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PARAGUAY

Great birding, great mammal watching

Birdquest's Paraguay birding tour is a birdwatching and wildlife journey through one of South America's least-known countries. Our Paraguay tour achieves comprehensive coverage and records many great birds, including the striking White-winged and Sickle-winged Nightjars and the superb Helmeted Woodpecker, as well as great selection of mammals.

Sunday 15th September — Wednesday 2nd October 2019
(18 days)


Leader: Paul Smith

Group Size Limit: 9

Tour Category: Easy walking for the most part; comfortable to fairly basic accommodations

Located at the heart of South America, where north meets south and five globally important biomes merge, it is perhaps surprising that Paraguay is one of the South American countries that is least visited by birders. Fiercely traditional yet warmly welcoming, the appeal of Paraguay lies in its compact nature, allowing the visiting birder to notch up a large and varied list by spending more time in the field and less time on the road.

This comprehensive itinerary offers you the opportunity to thoroughly explore this fascinating country, taking in its remotest corners where few birders have gone before and visiting all five of its major biomes – the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ Humid and Dry Chaco, the pristine cerrado, the verdant Atlantic Forest and the unique Mesopotamian Grasslands. Along the way we will be catching up with some of South America’s rarest and most spectacular birds – the ghost-like White-winged Nightjar, the elusive Lesser Nothura and the gorgeous Vinaceous Amazon being amongst our many targets.

Paraguay’s large areas of untouched wilderness also offer great opportunities for mammal-watching and night drives are often productive with spectacular species such as Puma, Tapir and the endangered Chaco Peccary on the menu.

Our tour begins just outside the capital with a visit to the RAMSAR site of Bahía de Asunción. Here the skyline of the capital city offers a backdrop almost as spectacular as the birding and we will begin as we mean to go on by enjoying the hordes of wetland species that gather at this time of year and taking time out to look for specialities such as Grey-breasted Crake, South American Painted-Snipe and Crested Doradito.

Western Paraguay is known as The Chaco, and despite its reputation as a desolate, thorny desert, first time visitors may be surprised by how lush and green it is at this time of year. Traversing the famous Ruta Trans-Chaco, the first half of our journey takes us through the flooded palm savannas of the Humid Chaco. Temporary pools forming amongst the never-ending stands of the ubiquitous palm Copernicia alba attract large numbers of herons, ibises, storks and raptors taking advantage of the seasonal abundance of fish and competing with the scores of caiman for their prizes.

The Central Chaco was first colonized by Mennonite settlers in the early 1900s and this area, where Humid meets Dry Chaco, will be our last glimpse of civilization before heading deeper into territory rarely visited by birders. A series of seasonal saline lagoons here make up the Central Chaco Lagoons IBA and attract waterfowl, waders and birders alike. As we progress further along the Ruta Trans-Chaco the vegetation becomes more stunted, drier and thornier, and gradually things begin to look a lot more like the Chaco that you may have imagined before your visit. Top targets up here are the Chaco ‘Big Six; Quebracho Crested-Tinamou, the endemic Chaco Nothura, Spot-winged Falconet, Black-legged Seriema, Chaco Owl, and, toughest of all, the scarce Black-bodied Woodpecker. This part of the Chaco, almost untouched by human activity abounds with mammal life and night drives are frequently extremely productive with even Jaguar a possibility.

Though eastern Paraguay makes up just 37% of the total land area, it is home to 97% of the human population. Here a patchwork of some of the world’s most globally-threatened habitats intertwines to construct a varied and unique avifauna. Cerrado, the South American grassland, is officially the most rapidly-disappearing habitat on earth and the endemic wildlife that inhabits it is, as a result, becoming increasingly threatened. We will be visiting the cerrado site of Laguna Blanca (near Santa Rosa del Aguaray) with its crystal-clear lake and sandy beaches and Aguara Ñu, for some of the cerrado’s biggest specialities; White-winged Nightjar, Lesser Nothura and Helmeted Manakin. There are few more beautiful sights in nature than the cerrado in full bloom, and with a little luck we will be there to see it at its finest.

The Paraguayan Atlantic Forest belongs to the lowland Paraná type, described by Conservation International to be of “critical conservation importance” and one of the five most threatened habitat types on earth. We will visit three Atlantic Forest reserves managed by the Itaipu conservation network, as well as the lovely Hotel Tirol and the famous San Rafael Reserve; all are of great importance for the region’s threatened bird species. Amongst the large array of possibilities that we may encounter at these sites include Giant Snipe, Saffron Toucanet and the globally-threatened Vinaceous Amazon.

Our circuit of Paraguay ends in the far south of the country in the flooded Mesopotamian Grasslands, located in the heart of what was once the Jesuit Mission Lands. Confined to the Paraná and Uruguay River Basins, this unique grassland type is under imminent threat from drainage for agriculture. The rich local avifauna here includes a plethora of tyrant flycatchers and emberizids, as well as the bizarrely-adorned Sickle-winged Nightjar. Our Paraguay tour is for birders with a sense of adventure, looking to bird areas where few birders have gone before and go home with a large and uniquely varied list containing some of the continent’s most rarely-seen species.

Birdquest has operated tours to Paraguay since 2010.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are of good or medium standard throughout (although most are at the simpler end of the scale). Road transport is by 4-wheel-drive vehicles and though main highways are generally quite good, the roads in rural areas are unsurfaced.

Walking: The walking effort is easy or moderate.

Climate: Mostly hot, dry and sunny, but it is sometimes overcast and it may rain at times. It can be humid.

Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.

Prices are provisional

Tour Price: £4680, €5520, $6130 Asunción/Asunción.

Price includes all transportation , all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.

Base prices for this tour are determined in US Dollars, the currency in which we pay for most tour services. The exchange rates applied at the time of costing were: £1 = $1.310 and €1 = $1.110. For those not paying us in US Dollars, prices may be adjusted (either downwards or upwards) at the time of invoicing should there be a change in the exchange rate. See booking information.

Single Room Supplement: £374, €441, $490.

Some of the smaller accommodations have a limited number of rooms. Anyone having to share unexpectedly at any location will receive an appropriate refund.

Deposit: £600, €720, $780.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.

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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