• We take an evening scheduled flight from London to Buenos Aires, arriving the next morning.
    • On arrival at Buenos Aires Ezeiza international airport we meet our leader- guide and head to our hotel in the city centre.
    • Depending on our arrival time, we can relax before heading out for lunch and an opportunity to do some afternoon birding in the dockland area of La Costanera Sur. 
    • Accommodation: Hotel in Buenos Aires, 1-night on full board basis.
    • This morning we transfer to Aeroparque Jorge Newbery domestic airport for a flight north to San Miguel de Tucumán.
    • On arrival we head north – with stops to bird en route – to Tafí del Valle, with a chance of seeing rufous-throated dipper in the fast flowing river, as well as torrent duck.  
    • For the rest of the day we explore different habitats around Tafí del Valle to look for birds such as Yungas dove, Rothschild's swift, the endemic yellow-striped brush finch and white-browed tapaculo. 
    • Accommodation: Hotel in Tafi del Valle, 1-night on full board basis.
    • After breakfast we continue north towards Cafayate, a well-known wine-producing location, in the Salta province. Our route takes us across the Abra El Infiernillo (3,042 metres), where we look for specialities such as white-browed tapaculo, black-billed shrike-tyrant, cordilleran and puna canasteros, and grey-hooded parakeet, plus endemics such as Tucuman mountain finch and Moreno’s ground-dove. 
    • We then descend into Salta province and explore the dry, thorny scrub with rocky cliffs and sandy soil, known as the Monte of the Calchaquí Valleys. Due to its aridity, this habitat is very different and full of new birds, including endemics such as white-throated cacholote and sandy gallito.
    • Accommodation: Hotel in Cafayate, 1-night on full board basis.
    • Our route takes us north to Cabra Corral, the largest artificial lake in northwest Argentina - a haven of green amidst the red rock & dust of the northwest.
    • En route we cross some of the region’s most spectacular rock formations at the Quebrada de las Conchas, where we have our first opportunity to see the elusive black-legged seriema.
    • Accommodation: Hotel in Cabra Corral, 2-nights on full board basis.
    • Full day excursion to Los Cardones National Park via the famous winding Cachi Road that crosses the Cuesta del Obispo (3,500 metres). We hope to see variable hawk, aplomado falcon, Andean flicker and rock earthcreeper. In the gullies we look for white-tipped plantcutter, brown-capped tit-spinetail, subtropical doradito and streak-throated bush tyrant. Flowering tobacco bushes attract giant hummingbird and striking red-tailed comet, while the dry slopes are home to Andean tinamou.
    • On our way back to the hotel in the afternoon, we search for other Andean specialities such as Zimmer’s tapaculo and the endemic Steinbach’s canastero.
    • Today we drive north via the dry Chaco to San Lorenzo,crossing a section of Chaco serrano forest en route. These impressive geological formations give way to the deep canyon of the Juramento River. We also go birding around Palomitas, where remnants of dry Chaco forest offer a chance to see any bird we might have missed so far. Finally in the afternoon we look around San Lorenzo for red-legged seriema.
    • Accommodation: Hotel in San Lorenzo, 1-night on full board basis.
    • Today we cross the pass of the Abra de Santa Laura and drive via transitional forest and the wetlands of the Yungas to Purmamarca, birding as we go. Continuing north, we travel along the Quebrada de Humahuaca to Purmamarca.
    • Dinner is not included tonight – we have the option of eating street food at the many stalls along the seafront, or in one of the many restaurants.  
    • Accommodation: Hotel in Purmamarca, 2-nights hotel on full board basis.
    • In the morning we drive north to the pre-Incan citadel of Pucará de Tilcara to see something of the region’s ancient culture. Most of the afternoon is spent birding to the west of Purmamarca, for the specialities of the dry Andean foothills, before we drive back to our hotel.
    • This morning we drive north to Abra Pampa, capital of the Argentine Puna, climbing through the dramatic landscapes of the Quebrada de Humahuaca with its curious multi-coloured mountains, ancient adobe villages and colonial churches – all of which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    • Typical birds are the Andean swift, Andean lapwing, rufous-banded and puna miners, Andean negrito, rusty-vented canastero, streak-fronted thornbird, mourning and band-tailed sierra finches, puna yellow finch and localised brown-backed mockingbird. We dedicate the afternoon to exploring the subtropical cloudforest of the Yungas.
    • Accommodation: Hotel in Abra Pampa, 1-night on full board basis.
    • In the morning we drive to Laguna Pozuelos Natural Monument, a RAMSAR site at a shallow basin with brackish water ringed with mountains, where we hope to see Andean, Chilean and puna flamingoes amidst the grandeur of the high Andean landscape.
    • We spend the day birding on the Puna and explore the grasslands that surround the lagoon. Depending on the water level, may see Andean goose, Andean avocet, crested duck, puna teal, Andean, horned and giant coots, and puna plover, plus North American migrants such as Baird’s and pectoral sandpipers, and Wilson’s phalarope.
    • In the afternoon we continue to the town of La Quiaca at the northernmost tip of Argentina, near the Bolivian border.
    • Accommodation: Hotel in La Quiaca, 2-nights on full board basis.
    • Today we drive to nearby Yavi, where we hope to see species such as wedge-tailed hillstar, giant hummingbird, red-backed sierra finch, brown-capped tit spinetail, brown-backed mockingbird, citron-headed finch, bare-faced ground dove, black-winged ground dove, rufous-naped ground tyrant, streak-fronted thornbird and Bolivian warbling finch.
    • This morning we have a final opportunity to bird in the high Puna for local specialities such as variable hawk, straight-billed and plain-breasted earthcreepers, grey-bellied shrike-tyrant, D’Orgigny’s chat-tyrant, and black siskin.
    • In the afternoon we drive south to Yala, where near our hotel we can try for the crepuscular lyre-tailed nightjar.
    • Accommodation: Hotel in Yala, 1-night on full board basis.
    • First thing in the morning we explore the streams of the cordillera in search of torrent duck and the scarce rufous-throated dipper. We then visit a local reserve to see specialities of the alder forest including the scarce and elusive red-faced guan
    • In the afternoon we drive south to the city of Salta for our final night in the northwest.
    • Accommodation: Hotel in Salta, 1-night on full board basis.
    • Transfer the short distance to Salta international airport and take a domestic flight to Buenos Aires, where the rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy the city.
    • Accommodation: Hotel in Buenos Aires, 1-night on full board basis.
    • The day is free until we transfer to Buenos Aires Ezeiza international airport to check in for our overnight flight back to the UK.
  1. Day 17 Arrive UK

Iguazú & Iberá extension

    • On arrival back in Salta, we bid farewell to the main group and head take an evening flight to Iguazú.
    • Accommodation: Lodge in Iguazú, 2-nights on full board basis
    • We spend the day birding in Iguazú National Park, exploring different trails, enjoying the spectacular waterfalls and looking for local specialities.
    • Today we drive from Iguazú to Ituzaingó, in the Province of Corrientes. There are several good birding spots along the way, so we make frequent stops to look for specialities of the campo of Misiones. 
    • Accommodation: Hotel in Ituzaingó, 1-night on full board basis
    • We spend the morning birding the surroundings of Ituzaingó and Rincón de Santa María, looking for wet grassland’s specialities, and then proceed south to Iberá Marshes.
    • Accommodation: Posada in Iberá Marshes, 4-nights on full board basis
    • We spend three days birding and wildlife watching in the Iberá Marshes, a particularly spectacular part of the country.  On one day we take a boat trip to search for species that may include stripe-backed bittern, rufous-sided crake, black-capped donacobius, long-tailed reed finch, yellow-rumped marshbird, yellow-headed caracara and eight species of heron! This is also a great opportunity to see mammals such as marsh deer, capybara and southern river otter, as well as a few reptiles including spectacled caiman and yellow anaconda.
    • The local grasslands can also produce some really special birds, including strange-tailed tyrant, Lesser grass finch and marsh seedeater. An afternoon walk through the forest gives a chance to spot striped cuckoo, narrow-billed woodcreeper, rufous-browed peppershrike and purple-throated euphonia among many other species. We may see some more mammal species, including black-and-gold howler monkey and grey brocket deer. We will also explore the espinal, a thorny woodland where we try to find one of Argentina’s rarest birds, the yellow cardinal.
    • Today we drive to Posadas, where we bid farewell to our leader and take a domestic  flight back to Buenos Aires for our final night in Argentina.
    • Accommodation: Hotel in Buenos Aires, 1-night on full board basis.
    • After a free day in the capital we transfer to Buenos Aires Ezeiza international airport to check in for an overnight flight back to London.
  1. Day 23 Arrive UK

All prices are per person and include:

  • Services of the naturalist leader
  • Flights
  • Transfers
  • Accommodation
  • All meals
  • Guided activities

Accommodation

Small mid-range hotels with the occasional very simple overnight accommodation. All rooms have en suite bathrooms.

Meals

All meals are included. Breakfasts and dinners are generally taken in the hotel, whereas lunches are a mix of picnics and light meals in small local restaurants.  

Birds

The birdlife of the northwest Argentina is exceptional in its variety due to the many different habitats we encounter along the way, with many endemic species.

  • Andean condor
  • Puna tinamou
  • Black-legged seriema
  • Spot-winged falconet

Mammals

There are a number of unusual but typical mammals that we hope to see during our journey. By contrast, the extension to Iguazu Falls and the Esteros del Iberá takes us into very different ecosystems with entirely different mammalian fauna.

  • Andean hairy armadillo
  • Guanaco
  • Vicuña
  • Southern viscacha

Flora

The most striking vegetation of the northwest is the many species of candelabra cactus (cardón) found in the arid valleys. By contrast, the extension to Iguazu Falls and the Esteros del Iberá takes us into subtropical forest and wetland with entirely different vegetation.

Scenery

The northwest of contains some of Argentina’s most inspiring scenery, ranging from high Andean peaks and multi-coloured lower ranges to spectacular gorges and lunar landscapes of barren saltflat. Woven into this tapestry is a strong cultural presence – the area’s indigenous heritage is manifested in the art, weavings and lifestyle of local people. 

Astronomy

Due to the clarity of the night skies at altitude and absence of light pollution, there may be opportunities for star gazing.

Photography

There are plenty of opportunities for photography of the area’s rich birdlife and its extraordinarily varied scenery.

Walking

Most of our birding will be on foot on reasonably level terrain, although there may be some sectors on steeper slopes that are rough underfoot – so we take these slowly. Although we reach altitudes of over 3,000 metres, we shall not be doing much walking at these elevations.

Archaeology

The north-west of Argentina was the southernmost extent of Inca rule, and the vestiges of their great empire stand side-by-side with colonial remains. 

Flights

Price includes return scheduled flights London - Buenos Aires - London, plus domestic flights from Buenos Aires to San Miguel de Tucumán and from Salta back to Buenos Aires.

Altitude

On this tour we reach over 3,500 metres above sea level.

Ground transport

Minibus or 4-wheel-drive vehicle.

Climate

Northwest Argentina is predominantly dry and hot, and classified as subtropical. However due to the rugged topography, the climate depends largely on altitude and rainfall distribution. In general, at higher altitudes it is cold and arid or semi-arid, while the lower eastern parts of the region are warmer and subtropical. This means you have to prepare for both heat and cold, however rain is relatively infrequent!

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