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NORTHERN ARGENTINA

Birdquest's Northern Argentina birding tour explores the less-visited but much more bird-rich northern half of this great birdwatching country. Our Northern Argentina tour provides very comprehensive coverage and produces an extraordinary list of regional specialities as we visit a whole series of localities in the northern Andes of Argentina, both the dry and humid Chaco, the Ibera marshes, the Araucaria forests of the northeast and incomparable Iguazu Falls.

Saturday 13th October — Sunday 4th November 2018
(23 days)


Leader: Mark Pearman

Group Size Limit: 10

Tour Category: Easy walking for the mnost part and mostly comfortable accommodations

The mind-blowing Iguazú falls is arguably the best place to find the endangered Black-fronted Piping-Guan (Ron Knight)

The mind-blowing Iguazú falls is arguably the best place to find the endangered Black-fronted Piping-Guan (Ron Knight)

Justly famed for its enormous range of impressive scenery, Northern Argentina also offers one of South America’s greatest birding experiences. In the west the mighty, snow-capped Andean peaks tower over remote puna grasslands, thorn deserts clad in columnar cacti and flower-strewn valleys. The luxuriant ‘yungas’ cloudforests of the Andean slopes give way to the arid thorny plains and palm savanna of the ‘chaco’ and to vast flat grasslands, traditional home of the gaucho. If one travels still further to the east, beyond the mighty Rio Paraná, the myriad of lakes and marshes eventually give way to the tall subtropical Paraná rainforests of Misiones and the awesome Iguazú Falls.

This ever-changing scenery, comprising six major habitat types, leads to an extraordinarily rich and diverse avifauna, including some of South America’s least known species, many with a very restricted distribution. Whilst watching Tucumán Mountain-Finches in shrubby Andean gullies, Sandy Gallitos running through desert valleys, Rufous-throated Dippers bobbing about on rushing mountain rivers, jay-sized Giant Antshrikes in beautiful cloudforests and Strange-tailed Tyrants amidst the climax grasslands of the Iberá marshes we shall enjoy these rare and spectacular birds amongst some of the most attractive and unspoilt landscapes on the continent.

In addition to the many specialities, a wide variety of rheas, tinamous, seriemas, waterbirds, raptors, guans, parrots, cuckoos, hummingbirds, puffbirds, woodpeckers, woodcreepers, antbirds, tapaculos, tyrant-flycatchers, finches, tanagers and icterids, and an unrivalled selection of ovenbirds with evocative names (miners, earthcreepers, cinclodes, horneros, cacholotes, spinetails, canasteros, thornbirds and foliage-gleaners), ensure a bird list of a quantity and quality hard to equal.

This is a truly superb bird tour with the most comprehensive single itinerary in Northern Argentina available, providing the opportunity to see a great variety of species including numerous little-known endemics and other specialities. Magnificent scenery, good food, superb wines, comfortable accommodations and mostly excellent road conditions make travelling through Northern Argentina a wonderful and unforgettable experience. Our journey takes us through some of the least known areas of Argentina, where we can enjoy warm hospitality, good food and comfortable lodgings.

Our journey starts at San Miguel de Tucumán, our gateway to the magnificent Andes of Tucumán, Salta and Jujuy. Here we shall explore high puna tussock grasslands and cactus deserts, as well as other Andean habitats, which have on offer some little-known endemic or near-endemic specialities, many of which are rare and little-known, including Moreno’s Ground-Dove, the macaw-like Burrowing Parrot, Wedge-tailed Hillstar, Rock and Buff-breasted Earthcreepers, Scribble-tailed, Steinbach’s and Maquis Canasteros, the striking White-browed Tapaculo, the chunky White-throated Cacholote, Sandy Gallito, Rufous-throated Dipper, Brown-backed Mockingbird, Rufous-bellied Saltator, Tucumán Mountain-Finch, Red-backed Sierra-Finch, Citron-headed and Monte Yellow-Finches, Short-tailed Finch and the striking and very localized endemic Yellow-striped Brush-Finch. There will be many other great birds as well, ranging from the magnificent Andean Condor to Torrent Duck.

In the yungas cloudforests and high altitude alder forests above Salta we will be looking for such interesting species as the rare Red-faced Guan, the spectacular Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Rothschild’s Swift, Spot-breasted Thornbird, Rufous-capped Antshrike, Plumbeous Tyrant, Rusty Flowerpiercer and Fulvous-headed Brush-Finch.

High altitude lakes in this region are home to Andean and Puna Flamingos, and in some years the rare Horned Coot, while Polylepis-filled gullies hold specialities such as Tawny Tit-Spinetail, Zimmer’s Tapaculo and Short-tailed Finch.

Our final Andean birding will take place in the exuberant cloudforests of Calilegua National Park where a suite of special birds includes Yungas Dove, Tucuman Amazon, Yungas Screech-Owl, White-throated Antpitta and the spectacular Giant Antshrike (the largest of all the antbirds).

Next we will explore the dry chaco woodlands of lowland Salta, a unique and bird-rich habitat, with specialities such as Black-legged Seriema, Quebracho Crested-Tinamou, Chaco Owl and Cinereous Tyrant.

Now, as we leave the west behind, we encounter a sudden change of scenery as we enter the humid chaco, characterized by palm savanna and punctuated with forest islands before eventually reaching the wonderful but little known Iberá marshes in Corrientes province, paralleled on the continent only by the Brazilian Pantanal or Venezuelan Llanos. Here both the density and the diversity of waterbirds and raptors has to be seen to be believed and the rich local avifauna includes some rare and threatened tyrant-flycatchers, seedeaters and icterids, such as Strange-tailed Tyrant, Black-and-white Monjita, Tawny-bellied, Dark-throated and perhaps Marsh, Rufous-rumped and Chestnut Seedeaters, and Saffron-cowled Blackbird, as well as Ochre-breasted Pipit and the endangered Yellow Cardinal.

From here our journey takes us on to a region of rolling ‘campos’ before we enter the Paraná subtropical rainforest of the sierras of Misiones, with their impressive remnant Araucaria (monkey-puzzle) stands. This is an area with some special birds, including Pileated Parrot, Vinaceous-breasted Amazon, Silky-tailed Nightjar, the stunning Plovercrest, Mottled Piculet, Canebrake Groundcreeper, Planalto Tapaculo, Green-throated Euphonia, Chestnut-backed Tanager and Pearly-bellied Seedeater.

We eventually finish our travels at the awe-inspiring Iguazú Falls in the extreme northeast of Argentina. Here, against a backdrop of one of the world’s most impressive waterfalls, we will wander in magnificent humid subtropical forest in search of a host of species which reach the southern limits of their ranges in this glorious part of Argentina. Particular specialities here include the endangered Black-fronted Piping-Guan, Ochre-collared Piculet and, with luck, Southern Bristle-Tyrant and Creamy-bellied Gnatcatcher.

Birdquest has operated tours to Argentina since 1989.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are of good or medium standard throughout (a few are at the simpler end of the scale). Road transport is by small coach or minibus (passenger van). Roads are mostly good, but sometimes unsurfaced and rough in some areas.

Walking: The walking effort is easy for the most part, but there are some moderate grade walks (a few at higher altitudes may be more demanding if you are not fit).

Climate: Rather variable. Temperatures will range from warm or hot at lower altitudes to cool or even cold at higher altitudes. Sunshine is likely to alternate with overcast conditions and we are likely to experience some rain (or even snow at higher altitudes). It will be humid in the Paraná lowlands.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are quite good.

Tour Price: £6290, €7170, $8240 San Miguel de Tucumán/Iguazú. Single Room Supplement: £726, €827, $951. Deposit: £800, €960, $1040.

Includes surface transportation, accommodations, meals, water, entrance fees and tips/gratuities.

Base prices for this tour are in US Dollars. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.150.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.

One of Argentina's most threatened species is the oustanding Yellow Cardinal (Ron Knight)

One of Argentina's most threatened species is the oustanding Yellow Cardinal (Ron Knight)

The highly sought-after secretive Tucuman Mountain-Finch is another Yungas Forest endemic (Ron Knight)

The highly sought-after secretive Tucuman Mountain-Finch is another Yungas Forest endemic (Ron Knight)

The stately Greater Rhea is a common sight on the endless savanna (Ron Knight)

The stately Greater Rhea is a common sight on the endless savanna (Ron Knight)

A bizarre male Spectacled Tyrant with its yellow eye wattle and striking wing pattern (Ron Knight)

A bizarre male Spectacled Tyrant with its yellow eye wattle and striking wing pattern (Ron Knight)

The Straight-billed Earthcreeper is just one of over sixty species of ovenbird found on this tour (Ron Knight)

The Straight-billed Earthcreeper is just one of over sixty species of ovenbird found on this tour (Ron Knight)

A pair of localized Streamer-tailed Tyrants performing a mind-blowing synchronized wing-rotating display; the New World's largest flycatcher (Ron Knight)

A pair of localized Streamer-tailed Tyrants performing a mind-blowing synchronized wing-rotating display; the New World's largest flycatcher (Ron Knight)

The Black-legged Seriema is a secretive denizen of the arid chaco woodlands (Ron Knight)

The Black-legged Seriema is a secretive denizen of the arid chaco woodlands (Ron Knight)

The Ornate Tinamou is one of the many tinamous of this tour; our record being twelve species "seen"! (Ron Knight)

The Ornate Tinamou is one of the many tinamous of this tour; our record being twelve species "seen"! (Ron Knight)

A smart male Torrent Duck, readily encountered in the north-west Andes (Ron Knight)

A smart male Torrent Duck, readily encountered in the north-west Andes (Ron Knight)

The White-tailed Hawk is just one of the many raptor possibilities of the tour (Ron Knight)

The White-tailed Hawk is just one of the many raptor possibilities of the tour (Ron Knight)

Any tour to the Andes would incomplete without the magnificent Andean Condor (Ron Knight)

Any tour to the Andes would incomplete without the magnificent Andean Condor (Ron Knight)

Thousands of Great Dusky Swifts gather behind the vast curtains of water at Iguazú falls (Ron Knight)

Thousands of Great Dusky Swifts gather behind the vast curtains of water at Iguazú falls (Ron Knight)

A gorgeous Red-tailed Comet is one of several gawdy hummingbirds found on this tour (Ron Knight)

A gorgeous Red-tailed Comet is one of several gawdy hummingbirds found on this tour (Ron Knight)

The stunning Slender-tailed Woodstar is Argentina's smallest bird and a Yungas forest speciality (Ron Knight)

The stunning Slender-tailed Woodstar is Argentina's smallest bird and a Yungas forest speciality (Ron Knight)

...as is the scarce and the local Rufous-throated Dipper (Ron Knight)

...as is the scarce and the local Rufous-throated Dipper (Ron Knight)

...and the poorly known smart Rufous-bellied Saltator (Ron Knight)

...and the poorly known smart Rufous-bellied Saltator (Ron Knight)

The bizarre White-tipped Plantcutter is a fairly common cotinga on this tour (Ron Knight)

The bizarre White-tipped Plantcutter is a fairly common cotinga on this tour (Ron Knight)

Rusty-collared Seedeater is one of seven seedeaters which we regularly find in the Iberá marshes (Ron Knight)

Rusty-collared Seedeater is one of seven seedeaters which we regularly find in the Iberá marshes (Ron Knight)

The most unusual White Woodpecker is one of twenty-five woodpeckers recorded on the tour (Ron Knight)

The most unusual White Woodpecker is one of twenty-five woodpeckers recorded on the tour (Ron Knight)

The outrageous Blond-crested Woodpecker is a scarce inhabitant of the subtropical rainforest of Misiones (Ron Knight)

The outrageous Blond-crested Woodpecker is a scarce inhabitant of the subtropical rainforest of Misiones (Ron Knight)

The colourful Green-headed Tanager is a regular along the maze of walkways at Iguazú falls (Ron Knight)

The colourful Green-headed Tanager is a regular along the maze of walkways at Iguazú falls (Ron Knight)

Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate

Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QY

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