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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

There is no doubt that the cat familyoccupies a special place in humanaffections. Whether it is a domestictabby purring contentedly on its favouritechoice of bed or a magnificent Tiger'burning bright' as it pads through theforest undergrowth, there is a uniquecharisma about these creatures whichinstils both primitive fear and intenseadmiration. Naturetrek clients have alwaysenjoyed a wide choice of tours offering theopportunity to observe 'big cats', includingour unrivalled 'Just Tigers!' tour, but untilnow the beautiful Jaguar has remained justan enigmatic possibility on a few of ourSouth American tours. Notoriously shy andelusive, this supreme predator is adept atconcealment but, in the Pantanal region ofBrazil, where Jaguar numbers are probablyhigher than anywhere else on the continent,the chances of encountering one greatlyincrease during the dry periods of Juneand July. This is the season when thePantanal waters are in recession,concentrating both prey and predator intothe disappearing wet areas, and it is thetime when Jaguars are most easily located.Consolidating the experience gained fromour previous Pantanal holidays, thisexciting tour makes the search for theelusive Jaguar its principal focus. Even atthis most favourable season, it cannot beguaranteed that we will find our quarry.However, great effort will be made tomaximise our chances of achieving ourobjective, with evening spot-lighting andboat trips adding extra frisson to oursearches. Even if the Jaguars fail to obligethere is a wealth of wildlife to enjoy in thePantanal. Resident mammals include thebizarre Giant Anteater, Brazilian Tapir,Tayra, Marsh Deer, Crab-eating Fox andGiant River Otters whilst the exotic avifaunafeatures a fine selection of waterbirds andthe gorgeous Hyacinth Macaw.We begin the holiday by flying, via SãoPaulo, to Cuiaba in southern Brazil. Fromhere we follow the Transpantaneira road toPixaim where we stay for three nights. Wewould have to be very lucky to find aJaguar in this part of the Pantanal but wewill use our time to simply enjoy theabundance of wildlife frequenting thismagical place, particularly the greatconcentrations of herons, storks, ibisesand wildfowl which feed under the balefulsurveillance of Paraguayan Caiman thatlie, scattered like logs, across themarshes. This is the haunt of snakes,countless amphibians and a myriad ofinsects, including colourful butterflies andgaudy dragonflies. Marsh Deer may beobserved browsing the vegetation and wewill employ boats to look for the GiantRiver Otters which pursue fish in the riversystems. During the heat of the day we willseek the comfort of our hotel and focusour field activities on the cooler earlymorning and afternoon periods whenrewards may include such elusivecreatures as a shy Brazilian Tapir ormaybe a Jaguaroundi or Ocelot, twosmaller cats to whet the appetite.Our final Pantanal destination is PortoJofre, but distractions en route mayinclude a family party of Black HowlerMonkeys or perhaps a grazing party ofCapybara, the world's largest rodent.During our stay we will use boats toexplore the Cuiaba, Negrillo and PiquiriRivers, carefully scanning the denseriverine forest edge and rush-beds for anevening appearance by a Jaguar patrollingthe river bank. Our exact itinerary will bedictated by the latest sightings from localguides and, as on previous days, thesearch for our objective will be far from asingle-species quest, for we will encountera tremendous plethora of birds and wildlifefrequenting this unspoilt wilderness. Oneof the most spectacular birds is the hugeHyacinth Macaw, a truly impressive parrotwith an appropriately loud screeching callto announce the first light of dawn. Theriverine forests around Porto Jofrerepresent one of the main strongholds forJaguars; however, even here this shy andmainly nocturnal hunter is a master atremaining concealed, although we hopefor more extrovert behaviour, particularlyas this is the time of year when therelentless desiccation of the wetlandsforces the predators to explore newterritories in their search for prey.All too soon we will have to return toCuiaba and begin the long journey back toEurope but, as we take our leave, themighty Jaguar and all the many otherfascinating creatures of the Pantanal willbe facing yet more challenges as thewaters continue to retreat, although theolder animals will be instinctively awarethat eventually the onset of rains will onceagain replenish the marshes to continuethe cycle of life into another year. Brazil - Just Jaguars!A 12-day holiday in search of the largest of South America's cats and the abundant wildlife of Brazil's Pantanal.Monday 1st July - Friday 12th July Cost: £3,795Wednesday 10th July - Sunday 21st July Cost: £3,795Monday 22nd July - Friday 2nd August Cost: £3,795Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationURUGUAYPARAGUAYARGENTINACUIABAPIXAIMPORTOJOFREMATOGROSSOIGUAZÚFALLSSÃOPAULOATLANTICOCEANPANTANALBRAZILOutline itineraryDay 1Fly São Paulo.Day 2Fly Cuiaba.Day 3/5Pixaim, the Pantanal.Day 6/9Porto Jofre area, thePantanal.Day 10Drive Cuiaba.Day 11Fly São Paulo andonward to London.Day 12Arrive London.AccommodationComfortable tourist hotels inCuiaba, Pixaim and Porto Jofre. Allhave private facilities.FoodAll included in the price.GradingA. A range of gentle walks,vehicular safaris and boat rides.FocusPrincipally mammals, with emphasison searching for Jaguar, but alsothe other wildlife of the Pantanal,including birds.LeaderMario Mosquiera.Single room supplement£300.Web quick search: BRA02199JaguarThe PantanalHyacinth Macaws