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The friendly Caribbean island ofTrinidad is only 16 kilometres from thecoast of Venezuela and offers anideal introduction to the colourful avifaunaof South America. Its close proximity to themainland is reflected in a remarkablydiverse bird list featuring representativesfrom most Neotropical families but lackingthe proliferation of species that can seemoverwhelming elsewhere on the continent.March and April are good times to visit theisland, marking the peak of nesting activitybut before the onset of summer rains. Wewill stay for eight nights at the supremelycomfortable Asa Wright Nature Centrewhere the excellence of the service andfacilities is matched by the quality andease of the birdwatching. This relaxed andeasy paced holiday concludes with a visitto neighbouring Tobago which offers acontrasting mix of rainforest, seabirds andunderwater life around a pristine coral reef.Visitors to the Asa Wright Centre, whetherhuman or avian, are always well fed!Hungry birdwatchers are served deliciousmeals in the gracious old plantationbuilding which is now the headquarters ofthe centre and are soon introduced to theafternoon ritual of tea on the verandahfollowed by iced rum punch at sunset.Sugar solution feeders are replenished atdawn for the various hummingbirds,honeycreepers and Bananaquits and birdtables heaped with fruit to attract a steadystream of forest birds within range ofbinoculars and cameras. The ratherpleasant pastime of birdwatching from theverandah can produce 30 species in asmany minutes; White-necked Jacobins andother hummingbirds hover within an arm'slength as Chestnut Woodpeckers,tanagers, thrushes and many other birdsattack the fruit. This constantly changingscene ensures that the spectators on theverandah always have something to watch;but not all the visitors are birds ... TrinidadSquirrels, Agoutis and giant Tegu Lizardsalso emerge to share the spoils! Neitherwill the more energetic members of our party be disappointed, for a network oftrails facilitates access to the forestedgrounds of the centre where less confidinginhabitants await our discovery. As weexplore these trails, trogons, BeardedBellbirds, Channel-billed Toucans andmanakins are among the resident birdsthat can be seen with relative ease, but wewill need patience to glimpse the moreskulking ant-thrushes and spinetails in theundergrowth. One of the highlights of ourstay will be a visit to the world's mostaccessible Oilbird colony and here we canobserve these strange birds from themouth of their cave, a privilege onlygranted to Asa Wright guests.During our stay we will also travel byminibus to visit different areas of theisland, each change of habitat bringing afresh selection of new birds. NarivaSwamp on the Atlantic coast, the centralsavannah, and the northern Caribbeancoast will each occupy a full day and as asplendid finale we will spend the lastafternoon in Trinidad witnessing the arrivalof Scarlet Ibises at their roost in the heartof Caroni Swamp, the incoming birdsgradually turning the mangroves afluorescent red as they take their places inthe trees. There could hardly be a moreappropriate way to end a week enrichedby daily encounters with colourful andexotic birds. A 20-minute flight will take us to theneighbouring island of Tobago for the lastfour days of our holiday. This is a beautifulisland, still largely unspoilt by tourism, andthe Rain Forest Reserve which extendsalong the central spine of the island is richin birds, plants and insects. We will stay atthe Blue Waters Inn, tucked into a privatecove just outside the village of Speysideon the north coast of Tobago. Theswimming is excellent here, and a coralreef in the bay invites closer inspection forthose interested in snorkelling. We gain alittle insight to this colourful underwaterworld from a glass-bottomed boat during amorning excursion to Little Tobago Islandwhere many seabirds nest. Red-billedTropicbirds obligingly fly within metres ofphotographers, Brown and Red-footedBoobies nest on the cliffs below a vantagepoint, and all three species run thegauntlet of the Magnificent Frigatebirdsthat maintain a constant and menacingpresence. Later we will pay several visitsto the extensive Tobago Rain ForestReserve, the oldest in the Caribbean, andshould see most of the typical inhabitantsincluding Great Black Hawk, Red-leggedHoneycreeper, White-tailed Sabrewing andBlue-backed Manakin. This short visit toTobago ideally complements the earlierweek on Trinidad and the combination ofislands provides an unbeatable Caribbeanexperience enriched by an abundance ofnatural history treasures. Trinidad & Tobago A 14-day birdwatching and natural history holiday to Trinidad and Tobago, including an 8-night stay at the renowned Asa Wright Nature Centre.Saturday 23rd March - Friday 5th April Cost: £3,795Saturday 13th April - Friday 26th April Cost: £3,795Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Trinidad and transferto Asa Wright Centre.Day 2/8Asa Wright Centre.Excursions toBlanchisseuse, NarivaSwamp, Wallerfield,Arena Forest, OilbirdCave and CaroniSwamp.Day 9Fly Tobago.Day 10/12Tobago.Day 13Depart Tobago.Day 14Arrive London.AccommodationAsa Wright Centre in Trinidad andcomfortable tourist hotel in Tobago,both with private facilities.Food All included in the price.Grading A. Easy birdwatching walks.Focus Birds and natural history.Leader Paul Dukes or Peter Dunn, pluslocal guides.Single room supplement£850.Web quick search: TTO01196Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryLITTLE TOBAGOISLANDROXBOROUGHSPEYSIDERAIN FORESTGRAFTONBUCCOO MARSHCROWNPOINTPORT OF SPAINCARONI SWAMPARIMAARENAFORESTNARIVASWAMPBLANCHISSEUSEASA WRIGHTNATURECENTREATLANTIC OCEANGULF OFPARIACARIBBEAN SEATOBAGOTRINIDADBlanchisseuseHeliconia bihaiWhite-necked Jacobin

The mighty Andes, the longestmountain chain in the world and thesecond highest, extends the length ofthe South American continent, fromColombia in the north to the southern tip ofTierra del Fuego. In the northernArgentinean provinces the influences of themountains extend beyond the awesomeallure of numerous jagged peaks and therivers that flow down into the lowlands tocreate complex and highly specialisedzones of vegetation, which in turn supportunique species of wildlife. The aim of thistour is to penetrate into the heart of theAndean Cordillera and the deepest forestsof the Chaco lowlands to sample thesuperlative landscape and wildlife to befound in these wilderness areas. Our holiday begins in the Argentine capitalBuenos Aires, from where we catch adomestic flight to Salta in the north-west ofthe country. Following an overnight stay, weleave the colonial elegance of Salta toembark upon a quite remarkable wildlifeodyssey which will take us through some ofthe most impressive and awe-inspiringscenery in South America. Changingaltitude daily, we visit in turn, Los CardonesNational Park, Humahuaca Canyon,Calilegua National Park and finally theremote wilderness of El Rey National Park,one of the most isolated and unspoilt areasin Argentina. During our time in the Andeancordillera we will be constantly searchingfor the many rare mammals which inhabitthe mountains and valleys but not all thewildlife will be easy to locate and oursuccess will depend upon manyextraneous factors, not least the amount ofgood fortune we are blessed with! At higher elevations, herds of the twoattractive camelids, Guanaco and Vicuna,will be among the more conspicuousinhabitants and could attract the attentionsof a hunting Puma; smaller creatures tolook for include Mountain Vizacha, AndeanRed Fox, Andean Dwarf Cavy and perhapsa rare Pampas Cat. The dense Yungasforests of Calilegua National Park concealsuch delights as Red Yungas Squirrel,Geoffrey's Cat and Brown Capuchin whilstelsewhere in the park may be found Crab-eating Fox, Crab-eating Raccoon,Jaguaroundi and maybe even the secretiveJaguar or a foraging Tapir. Probably themost impressive fauna is found in El Reywhere a protective ring of mountains aroundthe park has helped preserve many shy andrare creatures. It is here that we have ourbest chance of finding Brazilian Tapir whilstother residents include Collared Peccary,River Otter and Brown Brocket Deer.Although our attention will be focused onthe mammals, birds will inevitably be muchin evidence during our exploration of themountains and the very impressive avifaunaincludes such highlights as Andean Condor,Torrent Duck, Greater Rhea and two strikinghummingbirds, the Red-tailed Comet andthe Giant.Leaving the mountains behind, weconclude our tour in the Chacoregionwhich occupies an area of about 21/2million square kilometres and is essentiallya dry savannah-like plain in which thecharacteristic vegetation is represented bythorny members of the Leguminosaefamily. It is a truly unique habitat, peculiarto Paraguay, northern Argentina and asmall area of south-eastern Bolivia. As might be expected, the flora and faunacontain many endemic species and this isone of the best places in South America tolook for some of the continent's mostelusive mammals. Our introduction to theChacowill be in Copo National Park whichprotects the last remnant of primaryQuebracho Colorado forest (the 'red axe-breaker') in the world. Here we will walkalong trails in search of Chacoan Peccaryand a variety of armadillo species. We visitnext the extensive marshlands thatcharacterise the 'wet Chaco' region.Colourful frogs, turtles and two species ofcaiman abound in these pristine wetlandswhilst the mammal community includesCapybara, Howler Monkey, Swamp Deer,Crab-eating Fox and the enigmatic ManedWolf. Not surprisingly, the birding is of thehighest quality, with concentrations ofherons, ibises, Limpkin and waterfowl innumbers that have to be seen to bebelieved. Perhaps the highlight of the tourwill be the final four days which we spendon a private reserve near the Pilaga River.In these exclusive surroundings we hopeto end a spectacular tour with sightings ofthe magnificent Giant Anteater, MarshDeer, Black Howler Monkey, Maned Wolf,Yellow Anaconda and many other amazingcreatures in a wildlife paradise which hasbeen preserved within the boundaries of aworking ranch. The high Andes and theunique Chacomake an irresistiblecombination for a wildlife holiday and wewill have experienced the best of bothworlds during this very special tour.Mammals of Northern ArgentinaA 16-day exploration of the montane and Chaco habitats of northern Argentina insearch of the region's mammals and birds.Saturday 7th September - Sunday 22nd September Cost: £4,395Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationARGENTINA CHILE BOLIVIAPARAGUAY URUGUAY BUENOS AIRES SALTA HUMAHUACA CALILEGUANATIONAL PARKEL REY NATIONAL PARK COPONATIONALPARKLOS CARDONESNATIONAL PARKFORMOSACHACO CAMPOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Buenos Aires.Day 2Salta.Day 3Los Cardones NationalPark.Day 4/5Humahuaca Canyon.Day 6/7Calilegua National Park.Day 8/9El Rey National Park.Day 10Copo National Park.Day 11Lower Paraguay River.Day 12/14Chaco Camp Lodge.Day 15Fly Formosa/BuenosAires/London.Day 16Arrive London.AccommodationGenerally tourist hotels with privatefacilities but, at Chaco Camp, wewill be in tents with shared facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA. FocusMammals, birds and other wildlife.LeaderRicardo Clark.Single room supplement£400. N.B. Single accommodation isunlikely to be available at ChacoCamp.Web quick search: ARG05197Giant AnteaterAndean CondorBrazilian Tapir