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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

Argentina is a vast country embracingsuch a variety of scenery and climatethat it has been dubbed the 'land ofsix continents'. To the west the mightyAndes mountains extend the length of thecountry, rising to over 6,900 metres beforecascading to the sea in a chaos of jagged,snow-capped peaks. East of the mountainsthe humid plains of the Pampas regionoccupy nearly a quarter of the land mass,merging eventually into the stonyPatagonian plateau, the southern extremityof the continent which points like a fingertowards Antarctica. Our tour takes placeduring the southern spring when thenesting resident birds are augmented bymigrants arriving from the north, and thecoasts of Patagonia will be teeming withmarine mammals and seabirds.Our holiday begins in Buenos Aires with avisit to the famous bird reserve, Costaneradel Sur, where a good variety of wetlandspecies can be viewed within sight of thecity skyscrapers, before sampling atraditional Argentine 'asado' at one of thecity restaurants.After an overnight stay at a city hotel wecatch a morning flight to Trelew, gateway toPeninsula Valdés and the beginning of ourPatagonian adventure. All around theshoreline of this great rocky promontoryElephant Seals and Southern Sea Lions willbe tending newly born pups, aconcentration of animals which earlier inthe season attracts the attention of KillerWhales. We will probably be too late forOrcas but are certain to observe theSouthern Right Whales which congregateoff Valdés to give birth. During our stay wewill attempt to obtain close-up views ofthese wonderful mammals from a boat, andmay be treated to the unforgettable sight ofa whale leaping out of the water. It is notjust the sea that makes Valdés such aspecial place; in the scrubby interior weshould encounter herds of shy Guanaco,arguably the most attractive of all camelids,and the weird Patagonian Hare or Mara,which looks like a composite of manydifferent creatures. Several very local birdspecies also occur on the Peninsula butour most spectacular birdwatching will beat Punta Tombo where a million MagellanicPenguins have created a city of burrows inthe sand dunes. Close by is Gaiman, homeof a Welsh-speaking community which wasestablished in the Chubut Valley during thelast century and now fascinates visitorsfrom all over the world.A flight from Trelew will carry us across theseemingly endless steppes of southernPatagonia to the town of El Calafate. LeastSeedsnipe performing their songflight andstriking Chocolate-vented Tyrants are two ofthe characteristic roadside birds in thisinhospitable terrain. We stay for threenights in Calafate enabling us to spend aday in the Glaciares National Park, apicturesque blend of mountains and lakessurrounding the Moreno Glacier. Perhapsthe most impressive of all the naturalsplendours of Argentina, the glacier is ashimmering 60-metre high wall of icestretching for over four kilometres intomountains where Andean Condors soarabove the crags.We cross Tierra del Fuego on another flightand conclude the tour at Ushuaia, a prettylittle resort sandwiched between the BeagleChannel and the southern fringe of theAndes. This is sub-Antarctica, an area ofcapricious weather, stunning scenery andgreat birdwatching. A boat excursion alongthe Beagle Channel will bring views of FurSeals sharing rocky islets with KingCormorants and masses of seabirdsincluding Black-browed Albatross, GiantPetrel and Magellanic Diving Petrel. The national park close to Ushuaia is ascenic blend of forest, mountain and riverwhere many of the typical birds of Tierra delFuego can be seen, including Ashy-headedGoose, Magellanic Woodpecker and Fire-eyed Diucon. At the end of our stay inUshuaia we return by air to Buenos Airestaking with us memories of this beautifuland unusual 'land of the fires' at the veryedge of the Southern Ocean.The romantic wilderness of the Pampasdescribed in the writings of W.H. Hudsonhas long since been diluted by theencroachment of huge ranches, butGaucho traditions remain, and the steaksserved in local restaurants are of heroicproportions! On our optional extension wespend three days exploring this region froma base in the coastal resort of SanClemente. Access to private ranches willenable us to visit examples of originalPampas habitat, where Rheas still strideover a landscape of undisturbed grassland,and seasonal wetlands provide refuge for awide variety of birds. The coastline nearSan Clemente is excellent for shorebirdsand we will also look for three rare speciesof spinetail which occur in the vicinity.Easier to find are the conspicuous nests oftheir commoner relatives, the RufousHornero, or Ovenbird, and the aptly-namedFirewood-gatherer. Argentine Patagonia A 15-day birdwatching and wildlife holiday visiting the Peninsula Valdés, Glaciares National Park and southern Patagonia, including Tierra del Fuego.Sunday 14th October - Sunday 28th October 2012 Cost: £4,495Pampas extension: to Thursday 1st November 2012 Cost: £815Sunday 13th October - Sunday 27th October 2013 Cost: £4,995Pampas extension: to Thursday 31st October 2013 Cost: £995198Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryCHILEANDES MOUNTAINSBOLIVIAPARAGUAYBRAZILURUGUAYBUENOS AIRESSAN CLEMENTE DEL TUYU(EXTENSION)PENINSULA VALD!STRELEWPUNTA TOMBOR"O GALLEGOSTIERRA DEL FUEGOUSHUAIAEL CALAFATEGLACIARESNATIONAL PARKPAMPASARGENTINAOutline itineraryDay 1Depart London.Day 2Buenos Aires.Day 3/5Peninsula Valdés.Day 6Punta Tombo.Day 7/9El Calafate andGlaciares National Park.Day 10/12Ushuaia and Tierra delFuego.Day 13Buenos Aires.Day 14Depart Buenos Aires.Day 15Arrive London.N.B. The sequence of this itinerarymay be reversed in order to suitdomestic airline schedules.ExtensionDay 14Drive San Clemente.Day 15/17Pampas.Day 18Return Buenos Aires andfly London.Day 19Arrive London.AccommodationComfortable hotels, most withprivate facilities.FoodAll included in the price.Grading A. Birdwatching walks only.FocusBirds and mammals (includingwhales at Peninsula Valdés).LeaderEsteban Daniels.Single room supplement£595 (extension: £150).Web quick search: ARG04Moreno GlacierMagellanicWoodpecker