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Small hire car birding routes in South & Central America

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Old Saturday 11th January 2020, 20:02   #1
simmojunior
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Small hire car birding routes in South & Central America

Hi everyone,

After my successful trip with friends to Myanmar this December, I'm planning my next adventure. I have two weeks off in the middle of March and I am hoping to go to a Spanish speaking country to practice my Spanish.

As I am likely to be on my own or maybe one other person at such short notice, can anyone recommend any route in South or Central America that is easily drivable in a small hire car? I won't be able to afford a 4wd.

I did northern Peru a few years back where my friend drove but that was tricky in a small hire car due to unpaved roads such as to the guan canyon near Olmos. I am looking for something that is easier to drive if possible. If I can't think of anything affordable, open to doing by public transport but have several ideas for that myself.

Thanks!

Oli
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Old Saturday 11th January 2020, 22:31   #2
Andrew Whitehouse
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Brazil (e.g. Bahia/Ceara and SE) are not too bad and most sites are easy to access with a regular car, although there can be some long drives (and they don't speak Spanish, of course). Ecuador is also fairly straightforward (e.g. around Mindo or on the east slope from Quito), although some sites are a bit hard to access. The distances aren't too far there.
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Old Sunday 12th January 2020, 01:03   #3
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Agree with Ecuador being a possibility. Others are Panamá and Costa Rica where most locations do not require 4wd

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Old Sunday 12th January 2020, 07:25   #4
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Cuba.
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Old Sunday 12th January 2020, 07:37   #5
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Argentina and Chile are both really accessible for a 2WD car - even though some roads are not paved, they are graded and kept in a 2WD condition, just not using tarmac as the material of choice. However March is a rather sad month to bird in Argentina.
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Old Sunday 12th January 2020, 16:50   #6
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Thanks for the suggestions guys! As you say, Brazil is Portuguese speaking so doesn't suit me this time. It's very expensive to hire a car in Argentina or Chile but I'll definitely look at the other suggestions.

For Cuba, I've heard you need to book the car months in advance?

Ecuador seems a good shout. I have been before as I volunteered at San Isidro for a month but have never been to the other slope. Does anyone know which sites are accessible and which aren't?

I'll also look in to Panama and Costa Rica but I suspect accommodation for one would be pricey.
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Old Sunday 12th January 2020, 17:35   #7
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Ecuador seems a good shout. I have been before as I volunteered at San Isidro for a month but have never been to the other slope. Does anyone know which sites are accessible and which aren't?
I was told that you need 4WD for Yanacocha. Silanche is doable with a small car but you might need to drive a bit carefully in places. Sites around Mindo, including Milpe are generally fine. You can also get to Paz de las Aves in a small car, although it's sometimes quite a muddy route.
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Old Sunday 12th January 2020, 19:19   #8
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I was told that you need 4WD for Yanacocha. Silanche is doable with a small car but you might need to drive a bit carefully in places. Sites around Mindo, including Milpe are generally fine. You can also get to Paz de las Aves in a small car, although it's sometimes quite a muddy route.
I did all of the sites mentioned here in a small 2wd Chevy. There are subsections of Yanacocha that might necessitate 4wd, but I did not go there; the road to the central part was paved. (If I recall correctly)

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Old Sunday 12th January 2020, 19:23   #9
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I do not remember the cost in Panama and CR being that different from the cost in Ecuador

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Old Tuesday 14th January 2020, 06:51   #10
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Definitely leaning towards Ecuador. Spend a week or so using Mindo as a base and then go to a lowland site possibly by flying or bus. Any suggestions for where? Thinking maybe Gareno, Wild Sumaco or Playa De Oro?

One concern I have is it is the rainy season? Is March a reasonable time? What effect will this have on the roads?
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Old Tuesday 14th January 2020, 07:37   #11
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Definitely leaning towards Ecuador. Spend a week or so using Mindo as a base and then go to a lowland site possibly by flying or bus. Any suggestions for where? Thinking maybe Gareno, Wild Sumaco or Playa De Oro?

One concern I have is it is the rainy season? Is March a reasonable time? What effect will this have on the roads?
I went in April and it was fine. It rains sometimes but it can do that at any time of the year.
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Old Tuesday 14th January 2020, 13:23   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simmojunior View Post
Hi everyone,

After my successful trip with friends to Myanmar this December, I'm planning my next adventure. I have two weeks off in the middle of March and I am hoping to go to a Spanish speaking country to practice my Spanish.

As I am likely to be on my own or maybe one other person at such short notice, can anyone recommend any route in South or Central America that is easily drivable in a small hire car? I won't be able to afford a 4wd.

I did northern Peru a few years back where my friend drove but that was tricky in a small hire car due to unpaved roads such as to the guan canyon near Olmos. I am looking for something that is easier to drive if possible. If I can't think of anything affordable, open to doing by public transport but have several ideas for that myself.

Thanks!

Oli

Costa Rica.
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Old Tuesday 14th January 2020, 19:22   #13
njlarsen
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Quote:
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Definitely leaning towards Ecuador. Spend a week or so using Mindo as a base and then go to a lowland site possibly by flying or bus. Any suggestions for where? Thinking maybe Gareno, Wild Sumaco or Playa De Oro?

One concern I have is it is the rainy season? Is March a reasonable time? What effect will this have on the roads?
One of the important issues with Ecuador is to sample several different elevations on the same side, otherwise you are going to miss out on too much. Spreading two weeks over both slopes could be done, but I would likely spend both on the same side sampling several elevations.

Niels
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