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Best Central/South American Country for Birding--Late May (1 Viewer)

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
Not sure I would recommend that, unless you have a guide with a vehicle some days. On my first trip to Ecuador, we stayed in Bellavista, Sashatamia and Yellow House, and I don't think there was a day when we did not use the car. One morning visiting Angel Paz at their place; one day with a guide in our rental car to Milpe and Rio Silanche, just to mention two things we did use the car for.

Niels
I would agree. If you are going to go to Northwest Ecuador, you almost have to go those places if you want the full experience. I mean, there is a reason almost every trip report visits those 3 locations not to mention Mashpi. If you just want to stay in a single local with a lot of trails that doesn't require much car travel, there are probably better options. I mean, do you really want to travel all the way there without seeing a Andean Cock of the Rock lek, or an antpitta feeder?
 

THE_FERN

Well-known member
I think you could do Panama without a car, certainly if only for a couple of weeks. You can get to pipeline road by public transport (with a fairly long walk), you can get to the metropolitan park easily... If prepared to travel further, it's easy to get to the San Fransisco reserve and hotel avicar. In the opposite direction, can get to various bits of Valle de Anton by taxi, the quetzal path out of boquete.

Alternatively, the North East of Colombia might still be good (although fewer/no migrants). The whole area from Santa Marta is easy by public transport. You could spend a week in and around Minca. There are plenty of independent guides there. A couple of weeks for the whole of the North coast (or longer if you like, of course)
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Points taken
I think I have unconciously associated the number of species with the number of individual birds present and the quality of birding. In this case I guess I might just stick to my Ecuador-Mindo plan.
I don't know if anyone has been but if I just stay in the birding lodges in Mindo I suppose a car wouldn't be necessary?
We did a one week stay in Mindo without a car as part of a longer non birding trip and managed to do pretty well just using the same taxi driver who took us to birding spots. We didn't use a guide but they were available.
I attach the trip report which will give you an idea of birds you can see without a guide (see the Mindo section).
 

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Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
If you're only going for 10 days and you haven't been to the Neotropics before, then Mindo has to be as good a place as any if your style is to bird without a guide and without your own vehicle. It was my first birding site in the Neotropics and it totally blew my mind. It was 30 years ago but I bet it's still as good. Even after a week I felt I'd barely touched the sides, and moved on to Papallacta knowing I'd relish coming back. It'll take a week just to work out vaguely what's going on!
 

opisska

rabid twitcher
Czech Republic
Yellow House in Mindo is one of the few places in the world when I can imagine just sitting on the porch for a week and watching the birds as they come :)

I know that the requests is for the real tropical birds, but I would like to note that the Neotropics also include more southerly areas and late May should be a really good time for Misiones in Argentina (Atlantic forest) weather-wise. I only note that because I was planning to make a short trip there in late March and quickly noped out when I looked at the climate graphs, but the temperature goes down very quickly towards late May.
 
I know that the requests is for the real tropical birds, but I would like to note that the Neotropics also include more southerly areas and late May should be a really good time for Misiones in Argentina (Atlantic forest) weather-wise. I only note that because I was planning to make a short trip there in late March and quickly noped out when I looked at the climate graphs, but the temperature goes down very quickly towards late May.

Interesting idea. I think I will pass on Misiones this time just because of how long it takes to get there from the US given my limited time. But if you do end up going there let me know how the trip went.

I am contemplating between Ecuador and Costa Rica. I'm sure I can't go wrong with either but if anyone have been to either/both of these places I would love some insight.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
I have been to both. You will need a return visit either way, because you cannot see everything either country has to offer in 10 days. Mindo might be the better option for such a short period because you will use relatively little time on transport. If you had three weeks the answer might be different. I might do 2-3 nights in Bellavista and the rest in Yellow house with the intent of doing trips further afield from Yellow house (or even one or two days at an elevation in between such as Sachatamia Lodge). Have guides whenever you feel like it: my experience is that when coming to a new place, second or third day at least should be with a guide, then you can better be without later. Make sure you have at least one morning to early afternoon at the Paz de las Aves place with their guiding (it is also possible to stay at their place, or was before the covid hit).
Niels
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
I know that the requests is for the real tropical birds, but I would like to note that the Neotropics also include more southerly areas and late May should be a really good time for Misiones in Argentina (Atlantic forest) weather-wise. I only note that because I was planning to make a short trip there in late March and quickly noped out when I looked at the climate graphs, but the temperature goes down very quickly towards late May.

I have spent a lot of time in Misiones and across the neotropics. I love Argentina and enjoy birding in Misiones quite a bit but it would never occur to me as a first trip to S America. It’s hard to move around without a car, birding the falls is a pain in the ass now with mandatory guiding, and (in my opinión) it is neither the best place to experience the Atlantic forest nor the best place to experience Argentina. That said, for independent birders who have seen a lot of the neotropics already, and who don’t mind renting a car and doing some driving and hiking it has some really rewarding birding, some Atlantic Forest birds are much easier than anywhere in Brazil, there is a great stakeout for Tapir, and the falls are of course lovely.
 

opisska

rabid twitcher
Czech Republic
You have to go to the falls with a guide now?!

edit: the park website states explicitly that you don't have to have a guide, so what are you referencing?

edit2: they do, however, require people to wear masks while walking around, so no, I wouldn't go there either.
 
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pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
You have to go to the falls with a guide now?!

edit: the park website states explicitly that you don't have to have a guide, so what are you referencing?

edit2: they do, however, require people to wear masks while walking around, so no, I wouldn't go there either.

It could be that they have already changed it again. The mandatory guiding to visit the falls was extremely poorly received.

The problem was a mixture of:

-a lot of food concessions in the park
-a lot of poorly behaved visitors
-almost no ranger presence / control of anything

all yielding a situation with coatis and monkeys totally tame and shameless and being aggressive and robbing food all over the place, confrontations between animals and people, people leaving trash, etc.

So they instituted a system where you had to enter with a guide. Which no one wanted except the local guiding consortium.

But perhaps they have now scrapped it, I've not been since pre-pandemia, I'll have to ask around / look into it.
 
You have to go to the falls with a guide now?!

edit: the park website states explicitly that you don't have to have a guide, so what are you referencing?

edit2: they do, however, require people to wear masks while walking around, so no, I wouldn't go there either.
Could you send me the link to the website? thanks
 

opisska

rabid twitcher
Czech Republic

I haven't found an English version, but this page clearly says "You can walk alone or with a guide".
 

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Appears they have removed the mandatory guide, very welcome news. Here's a non-official webpage that states it a bit more clearly:

 

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