Owner of Birding Ecotours.
Chris is the founder and CEO of Birding Ecotours and since childhood has been an incredibly enthusiastic birder. He particularly loves tracking down owls, but other favorite birds of his are falcons, harriers, pittas, and, well, all of them! His passion for birding is completely unstoppable. Chris obtained a doctorate on African sunbirds, has taught university zoology, and did a 2.5-year post-doctoral research stint on hummingbirds at the University of Wyoming. For the last few years one of Chris’ roles has been scouting new destinations for the company, from Asia to Africa to the Americas. Chris has a burning passion for bird conservation and does voluntary work for BirdLife South Africa and other conservation organizations. He has published several research papers, but he eventually discovered that that endeavor gets in the way of birding, so he tries to keep it to a bare minimum these days, ha ha!
Chris lives with his wonderful wife Megan in Columbus, Ohio.
Client recommendations for Chris:
What do you most need in a guide and a tour company? Some would say trustworthy arrangements that yet stay flexible to the needs of the individual birder, some would say someone who can find you the target birds and others might say an all-rounder who combines birding knowledge, great communication skills and organisational ability. Birding Ecotours and its owner/operator Chris Lotz tick all the boxes! I’ve birded with Chris and travelled with the company and asked them to arrange tours for others, and Chris has come up trumps every time. I value my own integrity too much to give endorsements unless I have personal experience that truly warrants it. I recommend Chris Lotz and Birding Ecotours!
Bo Beolens, fatbirder.com
For my part, the tour with you was the best overall of all the tours we’ve taken; most memorable, rewarding, and enjoyable.
My brother John and I joined Chris on a tour of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. As scientists, we were difficult customers, constantly being distracted by plants and rocks instead of birds. Chris tolerated these diversions with unflappable grace. And when our attentions were finally engaged fully in the bird watching we could not have asked for a better guide who knew the calls, where to look for tricky sightings, and had all the necessary local contacts to help us find the truly strange and wonderful. My favorite example of the “strange and wonderful” category was the African Broadbill which was displaying, but in the midst of impenetrable vegetation. Despite this, Chris and the guide managed to get us amazing views in the spotting scope. It was my most memorable bird of the trip.
He accompanied us just across the border into Swaziland, past guards with guns (because we wanted to say we’d been there), and to a truly dodgy neighborhood in Durban to look at a rock outcrop, and never once complained – at least not out loud. We’ve been on several other international birding trips, and Chris is still our standard of comparison to all our other guides. And he’s still number one. We will be doing a pelagic trip off South Africa in the not too distant future, and will plan it so Chris can lead us there.
Wil Taylor (University of Wisconsin), on a South African tour guided by Chris
I have birded with Birding Ecotours since 2004. As I stated in my first web trip report of Southern South Africa that I thought you were one of the most competent guides I had ever birded with and that Birding Ecotours was an extremely professional organization in every way. In 2013, after birding with you a dozen times in 8 countries (and more this April and June) my opinions are now cast in concrete. Your ear and ability to co-ordinate the sounds with species is unsurpassed. You are decisive and a lot of fun to travel with which, in my opinion, are qualities essential in a top guide. You and Nadia organize trips meticulously and show truly sound judgement in your choices of routes, lodging and transportation arrangements. As you know, I ask a lot of questions and have always received thoughtful and timely answers. I have never been left feeling neglected in any way. I’ve been asked many time by birding friends all over the world for recommendations and Birding Ecotours is always my first choice in Africa. I don’t doubt that our coming trips to Asia and the Caribbean will be equally productive and fun.
Jay Lamb, San Francisco Bay area of California
Bo Boelens of Fatbirder put me onto Chris Lotz of Birding Ecotours originally. What a favour he did me. Not only is Chris an excellent birder, but he goes out of his way to be really helpful.
I, and my partner, settled on Namibia with Ecotours as our next trip, and as we were in Jo`berg visiting friends a few days before the trip, I asked Chris if he could also arrange for me to see Flufftails in the gap available. The hub of Birding Ecotours couldn`t have been more delightful to deal with. Not only did he get very excited by this challenge, but took it upon himself to do our guiding. He found an equally enthusiastic birder, Kevin, to join the trip and off we set for the Dullstroom area, where there was a Striped Flufftail guide, all revved up and ready to go except it was miserable weather. Never mind, a quick re-calculation and we descended down to Nelspruit Botanic Garden and sunshine, and spent half a day revelling in Sth. African birds. Then we ascended and went lark and pipit hunting which Chris found by call. He also found us an Oribi which was stunning, we were so close.
Chris and his guide worked extremely hard the next day, trying to call out a flufftail. We could hear them but the thick vegetation prevented any views of them. After doing a circuit of the whole area, Chris and the guide doing more, as they were going up and down the hill, we were losing heart. Luck returned as Chris planted us by a carefully placed mp3 playing flufftail, and a narrow trodden path into the bracken. We waited as the sound of another Flufftail got closer.
I could hear Kevin hyperventilating as he suddenly found himself looking at a full frontal view of a male Striped Flufftail. As I was at a slightly different angle, I couldn`t see this marvellous apparition, but found myself breathing hard in anticipation when, from behind the clump of grass I was straining to see through, a female suddenly leapt across the gap like a frog, so fast that all I got was a view of the back and tail! No wonder they are a difficult bird to get to grips with but I would recommend this sort of diversion to anyone . I wouldn`t have climbed the hill after the Cape Eagle Owl if it wasn`t for Chris`s infectious enthusiasm either, and we were sorry to see both of them go they had been so easy to get on with, both entertaining and amusing.
Jan and John, Wales
I joined a custom trip, followed by an African Bird Club conservation tour, with Chris Lotz of Birding Ecotours, in November 2012. I sent Chris a wish-list and he was very quick to reply with a detailed itinerary based on the list I sent him. I got 42 lifers on this trip, which actually exceeded my expectations: with a world list of over 7000 species, it is tough for me to see new birds anywhere.
Both the custom trip and the conservation trip were extremely well-organised, and the Birding Ecotours guides were superb. The African Bird Club will be doing more trips with Birding Ecotours.
Keith Betton, Chairman of the African Bird Club, UK
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