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We don't have personal experience of all of these companies, but they do have "good names" generally. If you want a guided tour, try to match it with your own level of experience and/or fitness. Dependent on the destination it may be all but impossible to "go-it-alone" but many countries can be easily tackled with a bit of research. However many people prefer not having to drive or worry about planning a route, most guided tours these days are very well organised. Much has changed post-Covid but as of December 2021 these links are still valid.



RUBYTHROAT TOURS    Probably not well known to UK many birders, I have recently booked a tour to Kazakhstan with them. They seem very helpful but most of all have some fantastic itineraries, covering places such as Mongolia, Russian Far East, Lake Baikal etc. wherein lie many species otherwise difficult to see.

BIRDING ECOTOURS.    Recently established an office in Norfolk. Whilst I know little about them, this US company does seem to have a large range of tours to some very interesting destinations. They will also run tours privately but obviously costs will increase. Owls and rare mammals seem to be on their agenda too. Perhaps suited to the more serious birder, but I hope to go to Gabon with them in 2023 so I'll report back.


HERITAGE EXPEDITIONS.    Originally based around one vessel operated by Rodney Russ and his family from New Zealand, we have been on several of their trips and found them excellent. Expensive but given the length of some trips excellent value, the "trip of a lifetime" could well be provided by them, especially if you like seabirds or island endemics, many islands they visit can only be accessed this way. Have close ties with Wildwings.

WILDWINGS    Our own personal favourite, doesn't have a long list of tours to every other country, but are the best agents for all of the Heritage Expedition trips, Arctic and Antarctic trips, and some trips of their own not found elsewhere, e.g the best Jaguar watching trips, which have a 100% success record. Excellent mammal-watching as well as birds.
Sadly, the death of Wildwings founder, John Brodie-Goode, and subsequent pandemic resulted in the demise of the company, but they are now back, owned by one of their former leaders, and with many of the previous staff.


NATURETREK    A company we have used several times, probably the best combination of species seen, countries visited, and cost. Their "budget" tours in particular are excellent value, and although a bit short, do enable you to see a good percentage of an areas list. The only downside is their reliance on local guides- some are excellent but others not so good.

SUNBIRD.    Unfortunately Sunbird has become a victim of the pandemic, but they were a subsidiary of Wings in the USA, many of their tours were joint and are still available, run by Wings. The link is still valid Sunbird can still be contacted for a month or so.. Another excellent company, although we've never toured with them we have travelled with several of their team. For a wealthy keen birder they are probably the best, for a fanatic having to watch their spending not perhaps the first choice.


BIRDQUEST.    I've only travelled with them once, on a bit of an exploratory trip, but know many people who have. They will get you the birds if humanly possible, but be prepared to work hard and spend money..

BIRDFINDERS.    Never used them personally but I have friends who have, and they have a wide range of destinations. All trips seem to be well thought out and go to the right places, their website is excellent. Probably most suitable for experienced birders and beginners, but those looking to "clean up" should look elsewhere and take out a loan. One feature that we like is they will often try for night birds.


BIRDING AFRICA.    An excellent company, we travelled to Madagascar with them. My only criticism would be that in a country like Madagascar, a little more time would be helpful, since it is known to be "hard work". However generally an excellent tour which gets most of the available species, using brilliant local guides. Incorporates Capetown Pelagics.

UGANDA BIRDING.    The owner of this company, Deo, guided us in Uganda and it was one of the best trips we have done. He has expanded the company since then and is involved with a conservation scheme benefitting wildlife and local villages. I can thoroughly recommend him if you wish to visit Uganda (including Gorillas and Chimps). Don't let the term "luxury" put you off, accomodations are perfectly good but prices remain very reasonable.


HEATHERLEA.    A recently expanded company from their base in Scotland, they would seem to be a perfect choice for the less obsessive among us. Their tours are mainly to well established destinations but the itineraries and accomodations seem very good, plus they provide comprehensive tour reports for the undecided.

BELLBIRD TOURS.    Excellent Australian Tours. Having visited Australia several times, most birds are easy to find but you really need an organised tour for many outback species as they are nomadic. We went on a Grey Falcon-Letter-winged Kite tour, just before we left the UK the tour had to be changed because the area where the kites had frequented for several years was abandoned, had we been alone we would not have known where to go. Tours in Oz aren't cheap, but try costing an outback trip alone, quite apart from safety issues.


PLAINS WANDERER TOURS.    Trading as Australian Ornithological Services and run by Phil Maher, this is still almost the only way to see the unique Plains Wanderer in Australia. Several tours to other areas of Oz are available, and if our private day & evening is anything to go buy they will be well worth investigating. As well as Plains Wanderer we had superb close-up views of Superb Parrot and Gilbert's Whistler, both not the easiest birds to find.

GREAT NORTHERN TOURS (CAPE YORK).    Whilst Cape York is much easier to access than it once was, again the need for 4WD or flying means a guided tour is better. We used Janet & David Mead's company and had a really enjoyable trip, even though we missed a couple of species. As with most tours (we elected for a private one) you stop off on the way for the endangered Golden-shouldered Parrot. Fantastic place, great leader.