Wildlife and Nature

Wildlife abounds on this huge continent, the only problem will be choosing which area to explore first…

The most famous habitat is the mighty Amazon rainforest, where the hidden waterways and thick jungles are home to sloths, new world monkeys, pink river dolphin, peculiar insects, many species of bat and hundreds of different fish. Large clay licks attract colourful macaws and other parrot species, whilst menacing harpy eagles hunt in the canopy. Further afield, the landscape opens up to the vast wetlands of the Pantanal and Los Llanos. This is the best place in the world to see jaguar, plus other key species including giant anteater, capybara, caiman, giant river otter, tapir, jabiru stork, marsh deer and anaconda. The sierra and pampas which surround these rich water networks are of a drier disposition and are home to herds of cattle which share the region with the impressive ostrich-like rhea, the shy mara, the endangered maned wolf and several species of armadillo. It doesn’t stop here, as on the west side of South America runs the impressive Andes mountain range. The jagged peaks, high altitude lagoons and isolated valleys provide an environment which is perfect for the elusive puma, gigantic Andean condor, flamingos, spectacled bear, viscacha and grey fox. In addition to this array of land based wildlife, the coastline of Latin America faces both the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, and the Caribbean Sea in the north, resulting in exciting marine life below the waves. Turtles use beaches on both east and west shores to lay their eggs, and are frequently sighted by snorkelers and divers. Both humpback and southern right whales migrate along the coastline, and the Valdes Peninsula plays host to comical penguins and pods of orca who use a distinctive beaching technique when hunting young sea lions. Wildlife highlights that are further offshore include the stunning Galapagos Islands, the dramatic Antarctic landscapes and the windswept Falkland Isles. Here we have handpicked our favourite wildlife encounters that will delight any visitor to this diverse and beautiful region.

WHERE TO GO

Discover the untouched paradise of the Galapagos Islands

Synonymous with Darwin and home to the most uniquely adapted wildlife in the world, the Galapagos Islands are rich with life on land, in the sea and in the air. Endemic species such as the giant tortoise, Galapagos penguins, marine iguanas and Galapagos sea lions are highlights for many visitors, alongside non-endemic species such as frigate birds, humpback whales, hundreds of multi-coloured fish and the comical blue footed boobies. Due to their isolation and protected status, many of the species found here have little fear of humans and therefore pose beautifully for photographs in this unspoilt wilderness. With a backdrop of pure white beaches, turquoise seas, verdant valleys and dramatic volcanic peaks you will be hard pushed to find an area of the world that fits the word ‘paradise’ quite as the Galapagos does.

Marvel at the power of Iguassu Falls

The mighty Iguassu Falls are without doubt the most spectacular waterfalls in the world and a highlight of a trip to Latin America. The falls lie between Brazil and Argentina and flow from the Iguassu River. The falls consist of 275 separate waterfalls and are accessed from the town of Foz do Iguacu with regular flights. 80{8fe958db9759beb48ac6bde9f2433c88ca78522aa958172ef75a6662714c881d} of the falls sit within Argentinean territory which allows you to get closer to the power of the falls. The best example of this is the spectacular Garganta do Diablo (the Devil’s Throat), accessed via a kilometre-long walk-way. However, a visit to both sides is a must and the Brazilian side offers the best panoramic view of Iguassu Falls and the perfect place to watch the sunset. There are great accommodation options on either side of the falls but we highly recommend staying at Hotel Das Cataratas, the only hotel inside the Brazilian national park and the only one on both sides allowing 24 hour access to the falls. Nothing beats the feeling of being the only person at the end of a walkway, up close to this amazing force of nature. Aside from the falls you should also try to visit the Parque das Aves for a close up of Brazilian bird life and the Itaipu Dam, the largest hydro-electric Dam in the world. For a first time visitor, try to make Iguassu falls part of your holiday to Latin America. It’s a place you won’t forget.

Enjoy watching Southern Right Whales at the Valdes Peninsula

Southern right whales can be viewed from the shore, penguins peer at visitors from within their burrows and orcas beach themselves trying to catch the young sea lions in the surf. Elsewhere along the coast elephant seals fight for territory, sea lions bask in the sun and seabirds scan the coastline for scraps of food. This remote peninsula is well known as being the theatre of the seas, but there are plenty of species to spot on land too. The distinctive ostrich-like rhea is frequently sighted, alongside guanaco, mara, armadillo and grey fox. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 to preserve the unique habitat and wildlife it supports, the peninsula is particularly famous for being one of the best places in the world to view endangered southern right whales. These huge cetaceans are drawn to the shallow bay to breed and can be viewed at astonishingly close distances from the beach. Take a boat into the bay to get even closer to the gentle giants of the sea.

Lose yourself in an Amazonian Lodge

The Amazon basin spreads across 9 different countries. The most accessible routes offering the best facilities are in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. As one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, you are certain to spot some exciting and unique wildlife. Birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and an astounding variety of plants can be closely observed and photographed. Keep your eyes peeled for the bigger mammals such as monkeys, tapir, sloth and if you are very lucky, jaguar. Stay in a remote jungle lodge to make the most of this unforgettable experience.

Immerse yourself in the natural splendour of the Pantanal wetlands

This vast wetland which supports some of the most famous residents of South America, including the giant anteater, capybara and caiman, is also well known as being the best place in the world to spot jaguar. Take a safari by boat, search hidden waterways in canoes or even explore by foot and it won’t be long until you are viewing spectacular birds and wildlife at very close quarters. Tapir, ocelot, anaconda, giant river otter and the bright blue hyacinth macaw are just a few of the species which provide visitors with some fantastic photographic opportunities. Situated in the heart of Brazil, this extensive region will delight any wildlife enthusiasts.

Discover one of the last frontiers on a voyage to Antarctica

Journey to the icy landscapes of Antarctica to observe extraordinary wildlife including whales, orca, seals, penguins and albatross. This desolate yet beautiful environment offers a truly photogenic setting with wide open spaces perfectly framed by colossal icebergs. Glide across glass like waters, between sheets of sea ice and past enormous penguin colonies in a white landscape like no other. The wildlife of Antarctica has adapted unique ways to survive this icy paradise, which visitors can witness at close quarters during a cruise to this isolated wilderness. Modern day vessels are equipped with luxurious touches such as hot tubs on deck and serve delicious cuisine for guests, plus offer optional extras including kayaking through icebergs or camping on the ice for an unforgettable experience!

Visit birdwatching heaven on a tour of Colombia

With a tantalising 1900 different types of bird, Colombia boasts the most species in the world. Hugely diverse and an ecological paradise, it will delight casual birders and serious enthusiasts alike. The foothills of the Andes and the Amazon basin are just two of the pristine environments where large varieties of birds can be found alongside other exciting wildlife such as monkeys, reptiles and unusual insects.