North West Argentina
Thursday 25th September – Tuesday 7th October 2014
Famed for its attractive unspoilt scenery the North West of Argentina offers the birder a wealth of rare and spectacular birds. From the rich wetlands of Costanero Sur to the high Andes, this trip has it all. By visiting a wide range of fantastic habitats from the Yungas Cloudforests, tumbling mountain streams, Monte Desert, Cacti Scrubland, Altiplano and high Andean Grasslands, we will not only be entranced by the outstanding beauty of this country, we will also be able to see many endemic and much sought after species. Starting off with an assortment of wetland birds we can also see Freckle-breasted Thornbird and Scarlet-headed Blackbird before flying to Tucuman and onto Aconquija Mountain Range. Here many exciting species await us such as Tucumàn Mountain-Finch, Chaco and Buff-breasted Earthcreeper, Chequered Woodpecker, Burrowing Parrot and Moreno’s Ground-Dove. Moving on we will pass through cactus steppe, and a unique area of ‘monte desert’ where the endemic White-throated Cacholote, and the elusive and poorly known Sandy Gallito a large cryptic desert tapaculo can be found. In the Humahuaca Valley and Calilegua NP we will search a variety of lakes, mossy forests and Andean peaks where we can add numerous other species such as Horned Coot, Puna Plover and 3 species of Flamingo, White-throated Antpitta, Giant Antshrike, Golden-collared Macaw, Blue-crowned Trogon, Euler’s Flycatcher, Crested Becard, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper and with luck even a Hoy’s Screech-Owl. Join us for the best of N W Argentina.
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Day 1 Arrive Buenos Aires - 25th Sept
Today we plan to arrive at Buenos Aires. We will then spend the night here prior to the start of our tour early the next morning. Because of the varying flight schedules today is just an arrival day. For anyone arriving early today we may be able to visit some nearby marshes.
Night Buenos Aires
Day 2 Buenos Aires - Tucuman - 26th Sept
This morning we will take a domestic flight to the city of Tucumán, and from there we take the long drive through Rio Los Sosa Valley to Tafí del Valle. In the lowlands we will keep a look out for Rufous-throated Dipper, before continuing our climb past the Yungas Cloudforest to arrive at Tafí del Valle. The spectacular and unique Yungas Cloudforest supports one of the greatest biological diversities in the Neotropics. It harbours a wide variety of forests and woodlands, each hosting its own and unique community of flora and fauna, and all varying according with their altitudinal ranges. Wildlife is abundant in this humid environment. Ferns, bromeliads and other epiphytic plants are particularly stunning here, and they cover every single corner of the forest. This biological treasure is well protected within the boundaries of several national parks and nature reserves, and we plan to explore it thoroughly. It is here where we will have good chances to see one of the most colorful Argentine endemic birds, the Yellow-striped Brush-Finch. Night Tafí del Valle.
Day 3 Tafí del Valle - 27th Sept
Today will be spent birding the montane forest and Andean gresslands up to and around 10,000ft looking for birds like the near endemic Tucuman Mountain-Finch. Many other species here and lower down in the Yungas Cloudforest could include Ornate Tinamou, Andean Lapwing, Gray-hooded Parakeet, the endemic Moreno’s Ground-Dove, Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant, Slender-billed Miner, Scale-throated and the near-endemic Buff-breasted Earthcreepers, White-winged Cinclodes, Hellmayrʼs Pipit, Wedge-tailed Hillstar, the endemic White-browed Tapaculo, Cordilleran and Puna Canastero, Short-tailed Finch and more chances for the delightful Yellow-striped Brush-Finch. We are also in good habitat for the mightiest of the raptors the Andean Condor so we will need to keep a look out for this fabulous bird.
Night Tafí del Valle.
Day 4 Tafí del Valle – Cafayate - 28th Sept
This morning we will set off around the western side of the Sierra de Aconquija. And continue north through Argentine wine country to the small town of Cafayate in the Province of Salta. We will cross through the dry, high Andean pass of “El Infiernillo” on our way there, and a diversity of dry Andean habitats, making frequent stops along the road to search for a great variety of birds, including some endemics like Sandy Gallito, the scarce and local Steinbach´s Canastero, Cinnamon Warbling-Finch and White-throated Cacholote. Other birds in this habitat should include Elegant Crested-Tinamou, Burrowing Parrot, White-tipped Plantcutter and White-banded Mockingbird, plus many others.
Day 5 Cafayate - Cabra Corral - 29th Sept
This morning we will bird the Monte habitat, looking for endemics and specialties such as White-throated Cacholote, Sandy Gallito, Burrowing Parrot (northern race), Chaco Earthcreeper, Spot-winged Pigeon, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, White-banded Mockingbird, Black-crested Finch, White-crested Tyrannulet, White-fronted Woodpecker and Black-legged Seriema. In the afternoon, we will drive through the vineyards of Cafayate, enjoying the stunning views of Quebrada de las Conchas, towards Cabra Corral, where we’ll spend the following two nights.
Day 6 Chachi Road - 30th Sept
No birding tour to northwestern Argentina would be complete without visiting the Andean habitats of the famous “Cuesta del Obispo,” also known as the Cachi Road, an area well reputed among birders the world over for the quantity and quality of bird species present here. The great diversity of habitats here includes Yungas Cloudforest, cacti scrubland and high Andean grasslands. We will follow this road on our way to los Cardones National Park, looking for birds like Andean Tinamou, Andean Parakeet, Aplomado Falcon, Andean Flicker, Red-tailed Comet, Straight-billed and Rock Earthcreepers, White-tipped Plantcutter, Cordilleran, Maquis (Iquico), and possibly Scribble-tailed Canasteros, Zimmerʼs Tapaculo, Brown-capped Tit-Spinetail, Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant, White-winged Black-Tyrant, Black Siskin, Rufous-sided Warbling-Finch, Plain-coloured Seedeater, Long-tailed Meadowlark, Black-hooded Sierra-Finch and the localized Rufous-bellied Saltator. Night Cabra Corral
Day 7 Cabra Corral - Jujuy - 01st Oct
We will leave the area of Cabra Corral in the morning of day 7, and drive towards the Province of Jujuy, where we are going to spend the following two nights in the City of Libertador General San Martín. The drive there is very scenic, and we will have the chance to explore the dry Chaco habitats on the way. Some of the birds we expect to see here include Brushland and Quebracho Crested-Tinamous, Chaco Chachalaca, Suiriri Flycatcher, Black-legged Seriema, Chaco Puffbird. Spot-winged Falconet, Blue-tufted Starthroat, Gilded Sapphire, Checkered and White-fronted Woodpeckers, the very rare Black-bodied Woodpecker, White-barred Piculet, Little Thornbird, Lark-like Brushrunner, Brown Cacholote, Scimitar-billed and Great Rufous Woodcreepers, Crested Gallito, Stripe-backed Antbird, Variable Antshrike, Olive-crowned Crescentchest, Two-banded Warbler, Cinereous Tyrant, Rufous Casiornis, Swainson’s Flycatcher, Many-colored Chaco-Finch, Ringed Warbling-Finch, Greater Wagtail-Tyrant, and Ultramarine Grosbeak. Two Nights Libertador General San Martín.
Day 8 Calilegua National Park - 02nd Oct
Today we will explore one of the few areas devoted to protect the Yungas Cloud Forest in Argentina, the Calilegua National Park. Throughout this day, we will stop frequently at different altitudes, to explore the forest and search for its unique bird life. Amongst the wealth of birds that we could see are Dot-fronted and Cream-backed Woodpeckers, Mitred Parakeet, Scaly-headed Parrot, White-bellied Hummingbird and Rufous-capped Antshrike. The long list also includes White-winged Becard, Brown-capped Redstart, Stripe-crowned and Azara’s Spinetails, Buff-browed Foliage-Gleaner, Rough-legged and Sclater’s Tyrannulets, Mountain Wren, Fulvous-headed and Stripe-headed Brush-Finches, Fawn-breasted Tanager and Golden-winged Cacique. Nights Libertador General San Martín.
Day 9 Humahuaca Valley - Purmamarca - 03rd Oct
We will leave the Calilegua area in the morning to drive all the way up to the Humahuaca Valley, in the dry Andes of Jujuy. As we get there, we will cross different habitats, with chances to find some very special birds such as Rufous-throated Dipper on the tumbling streams. We will spend the night in the village of Purmamarca.
Days 10 - 11 La Quiaca area - 04th, 5th Oct
Today we will drive all the way to the northernmost city of Argentina, called La Quiaca, located in the border between this country and Bolivia. The road to La Quica is really spectacular, and we will get from the Andean valleys to the high Andean Puna at 3,400 meters high. During this and the next full day we will explore the Puna habitats looking for high Andes specialties such as Puna Canastero, Citron-headed Yellow-Finch, Black-fronted Ground-Tyrant, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Least Seedsnipe, Andean Gull, Mountain Caracara, Andean Flicker, Golden-spotted Ground-Dove, Ornate Tinamou, Andean Goose, Andean Avocet, Crested Duck, Puna Teal, Andean, Horned and Giant Coots, Puna Plover and several North American migrants such as Baird’s and Pectoral Sandpipers and Wilson’s Phalarope.We will spend these two nights in La Quiaca.
Day 12 La Quiaca to Yala - 6th Oct
Our last full day will see us drive from La Quiaca down to the small village of Yala, on the southernmost end of the Humahuaca Valley. Our plan today is to take a gravel back-road rather than the main paved one- to go exploring some high Andean lagoons in search of specialties like all three species of South American flamingoes namely Chilean, Andean, and James’s. Other birds if not seen on the previous couple of days could include Tawny-throated Dotterel, Torrent Duck, Red-faced Guan, Yungas Dove, Green-cheeked Parakeet, the rare Tucumán (Alder) Parrot, the recently described Hoyʼs Screech-Owl, Blue-capped Puffleg, the tiny Slender-tailed Woodstar, Plush-crested Jay, Andean Slaty-Thrush, Spot-breasted Thornbird, Brown-capped Redstart, Golden-billed Saltator, and Rusty-browed Warbling-Finch. During the evening we will try for one of the most spectacular nightjars of them all the Lyre-tailed Nightjar. Night Yala
Day 13 Yala - Buenos Aires - 7th Oct
Today we will drive to the airport of Jujuy to take a return flight to Buenos Aires and connect with our international departure.
Leaders: Miguel Castalino plus (Steve Bird & Gina Nichol with 7 or more)
Ground Price: £3495.00
Airfare: £890.00 - £1200.00 (Approx) - UK/UK
Please note that flight costs can vary a lot on route taken and time of booking.
Zoothera tour prices explained
Group size: Maximum 10.
Not included: International & Domestic flight, (approx £750.00-£1050.00) depending on what airline and how early booked, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: Our hotels and lodges vary in quality but all are within easy reach of the areas we wish to bird.
Tour Code: This is a standard birding tour with all day birding. No particular strenuous walks are planned although at altitude it can be slow, some forest trails can be muddy and wet. To see a good amount of endemics and specialities you need to be prepared for full days. We will generally start early and either have an early breakfast or return for breakfast. Lunches will be either picnic or at the lodge depending on our schedule. We can expect all types of weathers from warm and hot to cool and rain. Please be prepared for this.
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