Trip report: Northwest Argentina with Iguazu Falls Extension (November 2017) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Andrés Vásquez. This was a set departure tour.

Northwest Argentina is, in my opinion (and according to all my clients on this tour and past tours), one of the most UNDERESTIMATED, UNDERVALUED tours Tropical Birding offers. In reality, it is one on my all-time favorite tours to guide and one of my all-time favorite places to visit. This is thanks, not only to incredible birds we find, but also thanks to the overwhelming combination of mesmerising landscapes throughout the tour (which includes 2 UNESCO World Heritage Natural Sites – Iguazu Falls and Humahuaca Valley), some of the best wines in the World drank by night, and a variety of habitats we bird within, from close to sea level to almost 15000ft, and from humid Yungas to high Andes desert, upper Chaco and highland Monte.

In terms of birds, we recorded 369 species out of which the most memorable were the 3 species of tinamou seen well (Elegant Crested Tinamou being the favorite), Giant Antshrike (aka the “beast”) that we saw completely exposed perched on a rock, Rufous-throated Dipper, of which we saw 5 individuals in 3 different spots, the always lovely Torrent Duck, the endangered and scarce Black-fronted Piping-Guan we enjoyed at close range in Iguazu from the boardwalk while walking towards the Devil’s Throat, Montane Forest Screech-Owl of which we saw a pair very close, the variety and beauty of the woodpeckers (Robust Woodpecker and Ochre-collared Piculet the most popular of these), both Tit-Tyrants (Yellow-billed and Tufted) were chosen as the cutest of the tour, and it was impossible to choose only one finch out of the huge array of these wonderfully colored birds, so the group as a whole made it to the list.

Special mentions were also given to the superb hummingbirds we saw, including the former Bolivian endemic Wedge-tailed Hillstar, the superb Andean Hillstar, the super elegant Red-tailed Comet, and the minute Slender-tailed Woodstar of which we enjoyed great views of both male and female.
It is worth mentioning the large amount of waterfowl and water related birds that we found on different places. Probably the most enjoyable were a couple of Ringed Teals (out of 17 ducks and allies) that we saw very well, Giant Coots, 3 species of Flamingos, and the 7 Argentine Endemics that we found: Steinbach’s Canastero, White-throated Cacholote, Tucuman Mountain-Finch, Yellow-striped Brush-Finch, Bare-eyed (Moreno’s) Ground-Dove, Sandy Gallito, and White-browed Tapaculo.

On a different topic, this tour is one of the most enjoyable tours in the World in terms of landscapes. There is not a single day in which we do not have to stop the car or take a moment on the walks to take pictures of the scenery. The areas we bird at along the Argentinian Andes are spectacular with highlights like the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site of La Quebrada de Humahuaca and the breathtaking Quebrada de las Conchas; plus, the extension takes us to yet another UNESCO’s site, the breathtaking Iguazu Falls whose beauty and power are difficult to describe, you have to live it.
We will run this tour again in October 2018; do not miss it if you have not visited one of the most underrated places on Earth.

Full 2017 Tropical Birding Northwest Argentina Trip Report here in PDF format (2.3 MB file)