbeds along the way where we should find Donacobius, Olivaceous Pampa-finch (a potential split), Unicoloured and Scarlet-headed Blackbirds and with luck crakes and small bitterns.

JABIRU Jabiru mycteria

Day - 2

Start Time

Locations

Habitat/s

Usual Climate/s

Date

6:00am or 8:00am

Laguna Capitán, Cuenca Upper Yacaré Sur

Dry Chaco, low thorn forest and scrub, salt lagoons

Hot and dry

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...

An optional early walk at sunrise before breakfast for those who are keen to get out and about or a sleep in and meet the walkers at breakfast for those who are tired. After breakfast we will head out into the Cuenca Upper Yacare Sur area, a series of salt lagoons that are classified as an Important Bird Area. We will be back at Laguna Capitán for lunch and then out again to explore some of the remaining lagoons during the afternoon. Those who like mammals, reptiles and amphibians can participate in a night drive before dinner.

The 18 “Chaco endemics” will be our main targets, many of them like Lark-like Brushrunner, Chaco and White-bellied Nothura, Many-coloured Brush-finch and Crested Hornero easy to see. The “big six” though are the real targets, Black-legged Seriema, Black-bodied Woodpecker, Chaco Owl, Crested Gallito, Crowned Eagle and Quebracho-crested Tinamou. The beautiful Chaco Crescentchest is also a future split from the Olive-crowned Crescentchest.On the saltwater lagoons we might see the last of the winter flocks of Coscoroba Swan, Chilean Flamingo and waders and ducks such as Ringed Teal, White-cheeked Pintail andmaybe Rosybill. In the surroundings big ticks like Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, Great Rufous Woodcreeper, Chaco Earthcreeper and Cream-backed Woodpecker are more probable than possible. Chaqueño forest is a stunted, xerophytic and often thorny affair, but again home to a number of highly specialized species such as Chequered and White-fronted Woodpecker, Greater Wagtail-tyrant, Solitary Cacique, Orange-backed Troupial, Short-billed Canastero, Chaco Chachalaca, Stripe-backed Antbird and Black-capped Warbling-finch. Only two nightjar species commonly occur in the Chaco, Scissor-tailed and Little, and we would expect to see both. Owls, though harder to see, occur in greater diversity, Great Horned, Tropical Screech and Ferruginous Pygmy being the most often encountered.

Mammals are bolder and more visible in the Chaco than anywhere else in Paraguay. Driving, especially at night, might bring you up close and personal with anything from armadillos and the rabbit-like Chaco Mara, to Crab-eating Raccoons and White-lipped Peccary, and there is also the chance of a Lowland Tapir, or a Puma, more abundant here than in much of South America.

RED-CRESTED CARDINAL Paroaria coronata

Day - 3

Start Time

Locations

Habitat/s

Usual Climate/s

Date

7:00am

Fortín Toledo, Teniente Enciso National Park

Dry Chaco, low thorn forest and scrub, salt lagoons

Hot and dry

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...

Optional dawn walk at Laguna Capítan again and after breakfast departure to Fortín Toledo. Morning spent visiting the Tagua project and walking in Chaco scrub. Lunch at Mariscal Estigarribia and then on a poor road to Tte Enciso National Park. Arrival around 6pm. Dinner and optional night drive.

Proyecto Tagua in Fortin Toledo is a captive breeding programme for the threatened Chaco Peccary (Tagua) supported by San Diego Zoo and is a good chance to see this beast up close if we miss it during the tour. The project has already released over 250 captive bred individuals. They have examples of all three peccary species and it is gives the opportunity to highlight the differences between the species that are not always that obvious in wild animals. The very different temperaments of the species make for a fascinating trip (the aggressive reactions of White-lipped Peccary to observers always have the clients talking afterwards!!). There is also a healthy wild population of the rabbit-like Chaco Mara in this area and small weed-choked lakes are like a magnet for birds in this hot, dry area including the rare Black-bodied Woodpecker and the elusive Olive-crowned Crescentchest.

CHACO OWL Strix chacoensis

Day - 4

Start Time

Locations

Habitat/s

Usual Climate/s

Date

7:00am

Teniente Enciso National Park, Médanos del Chaco National Park

Dry Chaco, very arid thorn forest

Hot and dry

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...

We have all day at these national parks close to the Bolivian border. Here the habitat is extremely arid and the endemic Chaco wildlife abounds. We will walk in the morning, attempt to get photographs of some of the “Big 6”. After lunch we will head towards Médanos del Chaco and return after dark night-driving for mammals.

Located in the highest of the High Chaco this area is conserved mainly for its healthy population of Chaco Peccary. It is a great place for Chaco specialties that are not so common elsewhere. We might expect Solitary Cacique, Orange-backed Troupial, Black-crested Finch (more common in winter but some may hang around), Ringed and Black-capped Warbling-finch, Many-coloured Chacofinch, Greater Wagtail-tyrant, Little Thornbird, Short-billed Canastero, Zone-tailed Hawk, Bay-winged Hawk, and Rufous-thighed Hawk. Specialities here are Quebracho Crested-Tinamou and Chaco Owl. Mammal wise Puma and Lowland Tapir are seen regularly in addition to some of the other smaller species (Three-banded Armadillo and Azaras Fox are both particularly abundant!). Jaguar is also present but you’ll need to get up early to have a chance of seeing one. The park is also of historical significance, conserving some of the trenches and barracks of the Chaco War.

Almost on the Bolivian border is Medanos del Chaco. This park conserves the last wild herd of the endangered lowland race of the Guanaco. It is more open than PN Tte Agripino Enciso and shares many of the same birds, but also counts on a big Chaco endemic tick that is not present at Enciso – the Spot-winged Falconet. It is also an excellent place to see Puma, Plains Viscacha and the Chaco Yellow-toothed Cavy.

QUEBRACHO CRESTED TINAMOU Eudromia formosa

Day - 5

Start Time

Locations

Habitat/s

Usual Climate/s

Date

7:00am

Teniente Enciso National Park, Laguna Capítan

Dry Chaco, very arid thorn forest

Hot and dry

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...

A morning walk, and then the return along the poor road to the Central Chaco. Lunch in Loma Plata and a chance for a rest shortly afterwards. Late afternoon we will head to Tunakojai for a night drive and return to Laguna Capitán around 9pm with dinner ready for us.

Night drives in Tunakojai produce mammals, reptiles and amphibians, most notably the chance of Tapir, Puma Geoffroy´s Cat and armadillos.

CREAM-BACKED WOODPECKER Campephilus leucopogon

Day - 6

Start Time

Locations

Habitat/s

Usual Climate/s

Date

7:00am

Starting in Loma Plata we end the day in Reserva Natural Laguna Blanca in eastern Paraguay

Dry Chaco, Humid Chaco moving on to Cerrado

Hot and dry

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...

Though this is essentially a transit day we will stopping frequently for any photo opportunities as we bisect the Humid Chaco en route to the Cerrado zone. The earlier we get started the better as we have almost 400km to get to our final destination. After an early lunch at Pirahú, we will arrive mid-afternoon in the paradise that is Laguna Blanca (having visited a series of marshlands along the way). The crystal clear waters of the lagoon and the white sand beach make for pleasant resting time as we get settled in after our drive. As evening falls we head out into the Cerrado for some late afternoon and night birding, with one very special bird as our principal target

Marshlands may turn up Lesser Seedfinch, White-tailed Goldenthroat, Ash-throated Crake, Yellow-rumped Marshbird and Streamer-tailed Tyrant. Upon arrival we will be after Paraguay´s biggest catch, the endangered White-winged Nightjar and this is one of only three global locations where it is regularly recorded). Nightbirding is spectacular, Grey and Long-tailed Potoo, Rufous, Little and Scissor-tailed Nightjars are commonly seen in addition to the White-winged, and Tropical Screech-owl and Ferruginous Pygmy-owl are amongst the frequently recorded owl species.

WHITE-WINGED NIGHTJAR Eleothreptus candicans

Day - 7

Start Time

Locations

Habitat/s

Usual Climate/s

Date

7:00am

Reserva Natural Laguna Blanca

Cerrado

Hot and humid

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...

We will have all day exploring the Cerrado at Laguna Blanca, a grassy bushy habitat with high endemism. This is a whole new set of birds from what we have been seeing in the Chaco. We will be returning to the lodge for lunch and dinner, and also spend some time talking to volunteers at the Para La Tierra Research station who are involved in inventory work and ecological studies and may have some interesting species to show us. Your fee includes a donation to PLT and we are very pleased to support their worthwhile conservation and social projects.

14 species of global conservation concern occur in just 800ha here. The cerrado birds are the big attraction including threatened species such as White-banded Tanager, Sharp-tailed Grass-tyrant, Black-masked Finch and Cock-tailed Tyrant. Other birds of interest are White-rumped Tanager (the only known site in Paraguay), cerrado endemics Black-throated Saltator and Curl-crested Jay, Rusty-backed Antwren, Dark-billed Cuckoo, Red-winged, Tataupa, Small-billed and Undulated Tinamou, White-rumped Monjita, Rufous Casiornis, various Myiarchus flycatchers, Peach-fronted Parakeet and flocks of migrant seedeaters (at certain times of year including threatened Chestnut, Marsh and Dark-throated). In the humid forest Helmeted Woodpecker, Rusty-margined Guan, three species of tityra, Surucua Trogon, Buff-bellied Puffbird, Sirystes etc are all possible. The crystal clear waters of the lagoon and the white sand beach also make for pleasant resting time.

COCK-TAILED TYRANT Alectrurus tricolor

Day - 8

Start Time

Locations

Habitat/s

Usual Climate/s

Date

8:00am

Reserva Natural Laguna Blanca, Mbaracayú Forest Reserve

Atlantic Forest

Hot and humid

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...

After breakfast we are hitting the road towards a new type of habitat, the humid and megadiverse Atlantic Forest. We have to retrace our steps somewhat and have a buffet lunch around midday in the town of Curuguaty. We should be at the reserve for mid-afternoon and ready to explore from our base at this fantastic lodge deep in the jungle. The lodge is run by girls from the local community who study at the eco-school also based at the site. It is a unique social project that combines tourism, conservation and women´s empowerment in one very attractive passage.

Flora and fauna as per day 9.

SURUCUA TROGON Trogon surrucura

Day - 9

Start Time

Locations

Habitat/s

Usual Climate/s

Date

6:30am

Mbaracayú Forest Reserve

Atlantic Forest

Hot and humid

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...

All our meals are provided by the lodge so we will organise our itinerary with forest walks and visits to a small patch of Cerrado at “Lagunita” (12km away) around our meal times. There is a lot to see here and not much time, so we need to keep busy to get the best shots!

The model private reserve in Paraguay with 70,000ha of pristine Atlantic Forest and cerrado. Named by WWF as one of the 100 most important sites for conservation ON EARTH, it’s difficult to know where to start with this location. Over 420 species of birds have been recorded here, including the vast majority of the Atlantic Forest endemics. Possible birds include the endangered Black-fronted Piping-guan, Bare-throated Bellbird, Black-capped Screech Owl, Saffron and Spot-billed Toucanets and Helmeted Woodpecker. Other species of interest that are frequently recorded include Red-breasted Toucan, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Surucua Trogon, Blond-crested and Yellow-fronted Woodpecker, various woodcreepers and tanagers, Streak-capped Antwren, Solitary Tinamou, Red-rumped Cacique, Rufous-capped Motmot etc etc etc. – the list could easily become very very long! In the cerrado specialities like Rufous-winged Antshrike, Collared Crescentchest and Speckled Crake are our targets. Forest mammals such as Azaras Agouti, Paca, Bush Dog and cats (including Jaguar) are among the mammal fauna while big owls such as Black-banded and Rusty-barred are possible if they are calling.

SAFFRON TOUCANET Pteroglossus bailloni

Day - 10

Start Time

Locations

Habitat/s

Usual Climate/s

Date

8:00am

Mbaracayú Forest Reserve, Arroyos y Esteros, Asunción

Marshland and swamp

Hot and humid

Itinerary/Typical

Fauna and Flora seen...

Time for some last minute early morning birding for those who fancy it, or a minor sleep in for those who need their beauty sleep. We aim to be on the road shortly after breakfast and will drive most of the morning to our lunch stop. From here it’s another hour or so to Arroyos y Esteros where we will stop for a few hours for some very special and usually cooperative feathered photographic subjects. It’s another 100km from here back to Asunción where we drop off at the hotel and say our goodbyes, hopefully with a lot of great photographs and some even better memories to show for our efforts.

Our main target is the bizarre Strange-tailed Tyrant, but we might also expect to see a bunch of other wetland species that may include Long-tailed Reedfinch, Crested Doradito, a variety of seedeaters, Lesser Grassfinch, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Yellow-rumped Marshbird and many other waterbirds that call this extensive marshland home.

Flickr Photostream

Contact Info

  Roger Neckles Photography

  (868) 633-5614, (868) 477-2650

  Roger_Neckles@yahoo.com

Roger Nickles

Born in Trinidad and raised and schooled in London, England, Wildlife Photographer/Naturalist Roger Neckles is considered by many to be the Caribbean’s most prominent wildlife photographer. His award-winning works, recognized for their mastery of color, composition and perspective, have graced the pages of numerous international natural history books, magazines and archives, including premier publications such as National Geographic, Natural History, Audubon, Wild Bird, Birding, Birdwatchers Digest, Birders World and Caribbean Beat, to name a few.