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Info wanted: Central/South America and T&T

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Old Monday 10th July 2006, 15:12   #1
Vectis Birder
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Info wanted: Central/South America and T&T

Hi, I am planning a tropical birding trip, possibly next year, maybe 2008. The area I most want to visit is South/Central America or Trinidad & Tobago. For anyone who's been there, which countries/areas would you recommend for a) most numbers of species; b) cost (reasonably cheap food and accommodation); c) ease of getting about (with or without hire car) and d) doing it all in comparative safety?

I'll be on a bit of a budget and am looking at a duration of a few weeks.

Any info will be greatly appreciated

Thanks
VB
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Old Monday 10th July 2006, 16:15   #2
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There was a thread a while back with pretty much the same discussion; if you make a search for appearance of both Mexico and Trinidad, then I think that should appear.

Re Trinidad, which I have visited myself, I think you could clean up T&T in about two weeks. I don't think it is a place that is really easy to do on a tight budget, but there are some ways to do the island quite safely. That being said, I would myself like to go back, I really enjoyed it. A cheap charter type flight across the pond might help on the overall cost. With some work, it should be possible to find a flight from there to Venezuela for a whole bunch of additional species.

HTH
Niels

Edited for spelling error. Added: I saw most of the birds there in 9 days.

Last edited by njlarsen : Monday 10th July 2006 at 18:34.
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Old Monday 10th July 2006, 16:57   #3
Steve G
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Another vote for T&T.
I spent a week on Trinidad in mid-May of this year with my non-birding wife. Conventional wisdom is that mid-late may is a poor time for birding but we saw lots of good stuff with no shortage of South American 'summer' visitors such as Plumbeous Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite, Swallow Tanager,etc.


Stayed at Asa Wright -mid May it was very quiet, we usually had the trails to ourselves & often also the only people on the verandah.
We went on our own as a couple on the organised trips & were able to dictate the pace,etc.


Trinidad is an excellent place for an introduction to neotropical birding with lots to see but not too much to overload on.
I managed to take a number of half-reasonable images, in fact at times the birds were queuing up (see recent images in my gallery)!


A reasonably priced option is that offered by Glyn Kirpalani of Holiday in Tobago see: www.holidayintobago.com/birdingholidays.html
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Old Monday 10th July 2006, 18:47   #4
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I'd certainly recommend Trinidad also, but agree with what Niels said - not the cheapest place. We also stayed at Asa Wright, and while a wonderful place, rather pricey. I lived in Venezuela for almost a year and it also has great birding but it takes a lot of travelling to cover the major areas.

I'd suggest Central America (Panama & Costa Rica) as a great destination for lots of birds (each country has over 850 though the two combined are probably only around 1150 - haven't seen a published number). Travel in both countries is relatively safe and convenient and there are lots of accomodation choices from high end to downright cheap. Check out Tim Allwood's recent trip report.

I haven't visited Ecuador yet but it is high on my list. With about 1600 species in a fairly small country you can get lots of bang for your travel dollar.

And as Niels suggested, do some searches on these forums and you'll find some very good info to help with your decision. In any case, whichever of these locations you end up choosing there is some fantastic birding awaiting you!
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Old Monday 10th July 2006, 21:10   #5
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Great, many thanks for your replies, they're very helpful especially re T&T.

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Old Monday 10th July 2006, 21:46   #6
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Hi VB,

You've got a pretty broad range of options in Central and South America... any particular types of birds you want to see? For hummingbirds and tanagers, the Andean countries (especially Ecuador) are hard to beat. For antbirds and ovenbirds (perhaps not ideal introduction groups to neotropical birds, but addictive nonetheless), head to the Amazon basin. Central America offers slightly reduced diversities - as Dave says, only 850 species in each of Costa Rica and Panama - and infrastructure in various price ranges.

Check out the thread below for some info on Venezuela... in his inimitable style, Rasmus outdid himself once again and gives good insights on birding in a number of neotropical countries.

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=22374

Although more expensive than most other neotropical countries, Brazil is a wonderful place to go birding with many different biomes meriting numerous trips. I also find birding in the Atlantic forests to be rather easy compared to say, the Amazon. Good food, great people, and excellent infrastructure also make this a fantastic country to visit. And don't miss the beaches or snorkeling!

Brad
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Old Monday 10th July 2006, 22:00   #7
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Hi Brad, thanks for the info. I've read the link you gave and found it useful, and I've saved it for reference.
Re. birds I want to see, well I haven't got any specific species or genera in mind, just as many as possible!

Thanks
VB
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Old Monday 10th July 2006, 22:03   #8
Steve Lister
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vectis Birder
Re. birds I want to see, well I haven't got any specific species or genera in mind, just as many as possible!
VB
In that case Ecuador takes some beating. I saw 370 in just seven days this June, without going anything like all out.

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Old Tuesday 11th July 2006, 11:21   #9
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South America

Hi,

I think the most bird species live in Amboro NP in Bolivia ( around 840 ).
I personally know only the Sajama NP near the chilean boarder.
It is a good place for Nandu. Nearby in Chile is Lauca NP. In this fantastic mountain scenery You can see also Nandu, Andean Flamingo ( lago Chungura ), Andean Goose and if You have good luck also Condor.
On lago Chungura is also good place for Vicuna, if You not interested only in birdlife.


Best regards
Dieter
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Old Tuesday 11th July 2006, 13:47   #10
Edward woodwood
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Peru

the area around Cusco and Manu Road

Cusco is lovely, Macchu Picchu is nearby, Abra Malaga, Huacarpay Lakes, Pisac, Ollantaytambo and it's a short journey to Manu Road which is just awesome. You can bird from the road, camp off the road and just wander until your heart's content in some of the best birding and scenery there is. And it is all dirt cheap. I have a report on the net including some other areas as well - Wild Peru it's called.

Tim
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Old Tuesday 11th July 2006, 21:22   #11
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Thanks guys. Tim, I did a search for 'Wild Peru' and found it, a good read and much help.

VB
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Old Saturday 12th August 2006, 13:31   #12
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Hola BV,

I may of course be biased, but I´ll have to vote for Panama in Central America.

a) most numbers of species;
Here we have more than 970 different species of birds, that is far more than any similarly-sized country in the region.
Having a small size, means that you can see great many birds without having to travel for days at a time.

b) cost (reasonably cheap food and accommodation);
The US dollar is legal tender in the country, yet the cost of living is incredibly low.
You would have a wide array of options from gourmet meals and 5-star accommodations, all the way to a plate of rice and beans and chicken for $2.00, and backpacker hostels for under $10/night.

c) ease of getting about (with or without hire car)
This is one of Panama´s main advantages. Our road system is overall excellent, plus we are very fortunate in having forested areas near all main towns.
Even if you stay in downtown Panama City you can take a cab for about $2 that would take you in less than 10 minutes to the nearby Metropolitan Rainforest Park with antbirds, manakins, trogons, toucans, motmots, etc.
Or you can take a bus that for less than $1 and in less than one hour, would place you near the entrance of the world famous Pipeline Road or the trails around the Canopy Tower, where more than 400 species of birds are recorded.

d) doing it all in comparative safety?
Panama is one of the region´s safest countries. We very seldom have any problems while out birding.
Of course there are some areas around Panama City and Colon that you want to avoid, just like any other large city, but beyond that, it is extremely safe.

Please don´t hesitate contacting me if you have any other questions.

Cheers,
Guido

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Old Sunday 13th August 2006, 19:58   #13
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One place that is often overlooked by birders is Honduras. Its very cheap and relatively easy to get around. One of the big attractions to me is that it is so little known ornithologically that it is easy to make new discoveries. Last February I visited southern Honduras for the weekend and found two new country records. A four day trip to the same area a couple of years before added three new country records. For someone on a tight budget that wants to see a lot of good birds and do some original birding, Honduras might be just the place.

Tom
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Old Sunday 13th August 2006, 21:10   #14
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In south America: I'll second Tims vote for Peru, great country - been there three times and love it.

Central America: Mexico or Costa Rica

Cheers,

Mark
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Old Monday 14th August 2006, 20:16   #15
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Many thanks guys for all your comments. I am looking into Costa Rica, Ecuador or Peru now.
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Old Sunday 24th September 2006, 10:49   #16
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Going to Ecuador

Well, I have booked flights and accommodation for Ecuador in May 2007. I will be flying to Quito via Madrid and staying at Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge and Tandayapa Bird Lodge. The next 7 1/2 months are going to drag a bit I think, but it's a nice thing to look forward to through winter.

Ok, I'm going to be staying in lodges, but how much Spanish will I need? Will learning a few phrasebook words and phrases be sufficient or will I need more in depth Spanish? There's nothing I hate worse than going somewhere and looking stupid because I know nothing of the language.
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Old Wednesday 27th September 2006, 11:18   #17
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Talking

If you spend the entire visit in the lodges and nearby, the language you will probably need the most will be American, maybe Dutch.
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Old Wednesday 27th September 2006, 14:39   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dipper
If you spend the entire visit in the lodges and nearby, the language you will probably need the most will be American, maybe Dutch.
Lol! I did mean in and around Quito, though, except I did me usual and wasn't very specific.
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Old Wednesday 27th September 2006, 23:27   #19
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In that case you will need some Spanish. I find very little English is spoken in Ecuador, especially taxis, buses, shops, restaurants, pretty much anywhere you are likely to go. But there are English speakers to be found, in surprising places. I never studied Spanish and I don't have a dictionary or phrase book, but have picked up what I need from travelling and running with Colombians.
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Old Thursday 28th September 2006, 00:01   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vectis Birder
Ok, I'm going to be staying in lodges, but how much Spanish will I need? Will learning a few phrasebook words and phrases be sufficient or will I need more in depth Spanish? There's nothing I hate worse than going somewhere and looking stupid because I know nothing of the language.
Hi Vectis Birder,

I spent 19 days in Ecuador a couple of years back with a mate (including 4 days at Tandayapa Lodge). We also visited the Mindo area, Papallacta area, Beaza area, plus Aldea Salamandra Reserve . . . and between us we don't speak a word of Spanish! Not only that, and apart from 4 days car hire, we used public transport throughout our stay, all without any problems, or at any time looking the slightest bit stupid!!!

Don't worry about a thing, you're going to have a fantastic time.

(PS: email me if you think I might be able to help with any info etc).

Last edited by BGuy : Thursday 28th September 2006 at 00:24.
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Old Thursday 28th September 2006, 11:59   #21
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Thanks guys. I'll pick up a Spanish phrasebook anyway and learn a few key sentences.
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Last edited by Vectis Birder : Thursday 28th September 2006 at 11:59. Reason: because I can't type
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