Birding and Wildlife Cruises
Wildlife and birdwatching cruises operated by Birding Ecotours allow nature enthusiasts to observe and photograph some of the world’s most iconic wildlife, such as many different penguins, alcids, whales, and Polar Bears. The expedition cruises we run include the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, the Arctic, and the Antarctic. Our Alaska birding tours are largely land-based but do include some pelagic birding as well – please see here for them: Alaska: Vast Beauty and Alaska: Top of the World.
Our Antarctic cruises usually venture to the scenically magnificent, ruggedly mountainous Antarctic Peninsula and the Weddell Sea. Once our ship reaches the Antarctic, Adelie Penguins, Chinstrap Penguins, sometimes Emperor Penguins (on some of our special departures), and Snow Petrels await. But some of the best wildlife is encountered on the journey southward while the ship is still sailing through the sub-Antarctic regions. The Falkland Islands are sometimes the main reason why people join our standard Antarctic and sub-Antarctic birding cruise. Others join this journey to the far south to see and experience famed South Georgia with its 100,000-strong colony of King Penguins. The rare South Georgia Pipit displays among the penguin colony; the total population of this species is only 6,000 to 8,000 birds. Since our Antarctic, South Georgia and Falklands bird and wildlife cruise starts at the southern tip of South America, we also have an opportunity for some land-based birding. Here around Ushuaia we seek such desirables as the dazzling Magellanic Woodpecker, White-bellied Seedsnipe, steamer ducks including a flightless one, and many other great birds. Our Antarctic birding and wildlife cruise offers one of the best opportunities for pelagic birding, as the southern oceans are teaming with albatrosses, petrels, prions and other seabirds. “Sea days” are sometimes boring to non-birders who are only after Orcas, Blue Whales, and other cetaceans plus the landings by Zodiac, but for birders full “sailing” days can be the most exciting of all.
Svalbard in Arctic Norway is another of our classic birding and nature cruises. Polar Bear, Arctic Fox, Walrus, Orca, Blue Whale, and Svalbard Reindeer are some of the most popular species we encounter. But, as with all our trips, birds are a major focus. In these parts we enjoy Ivory Gull, Little Auk (Dovekie), Rock Ptarmigan, King Eider, breeding-plumage Red Phalarope, breeding-plumage Red-throated Diver (Loon), and a lot of others. The charismatic Ross’s Gull is also an exciting possibility.
A Galapagos natural history tour is at the top of the list of many a wildlife lover. We offer this once-in-a-lifetime experience in such a way as to make it combinable with our mainland Ecuador birding tours. For its size, Ecuador must be the most bird-species-rich part of the entire planet and is full of hummingbirds and other dazzling species from the Andes to the Amazon basin (the richest biome for birds in the world).
From time to time, we offer highly discounted birding cruises, especially when booked at the last minute. So please watch our “Discounted Tours” section!
On our birding and wildlife cruises that are on larger ships (usually accommodating less than 150 people, though; these are not the humongous cruise ships that take thousands of passengers), we don’t always book out the entire ship with Birding Ecotours tour participants. In these cases what we do is have one of our birding guides along, and they are there to help all those on the ship who have booked through us. Our representative Birding Ecotours staff member will help you spot and identify bird and mammal species, give you tips on how to photograph birds such as pelagic seabirds in flight (and also how to photograph other wildlife, e.g. whales), and do the bird list with you each dinner time. You pay the same amount if you book through us (no more than what you’d pay if you booked directly with the cruise company), but we give you the extra value of having our staff member available to help you with the birding and bird photography.