A lifetime can be spent in Latin America spotting wildlife. Premier wildlife destinations are the Galapagos Islands, the Pantanal wetlands and the Amazon basin. Birdlife throughout all of Latin America is prolific. Colombia is home to more species of birds than any other country on Earth, with over 1,800 species.
Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela are all in the world’s top 10. Panama and Costa Rica are top birding destination, each with many endemic species. Penguins can be visited from Punta Tombo on Argentina’s Atlantic coast to Tierra del Fuego and around the horn to Magdalena Island, near Punta Arenas. The Galapagos is home to the endemic Galapagos penguin. The Amazon basin is home to more species of fauna than any other land ecosystem on Earth.
Galapagos Islands – the distinctive wildlife and endemic species make these islands very special. About 80% of the land birds, 97% of the reptiles and land mammals, more than 20% of the marine species are found nowhere else on the planet. Iconic species include: Galapagos Albatross, Blue-footed Booby, Nazca Booby, Flightless Cormorant, Galapagos finches, the Great and Magnificent frigatebirds, Galapagos Hawk, Land and Marine iguanas, Galapagos penguin, sea lion, fur seal, Sally Lightfoot crabs and the iconic Galapagos Giant Tortoise.
Mammals include Rorqual Whales, dolphins, sea lions, rodents and bats. Twenty eight species of reptiles have been recorded in Galapagos in recent times. Nineteen of these species are endemic to the islands, 11 of which are confined to single islands.
The Pantanal is an immense wetland, located mostly in Brazil that contains astounding biodiversity. The Pantanal ecosystem is home to around 1000 bird species, 400 fish species, 300 mammalian species, and 480 reptile species.
The Pantanal is home to the following endangered or threatened species: marsh deer, giant river otter, hyacinth macaw, crowned solitary eagle, maned wolf, bush dog, South American tapir, giant anteater.
The Pantanal is also home to one of the world’s largest and healthiest jaguar populations. Reptiles found in the Pantanal include the caiman, the yellow anaconda, the gold tegu, the red-footed tortoise and the green iguana.
The Valdes Peninsula - On the Atlantic coast of Argentina you can encounter unique wildlife including penguins, whales, orcas and exotic birdlife. The numerous gulfs, bays, inlets and peninsulas along the vast Argentine shoreline of the South Atlantic are inhabited by thousands of different marine animal colonies.
Punta Tombo is the most important breeding colony of Magellan penguins in the world including more than 1 million specimens. From June to December you can take a boat trip and encounter the Southern right whale. Killer whales (orcas) are more frequently seen between February and May, while dolphins are seen all year round.
Orcas can be spotted from La Ernestina estancia near Punta Norte. The plan is to spot orcas beach stranding during which they catch the seals from the beach. Punta Norte is the only place in the world where orcas use this type of beach stranding attack as a hunting system. Other mammals include sea lions and elephant seals.
Amazonia – incredible numbers of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and fish are found in the basin of the World’s longest river. Naturally, mammals are the most difficult to spot in dense jungle, but monkeys, sloth, tapirs, giant otter and Amazon pink river dolphin can all be spotted. Jaguars are far more elusive here. Around 1,300 species of bird include: macaw, parrot, toucan, hoatzin, harpy eagle. Many rainforest lodges have access to nearby macaw clay licks.
Southern Patagonia - The wildlife of southern Patagonia includes Guanaco, Huemul (South Andean Deer), Puma, Patagonian Fox, Condor.