Yampu’s Top Picks for Birdwatching
Since the dawn of mankind, nature has served to challenge, inspire, and mystify us. Some of the greatest minds in our history, not limited to Darwin or Thoreau, have been influenced by the majesty of nature. One element of nature in particular has captured the awe and wonderment of countless observers: birds. Here are our picks for the greatest birding experiences that will help the most avid of birders add new photographs and benchmarks to their collection of bird-watching experiences.
Peru offers some of the world’s finest bird-watching opportunities in Tambopata National Reserve.
This is one of the world’s most wild and pristine habitats because it has been officially protected from negative human impact. To access Tambopata, you must go deep into the Amazonian wilderness, where visitors can access marshes filled with birds by river. This is a most exciting venture for anyone who wishes to witness true, wild nature and a particularly enthralling experience for bird and wildlife lovers who will be taken to the best places to spot exotic and rarely-seen avian species.
Watch nature’s theater play for you in one of the most bio-diverse sections of the entire Amazon. Experience flora and fauna including old growth forests. Seek out more than 650 bird species including eight species of macaws who nest among the jungle’s palm swamps, harpy eagles, hoatzins, and 13 species of tinamou.
- Malaysian Borneo:
Borneo is one of the world’s largest island and it is shared by three countries: Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. The island is rich with beautiful lowland forests, mangroves, rivers, and of course birds. The Malaysian territory in Borneo offers the best birding opportunities because it provides the best and most appropriate infrastructure to enable visitors to see many habitats within the forests. Danum Valley Conservation Area is a bird lover’s paradise, offering ancient protected lowland forests and species of birds including raptors, hornbills, and the Bornean Bristlehead. If you are lucky, a visit here might expose you to colorful pittas, a bucket list bird for many seasoned birders or a Great Argus.
Birders can also head to higher ground to see more of Borneo’s endemic species in the forests of Kinabalu, Borneo’s tallest peak where Fruit-eaters and crimson-headed partridges thrive.
While looking for the beautiful birds of Borneo, nature-lovers can keep an eye out for orangutans, pygmy elephants, and many special creatures living in the beautiful Borneo forests. Our expert guides are experts at leading guests to the best places for catching a glimpse of these species and you are likely to experience as many as 200 species of birds while you enjoy this beautiful island. Afterwards, you can seek respite at some of Asia’s finest eco-lodges after a long day of wildlife viewing.
- Costa Rica:
Recently, Costa Rica has been given much recognition and acclaim for its emphasis on sustainability and coexisting with its rainforest responsibly. Not only are there adventurous, tropical, and luxury experiences you can have here, there are experiences you can feel good about. Aside from its delicious coffee and juicy fruits, other natural wonders abound here. In addition to tree frogs, ant eaters, armadillos, monkeys, and seasonally even humpback whales, Costa Rica is home to some of the most breathtaking tropical birds. Nature photographers have a really great shot (see what I did there?) at coming home with an impressive portfolio of diverse species in this little country.
Costa Rica invites you to species you won’t likely see anywhere else, not even in other parts of Central America including the quetzal, which can be seen traversing the roads, especially in San Gerardo de Dota. Witness more than 200 species of birds including billed motmots at the Saraquipi Eco Observatory, which can take you on guided walks throughout the property and tempts birds with its feeders. Torotuguero National Park is one of Yampu’s favorite places in Costa Rica for it is not only home to protected beaches for nesting sea turtles, but it also is home to rare species of birds that you might not see anywhere else, including species of heron and the roseate spoonbill.
Panama is a little slice of paradise. Not only is Panama full of expats, very comfortable for US visitors because it accepts USD, and reflective of high standards of living, it is also a tropical paradise teeming with wildlife and hundreds of species of birds from both North and South America. See your familiar warblers in the winter months alongside toucans, honeycreepers, motmots and more!
October is a prime month for birding in Panama because you will experience the native tropical species and birds stopping through on migration, including raptors who pass through in massive waves. It is a rare opportunity to see raptors in such close quarters.
Along the way, enjoy luxurious and sustainable lodging and beautiful photo ops for the nature photographer. Don’t miss out on the iconic Panama Canal while you are there.
- South Africa:
To see South Africa on a list of birding destinations might surprise you, but don’t be fooled. Aside from its many redeeming qualities that make it a favorite travel destination for Yampu staffers, South Africa offers birding experiences that expose you to endemic species that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. These exotic, colorful birds will take your breath away, but so will other experiences here such as wine tastings, shark diving, culinary tours and more.
See South Africa’s penguin colonies or visit Kruger National Park for a peak at the Orange-breasted Sunbird or the Cape Sugarbird. Eagles, broadbills, and larks swoop overhead elephants and cheetahs to perch upon impressive Baobab trees. Guided driving tours make various areas of the park highly accessible for visitors while expert guides point out species of birds, including rare species such as the fishing owl, highly visible because there is not dense foliage blocking your views.
The Galapagos Islands in Ecuador is an amazing birding location, not only for the birds’ spectacular calls and colors, but also because of the rich scientific history that lies there. See Darwin’s finches firsthand and the islands’ iconic Blue-footed Boobies. Watch Pelicans roost upon the iguana-covered rocks as brightly colored crabs scurry across.
Don’t miss the nesting Albatrosses on customized cruises and tours of the islands remarkable flora and fauna. Special guides for spotting birds and other wildlife make the Galapagos naturalists’ and wildlife photographers’ dream destination.
With more and more experiential tours being offered throughout Asia and the Himalayas, it would be a crime not to share Bhutan as one of the best countries to watch for birds. Aside from the fact that Bhutan measures its citizens Gross National Happiness, the government is accountable for preserving nature to benefit all visitors and citizens and their well-being. This emphasis on nature conservation allows wildlife, especially birds, to thrive in the midst of the small nation’s accessible, yet beautifully preserved and intact forests.
Despite the nation’s size, there are more than 600 species of birds that can be found here, including hornbills, Blood Pheasants, Satyr Tagopan, and hundreds of other species of legendary status. Not only will you experience the rich variety of avian species, your heart will be full with the welcoming of Bhutanese communities and your soul warmed with the delicious homey meals you can experience there. There are few such pristine destinations for birding, but also few so adventurous.