BIRDING TOURS

From the Atlantic Coast to the Andes

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LENGTH
10 days
DIFICULTY
Easy
SEASON
October to April
START
Trelew
END
Bariloche
HABITATS
Coast, Monte, Steppe, Forest, Wetlands

OVERVIEW

10-day birding and nature photography tour crossing Patagonia from East to West. Starting in Trelew we will spend two days at Península Valdés, the most important wildlife hotspot of the Patagonian Atlantic Coast. There we will see not only lots of steppe and coastal birds but also big mammal such as sea lions and the, of course, the start of the show: The Southern Right Whale. We will continue in Las Grutas and San Antonio Bay, where we will find great amounts of shorebirds. From there we will start moving West, covering all the natural regions in North Patagonia and Central Argentina: Espinal, Monte, Patagonian steppe, Subantarctic Forest and High Andes, looking for the endemic bird species of each one of them while we enjoy the amazing sceneries. The tour ends in the city of Bariloche, the capital of Argentina’s Lake District.

Atlantic Coast, Monte, Patagonian Steppe, Subantarctic Forest & High Andes in 10 days of great birding and amazing landscapes
Lesser Rhea
Lesser Rhea

HIGHLIGHTS

Southern Right Whale watching in Península Valdés, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Shorebirds by the thousands in Las Grutas and San Antonio Oeste.

Endemics birds of the Monte, Espinal and even Pampas natural regions in General Conesa.

The immense landscapes and endemic birds of the Patagonian Steppe

The Monkey-puzzle Tree (Araucaria araucana) forest and the Lanin volcano, two symbols of the native Mapuche people and the Neuquén province.

The glacial lakes and the lush Subantarctic Forest of the Lake District.

The tapaculos, cryptic and elusive birds, the Magellanic Woodpecker, and the rest of endemic birds of the Andean forest.

SOME KEY SPECIES

Coast: Southern Right Whale, White-headed Steamer-Duck, Patagonian Penguin, South America Sea Lion, Southern Elephant Seal, Southern Giant-Petrel, Magellanic Oystercatcher, Snowy Sheatbill.

Monte: Lesser Rhea, Elegant-crested Tinamou, Carbonated Sierra-Finch, Sandy Gallito, Guanaco, Mara, Burrowing Parrot, Rusty-backed Monjita, Vermilion Flycatcher, White-tipped Plantcutter.

Steppe: Chilean Flamingo, Black-necked Swan, White-faced Ibis, Spectacled Tyrant, Wren-like Rushbird, Many-colored Rush Tyrant, White-throated Cacholote, Patagonian Mockingbird, Rufous-tailed Plantcutter. .

Forest: Magellanic Woodpecker, Chucao Tapaculo, Black-throated Huet-Huet, Andean tapaculo, Ochre-flanked Tapaculo, Thorn-tailed Rayadito, White-throated Treerunner, Des Mur's Wiretail, Patagonian Sierra Finch, Austral Parakeet.

High Andes: Andean Condor, Yellow-bridled Finch, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, White-throated Caracara, Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant, Ochre-naped Ground-Tyrant, Rufous-banded Miner, White-bellied Seedsnipe, Least Seedsnipe.

ITINERARY & TARGET SPECIES

DAY 1. TRELEW – PENINSULA VALDES

Reception in the morning at Trelew airport. From there we will head directly to Peninsula Valdés to start exploring this amazing wildlife reservoir. The Peninsula is part of the Monte ecoregion, made by dry shrubby plains which surprisingly host a vast range of animal species. Apart from birds like Lesser Rhea, Elegant-crested Tinamou, Least Seedsnipe, Scale-throated Earthcreeper, Plain-mantled Tit-Spintail, Patagonian Canastero and Patagonian Mockingbird on our way to the coast we will have chances to see mammals such us Mara (or Patagonian Hare) , Guanaco (the Patagonia camelid), foxes, armadillos, and, if we are very lucky, pumas. Near the protected area entrance, we will visit Isla de los Pájaros, where we will look for the extremely local White-headed Steamer-Duck, as well as Crested Duck, American Oystercatcher and Grey-bellied Shrike-Tyrant. Overnight in Puerto Pirámides.

Elegant-crested Tinamou
Elegant-crested Tinamou

DAY 2. PENÍNSULA VALDÉS

In the morning, we will take the loop road around the peninsula to explore the key spots on the coast looking for sea birds such us Blackish and Magellanic Oystercatchers, Two-banded Plover, Baird’s Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Chilean Skua and the iconic Magellanic Penguin. On the beaches we will also have the chance to see mammals such as South America Sea Lion, Southern Elephant Seal, Dusky Dolphin and Killer Whale. On the road we will have chances for Carbonated Sierra-Finch, Burrowing Parrot, Tawny-throated Dotterel and Rusty-backed Monjita, among others. In the afternoon we will take a group boat tour from Puerto Pirámides to watch the stars of Peninsula Valdés: the mighty Southern Right Whale. Valdés Peninsula hosts one of the largest breeding populations of these giant mammals, that chose these calm and protected waters to mate and give birth to their calves. We will take one of the sunset boat outing, when there is much less people as all the day visitors have already left and the light is perfect for taking good photos. Overnight in Puerto Pirámides.

Magellanic Penguin
Magellanic Penguin

DAY 3. PENINSULA VALDES – LAS GRUTAS

From Valdés we will move 300 km up along the coast of the San Matías Gulf to get to Las Grutas, another Important Bird Area (IBA) and the main hotspot in Rio Negro province. We will arrive to Las Grutas by lunch time and spend the afternoon exploring the beaches near the town. There we will focus on shore and coastal birds such as Wilson’s Pharolope, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Olrog’s and Brown-hooded Gulls, South American, Snowy-crowned, Royal and Sandwich Terns, Southern Giant-Petrel, Neotropic, Rock and Blue-eyed Cormorants. Overnight in Las Grutas.

Baird's Sandpiper
Baird's Sandpiper

DAY 4. SAN ANTONIO OESTE AND CONESA VALLEY

In the morning we will head to San Antonio Bay Protected Area. There we will look for Baird’s Sanpipers and have new chances for Yellowlegs, Gulls, Terns and Cormorants. We will look also for the Sandy Gallito. In the afternoon we will go birding to the Conesa Valley, 60 miles north from Las Grutas. This is a very interesting site for birding as it is the just one the confluence point of two key ecoregions for the southern South American fauna: the Monte, which is exclusive from Argentina and the Espinal, which extends all the way up from here to the north, then continuing in southeast Bolivia and west Paraguay as The Great Chaco. On top of that many species from the Pampas are expanding along the Negro River course, so the mix of species at this point is just impressive: Brushland Tinamou, Spotted Nothura, Spot-winged Pigeon, White-faced Ibis, White-tailed Kite, Green-barred Woodpecker, Campo Flicker, Monk Parakeet, Chaco Earthcreeper, Rufous Hornero, Tufted Tit-Spinetail, Short-billed Canastero, Stripe-crowned Spinetail, Brown Cacholote, Suiriri Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Tit Tyrant, White-crested and Straneck’s Tyrannulet, Greater Wagtail-Tyrant, Great Pampa-Finch and Golden-billed Saltator, among others. Overnight in Las Grutas.

Brown Cacholote
Brown Cacholote

DAY 5. LAS GRUTAS - GENERAL ROCA

We continue exploring the medium course of the Negro River on a long ride over the Monte region, from Las Grutas to General Roca. We will have chances for Roadside Hawk, Burrowing Owl, Burrowing Parrot, Sharp-billed Canastero, Vermilion Flycatcher, White Monjita, Chaco Earthcreeper and Screaming and Shiny Cowbirds, among others. In the afternoon we will go to Paso Cordoba protected area, where we will look for Carbonated Sierra-Finch, Red-crested Cardinal, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Rusty-backed Monjita and White-tipped Plantcutter. Overnight in General Roca.

Chaco Earthcreeper
Chaco Earthcreeper

DAY 6. GENERAL ROCA – ZAPALA

Continuing upriver we will reach the high valley of Negro River, arriving to Neuquén City, on the confluence of rivers Limay and Neuquén. First we will detour to Pellegrini Lake, where we can find waterfowl like Black-necked Swan, Coscoroba Swan, Cinnamon Teal, Red Shoveler, Silver Teal, Lake Duck, Plumbeous Rail, Red-fronted, Red-gartered and White-winged Coots, as well as Stripe-backed Bittern, Cocoi and Striated Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets and marsh birds like Wren-like Rushbird and Many-colored Rush Tyrant.Then we will continue driving to the town of Zapala, entering a new ecological region: the Patagonian steppe. Near Zapala we will visit some steppe lagoons where we can find Chilean Flamingo, Tufted and Silvery Grebes, Black-necked Stilt, Collared and Two-banded Plovers, White-faced and Black-faced Ibises, Spectacled Tyrant, Rusty-backed Monjita, Blue-and-white Swallow, among many others.

Steppe lagoon
Steppe lagoon

DAY 7. ZAPALA - VILLA PEHUENIA

From Zapala we wil drive to the west, crossin Laguna Blanca National Park, where we can find Lesser Rhea, Black-necked Swan, Chilean Flamingo, Least Seedsnipe, Brown Chacholote, Cinnamon-bellied Ground-Tyrant, Gray-bellied Shrike-Tyrant and Mourning Sierra-Finch, among others. Then we will go down the spectacular Rahue slope to Aluminé, where we can find many raptors. If we have time we can go to Ruca Choroy Lake for a first apporach to the Monkey-puzzle Tree forest. Then we will follow up the course of Aluminé River to Villa Pehuenia, a gorgeous touristic village by the Aluminé Lake and surrounded by Monkey-puzzle Tree forest, where we will overnight. If we are lucky we can find the Torrent Duck along the way.

Monkey-puzzle Trees
Monkey-puzzle Trees

DAY 9. VILLA PEHUENIA – VOLCAN LANIN – SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES

Early In the morning we will go birding by the lake, looking for Spectacled Duck, Andean Gull, Ashy-headed Geese, Neotropic Cormorant, Lake Duck and Tufted Grebe. Then we will take the way to the route south along Aluminé River to Pilo Lil, a wonderful site with eroded basaltic rock formations. On the way, we can find Long-tailed Meadowlark, Spectacled Tyrant, Ashy-headed Geese, American Kestrel and Southern Crested-Caracara. Then we will follow the dirt road to Malleo River, on a steppe environment where we will have new chances for Great Shrike-Tyrant, Patagonian Mockingbird and Scale-throated Earthcreeper. We will continue following the course of Malleo River to the base of Lanin volcano, where we will hike through the woods of Southern Beeches and Araucarias , looking for endemics birds of the Andean-Patagonian forest: Thorn-tailed Rayadito, White-throated Treerunner, Patagonian Sierra Finch, Chucao Tapaculo, Black-throated Huet-Huet and the iconic Magellanic Woodpecker. In the evening we will drive to the town of San Martín de los Andes, where we will overnight.

Lanin Volcano
Lanin Volcano

DAY 9. LANIN NATIONAL PARK

A more relaxed day that we will use to bo biding on Lanin National Park. We can do a soft hike around Rosales Lagoon, where we can find many of the Subantarctic Forest endemics like Ashy-headed Geese, Black-faced Ibis, Chilean Flicker, Thorn-tailed Rayadito, White-throated tree-runner, Chucao Tapaculo, Black-throated Huet-Huet, White-crested Elaenia, Patagonian Sierra-Finch, Fire-eyed Diucon, Patagonian Tyrant and Des Mur's Wiretail. Another option is going to the Yuco area, where, if we are lucky, we can find the fours species of tapaculos of the Andean-Patagonian forest: Chucao Tapaculo, Black-throated Huet-Huet, Andean tapaculo, and Ochre-flanked Tapaculo. We will have some free time in the afternoon to walk around San Martin de los Andes town center.

Magellanic Woodpecker
Magellanic Woodpecker

DAY 10. CERRO CHAPELCO AND TRANSFER TO BARILOCHE

in the morning we will to to Chapelco, a rocky mountain mass stretching for more than 20 km from San Martin de los Andes to Meliquina Lake. Its rocks have a volcanic origin, with plenty of basaltic rocks that were later carved by the action of the glaciers. There we will focus on altitude species like Andean Condor, Yellow-bridled Finch, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, White-throated Caracara, White-bellied Seedsnipe, Least Seedsnipe and several Ground-Tyrants and Miners. In the afternoon we will drive the Seven Lakes Route to Bariloche, with our last birding opportunities like Rufous-tailed Hawk and Bicolored Hawk. Arrival to Bariloche and end of our services.

White-browed Ground-Tyrant
White-browed Ground-Tyrant

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