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Birding tours companies

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Old Wednesday 1st August 2018, 23:05   #1
ziggypop4
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Birding tours companies

Hi!

I recently traveled to Costa Rica with a Quebec-based company, it was great, but the birding could have been better (or at least I think so!).

Now I'm looking to try another company but can't seem to find either reviews or at least read on the differences between those companies.
I've read countless trip reports and looked at where the companies go but I can't get a big picture to help me guide my choice.

So, anything on Fieldguides, Rockjumper, Wings or Birdquest that I could read and set expectations for each?

Many thanks!
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Old Wednesday 1st August 2018, 23:32   #2
andyadcock
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Rockjumper are good but Birdquest are probably the top rated, hardcore British company.

I haven't heard of the others.
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Old Saturday 4th August 2018, 02:15   #3
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I have been on a single trip of that kind, Galapagos with http://alvarosadventures.com/

For me, that was a really good trip. For example in Chile and Ecuador, it will be difficult to find a better guide than Alvaro.

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Old Saturday 4th August 2018, 04:16   #4
Bill Atwood
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I've not done any tour with the companies mentioned, but all are highly reputable and should get you a good list of birds for any tour.

The scuttlebutt I've heard on Birdquest jibes with Andy's assessment.

From personal experience I highly recommend Birding Africa and BirdTourAsia for their respective regions. Their tours outperformed Birdquest (based on BQ tour reports.) Others folks had the same opinion.

My last trip was to West Mexico with Naturescape Tours & Zoothera. Kim Risen is the Naturescape owner and was the leader, along with Nick Bray of Zoothera. Not as hardcore as some other tours but we just about got everything and had very few misses (which most tours have.) Not bad considering the itinerary had to significantly altered at the last minute due to Volcan de Fuego acting up.
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Old Saturday 4th August 2018, 05:22   #5
Jim M.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggypop4 View Post
So, anything on Fieldguides, Rockjumper, Wings or Birdquest that I could read and set expectations for each?
Those are four of the biggest, most well-known companies. I've been on two tours with each (except only one Wings), and about the same total number of tours with smaller companies. Each of the four will get you the birds. I'd rate Field Guides at the top, but also the most expensive along with Wings. FG's guides and service are first rate--both in terms of birding and people skills. Wings and Rockjumper are also very good, and have good customer service. BirdQuest seems to have guides with good to excellent birding skills, but they don't seem to care whether they have good people skills or not--and they are the only company of the four that doesn't ask you to fill out an evaluation form at the end of the tour. They also have the reputation of catering to hardcore listers--so may not be appropriate if you aren't so concerned about ticking the most bird species you can on the tour. I've also found their customer service to be the least responsive, but adequate.

Overall, I think my favorite one of the four is Rockjumper--quality tours and service at a competitive cost. There are also smaller companies that can be as good (but also bad) and some times cheaper, but you need to do your due diligence beforehand. If you want to stay Canadian there is Eagle-eye Tours. The tour I did with them was as good as the others, though they do tend to have high participant limits on many of their tours (usually twelve), which can make forest birding difficult.

That said, you can probably get a bad tour with any company, so try to research your guides and look at past trip reports beforehand, so you will minimize surprises.
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Old Saturday 4th August 2018, 18:56   #6
Digbert Doobrey
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You could try Oriole Birding. They fly from the UK but they might do a land only package if you contact them. Then you could fly down from Canada. They have excellent reports of their trips on their website.
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Old Tuesday 7th August 2018, 13:27   #7
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Big companies

We have used these companies but mostly we now try to do a custom version with a local company /guide. Tends to work out less expensive (often much cheaper) and allows us to tailor the itinerary to our needs.
E,g we used Ashanti - Ghana, Ethiopian Quadrant - Ethiopia, Walk with Jith - Sri Lanka, Manakin - Colombia, Bella Aventura - Costa Rica.

Even bigger companies like Naturetrek (Borneo) and BirdtourAsia (Indonesia) will do a tailor made option for around the same price as a tour.
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Old Sunday 12th August 2018, 13:42   #8
Robert L Jarvis
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Hire a 4WD and do it yourself, plenty of info on here and other sites of places to visit and stay. far more fun and cheaper.
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Old Friday 17th August 2018, 13:00   #9
kb57
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Hire a 4WD and do it yourself, plenty of info on here and other sites of places to visit and stay. far more fun and cheaper.
I'd tend to agree - I was staying in a hotel in Japan this year where an organised tour were staying for a night. I couldn't quite see what added value they were getting, at a location where the birding is pretty much laid out on a plate for you, and where car hire / driving and generally getting around independently is easy and fun.

That said, I'd be wary about going to a region like the Neotropics where I have zero previous experience of the birds, when I know however much I'd pored over field guides and xeno-canto beforehand I'd end up missing a lot, or not being able to confidently identify them. If I ever get round (as I hope to) one day to visiting Central America, I'd certainly consider using local guides at least on a day-trip basis.
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Old Monday 8th October 2018, 20:34   #10
trogon52
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I've been on several tours with different companies, including Fieldguides, Birdingecotours, Birdtourasia, and Rockjumpers. The absolute worst experience was with Rockjumpers, because of the tour leader's lack of professionalism. If it had been possible, I would have left the tour early. His behavior totally ruined the tour for me, and I've vowed never to go on another Rockjumpers tour. I communicated my experience with Rockjumpers after the tour, and received an apology as the tour leader in question accepted my report of what had happened. Sadly, I've seen that this tour leader continues to lead many Rockjumper tours. So, as someone else had posted, it's not just the company, but who the tour leader is that should be considered.
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Old Tuesday 9th October 2018, 20:52   #11
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Who ever you go with, the important thing is that they are ABTA or equivalent registered. I have heard a few horror stories of people losing their hard earned when the companies have gone to the wall and were not registered under one of the recognised insurance schemes. I am sure those mentioned, all being established companies will be, but be wary of some of the smaller outfits. That said, a friend of mine has birded all over and usually makes his own travel and accommodation plans and then seeks out local guides once there and has always found this to be a good way of doing it, especially if you plan to travel around a country/region.
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