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Budget travel advice (1 Viewer)

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
If you are using eBird, you can use the targets tool to see which species different regions hold for you, and how relatively abundant they are... this will answer a lot of your questions. I think it might be hard to get 125 lifers in Middle America in a week based upon what you've already done, but eBird's target tool will be a good place to start.

Aside from pure numbers, San Blas area, Oaxaca, the Costa Rican highlands and 1-2 nearby sites (ie, Arenal and/or Quebrada Gonzalez for instance) would be some of the most pleasant and enjoyable trips you could arrange.
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
I wanted to keep out of this discussion but I think I have to state this: when considering 1) short time, 2) budget, and 3) high species numbers, it reminds me of the old song stating "two out of three ain't bad". You could easily get the numbers (at least I would assume so) by flying into Panama and do the Darien Camp with Canopy for a week, but it would not be budget. You could fly into Costa Rica and do something similar by hiring a guide with vehicle for a week, but would it be budget? You could do it in Costa Rica with a somewhat longer time period and driving yourself around or taking public transportation but it would not be short time.

My only (so far) visit to CR lasted two weeks, we rented a car and had guiding 2 days and participated in a Christmas bird count for another day. My list states 329 species during that period. So maybe you can get 125 in a week, but some moving around would likely be necessary.

Niels
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
If you are using eBird, you can use the targets tool to see which species different regions hold for you, and how relatively abundant they are... this will answer a lot of your questions. I think it might be hard to get 125 lifers in Middle America in a week based upon what you've already done, but eBird's target tool will be a good place to start.

Aside from pure numbers, San Blas area, Oaxaca, the Costa Rican highlands and 1-2 nearby sites (ie, Arenal and/or Quebrada Gonzalez for instance) would be some of the most pleasant and enjoyable trips you could arrange.
eBird is the main reason I was thinking of certain places that were either high elevation or with a number of endemics since outside of some widespread species, I haven't truly seen many of the big targets of the region.

Based on targets alone, Oaxaca could potentially give me 271 lifers, while Costa Rica around the Alajuela region could give me 314 lifers. But I also know many will be missed outside of the bold endemics/widespread species I'm missing.
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
I wanted to keep out of this discussion but I think I have to state this: when considering 1) short time, 2) budget, and 3) high species numbers, it reminds me of the old song stating "two out of three ain't bad". You could easily get the numbers (at least I would assume so) by flying into Panama and do the Darien Camp with Canopy for a week, but it would not be budget. You could fly into Costa Rica and do something similar by hiring a guide with vehicle for a week, but would it be budget? You could do it in Costa Rica with a somewhat longer time period and driving yourself around or taking public transportation but it would not be short time.

My only (so far) visit to CR lasted two weeks, we rented a car and had guiding 2 days and participated in a Christmas bird count for another day. My list states 329 species during that period. So maybe you can get 125 in a week, but some moving around would likely be necessary.

Niels
You're right, honestly my idea for budget just means that it won't inhibit my travel plans in the next year (for example I can't imagine myself ever doing an international tour company even if the options are great because it goes beyond what I can do).

The Darien has a potential of 252 lifers including many species that I've dipped on and have somewhat become nemesis because of their skulking nature (at this point Buff-breasted Wren would make me as happy to see as it would be to see my first Tinamou).

What I'm wondering is if it would be better to take a trip with the Canopy Family or hire a local guide not linked with them like I did for my first time in Panama?
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
What I'm wondering is if it would be better to take a trip with the Canopy Family or hire a local guide not linked with them like I did for my first time in Panama?
That I believe is really difficult to know. If you hire a guide with really good knowledge of the area, then you should probably have a chance of seeing just about the same number of species either way. If these are the same species is a different question, there might be one or two locations that each have access to that the other does not.

Therefore, maybe the decision goes as to whether you can live with birding around 5-ish other people or if you need the personal attention of the guide full time.

Niels

I should add that I enjoyed the week with canopy camp; I am otherwise the guy who prefer renting a car and being on my own.
Niels
 

bajadreamer

Well-known member
Supporter
Hi Everyone,

Just came back from Guyana and my life list is at a nice 875 species in my life list, which roughly means that I'm only 125 species away from my 1,000 milestone and I would really like to achieve it this year.

So far I only have one trip planned to the state of Washington this summer but that would only give me about 20-30 lifers if I get really lucky (family vacation, can't focus solely on birding).

My question to you is the following, which place in Mexico or Central America would you advice to do 1 week and get those last 125 birds? My only other limit is that I want to leave it on the low cost and travel time wise (which is why I'm keep trying to stay away from South America, correct me if I'm wrong) and use a local guide to maximize the options. I currently have a break in the first week of May and the second week of December. Since I am aiming for resident species, migration numbers don't really affect me as I've seen most of the migrants for the region.

I've already birded the Southeast and Pacific Northwest parts of the US, along with short trips for Yucatan, Central Panama and Bahamas, plus the aforementioned Guyana. Based on those, please let me know what you'd recommend, currently I'm thinking of Oaxaca and San Blas or Guatemala, but would like some input before trying anything and if you have a guide to recommend, please don't hesitate.
I have traveled and birded southern Mexico several times and would certainly recommend Oaxaca as a starting point. Roque Antonio Santiago ([email protected]) has been terrific in the two times I have used his services. He will pick you up at the Oaxaca airport and in 7 days will certainly get you the 125 birds you are seeking. One morning in the high desert ("thorn forest") will get you a dozen or more. A relatively short drive up to Latuvia will get you many high altitude species, although April may be on the tail end of the winter birds. After that he will take you to the Pacific coast near Hualtaco for low land birds. If you have enough time he will continue to take you to Arriaga and even Chiapas where you would get many of the same birds that you would see in Guatemala. Easy 7 day trip where he would do all the driving and arranging for you. Pleasant guy, good English, great local knowledge. Oaxaca and all of southern Mexico can be frustrating at times because of frequent road, and even airport, closures because of labor strikes. Roque has been able to get us around some of these closures in a timely fashion. I would recommend him highly. Is he inexpensive? Depends on your definition. He charged us $400 per day for 6 people (3 couples). That included a large van, his services as a guide, all accommodations (good to excellent), but not food. On the last trip we arrived in Oaxaca and left from Tuxtla Guitterez to prevent any backtracking.
 

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