For a bird lover, there’s nothing like the moment you spot a rare species perched in the branches of a tree, or soaring over the ocean, or flitting about the flowers in search of nectar. It’s such an exciting experience – and it’s one that happens on a number of Odysseys trips.
And while we don’t consider our tours to be birding vacations, there’s no denying that among all the incredible experiences offered, sightings of rare and iconic birds often rank highly for our bird-loving travelers.
The tours included below will provide you with fantastic
opportunities to see birds from all over the world – some cute, some majestic,
others just downright peculiar.
Since birdwatching is largely based on chance, particularly with rare
birds, sightings of the birds associated with a given tour cannot be
BIRDS IN CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA
South America alone boasts over 3,000 species of birds, while Central America has more than 1,100. And many of our trips to these regions take us to the places where rare birdlife abounds …
The Galapagos Islands
What better place to lead off the
list than the world’s “living museum and showcase of evolution”? The Galapagos Islands collectively boast 56
species of birds, 45 of them endemic.
During our time in Española
Island on our Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands
tour, some of the many birds
we could see include Nazca and blue-footed boobies, the critically endangered waved
albatross, and Galapagos mockingbirds.
A birding highlight on our Costa Rica’s Natural Heritage
tour comes on Day 7 when we visit the Hummingbird Gallery at Monteverde’s
biological reserve, home to 14 species of hummingbird.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve also boasts a number of
visually striking birds including the green-crowned brilliant, purple-throated
mountaingem, and quetzal (pictured below) …
Argentina & Chile (Patagonia)
Patagonia’s extreme location, combined with its utterly
singular topography of snow-capped mountains, ocean, and fjords, make for a
travel experience like no other. As luck
would have it, Patagonia’s birdlife also happens to be quite diverse –
and we experience it firsthand on our Patagonia Explorer and Patagonian
On Patagonia Explorer, our time exploring Torres National
Park – with its 118 bird species – could include sightings of black-necked
swan, Andean condor, lesser horned owl, the flightless (but fast-running)
lesser rhea, rufous-collared sparrow, and Magellanic woodpecker.
Colombia boasts some 1,900 bird species (about 18% of the
world’s total; more than Europe and the United States combined).
Among the most well-known is the Andean condor, which we
could see on Day 5’s visit to Cocora Valley on our Colombia Rediscovered tour …
BIRDS IN AFRICA
On a continent with perhaps the world’s most impressive array of wildlife, Africa’s birds may not always get their due credit. But as any bird lover knows, Africa’s 2,341 bird species are among the world’s rarest and most striking.
A highlight for birders on our Africa’s Wildlife tour comes on Days 7 and 8 when we visit Botswana’s Chobe National Park, home to 450 species of birds. Here, we may get the opportunity to see the sacred ibis, fish eagle, kingfisher, and many other birds …
We also enjoy unparalleled
bird viewing on Day 11 at the massive sanctuary at Mana Pools Reserve and Lower
Zambezi National Park (UNESCO site) – a region that stretches across the border
of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The colorful southern carmine
bee-eater (also present in Chobe National Park) is one of the many species we
Sea bird lovers will enjoy our cruise
along the storied Namibian coast on Day 12 of Southern African Odyssey. On our cruise, we’ll likely encounter
petrels, greater and lesser flamingos, pelicans, and other sea birds.
Southern Africa Odyssey’s post-tour extension to the Kapama Private Game Reserve, adjacent to the enormous Kruger National Park, also offers some spectacular bird-watching opportunities.
The Reserve itself boasts
more than 250 bird species, including the coqui francolin, lilac-breasted
roller, purple-crested turaco, secretary bird, and southern ground hornbill.
Another birder’s paradise comes on
Day 5 of our Tanzania Adventure tour, when we visit Tarangire, home to 550 avian
species, including the yellow-collared love bird.
BIRDS IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
Australia alone boasts about 830 bird species. And though
one could hardly call New Zealand an ideal destination for bird lovers, the
country has a high number of rare species that are notable for their
flightlessness and longevity.
On our Exploring Australia & New
Zealand tour, we get a unique opportunity to visit Featherdale Wildlife Park,
which features the most sizeable collection of Australian bird species in the
country, including black-breasted buzzards, emus, and little penguins.
Our Exploring Iceland tour offers us the chance to see
thousands of birds, including puffins, black guillemots, fulmars, and Arctic
terns. For departures that happen before
the puffin migration, the Puffin Island bird cruise on Day 5 is a particular
Of the roughly 10,000 bird species in the world, nearly 500
can be found in the state of Alaska. Our
Untamed Alaska tour take us through the vast wildernesses and wildlife centers
where the rarest and most iconic of these birds can be found.
On Day 7 we visit Wrangell-St. Elias National Park where we
may get a chance to see the US national symbol soar …
Day 8 affords us the opportunity to see notable birds in rehabilitation at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage Valley …
As a continent, Asia ranks highly for diversity of bird species, especially in India and southeast Asia. On our Mystical India tour, we get to experience Asia’s impressive avian variety firsthand.
India’s Ranthambore National Park alone (which we visit on
Days 8 and 9) is home to 320 bird species. A sampling of birds commonly seen at the park
includes graylag goose, woodpeckers, common kingfishers, Indian gray hornbills,
bee eaters, cuckoos, Asian palm swifts, parakeets, and nightjars.
Of course, there are many more birds to be seen on the tours listed above – and for that matter, many more trips on which we encounter beautiful or interesting birds.
But we hope this sampling of our best tours for bird lovers gives you something to chirp about as you consider your next vacation with Odysseys – flying south or not.