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CHACO SAFARI TOUR
The Chaco Safari Tour is for those who lust after real adventure. It gets you out in the wilderness in one of the most fascinating yet hostile environments on earth were large mammals abound. Visiting remote national parks Defensores del Chaco, Médanos del Chaco and Teniente Enciso we´ll be looking for Jaguar, Puma, Tapir, Chaco Peccary and many other mammals which are frequently encountered on night drives. We won´t neglect the other wildlife of course and you can expect a good selection of Chaco endemic birds, reptiles and amphibians.
Jaguar (right) Panthera onca
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The big attaction of this tour are the big mammals which abound in the remote areas we visit. On this itinerary your chances of seeing spectacular species such as Puma, Jaguar, Lowland Tapir and Chaco Peccary are greatly enhanced. For birders our targets are the Chaco "Big Six" - Black-legged Seriema, Black-bodied Woodpecker, Chaco Owl, Quebracho Crested Tinamou, Crested Gallito and Spot-winged Falconet. Birders might expect a list of somewhere in the region of 200 species at peak times of year, many of them of restricted range.
To get the best from this tour we suggest at least 9 days - longer trips increase the chances of seeing more larger mammals. A minimum of 7 days is required to complete it. This tour is available all year.
Best time to visit:
The Chaco is action-packed year round. Though it doesn´t rain much up here, the "rainy season" is from October to November when mud can occasionally be a problem. However this is also the best time of year for reptiles and amphibians. The Chaco is extremely hot from October to March. Temperatures are more pleasant during the winter months (April to September), which is also a great time of year for migrant waterfowl including flocks of wintering Greater Flamingo.
Day 1 - Wildife-watching along the Humid Chaco en route to Loma Plata. Optional night drive.
Day 2 - Wildlife-watching along the dirt road Madrejón, PN Defensores del Chaco. Night drive.
Day 3 - Wildlife-watching in PN Defensores del Chaco. Night drive.
Day 4 - Visit to Cerro León, camping in this remote area. Night drive.
Day 5 - Wildlife-watching in PN Defensores del Chaco. Night drive.
Day 6 - Continue on to PN Tte Enciso. Optional night walk.
Day 7 - Morning at PN Tte Enciso. Afternoon visit to PN Médanos del Chaco. Night drive.
Day 8 - After lunch return to Loma Plata en route visiting peccary breeding project at Fortín Toledo. Optional night drive.
Day 9 Return to Asunción and end of services
(Itineraries are subject to change according to levels of animal activity or client´s preference.)
What else might we see?:
We have a long drive ahead of us to the Central Chaco so we start out early. This will give us time to leisurely bird the roadside pools in the Humid Chaco which are often replete with waterbirds. We might expect to see various heron species, Jabiru, Maguari and Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbill, Savanna, Great Black and Black-collared Hawk, Snail Kite, Limpkin, Giant Wood-Rail, Wattled Jacana, Plumbeous, Bare-faced and Buff-necked Ibis amongst the huge flocks that gather. We´ll make a brief stop for lunch at Pirahú, famous nationally for its empanadas and also a decent birding stop, we might see Swainson´s and Brown-crested Myiarchus, Yellow-billed Cardinal, Vermillion Flycatcher, White-faced Whistling-Duck and Brazilian Duck amongst others whilst Spectacled Caiman is another possibility.
We arrive in the Central Chaco mid-afternoon and there will be time to clean up before heading out on our night drive. Nightdrives in search of mammals are a major bonus on this tour and as many as ten species in a single evening may be recorded, species like Geoffroy´s and Little Spotted Cat, Three-banded, Six-banded and Lesser Hairy Armadillo, Crab-eating and Azara´s Fox, Crab-eating Raccoon, Grey Brocket Deer, Capybara, White-lipped and Collared Peccary and Chaco Mara being frequently encountered. Of course we´ll also be looking for birds too - Great Horned Owl, Tropical Screech-Owl, Scissor-tailed and Little Nightjar, Pauraque for example. At certain times of year this area is alive with a chorus of frog song. We may see Paradox Frog, Fuscous Frog, Horned Toad and Granulated Toad, Shovel-nosed Chamber Frog and Weeping Dwarf Frog amongst others. Reptiles might include Green Jungle Runner, Western Collared Spiny Lizard and Pointed-nosed False Chameleon.
From here we will head away from the well-trodden highway of the Ruta Trans-Chaco. Taking everything we are likely to need with us we will proceed into the interior of the Dry Chaco where few people venture and animals abound. The area around PN Defensores del Chaco is famed for the ease at which you see wild cats. Jaguar and Puma are definite possibilities, as well as smaller cats such as Jaguarundi, Ocelot and Geoffroy´s Cat. Lowland Tapir is common here, as well as other mammals such as Chaco, Collared and White-lipped Peccary, Night Monkey, Dusky Titi and Three-banded Armadillo. We will spend several hours each night searching for mammals in an effort to tick off as many species as possible in the time available. Camping overnight at Cerro León is a memorable experience, enhanced by the variety of wildlife that surrounds us. There are some special birds here too including Golden-collared Macaw, Great Antshrike, Black-bellied Antwren and Bolivian Slaty-antshrike.
Arrival at PN Tte Enciso greatly increases our prospects of seeing the remaining members of the Chaco "Big 6" species - Quebracho Crested-Tinamou, Black-legged Seriema, Chaco Owl, Crested Gallito and Spot-winged Falconet are all easier to see here than in the Central Chaco, whilst other species such as the popular Black-crested Finch, Cinereous Tyrant, Stripe-crowned Spinetail, Harris and Zone-tailed Hawks, endangered Crowned Eagle and the handsome Black-backed Grosbeak are also possible additions to the list. Parrot species we are likely to see include Scaly-headed Parrot, Nanday, Blue-crowned and Monk Parakeets and Turquoise-fronted Amazon. Enciso is also a fantastic mammal-watching spot with Puma, Jaguar and Lowland Tapir regularly encountered here, along with other strictly Dry Chaco species such as Plains Viscacha, Greater Hairy Armadillo and Chaco Peccary. Rococo Toad is common here, as are reptile species including Chaco Leaf-footed Gecko, Chaco Straight-toed Gecko and the gorgeous Four-toed Whiptail Lizard.
At Fortín Toledo we´ll visit the captive breeding programme of the endangered Chaco Peccary (considered a fossil species until it was discovered alive and well in the Paraguayan Chaco in 1976) but also scour the area for the last of our Big 6 - the Black-bodied Woodpecker.
What does it include?:
The price includes pick-up from and return to Asunción hotel, accommodation, transport, food, non-alcoholic drinks and guiding fees.
It does not include travel insurance, personal expenses, alcoholic drinks or travel costs incurred before the beginning of the tour or after return to Asunción.
For further information or to book your tour email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask about off-season discounts (15 Feb-15 July).
Black-bodied Woodpecker Dryocopus schulzi