SOUTH AMERICA WILDLIFE HOLIDAYS

South America Map Costa Rica Ecuador Peru

Today, more than ever before South America is being explored by increasing numbers of tourists and the wildlife of this continent, beyond the ever popular Galapagos Islands is starting to see some serious interest. Biodiversity is incredibly high, as might be expected of the Amazon basin rainforest and the high Andean range and this is backed by some excellent guiding and remote lodge facilities.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of our more popular destinations for nature enthusiasts and families alike. It is easy to understand why with good infrastructure, a wide selection of hotels and lodges across all budgets and many different experiences. Being no more than the size of Wales or Switzerland, Costa Rica packs in great diversity from cloudforests to coastal rainforest, wetlands to paramo plus some excellent diving and beaches to round out a holiday.

Approximately one quarter of this tropical country that is wedged between the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans, is protected either as national parks or as private reserves and biodiversity is high throughout. Furthermore, many South American species are at their northernmost point in their range and there is a large influx of migrant North American bird species too. In a two week trip it is easy to combine many of the "must see" and more off the beaten track locations.

Adventure holidays in Costa Rica are abundant too from white water rafting trips through the forests to the thrill of zip wires flying high above the canopy, to kayaking in mangroves and horse riding tours.

Those who travel with us usually do so on unique tailor-made holidays designed to their specific requirements. A good number do choose to enjoy some days at the end of the trip either in one of the lodges at Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula discovering this biodiversity 'hotspot' or relaxing on the beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park. Many too, return from holidays in Costa Rica saying it is the one place they would like to return to. Perhaps this is recommendation enough.

Ecuador & Galapagos Islands

Another excellent small country with a wealth of wildlife experiences from Amazon rainforest holidays to Galapagos cruises . Darwin is synonymous with the Galapagos Islands and Galapagos cruises are consistently popular but if you are a keen nature enthusiast then it is important that we find the right boat for your holiday. Each Galapagos Islands cruise is strictly controlled by the islands' national park and not all boats visit key wildlife locations. Having charted boats for professional wildlife photographer Andy Rouse, and of course, having travelled throughout these islands ourselves we know which are the best islands to visit.

The Andeans in Ecuador has snow-capped volcanoes beneath which you will find the high paramo and lower down the slopes, cloudforest. To the east this drops into the Amazon rainforest and the Napo River is a good destination from which to explore this area as there are a number of lodges that are reached via a flight into Coca.

The guiding from lodges is of a high standard and you may find you are accompanied by both indigenous tribal peoples who know how to use the forest and bilingual naturalists, both complimenting each other and enhancing your experience.

There are ways to make an African safari holiday more cost effective. One is to travel during the shoulder and 'green' season period when the rains are due. It is worth pointing out here that in African safari destinations the rains rarely persist all day long and more generally thunder clouds build up for late afternoon downpours which may continue into the night, leaving bright clear mornings. The wildlife viewing in these seasons is often very good and photographers relish the wonderful lighting.

Whether you are looking for a general nature tour or a specific bird watching holiday in Ecuador do get in touch to discuss your specific plans, but in the meantime we hope you are inspired by our Ecuador holidays found through the links on this pages.

Peru

We feel that Peru is highly underrated as a wildlife destination. Most visitors aim for Machu Picchu and may add on a few days in a rainforest lodge near Puerto Maldonado, but the biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest, plus the cloud forests and coasts warrants more than a cursory visit. Internal travel is easy and there is no reason not to combine different regions to experience the diversity of natural habitats.

A day or so by long boat upstream from Puerto Maldonado is Tambopata Research Center. This remote lodge is situated next to a large colpa, clay lick, where around 15 species of parrots and macaws come from all over the rainforest to congregate in their hundreds each day. This is a privileged sight to witness and indicates the diversity of the rainforest.

Also out further out from Puerto Maldonado is the Heath River System where, on the Bolivian border the rainforest meets savannah grasslands creating two entirely different habitats.

Yet whilst the Tambopata region has great appeal many overlook Manu National Park which is one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth. An incredible protected wilderness in the Amazon basin and now with tourist camps inside the park and the excellent Manu Wildlife Center lodge further down on the Madre de Dios River this area is truly worth spending time exploring. During July and August close to 70% of river excursions within the park now have sightings of jaguars. At Manu Wildlife Center there is a tapir clay lick and oxbow lakes hold populations of giant otters. Throughout the region the bird life is prolific.

For those considering bird watching holidays or a mix of birding and sightseeing then the cloudforest on the slopes of the Andes can be combined with Manu. Cock of the Rock Lodge is named after the birds that have a lek nearby. There is also cloud forest surrounding Machu Picchu and good numbers of hummingbirds, motmots and other species can be seen here and with luck condors may soar overhead.

It is also possible to enjoy Amazon cruises out of the northern city of Iquitos. A number of cruise boats, some of a very high standard run week long cruises stopping off each day to explore the wildlife of the forests with on board naturalists. These Amazon cruises combine perfectly with a week in the Galapagos Islands.

On the coast a short distance south of Lima is Paracas National Park, a unique peninsula that is home to thousands of sea lions, fur seals, penguins and huge numbers of other sea birds. Also out from the coast whale watching excursions are in their infancy but humpback whales are regularly seen.

Thus in just a few short paragraphs, (we could go on!), we would recommend Peru for both sightseeing and some world class nature experiences.

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