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The vast territory of Argentina spans 4,000 kilometers from north to south, encompassing biomes that range from lowland rainforests to Andean deserts. This unique journey covers an incredible diversity of sites and habitats. We will explore the Pampas grasslands and thorny woodlands north of Buenos Aires, focusing mainly on two premium birding locations: Ceibas and Otamendi, where we’ll look for birds like Straight-billed Reedhaunter, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, White-naped Xenopsaris, Lark-like Brushrunner and Southern Screamer among others.
After birding the Pampas, we will drive to northeastern Argentina, the richest bird area in this country. Our overland adventure will take us exploring the vast Iberá Marshes, where we expect to find some unique birds, like Strange-tailed Tyrant, Ochre-breasted Pipit, Giant Woodrail, Long-winged Harrier and Scarlet-headed Blackbird. Our drive from Iberá to Iguazú will take us through the wet grasslands of the Campos of Misiones, where chances are high for Streamer-tailed Tyrant, White Woodpecker and the rare and secretive Saffron-cowled Blackbird.
We will also explore the last remaining patches of native Araucaria forest, looking for Araucaria Tit-Spinetail, Vinaceous-breasted Amazon and Canebrake Groundcreeper, to finally conclude at the mighty, rainforest cloaked Iguazú Falls, where we expect to find Black-fronted Piping-Guan, Toco Toucan, Blue Manakin, Green-headed Tanager and Blue-naped Chlorophonia to name but a few.
Morning rendezvous with your Trogon Tours’ leader at Buenos Aires International Airport. From here you will drive to the city, and check into our hotel for one night. Welcome lunch at a local restaurant followed by a visit to Costanera Sur, one of South America’s top urban nature reserves, where more than 300 bird species have been recorded. Night in Buenos Aires.
We will make an early start for birding Otamendi National Park. This 3,000 hectares park sits on the shores of the Paraná River, just north of Buenos Aires, and it is included in the international list of Important Bird Areas. It takes in three of the main bird habitats in Argentina: the Pampas Grasslands, the Thorny Woodland, and the Paraná River Delta. Our targets for the day in Otamendi include both Reedhaunters: Straight-billed and Curve-billed and Diademed Tanager.
We’ll also look for other, more widespread species, like White-tufted Grebe, Southern Screamer, Long-winged Harrier, Giant Woodrail, White-tipped Dove, Checkered Woodpecker, Chotoy Spinetail, Warbling Doradito and Great Pampa-Finch. We’ll leave Otamendi at mid morning and drive to Ceibas, an natural area across the Paraná River, in the Province of Entre Ríos.
Its particular bird abundance makes it really enjoyable for birders the world over, and its dense thorny forests and marshlands are home to an incredible number of species, among which is worth mentioning Greater Rhea, Red-winged Tinamou, Savanna Hawk, White-fronted and White Woodpeckers, Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper, Brown Cacholote, Lark-like Brushrunner, Short-billed Canastero, and Tufted Tit-Spinetail. We will return to our hotel in Ceibas, in time to get together for a recap of the places and wildlife seen today, and have dinner at the hotel. Night in Ceibas.
We will leave Ceibas early this morning and drive northwards. Our plan for the day is to explore El Palmar National Park. This is a small but very diverse reserve, created mainly to protect a relict of Argentina’s Mesopotamia Savannah, with the last pure stocks of Yatay –a palm that used to cover vast areas of the lowlands in the country’s northeast. Besides the savannah, there are some small lagoons and nice gallery forests on the banks of the Uruguay River. We expect to find such birds as Ringed Teal, South American Snipe, Burrowing Owl, Yellow-billed Tern, Spot-winged Pigeon, Blue-crowned Parakeet, White-spotted Woodpecker, Grey Monjita, Chicli Spinetail, Tawny-headed Swallow, Green-winged Saltator and White-rimmed Warbler. We will spend the night in a hotel near El Palmar.
Today we will leave behind the Pampas and plains-savannahs and continue driving north to Iberá Marshes. This is a long drive, but with excellent birding opportunities en-route, particularly in the last 100 kilometres, where several species of seedeaters come in spring for nesting in these extensive wet-grasslands. Chestnut, Rufous-rumped, Tawny-bellied and Dark-thorated Seedeaters are all possible sightings at this time of the year here. We will spend the following two nights in a lodge at Colonia Pellegrini, a village located in the heart of Esteros del Iberá Reserve.
Iberá Marshes are among the most extensive wetlands in Argentina, covering roughly one fourth of the country’s Mesopotamia. Some areas in Iberá are virtually inaccessible, and the lack of good roads makes it difficult to go through, thus creating a naturally protected stronghold for wildlife. The area is home to a wide array of waterfowl, and its swamps, open water lagoons and woodlands are most certainly a birding paradise; one that we will thoroughly explore, searching for its diverse and colourful avifauna. We will spend the day birding in the area of Iberá Lagoon and Colonia Pellegrini. In the morning we will take a boat tour to go exploring the lagoon, searching for such wonderful birds as Stripe-backed bittern, Rufous-sided crake, Black-capped Donacobius, Long-tailed Reed-Finch, Yellow-rumped Marshbird, Yellow-headed Caracara and eight species of Herons.
This is also a great opportunity to look for mammals, including Marsh Deer, Capybara and Southern River Otter. Reptiles like Spectacled Caiman and Yellow Anaconda are common sightings here as well. The local grasslands are home to other spectacular birds like Strange-tailed Tyrant, Lesser Grass-Finch and Marsh Seedeater. A walk through the forest in the afternoon will give us chances for Striped Cuckoo, Narrow-billed Woodcreeper, Rufous-browed Peppershrike and Purple-throated Euphonia among others. Mammals are also possible in the forest, with Black-and-gold Howler Monkey and Grey Brocket Deer being quite common. We will end our birding day exploring the thorny woodland known as Espinal, where our goal is to find one of Argentina’s rarest birds: the Yellow Cardinal.
We will leave Iberá Marshes for Ituzaingó, in the northern part of the Province of Corrientes. Birding along this road is very rewarding since we will be basically crossing a good part of the marshlands, as well as some grasslands and lagoons, so we will have the opportunity to see many of the species that we have been watching for the last few days plus a few new ones. We expect to check into our hotel in Ituzaingó in the afternoon. This evening we will go birding to Rincón de Santa María Reserve. This small -300 hectares- reserve is privately owned and was created after the construction of one of the largest hydro electrical stations on the Paraná River, to protect part of the native habitat and several species of birds, including many rarities. This evening we will search for birds like Lesser and Wedge-tailed Grass-Finches, Blue-billed Black-Tyrant, Striped Owl, Least Nighthawk, and a very localized resident for this area: the Sickle-winged Nightjar. We will spend the night in a hotel in Ituzaingó.
We will start our birding day visiting Rincón de Santa María again early this morning. Our targets include such unique birds as Ochre-breasted Pipit, Sharp-tailed Tyrant and the very rare Black-masked Finch. After this, we will continue driving towards the Province of Misiones, where we will go birding the surroundings of Posadas, its capital city, and also dedicate time to search the wet grasslands of Profundidad. There are several target species that we’ll look for here, including Saffron-cowled Blackbird, Streamer-tailed Tyrant and Plumbeous Seedeater. We plan to arrive to San Pedro late in the afternoon, after driving through the wet grasslands of Misiones. This evening we’ll go visiting a provincial reserve called La Araucaria, created to protect a relict of the Paraná Rainforest, with a good patch of Araucaria angustifolia, a local species of monkey-puzzle tree.
We will make a special effort to try and find the very rare and localized Vinaceous-breasted Amazon here. A small population of this parrot roosts inside the reserve, so our chances are very good. We will finish our birding day waiting for the sun to go down, to try for two species of owls: Stygian and Striped at dusk. We will spend the night at a local hotel in San Pedro.
We will pay a second visit to La Araucaria early this morning, and focus on finding some highly localized specialties, like Canebrake Groundcreeper and Araucaria Tit-Spinetail. After birding San Pedro, we’ll set off for Puerto Iguazú, where we’ll spend the last three nights of our tour in northeastern Argentina. Before getting there, we will spend some time birding Urugua-í Provincial Park. This reserve was created to protect an 84,000-hectare relict of Misiones Mountain Forest; a very particular ecosystem sitting 600 meters above sea level, higher than the remaining forests of Misiones.
This particular forest has a very dense bamboo understory, favoured by several bird species randomly seen in Iguazú or any of the other lowland forests. The riverine forest along Uruzú River is excellent for birds like Black-fronted Piping Guan, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper and Streamside Warbler. The bamboo stocks host Spotted Bamboo-Wren, Planalto Tapaculo, Dusky-tailed Antbird, Bertoni Antbird and Speckle-breasted Antpitta among others. Green-chinned Euphonia is also possible here, as well as Black Hawk-Eagle. The very rare Greenish Tyrannulet is a resident in Urugua-í, and chances to see it are very high. We will arrive to Iguazú late in the evening, and check into our hotel for the following three nights.
The most remarkable natural wonder in Argentina’s northeast is, by far, Iguazú National Park, with its unparalleled falls. Iguazú National Park protects the vast majority of one of the most important forests south of the Amazon: the Interior Atlantic Forest. This forest host dozens of unique species of orchids, small primates, bats of rare habits and endemic birds. Here, the Iguazú River falls 70 meters down, forming a fan of cascades with more than 250 individual waterfalls. Today we will enjoy Iguazú Falls at their fullest! We’ll stroll some of the park’s walkways, stopping at their many lookouts to gaze at the most spectacular vistas.
These trails have been built in different levels, and visitors have the chance to see the falls from above and below. A narrow gauge train takes visitors from the park’s gate to the entrance of the walkways, and on to the most spectacular waterfall of them all: Devil’s Throat, which we’ll visit late in the afternoon. Dozens of colourful birds live in Iguazú. Surucua Trogon, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Blue Manakin, five species of Euphonias and several species of Tanagers are all commonly found inside the park. Thousands of Great Dusky Swifts and several species of forest raptors master the skies here as well. The forest canopy is home to noisy flocks of Parrots, Parakeets, Antwrens and five species of Toucans. An audible background chorus of distinctive birdcalls, like those of the Solitary Tinamou, Spot-winged Wood-Quail, Tufted Antshrike and Southern Antpipit provide perfect frame for a walk through this enchanted rainforest.
We will return to our hotel in the nearby city of Puerto Iguazú late this evening, and get a good night sleep to recover energies, in preparation for our second full day at the park tomorrow.
Today we will return to the park for exploring other trails, including Macuco, which runs through a patch of forest far from the falls, making it less visited by general tourists and thus very rewarding birding-wise. Chances for mammals like Black-capped Capuchin Monkey are high here, and butterflies are incredibly diverse and abundant. A small patch of bromeliads at the entrance of the trail hosts a resident population of White-bearded Manakin. Blue Manakin is also widespread and very common along this trail. The forest floor is home to Short-tailed Antpitta and Spot-winged Wood Quail. Southern Antpipit and Rufous Gnateater are easily found skulking around the understory. Higher on the trees, spectacular birds like Black-throated Trogon and Robust Woodpecker are often spotted.
We will spend the last morning birding around Puerto Iguazú. Today’s highlight is the hummingbird’s garden, a private house where they put up feeders that normally attract at least seven species of these flying jewels. Black Jacobin, Planalto Hermit, Violet-capped Woodnymph and Black-throated Mango are all regular visitors to the feeders providing great photo opportunities. Other birds like Bananaquit, Epaulet Oriole and Blue-naped Chlorophonia are regular visitors to the feeders too. We will transfer to Iguazú International Airport in the afternoon, where the tour ends.