Map of the world

  • Where to watch BIRDS and

  • other wildlife in the world
  • Photograph of Plate-billed Mountain Toucan

    The amazing Plate-billed Mountain Toucan at Bellavista Lodge in Northern Ecuador by Dubi Shapiro.

    SOUTH AMERICA and ANTARCTICA

    The destinations listed and linked below are the ones we believe are the best in South America and Antarctica. They have been chosen very carefully and for a multitude of reasons, but mainly based on personal experience of some of them and on dreams of visiting the rest, dreams resulting from what we have heard, read or seen.

    It is our intention to update this list regularly as we add destinations and it was last updated in February 2018.

    If there are any other destinations you think should be on the list below then please feel free to Email us.

    The destinations are listed alphabetically with very brief, usually one-line, summaries for those linked to more detailed pages (to reach these pages click on the destination name). Those not linked to more detailed pages are described in a bit more detail here, in italics.

    For more information see ...
    The Best (100) Birds in the World,
    The Best (100) Wildlife in the World and
    Best (50) Other Natural Wonders.

    Destinations

    The first and arguably most important destination to consider is a Local Patch, somewhere a short walk from home where it is possible to see a wide range of birds and other wildlife any day of the year.

    A

    Amazon (Brazil)
    The largest river in the world, flowing through the richest rainforest in the world.

    Antarctica - Emperor Penguins
    Fly in (at great expense) to spend a few days at an Emperor Penguin colony.

    Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falklands
    Whales, penguins, albatrosses in the most amazing settings on Earth make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Argentina - Northern
    Andean Condor, Rufous-throated Dipper and a brilliant hummingbird called a Red-tailed Comet.

    Argentina - Southern
    Killer Whales 'beaching' in pursuit of sealion pups, Southern Right Whale and Southern Elephant Seal.

    Atlantic Odyssey
    Whales, dolphins and 40 seabird species from Antarctica via South Georgia to Ascension Island.

    B

    Photograph of Red-tailed Comet

    One of the best images ever of one of the most spectacular hummingbirds, a Red-tailed Comet by Dubi Shapiro, taken at a place called Siberia in Bolivia.

    Bolivia
    Several spectacular macaws including the endemic Blue-throated, another 13 or so endemics including Black-hooded Sunbeam, and about 100 near-endemics and specialities including Red-tailed Comet and Hooded Mountain Toucan.

    Brazil - Amazon
    The largest river in the world, inhabited by Grey and Pink River Dolphins, flowing through the richest rainforest in the world, with birds such as Pompadour Cotinga and Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, with a possibility of Crimson Fruitcrow.

    Brazil - Carajas
    Carajas National Forest in southeastern Para state, northeast Brazil, is one of the richest areas for birds in Amazonia and the very long list includes Peruvian Recurvebill, Black-chested Tyrant and Black-and-white Tody-Flycatcher, as well as Bare-faced Curassow, White-crested Guan, Red-throated Piping Guan, Chestnut-headed Chachalaca, Harpy Eagle, Cryptic Forest-Falcon, Dark-winged Trumpeter, Marbled Wood-Quail, Blue-and-yellow, Hyacinth, Red-and-green and Scarlet Macaws, Jandaya and Pearly Parakeets, Red-fan and Vulturine Parrots, Hoatzin, Dot-eared Coquette, Blue-cheeked (Yellow-billed) Jacamar, Rufous-necked Puffbird, Red-necked Aracari, Banded and Wing-banded Antbirds, Black-bellied and Chestnut-belted Gnateaters, Fiery-capped and Opal-crowned Manakins, Purple-breasted, Spangled and White-tailed Cotingas, the wallacei race of White Bellbird, Sharpbill, Slaty-headed Tody Flycatcher, Blackish Pewee, White-naped Jay, Rose-breasted Chat, Para (Guianan) Gnatcatcher, Spotted Tanager and Red-billed Pied Tanager. In the same region, around the town of Caxias in Maranhao state are restricted-range birds such as Buff-browed Chachalaca, Kaempfer’s Woodpecker, Moustached Woodcreeper and Hooded Gnateater, along with Crescent-chested Puffbird, Curl-crested Jay, and Blue and Coal-crested Finches, with a chance of Rufous-vented Ground-Cuckoo. The best time to visit is August-September.

    Brazil - Central (Minas Gerais)
    Some tour companies tie a trip to the Pantanal with the Campo and Cerrado Region of Minas Gerais state in Central Brazil where the main sites are: Serra da Canastra National Park, where it is possible to see Brazilian Merganser, one of the rarest birds in the world, as well as Giant Anteater, Black-ear-tufted Marmoset, Red-legged Seriema, Aplomado Falcon, Golden-capped Parakeet, Toco Toucan, Campo Miner, Grey-backed Tachuri, Cock-tailed, Sharp-tailed and Streamer-tailed Tyrants, Collared Crescentchest, Helmeted Manakin, White-rimmed and White-striped Warblers, Blue Finch and Yellow-rumped Marshbird; Serra do Cipo National Park, where the main attractions are Hyacinth Visorbearer, possibly Horned Sungem, Cipo Canastero and Cipo (Long-tailed) Cinclodes, along with Cinereous Warbling Finch and Pale-throated Pampa Finch; Serra do Caraca National Park, where there is a chance of Maned Wolf on the monastery steps and Black-ear-tufted Marmoset, as well as Slaty-breasted Wood Rail, Crescent-chested Puffbird, Orange-eyed Thornbird, Serra Antwren, Rufous Gnateater, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Swallow-tailed Cotinga and Pin-tailed Manakin; and Caratinga National Park, where Buffy-headed Marmoset, and Brown Howler and Woolly Spider Monkeys occur, and there is a chance of Three-toed Sloth and Giant Helicopter Damselfly. The best time to visit is the dry season, July to October.

    From Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais state it is not far east to the state of Espirito Santo where the adjacent Rio Doce Private Forest Reserve and Sooretama Biological Reserve protect one of the largest remnants of Atlantic coastal lowland rainforest and support Red-billed Curassow, White-necked Hawk, Black-cheeked Gnateater, Black-headed Berryeater and White-winged Cotinga. Not far from there is the town of Santa Theresa where the hummingbird feeders at the home of the late Dr Augusto Ruschi attract a whirl of hummers, including Frilled Coquette. Santa Theresa city park is a good place to see Masked Titi Monkey, Geoffroy’s Marmosets and Common Opossums (on the bird tables at night) and Santa Lucia Reserve near Santa Theresa supports Cinnamon-vented Piha, Bare-throated Bellbird, Sharpbill and many tanagers.

    In 2018 a new reserve was created in the rocky uplands of eastern Minas Gerais to help protect the recently rediscovered Blue-eyed Ground-Dove.

    Photograph of Toco Toucan

    Brazil is the best place to see Toco Toucan. Image by Chris Townend.

    Brazil - Alta Floresta
    This luxurious Cristalino Lodge is about an hour by road and half an hour by river from Alta Floresta which is accessible by air in one and a half hours from Cuiaba, the gateway to the Pantanal, hence the two destinations are often combined by tour operators. Cristalino is situated in southern Amazonian rainforest, the richest place for birds on Earth, hence nearly 600 bird species have been recorded. Many are thin on the ground and/or shy and skulking though so a stay of at least a week is recommended to stand a chance of seeing some of the numerous specialities such as Razor-billed Curassow, Red-throated Piping-Guan, Zigzag Heron, Harpy Eagle, White-browed Hawk, Cryptic Forest Falcon, Dark-winged Trumpeter, Crimson-bellied and Santarem (Painted) Parakeets, Kawallʼs Parrot, Pavonine Quetzal, Tapajos Hermit, Black-bellied Thorntail, Brown-banded, Rufous-necked and (Eastern) Striolated Puffbirds, Blue-necked Jacamar, Black-girdled Barbet, Curl-crested and Red-necked Aracaris, Gould's Toucanet, Glossy Antshrike, Bare-eyed Antbird, Alta Floresta (Spotted) Antpitta, Zimmerʼs Tody-Tyrant, Flame-crowned and Snow-capped Manakins, Slaty-capped Shrike Vireo, Tooth-billed Wren and Yellow-shouldered Grosbeak, as well as more widespread species such as Agami Heron, Sunbittern, Blue-and-yellow, Red-and-green and Scarlet Macaws, Great and Paradise Jacamars, Long-billed Woodcreeper, Black-spotted Bare-eye, Chestnut-belted Gnateater, Pompadour, Purple-throated and Spangled Cotingas, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Amazonian Umbrellabird, White-browed Purpletuft, Band-tailed Manakin, Musician Wren and Paradise Tanager. There are two 50 metre high canopy towers, lots of trails and boat trips along the blackwater rivers are available to seek out the birds and mammals, which include Red-handed Howler and several other monkeys. The best time to visit is October-November at the start of the rainy season when more birds are in song and there are more antswarms. Similar species occur at Rio Azul Jungle Lodge, three hours by road from Alta Floresta, including Tapajos Hermit and the forest here is a good place to see the rare Bald Parrot.

    Photograph of Blue Manakin

    A beautiful image of a male Blue Manakin by Lee Dingain.

    Brazil - Northeastern
    In the states of Alagoas, Bahia, Ceara and Pernambuco it is possible to see over 450 species on a regular trip including over 100 of Brazil’s 218 endemics, some of which occur only in Northeast Brazil such as Lear’s Macaw, White-collared Kite, Grey-breasted (Maroon-faced) Parakeet, Hooded Visorbearer, Pygmy Nightjar, Fringe-backed Fire-eye, Alagoas Antwren, Scalloped Antbird, Arapire Manakin and Seven-coloured Tanager, with the greatest concentration of endemics in Brazil present in the Boa Nova area in Bahia, although many are rare and highly localised in remnant patches of suitable habitat, much of it in the region being arid, badly degraded, low thorny scrub and woodland known as caatinga. Other species present in Northeast Brazil include Giant Snipe, Ruby Topaz, Bare-throated Bellbird, Black-headed Berryeater, Cinnamon-vented Piha, Banded and White-winged Cotingas (both in Catitu Reserve, Itacare), Buff-throated Purpletuft, Sharpbill, and Band-tailed and Blue Manakins, while mammals include White-tufted-ear and Wied's Black-tufted-ear Marmosets, and Coimbra-Filho's Titi Monkey. The best time for birding is January at the start of the rainy season when more birds are vocal.

    Brazil - Southeast
    More endemic birds than any other corner of South America including lots of antbirds, cotingas and tanagers.

    Brazil - Southern (Pantanal-Iguassu)
    Jaguar, Giant Anteater, Hyacinth Macaws and Iguassu Falls make this A Top Ten Destination.

    C

    Chile
    Puma, a chance of Blue Whale and birds which include Magellanic Woodpecker.

    Colombia
    Birds, birds, birds, nearly 1900 species of them, more than any other country in the world.

    E

    Emperor Penguins - Antarctica
    Fly in (at great expense) to spend a few days at an Emperor Penguin colony.

    Ecuador - Northern
    More birds per square mile than any other country in the world.

    Ecuador - Southern
    A high degree of regional endemism with lots of very local and little known birds including over 40 species shared only with adjacent northern Peru (the Tumbesian Endemics) together with the incredibly bird-rich eastern Andean slope forests and more widespread birds means it is possible to amass a huge list of birds on a trip to Southern Ecuador; easily over 400 species in two weeks and 650 in three weeks, including over 60 hummingbirds, many of which can be seen at several superb feeding stations, and many tanagers. The star birds include El Oro Parakeet, Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Jocotoco Antpitta (now coming out of the forest to feed on worms supplied by local guides, along with Chestnut-naped and Undulated Antpittas), Tumbes Tyrant (at Zapotillo, the only known site for this species in Ecuador), White-tailed Jay and Orange-throated Tanager, while more widespread spectacular species include Horned Screamer, Oilbird (along the old Loja-Zamora road), Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Club-winged Manakin, Giant Conebill, Tit-like Dacnis, Plushcap, and Golden-crowned and White-capped Tanagers. Possible mammals include Hoffmann's Two-toed Sloth and Mantled Howler Monkey. The best time to look for birds is during January to March because this period usually coincides with the annual rains when resident birds start singing making it easier to find the many skulkers. Make sure you book Jocotoco Foundation’s excellent birding lodges at Buenaventura (El Oro Parakeet and Long-wattled Umbrellabird), Jorupe (Pale-browed Tinamou at feeders) and Tapichalaca (Jocotoco Antpitta) well in advance, as well as Copalinga Lodge, near the Bombuscara entrance to Podocarpus National Park (where Grey Tinamou and Wire-crested Thorntail visit the feeders) and Yankuam Lodge (near where Orange-throated Tanager is easiest to see, and where Spangled Cotinga and White-browed Purpletuft occur).

    Photograph of Long-wattled Umbrellabird

    The truly extraordinary Long-wattled Umbrellabird at Buenaventura by Lars Petersson.


    F

    Falkland Islands
    King Penguins, Black-browed Albatross colonies and Southern Elephant Seals.

    French Guiana
    Forest still covers about 90% of this sparsely populated overseas department of France which means the birding is fantastic. However, the ecotourist infrastructure is relatively basic and many sites are accessible only by boat or plane. The long list of spectacular and special birds includes Agami Heron (the world’s largest nesting colony with about 1500 pairs is at Reserve Naturelle des Marais de Kaw about 70 km from the capital Cayenne), Scarlet Ibis, Hoatzin, Cayenne Tern (Ile de Grand Connetable), Red-fan Parrot, Crimson Topaz, jacamars, trogons, toucans, Guianan and Spotted Puffbirds, Painted Tody Flycatcher, White-plumed Antbird, Capuchinbird, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Guianan Red Cotinga, Pompadour, Purple-breasted and Spangled Cotingas, Dusky Purpletuft, Crimson-hooded Manakin, Musician Wren, Blue-backed Tanager and Red-and-black Grosbeak, with additional species in the primary forest (with trails) surrounding the small, isolated village of Saul in the heart of the country, arguably the top site in the country with over 450 species recorded, accessible only by air, including Black Curassow, Zigzag Heron, Orange-breasted Falcon, Black-and-white Hawk Eagle, Crested and Harpy Eagles, Red-and-green and Scarlet Macaws, all five Amazonian potoos, Fiery-tailed Awlbill, Tufted Coquette, Red-billed Woodcreeper, McConnell’s Spinetail, White-throated Pewee, Dusky and White-browed Antbirds, Band-tailed and Black-throated Antshrikes, Ash-winged, Rufous-rumped, Spot-tailed and Todd’s Antwrens, White Bellbird, Crimson Fruitcrow, Cayenne Jay, Wing-banded Wren, Guianan Gnatcatcher, and possibly Sooty Barbthroat which is known only from French Guiana and the Brazilian state of Amapa) and the single endemic, Cayenne Nightjar, known only from the type specimen collected at Saut Tamanoir in 1917 but two records of a nightjar from Saul in 1999 may relate to this species. At the mouth of the Fleuve Maroni, Awala Yalimapo, in the extreme northwest, Les Hattes beach is a nesting ground for Leatherback Turtles which lay their eggs their between April and July. Mammals include Red-handed (Golden-pawed) Tamarin and Guianan Squirrel Monkey. This is a wet country where the driest months are usually August to October.

    G

    Galapagos
    Giant Tortoise, Marine Iguana and tame nesting seabirds such as Waved Albatross.

    Guyana
    Guianan Cock-of-the-rock and possibly Crimson Fruitcrow, plus Grey-winged Trumpeter.

    Guyane
    See French Guiana, above.

    M

    Manu (Southern Peru)
    Clay-licks which attract many macaws, and many other birds such as Pale-winged Trumpeter.

    P

    Pantanal (Southern Brazil)
    Jaguar, Giant Anteater, Hyacinth Macaws and Iguassu Falls make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Paraguay
    The vast plains of arid chaco (which make up more than 60% of the land area yet support less than 2% of the human population), cerrado and flooded grasslands together with pantanal wetlands and remnant Atlantic Forest of Paraguay support many rare and restricted-range species notably the 18 or so virtually endemic to the chaco and they include Chaco Nothura, Quebracho Crested Tinamou, Bare-faced Curassow, Spot-winged Falconet, Ocellated, Red-and-white (San Rafael, a very birdy area where about 430 bird species have been recorded) and Red-faced Crakes, Black-legged and Red-legged Seriemas, Giant Snipe, Chaco, Rusty-barred and Tawny-browed Owls, Scissor-tailed, Sickle-winged, Silky-tailed and White-winged Nightjars, Nacunda Nighthawk, Violet-crested Plovercrest, Saffron and Spot-billed Toucanets, Toco Toucan, lots of woodpeckers including Black-bodied and Helmeted, lots of woodcreepers including Great Rufous, Crested Gallito, Lark-like Brushrunner, Cock-tailed, Sharp-tailed, Strange-tailed and Streamer-tailed Tyrants, Straneck's Tyrannulet, Greater Wagtail Tyrant, Bearded Tachuri, Crested and Dinelli's Doraditos, Russet-winged Spadebill, Rufous Gnateater, Chaco (Olive-crowned) and Collared Crescentchests, Sharpbill, Bare-throated Bellbird, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Band-tailed Manakin, Wing-barred Piprites, Curl-crested Jay, seedeaters, and Saffron-cowled and Scarlet-headed Blackbirds. This is a hard country to see mammals in - thick bush, few tracks - but persistence may pay off with Brazilian Tapir, Chaco Peccary, Plains Viscacha, Chaco Mara, Black Howler, Black-tailed Marmoset, Great Hairy Armadillo and even Jaguar, Puma, Maned Wolf, Giant Anteater, Giant Otter, Margay and Geoffroy's Cat. The best time to visit Paraguay is mid-September to the end of October.

    Peru - Central
    Spectacular birds in spectacular mountain scenery, with a chance of 50 highland endemics and many other high elevation specialities including the flightless Junin Grebe (on National Park zodiac boat trips), Andean Ibis, Junin (Black) Rail, Diademed Sandpiper Plover (Marcapomacocha), Andean Lapwing, Puna Plover, Andean and Puna Snipes, Grey-breasted and Rufous-bellied Seedsnipes, ground doves, Oilbird (thousands in cave near Tingo Maria), hummingbirds such as Bronze-tailed Comet (Santa Eulalia Valley), Black-breasted Hillstar, Fire-throated Metaltail and Olivaceous Thornbill, Golden-headed Quetzal, Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan, White-bellied Cinclodes (Marcapomacocha and Ticlio Bog/Pass), Striated Earthcreeper, canasteros, Eye-ringed Thistletail, antpittas, tapaculos, chat tyrants, ground tyrants, tit tyrants, Many-coloured Rush Tyrant (Lake Junin), Bay-vented (Bosque Unchog) and White-cheeked (Andamarca Valley via Santa Eulalia Valley) Cotingas, Band-tailed, Barred, Green-and-black (Huanaco) and Masked Fruiteaters (all four along Paty Trail), White-eared Solitaire, White-collared Jay, brush finches, mountain tanagers including the endemic Golden-backed Mountain Tanager (Bosque Unchog), Golden-collared, Grass-green, Huallaga and Yellow-scarfed Tanagers, Rufous-browed Hemispingus (Bosque Unchog), Pardusco (Bosque Unchog), Giant Conebill, Tit-Like Dacnis, sierra finches, Plain-tailed and Rufous-breasted Warbling Finches, and Great and Rufous-backed Inca Finches. Not so many mammals though, probably Northern Viscacha and possibly Andean Fox, Andean Huemul and Vicuna. The best time to look for birds is June-July.

    Photograph of White-bellied Cinclodes

    A great photograph of a displaying White-bellied Cinclodes at Marcapomacocha by Dubi Shapiro. This photograph won the Critically Endangered Birds category in the 2013 international photo competition run by The World’s Rarest Birds project which aims to support BirdLife International’s Preventing Extinctions Programme.

    Peru - Manu - Southern
    Clay-licks which attract many macaws, and many other birds such as Pale-winged Trumpeter.

    Peru - Northeastern (Iquitos)
    Over 600 bird species in a small area of Amazonia including Black-necked Red Cotinga.

    Peru - Northern
    Many hummingbirds including Marvellous Spatuletail and a chance of Long-whiskered Owlet.

    Photograph of Marvellous Spatuletail

    Marvellous Spatuletail by Ian Merrill, arguably the world's most spectacular hummingbird, found only in a few places in Northern Peru.

    S

    South Georgia (and Antarctica and the Falklands)
    Whales, penguins, albatrosses in the most amazing settings on Earth make this A Top Ten Destination.

    Photograph of Black-browed Albatross

    Albatrosses in the Southern Ocean between The Falklands and South Georgia include the handsome Black-browed. Image by Jon Hornbuckle.

    Suriname
    Grey-winged Trumpeter and some great cotingas including a big Guianan Cock-of-the-rock lek.

    T

    Trinidad and Tobago
    Nesting turtles and some fine birds, not least Scarlet Ibis and Oilbird.

    U

    Uruguay
    This country’s coastal wetlands, grasslands and forested low mountains support a wide range of birds, the rarest in global terms being Greater Rhea, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Straight-billed Reedhaunter, Black-and-white Monjita, Chestnut, Dark-throated, Entre Rios and Marsh Seedeaters, Yellow Cardinal, Pampas Meadowlark and Saffron-cowled Blackbird although the wider list includes Spotted Nothura, Great Grebe, Black-necked and Coscoroba Swans, Chilean Flamingo, Maguari Stork, Southern Screamer, Cinereous and Long-winged Harriers, Red-legged Seriema, Giant Wood Rail, Wattled Jacana, Snowy-crowned Tern, Nacunda Nighthawk, Guira Cuckoo, Glittering-bellied Emerald, White-throated Hummingbird, Gilded Sapphire, White and White-spotted Woodpeckers, Sulphur-bearded Spinetail, Firewood-gatherer, Curve-billed Reedhaunter, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper, Rufous-capped Antshrike, Spectacled Tyrant, White Monjita, Chestnut-backed and Diademed Tanagers, Glaucous-blue Grosbeak, Black-and-rufous Warbling Finch, Long-tailed Reed Finch and Scarlet-headed Blackbird, many of which can be seen within a day or two of the capital Montevideo along the coast of the Rio de la Plata and Atlantic, especially at Laguna de Rocha which has the highest known wintering population of Buff-breasted Sandpipers in South America, and the far eastern coastal strip and wetlands in a Ramsar Site known as Banados del Este where Black-and‐white Monjita, Yellow Cardinal, Saffron-¬cowled Blackbird and several species of seedeater occur. Lying south of the equator the best time to visit is probably during October-November;the southern spring. Most rain usually falls during the autumn and winter.

    V

    Venezuela - Eastern (Rio Grande-Escalera)
    Harpy Eagle, many cotingas including Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, and Angel Falls.

    Venezuela - Western (Llanos)
    Many spectacular birds, some in the amazing Llanos wetlands, not least Scarlet Macaw.