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WISH LIST FOR 2019

This time of year is ideal to dream about places to go in 2019 or beyond. Here is our list to inspire you. From sailing around the Galapagos Islands or cruising in Antarctica. Other wildlife adventures are to be had in the Amazon, or the coral reefs of Belize. For impressive natural wonders, it is hard to beat Iguazú Falls. To visit colourful indigenous people and their ancient past, our two top places would be Peru and Guatemala. Finally, for the best barbeques in the world washed down with Argentine Malbec you can’t do better than Mendoza.

CRUISE THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Galapagos is the dream trip for anyone interested in wildlife. Have your own Darwin moment discovering flightless cormorants and swimming iguanas. The joy is that most of the strange creatures are fearless of humans, so you get up-close and personal to albatrosses, giant tortoises and the iconic dancing blue-footed booby. Snorkel with sealion pups and the only tropical penguin not to mention unique fish, turtles and whales.

EXPLORE ANTARCTICA

You won’t forget the first giant iceberg that comes into view as you head across the Southern Ocean to Antarctica. Follow in the footsteps of the great explorers, but on a comfortable expedition cruise ship. Our expert scientists on board will help identify the wildlife and fill-in on the history of the Great White Continent. Have fun with penguins, fur seals and keep a watchful eye on the huge elephant seals

INTO THE MYSTIC MACHU PICCHU

Peru, Machu Picchu Copyright David Horwell

The ‘lost’ city of the Incas can be reached on foot or luxury train down through the Andes. This iconic World Heritage Site will live up to all the brochure photos you’ve seen on first sight. New regulations have been introduced at Machu Picchu to limit visitor impact, but we can still organize a second visit on your own if you wish to experience the ruins and meditate without being rushed.

FEEL THE POWER OF IGUAZÚ FALLS

The hundreds of cascades that make up Iguazú falls lie between Argentina and Brazil. We recommend visiting both sides. On the Brazil side you will get a spectacular panoramic view. Walk down to the base of the biggest drop and feel the power of the spray and marvel at rainbows created. You will get wet! On the Argentine side, explore trails into the jungle, with tropical birds, butterflies and a small train to the top of the Devil’s Throat.

DIVE INTO BELIZE’S CORAL REEF

Belize has the second longest coral reef in the World. Here you can snorkel or Scuba dive into another world. Get eyeball to eyeball with turtles, reef sharks and giant mantas. Spot multi-coloured tropical fish teeming around coral formations. You can even explore wrecks. If you tire of the underwater world head into the jungles and find hidden Mayan ruins.

RUB NOSES WITH EASTER ISLAND STATUES

Esater Isalnd Moai copyright David Horwell

Easter Island or RapaNui, as locals call it, lies thousands of miles out into the Pacific from Chile. This is surely a real trip of a lifetime. You will be rewarded by the hundreds of Moai or giant statues hewn from the volcanic rock. Explore the fascinating quarry where many statues lay abandoned, the ceremonial centre of Orongo or the caves where natives sought refuge. The best part is meeting the local people, we can arrange homestays, fishing trips or traditional stone cooking or visit during the annual Tapati festival.

DISCOVER THE AMAZON

The greatest rainforest in the world covers seven countries. For animal and bird-watching we suggest the upper amazon tributaries in Ecuador or Peru. Here there are accessible lodges or luxury small cruise boats. In Brazil the distances are far greater and the rivers much wider, but for the real wildlife enthusiast you get deep into the forest at Cristalino or Uakari lodges or take a cruise from Manaus, once the centre of the rubber boom.

WINE-TASTING IN MENDOZA

Mendoza’s relaxed atmosphere and fine dining make it an excellent choice to visit for rest and relaxation. A cycle in the afternoon sun around the many vineyards dotted just outside the city is a must, and of course a great way to try some of these top-notch wines. The hot days and cool nights of the region are the secret to the success of Mendoza’s wine region. If you’re not a city person why not stay at one of the many bodegas, learning more about the process of wine making and, in the harvesting season help collect the grapes: a lovely way to while away a few hours.

GUATEMALA A PHOTOGRAPHER’S PARADISE

Tikal – Guatemala

Guatemala is a country busting at the seams with a mix of colonial architecture, rich indigenous history and spectacular volcanic and tropical jungle scenery. Meander through the colourful local markets bartering with stall holders. Get lost in the lively festivals or spontaneous live music that bursts onto the streets and plazas. Delve deep in the steamy rainforest to discover vast Mayan cities, hop on your bike to cycle around shimmering lakes and towering volcanoes. Out of all the Latin American countries, this one has got to be one of our favourites

Guest Blog Brazil: A hard nut to crack or just a big pussycat?!

David and his team have been organising our trips to South America for nearly 20 years now. We have previously described them as ‘masterpieces’; each one excelling in the chosen area of travel. A big challenge faces them every time we book another holiday.
So, with the bar set high, could they reach it for Brazil?

Our first stay at Cordilheira, Caiman Ecological Refuge, brought us a sighting of Fera, a ‘re-wilded’ orphaned jaguar cub. Having watched a David Attenborough programme shortly before departure, ‘Jaguars in Brazil’, featuring this very same cub, it was like being in our own wildlife documentary. The afternoon we saw her, we watched her return to, and finish off, a previous kill of a giant anteater. We then tracked her in the hope that she might return to her two young cubs. As darkness fell we saw an armadillo scamper across the grass in the light of our guides torch. So too did Fera and, with mixed feelings, we watched as she caught and devoured her dessert! By the time she had finished it was too dark to continue tracking her, so we didn’t get to see the cubs, but we have heard they are doing well. During our stay however, we did encounter roadblocks, ‘jaguar style’, as a mating pair frequently chose to ‘rest’ on the highway through the park. One day, by the river bank, we found deep paw prints in the mud of an ‘unknown’ jaguar. Our guide made plaster casts as a memento of our trip, which we hope to eventually turn into bronze casts.

Jaguar paw print Pantanal

At Araras Lodge we saw Caiman at close quarters but kept a respectful distance having been told that a Japanese tourist once thought that because they were lying so still they weren’t alive. Upon kicking one, and losing three toes, he was very much proved wrong! This was a destination of the unexpected; a giant anteater in the swimming pool and nearly being capsized in our canoe by a Tapir. Not your everyday encounters!

Caiman Pantanal Brazil

Staying on a ‘Flotel’ out of Porto Jofre sounded like sheer luxury and indulgence, and it was. Not least of all because we were the only passengers on a 16-berth boat; our own captain, chef, maid, boatman and guide! Surreal, and all credit to them for not cancelling our booking due to the low occupancy. Our motorboat trips out brought sightings of 10 different jaguars, in varying locations and situations; with a cub, swimming in the river, retrieving a dead caiman and climbing up a tree, to name but a few. It would be unfair to focus on just the jaguars however and not mention all the other wonderful wildlife we saw; giant otters playing or eating fish, Caiman, Capybara, Howler monkeys, Capuchin monkeys, Jabiru stork and a wealth of birdlife. My only ‘reservation’ was the day I needed a ‘comfort stop’. The boatman pulled in by the shore. There, in the sand, was a jaguar paw print. A few feet away lay a Caiman – definitely alive! My bladder capacity increased almost instantaneously as I decided to wait for a more suitable/acceptable location for my needs.

Jabiru Storks Pantanal Brazil

At Cristalino Lodge we enjoyed the diversity of wildlife, walking through the forests, up the watch towers and boating along the river. More surprises waited for us here as we watched a pair of sun bitterns on the river bank. Suddenly an ornate hawk eagle shot swiftly out from the bush, took one of the sun bitterns in its talons, circled round behind us and back into the bush. For a few moments I think we were all in shock and I don’t think any of us could quite take on board what had happened. It was however quite incredible to witness such a snapshot of nature.

Giant anteater, Pantanal, Brazil

Ibitipoca was almost beyond description. If there is a Paradise here on earth, then this is most definitely a contender. A peaceful, tranquil location where just wandering around in the environs of the lodge you are engulfed by the most stunning scenery. There are sheltered spots where you can sit or lie and just absorb the ambience that surrounds you. Everything has been done so tastefully whilst embracing the eco environment and the regeneration of the area. On one of our excursions we even had the good fortune to have a rare sighting of a maned wolf. Walking up to the plateau and encountering the family of seven magnificent human metal sculptures, by Karen Cusolito, looking down the valley, is breath-taking. It is a very special place indeed.

Reserva do Ibitipoca_Tamarin

Our journey ended in Paraty, a delightful old colonial town with a fascinating history and the infrastructure of a bygone era still standing and inhabited to this day. Our stay at Casa Cairucu, on the shore looking out over the bay, provided us with an opportunity to relax and reflect on an incredible adventure. Another masterpiece if ever there was.

Paraty, Brazil

Gillian & Phil Moss

If you want us to create your own bespoke trip to Brazil, do get in touch.

Related: The Difference Between Paraty & Buzios

Spotlight on Tamarin Monkeys

The are several species of tamarin monkeys that live in the Amazon Basin, but one of the most common is the emperor tamarin or saguinus imperator. Allegedly named for its resemblance to the German emperor Wilhelm II. They reside in the tropical forests around Peru, the west of Brazil and parts of Bolivia. Most of the tamarin’s fur is grey and black with little yellowish patches and a brown tail, but its most distinctive feature is its magnificent white moustache which extends out and curls downwards from its nose.

Typically, an emperor tamarin will reach a body length of around 25 centimetres with a strong tail that extends out a further 35 centimetres and weighs in just under half a kilo. They live together in groups of between 2 and 8 individuals led by the oldest female in the dense tree-covered tropical forests. Most of their days are spent swinging around in the trees, grooming each other to build bonds and rarely dropping to the forest floor where they are vulnerable to attack from predators.

Like the other species of tamarins, emperors are omnivores living off at diet of tropical fruits that can be found in abundance, some flowers depending on the season and their location, sap they’ve managed to prize out of trees and the odd insect. When they’re feeling hungry, they might go after tree frogs or cheekily steel the bird eggs when the parents are away from the nests. There small size, agile bodies and useful tails are an advantage making it easy for them to clamber along to the end of thin branches inaccessible for larger mammals. When the dominant female creates a troop to scavenge for food, they are known to work alongside other species of tamarin.

The gestation period for tamarins is roughly the same across the board and females give birth after around 140 to 150 days. Interestingly, they almost always birth twins, though triplets are not that uncommon. Afterwards, both the female and male are involved in the care of their young. The males will scavenge for food and carry the little ones, while the females help with feeding. After 3 months, the young are weaned off milk and start to eat solids. These are the most dangerous months for the young when the there is a high risk of falling from the canopy. If they do survive, they quickly mature and after 2 years they usually set off to build their own group living for more than 15 years.

In the wild, there are some concerns to the declining population which is affected by human encroachment and deforestation, though they are no yet listed as endangered. There are several locations like the Manu National Park where tamarins thrive. Interestingly, these social creatures are known to seek out human interaction when in captivity and there are reports from zoos that the critters like to be stroked and petted.

Want to catch a glimpse of emperor tamarins in the wild? Get in touch with one of our Amazon experts today on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.

RELATED: French artist projects faces of Amazon tribe onto rainforest canopy

What to pack for a visit to the jungle

The Amazon is a wonderous place teeming with exotic flora and fauna. It’s one of South America’s most iconic destinations. The tropical rainforest spans from the cloud forests of the foothills of the Andes to the Atlantic forests of Brazil’s East coast. The steamy port city of Manaus, once of the centre of the rubber tapping boom and is home to the famous Teatro Amazonas opera house.  Belem, the coastal Amazon city lies on the banks of the Amazon River as it flows out to sea. In the rainforest, you can stay with indigenous locals in they thatched villages or in one of the few boutique luxury wildlife lodges.

It all makes for an extraordinary adventure, but it’s also hot and humid.  A question we always get asked is:  What to pack for the jungle? It’s an important one that can make the difference between a fun, wildlife-packed holiday or a miserable insect-bitten one. In the Amazon, pack thoughtfully to have a comfortable adventure. Many of the lodges have provisions for you to use, but it’s worth bringing at least the following.

Clothing

One of the most important aspects of your packing lit is what you’re going to wear. When hiking through the jungle, it’s a good idea to wear long trousers and tops to protect your arms.  We recommend clothes made from a breathable material e.g. 100% cotton, so you don’t feel too hot or get rashes.

Raincoat – It’s likely to rain at least once during your rainforest adventure and the heavy tropical rain can soak within seconds. A lightweight waterproof raincoat or poncho is a must. Many lodges provide ponchos, which have the advantage of covering your camera bag and let air circulate.

Footwear – It’s well worth investing in a good pair of walking boots. Try to buy them in advance and wear them in a little to avoid getting blisters. Many lodges will provide rubber boots, which give you more protection.

Socks – Comfortable breathable socks that are thick enough to allow your feet to sit snuggly in your boots. By the end of your trip, they’ll likely be wet and muddy, so bring multiple pairs or expect to wash them daily.

Sandals – After you’ve best the day hiking in walking boots, it’s a good idea to allow your feet a bit of breathing room back at the lodge. Do not use flip-flops which can be slippery and dangerous, but sandals with straps or Velcro.

Hat – A wide brim hat is a must by protecting your face from stray plants and insects on the hiking trails and from the sun which beats down, particularly on open areas like rivers.

Trousers – Though there are there all sorts of fancy high-tech materials, several pairs of 100% cotton trousers do the job nicely. They are inexpensive, protect your legs and dry quickly. When wet, jeans are the worst type of trousers. You might also want to consider bringing a pair of shorts to wear back at base. Trousers that convert to shorts are a good idea too.

Shirts – Light-coloured, long sleeve shirts made from 100% breathable cotton area ideal for adventures in the Amazon. They protect your arms from insects and the strong sun, while keeping you cool.

Swimming shorts or costume – There are several places where swimming is safe in the Amazon. You’re guides will let you know when. Bring a good pair of swimming shorts or costume to cool off in the rivers or lakes.

Underwear – Comfortable, 100% cotton underwear that doesn’t rub. Plenty of changes.

Headscarf or bandanas – These can be useful for many scenarios, not just protecting your head and mobbing up your forehead sweat.

Health

Bring any personal medicine or items of a personal nature you might need as you won’t find any shops around these parts. Though the lodge where you’re staying might have supplies of these on hand, it’s worth bringing the following just in case.

Sun cream – A high factor sun cream is a must to protect your skin from the strong sun. Though much of the walking is through dense jungle, you’ll often find yourself exposed on canoes going down the rivers and lakes.

Insect repellent – Some prefer the heavy DEET repellent, others like the more natural citronella-based repellents. Either way, find what works for you and bring plenty. You could also consider burning coils for your room.

Insect bite relief – With all the will in the world, you’re still going to receive the odd bite. To stop it itching and becoming infected, a good quality insect relief product is vital.

Lip balm – The hot weather can dry you out quickly, so a soothing lip balm can help to prevent painful cracked lips.

Talcum powder – Throwing a little talc on your body before you put on your clothes can help to prevent rashes during days out hiking along the trails. It helps to get boots on and off too.

Moisturiser – A great way to relieve any rashes you might get and to stop your skin drying out.

Hand sanitizer – It’s a good idea to sanitize your hands whenever you’re in a new place. Use before you eat anything, particularly if you’re hands have been exposed to any of the river or lake water.

Basic first aid kit – The lodge will have one, but it’s never a bad idea to carry your own, just in case.

Other stuff

There are plenty of miscellaneous things that are useful to bring to make your trip as comfortable as possible.

Ear plugs – The sounds of the jungle at night are one of the most amazing things to hear, but if you’re a light sleeper, a good pair of ear plugs may help.

Day pack – A good quality day pack that’s comfortable on the shoulders and preferably has a water pack attached is useful. Ideally a waterproof one, or line it with a plastic bag.

Binoculars – Many of the lodges have binoculars for guests to use, but they are of varying quality, so bringing a small pair for yourself might be the difference between spotting one of the rare birds and not.

Sunglasses – They don’t need to be expensive so long as they have UV protection.

Torch / flashlight – Hand held torches are good, but one you can attach to your head is more comfortable. Perfect for night time hikes through the jungle.

Chargers – Any chargers and leads that you might use. Most lodges have a generator providing electricity some of the day and night.

Cameras – All the camera equipment you might need. Overdo it when it comes to memory cards as you won’t have anywhere to buy more should you run out.

Mosquito net – Most lodges include nets over the bed, but they vary in quality. To be on the safe side consider bringing your own to double up.

Ready to start exploring the Amazon? Contact one of our South American experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here to start planning your adventure.

RELATED: French artist projects faces of Amazon tribe onto rainforest canopy

10 things to do in the Amazon

Seeing a clay lick

Parrot clay licks can be found throughout the Amazon. Hundreds of parrots and macaws descend upon muddy banks each morning to peck away at the clay. This phenomenon is still unknown; however, it is thought that the mud is rich in minerals and salt as well as high PH levels which balance out the acidity of the Amazon. It’s a magical experience spending time in the hide watching this chaotic spectacle.

Gliding downstream in a dugout canoe

Flickr: Emil Kepko

An experience you’ll have at any Amazon lodge. Jump into traditional dugout canoes and glide silently along the waterways. Along the mangroves and lakes, monkeys can be spotted swinging through the trees, sloths peacefully hang from branches, iguanas bask in the sun and colourful parrots and macaws fly across the river.

Spotting pink river dolphins

A highlight for many. The mystery pink river dolphin can be found across the Amazon, particularly at the basin. They prefer the lowland fast flowing waters. They are the largest river dolphin specie in the world and are different from other dolphins in that it has a flexible neck allowing it to move in different directions. They can reach up to 3 metres in length. Like other dolphins, they are social and curious creatures and often approach the boat.

Hearing the roar of the howler monkey

There is a high concentration of howler monkeys in the Amazon. They are the loudest of all the monkey species, their cry being heard over 3 miles away. They often group at dawn or dusk and make whooping barks to let others know where their territory is. When you are staying in the Amazon, you will get used to their amazing sounds in the morning and evening.

Meet the indigenous tribes

For many, getting the opportunity to meet and learn from the indigenous tribes is the highlight of their Amazon adventure. Most Amazon lodges will take you to the local village to find out about their way of life. Learn about local medicinal plants and the wildlife. In some communities such as Kapawi or Huaorani in Ecuador, there are shamans, but stay away from the ayahuasca, it’s strong stuff!

Cruising the Amazon

For those who want to visit the Amazon in relative comfort, there are several cruises. The M/V Aqua takes guests on four-day cruises down through the Amazon stopping for wildlife spotting and hikes through the forest. Return back for some excellent cuisine and a comfortable night’s sleep in the luxurious air-conditioned rooms.

Scaling a canopy tower

If birdlife is a priority, be sure to pick a lodge that has a canopy tower. Sometimes, birdlife in the Amazon can be tricky to spot up through the thick tree line. However, up in the canopy, visitors can be up close to colourful exotic birds as well as monkeys and sloths. Some also include walkways to allow guests to move through the trees and maximise their chances of seeing wildlife. Try the Posada Amazonas whose tower stretches an impressive 25 metres high.

See the famous Amazon Theatre

The city of Manaus sits right in the heart of the Amazon. Rubber tabbing helped the city boom in the late 19th and early 20th century. So much so, a grand opera house was built here in 1896.  The theatre is quite a feat of engineering. Materials where brought in from around the world including tiles from Alsace, steel from Scotland and marble from Italy.

View the Meeting of Waters

Flickr: Rob

One of the highlights of a trip to the Brazilian Amazon is a visit to the Meeting of Waters. At the confluence between the Amazon River and the black Rio Negro, the waters meet and flow several miles downstream side by side without mixing. The phenomenon is down to the differences in speed, water density and temperature. Often the Meeting of Waters is seen en route to the lodge, but if not, it’s well worth taking a half day excursion to see this natural wonder.

Live with scientists

To get even more of an in depth look into the flora and fauna of the Amazon, consider staying at the Uakari Floating Lodge located just over 500 kilomtres from Manaus. The lodge hosts many scientists and researchers who accompany guests on tours into the jungle. Situated on the largest reserve of flooded rainforest in the world, there are over a million hectares of protected land to explore. During your stay, take jungle hikes and canoe rides to spot fresh water dolphins, alligators, monkeys, and birdlife.

To start planning your Amazon tour, call one of our travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or take a look at our suggested tours here.

RELATED: French artist projects faces of Amazon tribe onto rainforest canopy

New Suites at Napo Wildlife Centre

AMAZON IN STYLE

You can’t beat spotting Amazon wildlife at Napo Wildlife Centre in Ecuador. This lodge is set within the Yasuni National Park. This comfortable eco-lodge has now added four panoramic suites. If you fancy the jungle with a private whirlpool on a panoramic balcony, this is your place. Not to mention a cosy living room with a glass floor above the water to spot caiman alligators passing below. From your hammock, you might spot pre-historic hoatzins, huge arapaima fish, and even giant otters on the hunt for piranhas.

After taking a half-hour flight from Quito. Napo Wildlife Centre sits by Anangu Lagoon, a couple of hours by canoe from Coca/San Francisco de Orellana. You can explore the virgin forest on guided hikes, take canoe-rides and visits to a nearby parrot clay lick. For bird-watchers, there is a watchtower. For a bit of culture visits to an indigenous kichwa community. Ecuador is one of the most accessible places to visit the Amazon and one of the most diverse. You could easily combine this with a Galapagos cruise.

RELATED: French artist projects faces of Amazon tribe onto rainforest canopy

French artist projects faces of Amazon tribe onto rainforest canopy

Deforestation continues to sweep through the Amazon rainforest. A 2016 project by French street artist Philippe Echaroux aimed to draw attention to the issue through art. While staying with the indigenous Suruí tribe in Brazil, Echaroux photographed the local people and projected their images up onto the rainforest canopy at night creating staggeringly beautiful images in the trees.

The idea behind the project was highlighting the deep connection between the rainforest and the people that live there. Their existence relies on the forest, so it stresses the importance of preserving the region. The work was creating in collaboration with the tribe’s chief Almir Suri Narayamoga who is also working with the Brazilian government to replant this area of the Amazon.

Late last year, Echaroux displayed his photography at the Taglialatella Gallery in Paris. Unfortunately, the exhibition is now over, but the work can still be seen on his website or Facebook page.

4caee7b4e9597cdab8a7faf8c1f59c63 Philippe-Echaroux-Amazon-Photography-2 (1) Philippe-Echaroux-Amazon-Photography-3 Philippe-Echaroux-Amazon-Photography-4 Philippe-Echaroux-Amazon-Photography-5 Philippe-Echaroux-Amazon-Photography-6 (1) Philippe-Echaroux-Amazon-Photography-6 Philippe-Echaroux-Amazon-Photography-7 Philippe-Echaroux-Amazon-Photography-8 work

Première Mondiale: du Street Art au coeur de la Forêt Amazonienne – World First Street Art in the Rainforest. from pays-imaginaire.fr on Vimeo.

Photos by Philippe Echaroux

Want to visit the Amazon rainforest? Get in touch with our travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 to discuss your travel plans.

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

This man has been living alone in the Amazon for over 20 years

Imagine that all of your friends, family and anyone you have ever known have been massacred. No other speaks your language or practices the same customs. This is the life of one man who has lived in the Amazon alone for the past 20 years.

Very little is known about him. It’s guessed that his tribe were slaughtered by cattle ranchers who cut down the rainforest close to their homes. Although some contact has been made to try and help him, he is unsurprisingly scared of outsiders. So he survives in constant fear of human encounters.

Government officials have known about the man’s existence for many years. Specialists uncontacted tribes managed to trace his hut and discovered a small garden planted with corn and manioc. Inside they discovered a deep hole, something which has been found in all of the man’s shelters leading to him being nicknamed ‘the man of the hole’.

Though intentions of those trying to contact the man were good, encounters have often been tense and ended in anger. One agent who got to close was shot with an arrow. Whenever he feels he space is being encroached upon, which was often the case with loggers and ranchers in the past, the lone man moves on, finding shelter in a new part of the rainforest.

Having lived his entire life in the forest, he has all the skills to feed and provide shelter for himself. Some experts have said the markings he leaves on trees indicate a spiritual life, perhaps helping him manage psychologically with the extreme solitude and isolation.

In more recent years, the Brazilian government has learnt from the past tragedies that occurred when contacting tribes. They have been many attempts to assimilate people into modern life and ended in communities being wiped out by disease. Today, the government takes a policy of ‘no contact’ to the last remaining communities who inhabit the rainforests.

The ‘man of the hole’ has 31 square miles of protected land that is not supposed to be encroached. It is somewhat ironic that it is state -of-the-art satellite technology that will ensure this man’s primitive way of life is no disturbed and his lands are no encroached upon.

To visit the Amazon, call one of our specialists on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here. You can also find suggest tours of Brazil here.

RELATED: French artist projects faces of Amazon tribe onto rainforest canopy

9 beautiful exotic birds from Latin America

The thousands of species and sub-species of birds and the high concentration of endemics in Latin America makes it one of the best continents in the world for bird watching. Here are nine of the most spectacular:

Quetzal

Flickr: lgb06

Flickr: lgb06

These shy colourful birds are often considered one of the world’s most beautiful. Part of the trogon family of birds, they are several sub-species found throughout South and Central America. Those who are interested in birding will certainly have heard of the resplendent quetzal, found in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Guatemala (who even have the image of a quetzal on their flag). Other than the vibrant colours, the resplendent quetzal’s most prominent feature is their long tail plumes.

Lear’s macaw

Flickr: Joao Quental

Flickr: Joao Quental

Also known as the indigo macaw, this parrot is best known for its brightly colour plumage. Found through the Amazonian region of Brazil, the Lear’s macaw can reach up to 75 cms, almost a kilo in weight and can live up to 50 years.

Keel-billed toucan

This iconic bird will be the most familiar, even to those who take little interest in birding. While there are several species of toucan, the keel-billed toucan’s brightly coloured bill make it the most spectacular. Though the large bill may look cumbersome, it’s actually hollow and extremely light making it easy to collect their diet of fruit and eggs.  They are commonly found in Panama and Costa Rica.

Andean cock-of-the-rock

Found in the misty cloud forests on the slopes of the Andes, the bright orange coloured cock-of-the-rock display a very prominent fan-shaped crest. The males gather in groups to create noisy displays in the hope of attracting a female. One of the best spots to see the cock-of-the-rock is in Peru’s Manu region.

Andean condor

Watching the condors glide above and below you in the Colca Canyon is one of South America’s most amazing experiences. It’s an impressive size, with a wingspan of over 3.3 metres. This black new world vulture is a scavenger feeding on the carcasses of dead cattle or deer. Interestingly, the Andean condor is one of the world’s longest living birds reaching over 70 years.

Inca tern

The Inca tern is a seabird that lives along the Pacific coast of Latin America, primarily Peru and Chile, although it can occasionally be found in Ecuador. It’s most distinctive feature is the white moustache and red-orange coloured feet and beak. It’s one of the larger species of terns reaching around 40 cms.

Capped heron

The capped heron is found throughout the rivers, lakes and mangroves of Latin America from Bolivia to Suriname. This almost all-white heron features a black cap and blue facial features and bill. It mainly feeds on frogs, fish and insects which it captures using a slow walking technique.

Waved albatross

Also known as the Galapagos albatross, these large birds have a wingspan ranging from 2.2-2.5 metres. During mating season, usually May, the entire population of waved albatross descend upon Espanola Island in the Galapagos archipelago. Their unique courtship ritual evolves plenty of in bill-circling, sky-pointing, drunken swagger and bill-clapping. The rest of the time they spend along the coast of Peru and Ecuador and live to 45 years.

Curl-crested aracari

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Flickr: Heather Paul

One of the lesser-known toucan species, the curl-crested aracari can be found along the south-western section of the Amazon basin, the Tambopata National Reserve, the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park and the Cristalino State Park. It’s one of the most colourful of the smaller toucan species and one of only three to have red feathers on the nape and shoulders.

To begin organising your birding tour of Latin America, give one of our specialists a call on +44 (0) 207 407 1478, send us a message here.

RELATED: 9 beautiful exotic birds from Latin America

Here are the 10 best Amazon lodges in South America

With so many Amazon lodges, decided on which to visit can be confusing. With over 30-years’ experience in creating and planning tours to the continent, we’ve had experience in nearly all of them. Here’s the pick of the best Amazon lodges, taking into account level of comfort, experience of naturalist and local guides, itinerary, accessibility and region.

Cristalino Jungle Lodge, Alta Floresta, Brazil

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Let’s start with one of the most luxurious lodges. Located in the southern Brazilian region of the Amazon, the Cristalino is located in a private natural heritage reserve adjacent to the 456,800 acre Cristalino State Park. The surrounding area is rich in over 580 species of bird, many butterfly species, capaybaras, anteaters, river otters and many varieties of monkeys.

Uakari Floating Lodge, Tefe, Brazil

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To visit the Uakari Floating Lodge you must first take a flight to Tefe, deep in the Amazon. This flooded region of the Amazon is a wildlife lovers’ dream and scientists come from all over the world to study the species. It was constructed to enable scientists and tourists to explore the millon hectare reserve with minimal impact of the environment. Fresh water dolphins, alligators, opossums and monkeys among others can all be spotted from the lodge.

Napo Wildlife Lodge, Coca, Ecuador

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One of our favourite lodges in the whole Amazon, the Napo Wildlife Lodge is accessed by canoe from the jungle town of Coca. The 10 comfortable cabanas with private balconies overlooking the Napo River make an excellent base for wildlife excursions including parrot licks, canoe rides and nocturnal treks.

Anavilhanas Lodge, Manaus, Brazil

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Another luxury lodge, located on an archipelago of 400 islands on the Rio Negro River near to Manaus. Each island is adorned with thick rainforest and seasonal river beaches. The lodge is small with just 16 cabins, all of which are beautifully decorated with local arts and crafts. There is no shortage of wildlife including countless birds, tree-dwelling animals and aquatic life, including the pink river dolphin.

Tambopata Research Center, Manu, Peru

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The Tambopata Research Center is a comfortable 18-bedroom lodge situated by one of the world’s largest Macaw Clay licks on the uninhabited frontier of the Tambopata National Reserve and the Bahuaja-Sonene National Park. It was established to aid the protection of these magnificent birds and has a long-term research project to ensure the survival of their populations.

Juma Lodge, Manaus, Brazil

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Looking for something a little more authentic? This rustic lodge was carefully planned and built from local sustainable wood and palm leaves, so you would be forgiven for thinking this was an indigenous village. Each of the 23 simple but comfortable private bungalows sit on stilts overlooking Juma Lake.

Kapawi, Coca, Ecuador

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A community project run by the Achuar tribe, this lodge gives visitors a particularly good insight into local life. With the aim of protecting the nature reserve that surrounds the lodge, it’s an excellent spot for observing monkeys, birds, butterflies, fresh water dolphins and sloths. The lodges 20 bungalows may not be luxurious, but they are comfortable enough and made from local materials. The lodge has won a number of conservation awards.

Manu Wildlife Centre, Manu, Peru

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Manu Wildlife Centre consists of 22 double bungalows built in the style of, and using the same materials as, the local Machiguenga indigenous communities. Local wood, bamboo and palm fronds for roofing are used. It is owned by Expediciones Manu, and the Peru Verde Conservation Group, a non-profit, non-government organization involved in rainforest conservation projects.

Sani, Coca, Ecuador

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This eco-lodge establish and operated by the indigenous Sani tribe helps protect vast swathes of the surrounding pristine rainforest. Located between the Cuyabeño Reserve and Yasuni National Park, the area is teeming with wildlife including giant armadillo, giant anteater, woolly monkey, Amazonian manatee and the magnificent harpy eagle.

Reserva Amazonica, Puerto Madonado, Peru

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Exotic yet accessible, Reserva Amazónica Lodge is situated in a private reserve, surrounded by a vast jungle canopy. Inspired by native Amazon design 35 private thatched roof cabañas combine natural materials with contemporary amenities. Travelling to Tambopata National Reserve offers a rare opportunity to discover a lively biodiversity of birds, mammals, reptiles, insects and trees.

To start planning your tour of the Amazon, get in touch with us today.

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