The Ultimate In Birding Tours

South America (and its islands)

NORTHERN ARGENTINA – Specialities of the Argentine Andes, the Chaco and the Iberá Marshes

Friday 25th October – Saturday 9th November 2024

Leader: Mark Pearman

16 Days Group Size Limit 8
Wednesday 28th October – Thursday 12th November 2026

Leader: Mark Pearman

16 Days Group Size Limit 8


Birdquest’s Northern Argentina birding tours explore the less-visited but more species-rich northern half of this great birding destination. Our Northern Argentina tour concentrates on the area’s endemics and near-endemics, as well as some regional specialities that are much easier to see there, as we visit a series of localities in the Argentine Andes, the Chaco and the wonderful Iberá Marshes.

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, the traditional home of the gaucho. If one travels still further to the east, beyond the mighty Rio Paraná, one comes to the myriad of lakes and marshes that make up the famous Iberá wetlands.

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 amidst the waters of 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 and thornbirds), ensure a bird list of a quantity and quality hard to equal.

This is a truly superb birding tour, 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 through Northern Argentina starts at San Miguel de Tucumán, our gateway to the magnificent Andes of the provinces of Tucumán, Salta and Jujuy. Here we shall explore high puna tussock grasslands and cactus deserts, as well as other Andean habitats. These 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, Chaco Puffbird, Rock and Buff-breasted Earthcreepers, Scribble-tailed, Steinbach’s and Maquis Canasteros, the chunky White-throated Cacholote, the striking White-browed Tapaculo, Zimmer’s Tapaculo, Sandy Gallito, Rufous-throated Dipper, Rufous-bellied Mountain Tanager (formerly Rufous-bellied Saltator), Tucuman Mountain Finch, Monte Yellow Finch and the striking and very localized Yellow-striped Brushfinch. 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, the Andean form of the Rufous-capped Antshrike (sometimes split as Marcapata Antshrike), Plumbeous Tyrant, Rusty Flowerpiercer and Fulvous-headed Brushfinch.

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 Pygmy Owl, Yungas Screech Owl, White-throated Antpitta, Yungas Manakin and the spectacular Giant Antshrike (the largest of all the antbirds).

During our time in Northern Argentina, we will also explore the dry Chaco woodlands of lowland Salta, a unique and bird-rich habitat, with numerous range-restricted specialities including Black-legged Seriema, Quebracho Crested Tinamou, Chaco Owl, Olive-crowned Crescentchest, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, Crested Hornero, Little Thornbird, Lark-like Brushrunner, Brown Cacholote, Stripe-backed Antbird, Crested Gallito, Cinereous Tyrant, Chaco Sparrow, Many-coloured Chaco Finch, Black-crested Finch and Black-capped Warbling Finch.

Finally, we explore the wonderful but little-known Iberá Marshes in Corrientes province, paralleled on the continent only by the Brazilian Pantanal or the Venezuelan Llanos. Here both the density and the diversity of waterbirds and raptors have to be seen to be believed and the rich local avifauna includes some rare and often threatened specialities, such as Strange-tailed Tyrant, Black-and-white Monjita, Tawny-bellied, Dark-throated, Marsh, Rufous-rumped, Chestnut and ‘Ibera’ Seedeaters and Yellow Cardinal. Around the town of Posadas, we will be wanting to see the endangered Saffron-cowled Blackbird and the strange Sickle-winged Nightjar.

Birdquest has operated Northern Argentina birding tours since 1989.

Iguazu Falls Extension Option: We can easily arrange for you to visit these truly spectacular (indeed awesome!) falls before or after the tour, should you so wish. There are no birds at Iguazu that we do not see during other Birdquest tours, and the birding there is restricted by park opening hours. However, we can usually arrange for a local bird guide if you would be interested in birding during your visit. Please contact us at the time of booking if you are interested in visiting the falls.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels/lodges are of a good or medium standard throughout. Road transport is by minibus/passenger van and 4×4 vehicles. Roads are mostly good but unsurfaced in some areas.

Walking: The walking effort during our Northern Argentina tour is easy for the most part, but there are some moderate-grade walks.

Climate: Temperatures will range from warm or hot at lower altitudes to cool at higher altitudes. Sunshine is likely to alternate with overcast conditions and we are likely to experience some rain.

Bird Photography: Opportunities during our Northern Argentina tour are quite good.


  • Experiencing an amazing journey through the Andes and the Chaco to the vast Iberá marshlands.
  • Tracking down Moreno's Ground Dove, Buff-breasted Earthcreeper, Scribble-tailed Canastero and White-browed Tapaculo in the puna, while Andean Condors watch us.
  • Seeking Rufous-throated Dippers, Red-tailed Comets and Yellow-striped Brushfinches in the 'yungas' below Tafí del Valle.
  • Enjoying the antics of the endemic Sandy Gallito in the 'monte' desert, not to mention endemic White-throated Cachalotes and Monte Yellow-Finches.
  • All those noisy Burrowing Parrots, as big as small macaws!
  • Impressive Elegant Crested Tinamous, enigmatic White-tipped Plantcutters and the endemic Steinbach's Canastero in the Andean wilds.
  • Rare Red-faced Guans and the spectacular Lyre-tailed Nightjar in the alder forests of the Andean foothills.
  • The huge Giant Antshrike at Calilegua, together with the restricted-range Tucuman Amazon and Yungas Screech Owl.
  • Finding Red-legged and Black-legged Seriemas in the dry chaco brushlands.
  • A mass of Chaco specialities, including the spectacular Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, the strange Lark-like Brushrunner, the impressive Crested Gallito and the beautiful Olive-crowned Crescentchest.
  • Seeing the endangered Saffron-cowled Blackbird, one of the smartest and rarest of the icterids.
  • Exploring the vast Iberá Marshes and enjoying their spectacular waterbirds and Capybaras and Plains Viscachas.
  • Watching the antics of Strange-tailed Tyrants, admiring the handsome but rare Black-and-White Monjita and tracking down the endangered Yellow Cardinal.
  • Finding rare Marsh, Rufous-rumped and Chestnut Seedeater in the Iberá, at completely the other end of the scale from the bold Giant Wood Rails.
  • Watching the weird Sickle-winged Nightjar.


  • Day 1: Morning tour start at San Miguel de Tucumán airport. Explore Tafí del Valle area.
  • Day 2: Tafí del Valle area.
  • Day 3: Drive to Cafayate.
  • Day 4: Drive to Cachi.
  • Day 5: Drive to Salta.
  • Day 6: Explore areas of yungas forest, then continue to Libertador General San Martin.
  • Days 7-8: Calilegua National Park. Overnights at Libertador General San Martin.
  • Day 9: Drive to Las Lajitas.
  • Days 10: Las Lajitas region.
  • Day 11: Las Lajitas area, then drive to Salta airport. Fly to Buenos Aires.
  • Day 12: Fly from Buenos Aires to Posadas. Drive to Carlos Pellegrini in the Iberá Marshes.
  • Days 13-14: Iberá Marshes.
  • Day 15: Iberá Marshes, then drive to Posadas.
  • Day 16: Morning tour end at Posadas airport.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.


Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

We also include all tipping for local guides, drivers and accommodation/restaurant staff.

We also include these flights:

Salta-Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires-Posadas

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)


2024: confirmed £5420, $6950, €6320, AUD10490. San Miguel de Tucumán/Posadas.
2026: provisional £5650, $7250, €6590, AUD10940. San Miguel de Tucumán/Posadas.

Single Supplement: 2024: £640, $830, €750, AUD1250.
Single Supplement: 2026: £670, $860, €780, AUD1290.

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

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.


Northern Argentina: Day 1  Our tour begins this morning at San Miguel de Tucumán airport, from where we will drive a short distance into the Andes to Tafí del Valle for a two nights stay.

(If you would like us to provide a flight ticket from Buenos Aires to San Miguel de Tucumán, we will be pleased to do so on request even if you are arranging your own international flight tickets.)

As we leave the plains behind we shall climb along the course of the Rio Los Sosa into an area of stunningly beautiful ‘yungas’ forest. We will have plenty of time for our first exploration of this area today.

Northern Argentina: Day 2  Above Tafí Del Valle, the sun-bleached tussock grasslands, sandwiched between the impressive peaks of the Aconquija massif, provide inspiring scenery for our morning’s birding. At the Infiernillo pass, we may see majestic Andean Condors floating across the blue skies, passing between the jagged peaks surrounding us. We shall be birding near the road at heights of up to 10,500ft (3200m), enjoying the crisp morning air and the spectacular view of the cloud tops in the valley below while watching a multitude of Andean birds.

Foremost amongst these is the rare and extremely localized endemic Tucuman Mountain Finch, a chunky silvery and metallic chestnut creature known from only a handful of sites. With patience, we should locate this handsome bird this morning.

Amongst the pre-puna grasslands and rugged hillsides, or at a wetland area, we may well also find Ornate and Andean Tinamous, Pied-billed Grebe, Andean Flamingo (infrequent here), Neotropic Cormorant, Western Cattle Egret, Great and Snowy Egrets, Andean Goose, Yellow-billed Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Variable Hawk, White-winged and Andean Coots, Southern Lapwing, White-backed Stilt, Andean Gull, the endemic Moreno’s Ground Dove, Black-winged Ground Dove, Burrowing Owl, Andean Flicker, Slender-billed Miner, the near-endemic Buff-breasted Earthcreeper, Cream-winged (or Puna) and White-winged Cinclodes, Cordilleran and Puna Canasteros, the rare, range-restricted Scribble-tailed Canastero, Streak-fronted Thornbird, the striking endemic White-browed Tapaculo, Tufted Tit-Tyrant (uncommon), White-browed Chat-Tyrant, Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant, Spot-billed, Puna and Cinereous Ground Tyrants, Hellmayr’s Pipit, Black Siskin, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Plumbeous, Ash-breasted and Band-tailed Sierra Finches, and Plain-coloured Seedeater.

We will also explore the ‘yungas’ forest below Tafí del Valle. A distinctive type of cloudforest extending in a narrow belt from northern Argentina to southern Bolivia, this habitat holds a number of restricted-range species (the yungas endemics) and possesses an ethereal beauty typical of Andean forests. The tall trees are festooned with orchids, bromeliads, mosses, lichens and other epiphytes through which ever-active mixed-species flocks roam, whilst a dense undergrowth of ferns and bamboo hides more retiring birds.

The Rio Los Sosa plunges out of the Andes through this forest and we shall search its length for Rufous-throated Dipper (the rarest and most localized of the five species of dipper) and the spectacular Torrent Duck (likely to be found riding the rapids). These luxuriant forests are home to the striking and very localized endemic Yellow-striped Brushfinch and we shall make a concerted effort to find this attractive bird. Flowering trees and shrubs attract White-bellied Hummingbird, Sparkling Violetear and the superb Red-tailed Comet.

Other species we may well see below Tafí del Valle include Pale-vented Pigeon, Eared Dove, White-collared Swift, Buff-browed Foliage-gleaner, Azara’s Spinetail (here of the buff-browed race superciliosa), White-throated Tyrannulet, the poorly known Buff-banded Tyrannulet, Black Phoebe, Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Chivi Vireo, Plush-crested Jay, House Wren, Andean Slaty, Chiguanco and Rufous-bellied Thrushes, House and Mountain Wrens, Blue-and-white Swallow, Hooded Siskin, Brown-capped Whitestart, Rust-and-yellow, Sayaca, Fawn-breasted and Red Tanagers, Common Bush Tanager, Rusty-browed Warbling Finch and Shiny Cowbird. Rufous-thighed Hawk and Streak-throated Bush Tyrant are uncommon possibilities.

Northern Argentina: Day 3  After some more birding in the pre-puna tussock grasslands above Tafí del Valle we will descend the west slope of Aconquija, entering dramatic columnar cactus steppe where we will look for birds such as White-sided Hillstar, Scale-throated Earthcreeper, Rufous-banded Miner, Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail, D’Orbigny’s Chat-Tyrant, Patagonian Mockingbird, Mourning and Grey-hooded Sierra Finches, and the endemic Monte Yellow Finch.

We have now entered a different ecosystem, the ‘monte’ desert. This inter-montane strip of desert extends up from the northern limits of Patagonia and comprises a wooded and cactus-clad desert which is not only an ecosystem unique to Argentina but also home to several endemic bird species. One of our first goals will be the large and chunky endemic White-throated Cacholote whose massive nests in the columnar cacti have to be seen to be believed. Here, and as we venture further into the desert, numerous scrub-loving birds provide a sudden contrast to the recent forest and pre-puna birding. The spectacular, macaw-like Burrowing Parrot will become a common sight and we should also encounter Turkey Vulture, Crested and Chimango Caracaras, Aplomado Falcon, American Kestrel, Grey-hooded Parakeet, Picui Ground Dove, Guira Cuckoo, Andean Swift, White-fronted and Checkered Woodpeckers, Chaco Earthcreeper, Rusty-vented Canastero, Greater Wagtail-Tyrant, White-winged Black Tyrant, Southern Martin, Golden-billed Saltator, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Ringed and Rufous-sided Warbling Finches, Greenish Yellow Finch and Variable Oriole.

A prime target in this area is the poorly known Sandy Gallito, a large, cryptically plumaged desert tapaculo which is endemic to Argentina. It behaves like a small roadrunner, dashing from the shade of one bush to another at amazing speed.

Eventually, we will reach the pleasant colonial town of Cafayate, in the heart of Argentina’s northwestern wine-growing region, where we will overnight.

Northern Argentina: Day 4  Leaving the vineyards behind we continue through ever-changing Andean vistas and soon enter an area of humid meadows providing good opportunities for birds such as the wonderful Spectacled Tyrant, Grass Wren and Long-tailed Meadowlark.

Our journey takes us on through moonscape valleys and spectacular sandstone badlands. This seemingly sterile habitat harbours many surprises and, together with several cultivated floodplains, provides us with excellent opportunities to find such birds as the impressive Elegant Crested Tinamou, Chilean Flamingo, Cinnamon Teal, Andean Duck, Red-gartered Coot, Baird’s Sandpiper, Spot-winged Pigeon, Glittering-bellied Emerald, the range-restricted Chaco Puffbird, Rufous Hornero, Tufted Tit-Spinetail (uncommon), Sharp-billed Canastero, the enigmatic and most peculiar White-tipped Plantcutter, White-bellied Tyrannulet, the showy Cliff Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Masked Gnatcatcher, Common Diuca Finch, Pampa Finch, White-banded Mockingbird (uncommon) and Bay-winged Cowbird.

In particular, we will make a special endeavour to find the least known of Argentina’s endemics, Steinbach’s Canastero.

Eventually, we will reach the Cachi area, where we stay overnight.

Northern Argentina: Day 5  After leaving the verdant Cachi oasis behind we have a relatively short journey to the edge of the east Andean slope. First, we will ascend out of the desert strip until we reach an Andean plateau, where we will look for  Mountain Caracara, the pretty Tawny-throated Dotterel, Least Seedsnipe and Golden-spotted Ground Dove. We are also likely to encounter some Guanacos and perhaps Culpeo Fox.

Beyond here a spectacular winding and descending road, juxtaposed between 2300ft (700m) vertical cliffs and clouds floating in the valley below, provides yet more overwhelming Andean scenery as we explore a labyrinth of vegetated gullies which harbour several rare and exciting birds. The restricted-range Rock Earthcreeper should be one of the first of the Furnariidae encountered today as we make a variety of stops in search of the rare, restricted-range and extremely localized Maquis Canastero, the near-endemic Zimmer’s Tapaculo and the uncommon and localized Rufous-bellied Mountain Tanager (formerly Rufous-bellied Saltator). We should also come across Brown-capped Tit-Spinetail, Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant, Andean Swallow and perhaps Peregrine Falcon.

After reaching the attractive provincial capital of Salta, where we stay overnight, we will make an afternoon trip in search of some localized grassland and scrubland species such as Darwin’s Nothura, the poorly known Huayco Tinamou, Black-and-chestnut Warbling Finch and the near-endemic Chaco Sparrow. Spotted Nothura is also possible, either here or elsewhere on the itinerary.

Northern Argentina: Day 6  An early departure from Salta will see us heading back to some nearby yungas to resume our cloudforest birding. Among the superb selection of birds on offer here are Scaly-headed Parrot, Green-cheeked Parakeet, White-barred Piculet, Golden-olive and Dot-fronted Woodpeckers, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, the Andean form of the Rufous-capped Antshrike (sometimes split as Marcapata Antshrike), Slaty Elaenia, Sclater’s and Rough-legged Tyrannulets, Yellow-olive Flatbill, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Mountain Wren, Pale-legged Warbler, Ultramarine and Black-backed Grosbeaks, White-browed Brushfinch and Golden-winged Cacique.

When birding activity finally begins to die down we will continue northwards for a time, heading for Argentina’s largest alder forest which reaches an altitude of around 2000m. Here we will endeavour to seek out some more localized species such as Rothschild’s Swift (uncommon), Spot-breasted Thornbird, Plumbeous Tyrant, Rusty Flowerpiercer and Fulvous-headed Brushfinch. Other major targets in this secluded forest will be the rare and very poorly-known Red-faced Guan and the spectacular Lyre-tailed Nightjar.

Wetland areas may turn up Great Grebe, Cocoi Heron, Rosy-billed Pochard and perhaps White-cheeked Pintail.

At the end of the day, we will head for Libertador General San Martin where we shall be based for the next three nights.

Northern Argentina: Days 7-8  Calilegua National Park encompasses some 170,000 acres (70,000 hectares) of the highest forested mountain chain in Argentina. The park extends from the plains through subtropical evergreen ‘yungas’ forest to temperate mossy forest with alder and Podocarpus woodland.

Some of the special birds of the area which will be high on our list of priorities are Yungas Dove, Tucuman (or Alder) Amazon, White-throated Antpitta, Yungas Makain and the spectacular Giant Antshrike (the largest of all the antbirds). With a little luck, we will see (as well as hear) the range-restricted White-throated Quail-Dove and Yungas Pygmy Owl. After dusk, we have a good chance of finding the range-restricted Yungas (or Hoy’s) Screech Owl as well as the widespread Rufous Nightjar.

Other species we should encounter in or around Calilegua include Black Vulture, Swallow-tailed and Plumbeous Kites, Dusky-legged Guan, Grey-necked Wood Rail, Band-tailed Pigeon, Golden-collared Macaw, Mitred Parakeet, Squirrel Cuckoo, the diminutive Slender-tailed Woodstar (Argentina’s smallest bird), Sick’s Swift, Blue-crowned Trogon, Toco Toucan, Sooty-fronted, Ochre-cheeked and Stripe-crowned Spinetails, Olivaceous and Black-banded Woodcreepers, Black-capped Antwren, Highland Elaenia, Mottle-cheeked Tyrannulet, Ochre-faced Tody-Flycatcher, Cinnamon, Euler’s, Streaked, Piratic and Brown-crested Flycatchers, Smoke-coloured Pewee, White-winged and Crested Becards, Spotted Nightingale-Thrush, Glossy-black Thrush, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Crested Oropendola, Purple-throated Euphonia, Tropical Parula, Two-banded and Golden-crowned Warblers, Saffron-billed Sparrow, Orange-headed Tanager and Common Bush Tanager.

More uncommon possibilities include Planalto Hermit, Speckled Hummingbird, Blue-capped Puffleg, Amazonian Motmot, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Streaked Xenops, the poorly-known Andean form of the Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Smoke-coloured and Tropical Pewees and Green-backed Becard.

There is also a chance of seeing one or two of the rarer or more secretive raptors such as Montane Solitary Eagle, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, White-rumped Hawk or Barred Forest Falcon.

Northern Argentina: Day 9  Today, as we head towards the dry Chaco region and gradually leave the mountains behind, we will explore an area of upland xerophytic Chaco woodlands which will give us our first taste of Chaco birding. Here we will be concentrating on finding Red-legged Seriema and its rarer and shyer cousin, the Black-legged Seriema, but we shall also encounter some of the many other species typical of this new habitat. The enigmatic Black-legged Seriema is not uncommon here, but it is a very secretive bird, foraging through the densest bush. We may well hear its haunting raucous cries, but we will need a bit of good fortune if we are to spot one. We may also encounter Great Black Hawk or King Vulture but both are uncommon in this area.

Eventually, we will pass to the east of Salta and then head towards the town of Las Lajitas for a two nights stay.

Northern Argentina: Day 10  Incoming Atlantic rain clouds are convected straight into the Andean yungas forest, leaving the entire northwestern plain of Argentina as one of the driest areas of southern South America. This is the unique ‘dry Chaco’, a vast low-lying expanse of dense thorny woodlands with a huge diversity of cacti that extends from southern Bolivia and western Paraguay to central Argentina, and which has a very distinctive avifauna. As the sun rises the bushes become alive with finches and tyrant flycatchers, whilst the more furtive ovenbirds disclose their presence with staccato trills or ringing whistles.

High on our list of priorities will be a series of range-restricted specialities including the poorly known and striking Olive-crowned Crescentchest (now placed in its own family rather than amongst the tapaculos), the noisy Chaco Chachalaca, the extraordinary Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, Chaco Earthcreeper, Crested Hornero, Little Thornbird, Lark-like Brushrunner, the raucous Brown Cacholote (often on its huge stick nest), Stripe-backed Antbird, the remarkable Crested Gallito (a giant tapaculo), Cinereous Tyrant, the aptly named Many-coloured Chaco Finch, Black-crested Finch (uncommon) and Black-capped Warbling Finch.

We will also endeavour to find the large and uncommon Quebracho Crested Tinamou and we will have another opportunity to track down the shy Black-legged Seriema.

Amongst the multitude of other species we could well encounter in the chaco are Tataupa and Brushland Tinamous, Buff-necked Ibis, White-tailed Kite, Roadside, Savanna and Harris’s Hawks, Picazuro Pigeon, White-tipped Dove, Blue-crowned and Monk Parakeets, Turquoise-fronted Amazon, the unobtrusive Ash-coloured Cuckoo, Dark-billed and Striped Cuckoos, Smooth-billed Ani, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Tropical Screech Owl, Nacunda Nighthawk, the exquisite Blue-tufted Starthroat, White, Cream-backed and Green-barred Woodpeckers, Great Rufous Woodcreeper (one of South America’s most impressive woodcreepers), Pale-breasted Spinetail, Rufous-fronted Thornbird, Great and Variable Antshrikes, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Small-billed Elaenia, Tawny-crowned Pygmy Tyrant, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, Southern Scrub, Suiriri, Bran-coloured, Crowned Slaty and Swainson’s Flycatchers, Plain Inezia, the showy White Monjita, Cattle Tyrant, Rufous Casiornis, Creamy-bellied Thrush, Brown-chested Martin, Southern Yellowthroat, Red Pileated (or Red-crested) and Saffron Finches, Blue-black Grassquit, Ultramarine Grosbeak, Screaming Cowbird and White-browed Blackbird. Crane Hawk, Short-billed Canastero and the extraordinary Red-billed Scythebill are also possible but uncommon.

If water levels are suitable, we could find Masked Duck at one of the few wetland areas as well as Least and White-tufted Grebes and Common Gallinule.

At dusk, another spectacle takes over this thriving bird community as Little Nightjars and spectacular Scissor-tailed Nightjars take to the wing for their first hunting session of the night. At the same time, Common Potoos wail from the woodland edge and we could see Western Barbn Owl. The poorly-known, range-restricted Chaco Owl will figure high on our list of priorities.

Mammals are not conspicuous in this part of the Chaco but could well include Argentine Grey and Crab-eating Foxes and we could always come across a surprise or two.

Northern Argentina: Day 11  After some final birding in the Chaco we will drive to Salta airport and take a flight to Buenos Aires for an overnight stay.

Northern Argentina: Day 12  This morning we take a flight to the city of Posadas. After visiting a reliable site for the endangered Saffron-cowled Blackbird, we head for Carlos Pellegrini for a three nights stay at a comfortable lodge.

Soon we will be travelling through lush, pleasant countryside which becomes progressively wetter as we head southwards into the fabulous Iberá Marshes. Raptors, herons, ibises, storks and waterfowl are very much a feature of this famous wetland area and we will spend time this afternoon enjoying both its specialities and its many more widespread but often spectacular birds.

Northern Argentina: Days 13-14  The province of Corrientes, wedged between the Paraná River, Paraguay and Brazil, is host to the largest wetland in Argentina and the third largest in South America. The Iberá Marshes (Iberá meaning ‘brilliant waters’ in the indigenous Guarani tongue) are an extensive mosaic of lazy rivers, large but shallow inter-connected lake systems with floating beds of water hyacinth, reed beds, rush beds, palm groves, xerophytic scrub, savanna and gallery woodland. The whole area has limited access, its best protection, but our base lies right in the centre of this complex ecosystem which covers an area the size of Wales. Traditional cattle ranching on higher ground is the mainstay of the gauchos who live here, comparatively undisturbed by modern 21st-century life.

Iberá is the last stronghold of the exquisite Strange-tailed Tyrant, a rare flycatcher of humid savanna and one of the relatively few sites for the localized, elegant but uncommon Black-and-white Monjita. The icterid family is very well represented here and its members are among the most obvious inhabitants of the wetlands. Pride of place must go to the striking Scarlet-headed Blackbird, while Unicoloured, Yellow-winged and Chestnut-capped Blackbirds and Brown-and-yellow and Yellow-rumped Marshbirds complete the cast of new species.

Another highly successful group of Iberá’s inhabitants are the Sporophila seedeaters, amongst which we can hope for Rusty-collared, Double-collared, Tawny-bellied, Dark-throated and the rarer Marsh, Rufous-rumped and Chestnut Seedeaters. Providing the rains have been good we could even see all of these species, but if dry conditions prevail the number and variety of seedeaters are reduced. An additional rare seedeater of the area is the ‘Ibera’ Seedeater, a form not yet recognized by the IOC but treated as a full species by other authorities.

Some parts of the marsh are alive with Limpkins and Snail Kites due to the abundance of apple snails, whilst Giant Wood-Rails strut across the roads and often feed in the open, unlike their secretive relatives. Firewood-gatherers, Chotoy Spinetails and Greater Thornbirds construct their unlikely nests in isolated clumps of trees, whilst in grazed areas, we will check for Correndera and Yellowish Pipits. We will also make a concerted effort to find the rare and endangered Yellow Cardinal.

Waterbirds are everywhere and are likely to include the huge, lumbering Southern Screamer, Anhinga, Rufescent Tiger Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Striated and Whistling Herons, Plumbeous, Bare-faced and White-faced Ibises, Roseate Spoonbill, Wood and Maguari Storks, White-faced, Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Comb Duck, Muscovy and Brazilian Ducks, Rufous-sided Crake, Purple Gallinule, Wattled Jacana, Collared Plover, South American Snipe, the huge Ringed Kingfisher and Amazon and Green Kingfishers. If we are in luck we will encounter one or more uncommonly observed species such as the stately Jabiru, the pretty little Ringed Teal, the shy Ash-throated Crake, Upland Sandpiper or Large-billed Tern.

Raptors are a prominent feature of Iberá and, apart from the many Snail Kites, species which we may well see include Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture,  Long-winged and Cinereous Harriers, and Yellow-headed Caracara.

Other new birds which we should find here include the stately Greater Rhea, Red-winged Tinamou, Ruddy Ground Dove, Greater Ani, Gilded Sapphire, Campo Flicker, Little Woodpecker (uncommon), Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Greater Thornbird, Greenish and Large Elaenias, Sooty Tyrannulet, Crested and sometimes Warbling Doraditos, Vermilion and Boat-billed Flycatchers, Grey Monjita, Black-backed Water Tyrant (uncommon), White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Yellow-browed Tyrant, Chalk-browed Mockingbird, Sand Martin (or Bank Swallow), White-rumped, Southern Rough-winged, Barn and American Cliff Swallows, Grey-breasted Martin, Black-capped Donacobius, White-rimmed Warbler, Greyish and Green-winged Saltators, Red-crested and Yellow-billed Cardinals, Grassland Sparrow, Long-tailed Reed Finch, Grassland Yellow Finch, Wedge-tailed Grass Finch (uncommon), Lesser Grass Finches and Solitary Cacique.

Likely mammals include Marsh Deer, Grey Brocket (Deer), Capybara and the rather endearing Plains Viscacha.

Northern Argentina: Day 15  After spending the morning in the Iberá Marshes we return to Posadas for an overnight stay.

A highlight this evening will be watching the strange, range-restricted Sickle-winged Nightjar.

Northern Argentina: Day 16  Our tour ends this morning at Posadas airport.

(If you would like us to provide a flight ticket from Posadas to Buenos Aires, we will be pleased to do so on request even if you are arranging your own international flight tickets.)


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Other 'Southern Cone' of South America birding tours by Birdquest include: