As for Mark’s guiding abilities I thought he was superb leader! Mark is thoroughly familiar with the Western Cape South Africa area, all of its birds, and all of it mammals (even the whales we saw from a couple of sites)! Mark is fluent in both English and Afrikaans. He knew all the owners of the lodges we stayed in. He knew all the birding sites throughout the area from national parks, to city gardens, to mountain passes, to desert scrub to sewage ponds! With one exception (the elusive Ground Woodpecker) Mark’s guiding led us to see all the birds billed in our trip itinerary. He also knew where there were some really good restaurants! He was a big help to some of our party that stayed some extra time in Cape Town. I would certainly take another tour with Mark.Back to top
I sent a longer analysis of the Florida trip to Stephan, which I will forward to you. Again, my thanks for a truly memorable experience. The trip was spectacularly successful. I chose Birding Ecotours because other trips were full, and I couldn’t be happier.
On a purely practical note, with three rather inexperienced birders as the participants we picked up a variety of birds missed by other birders.
But the final bird list doesn’t really cover why this tour was so vastly superior. This was my first birding trip ever with less than 12 participants, and the advantages of a small group are monumental – no battling for seats, no squabbling over who saw what, no battles to get to the leader’s scope when the Resplendent Quetzal finally comes into view. In fact, there were no squabbles at all on our trip
Hotels were quite well chosen, despite some early problems with accepting South African addresses, etc., and the restaurants worked out quite nicely. Mexican restaurant would be my only quibble – a bit heavy for our over 60s group. One of us simply said he wouldn’t be on the lookout for Mexican restaurants in the future. But then he also discovered Key Lime pie and had it four nights, not to mention the Key Lime ice cream along the way. The balance of Cuban unique restaurants with seafood and steak houses worked out quite nicely, and the final two nights at Cracker Barrel were a big hit. Big hit too were the home-made lunches – they were actually better than the Subway lunches of the last few days and they extended our birding times quite dramatically
But the tour only really worked because of Stephan – he’s a gifted birder – that’s a given on any tour these days, but he’s also extremely good with people. In my note to him I mentioned how impressed I was with his interactions with the other participants. They were new to American birding, so we had lots of initial sightings of grackles and starlings. But Stephan patiently looked at all their sightings, and soon they were finding some rather wonderful birds. Main point – he never made them feel bad – something many guides need to learn, believe me.
And Stephan really knew the territory – I have no qualms about any of his choices, though I might have questioned a few at the time. There were virtually no migrating birds, and we still got 20 warblers. We also got close to 180 species without that much luck either. We missed the Thick-billed Vireo by one day, and others easily picked up the Smooth-billed Ani at the same location we has scoured a day earlier. But then we got all three cowbirds in an afternoon and had great looks at multiple Prothonotary Warblers, a bird everyone else missed this year. And we birded both the first day and the last – not something most tours do, and he even saved the Spot-breasted Oriole for our last bird. Bottom line, Stephan is equal in his birding skills to any guide I’ve been with. More importantly, he’s the best overall guide I have ever experienced – a people-person who knows birds. I highly recommend him on any tour he might be leading and love to bird with him again.
So, I had never heard of your tour company and only signed on because it was all that was available on dates my wife had to be in Florida. The serendipitous result was one of the most rewarding birding experiences of my rather long birding career. I strongly recommend your company to anyone and even more strongly recommend the value of small group tours – they are worth every extra penny.
My thanks for all your help, and I hope to be on one of your tours in the future.
May 20, 2016Back to top
just to let you know, I got the lifer Caspian Plover yesterday and the Gull (Larus heuglini) for a possible future tick if it is split. Without my guide’s knowledge of the bird’s habits and area, we would never have got the Plover, an excellent guide! The other guys on the twitch also got what they needed.
Best regards, John
October 05, 2015Back to top
Peru was extraordinary!!!!!! My “to do” list includes a message to Eduardo with some images that we captured and a tally of the last day’s birds seen with Dennis near Lima, so he can prepare a complete trip report. Wil and I completed our tally while he was still here visiting after our trip and it came in at a staggering 430+ species seen, and a trip total of 460 species either seen or heard by the Taylor brothers. Your guys delivered BIG TIME on this trip, with three stellar guides and nearly flawless logistics, including two excellent drivers as well. Can’t thank you enough, Chris.
Eduardo, as you no doubt already know, was top notch. It was tough saying good bye to him and Raul when they dropped us at the Cusco airport. We could not have had a better guide/driver combo for the core of the trip.
Wil and I have never hesitated to recommend you and BE to our acquaintances, and we now know that our unconditional recommendation can be extended to your Peruvian office as well. Thanks a million for your help in getting the Peru trip arranged. We’ll be in touch. I attach a photo of satisfied customers with their weary guide near the lower end of the Manu Road, with the Rio Union in the background.
For my part, the tour with you was the best overall of all the tours we’ve taken; most memorable, rewarding, and enjoyable.Back to top
I just wanted to send a quick note from the airport letting you know what an incredible day I had with Jason. He is an outstanding guy and a great birder. Our list for the day exceeded my wildest expectations. My head is still buzzing! I will connect with Jason so that we can compare lists once I have my details sorted out. In the meantime, please let him know today was one of the best days I have ever had in the field. Please also tell him I asked for a refund for lack of raptors…kind of an ongoing joke throughout the day.
Thanks for coordinating all of this, Chris. Yours is an outstanding outfit. If I ever travel to one of the countries you cover or if I return to SA, I will only use Birding Ecotours.
November 04, 2014Back to top
Thank you so much for arranging the tour yesterday. I would just like to say that Jason was amazing, my father and myself were blown away by his knowledge, patience and true passion, a true gentleman and a credit to your operation. I would please like to be added to your newsletter and in the future we will be looking to do a birding tour.
May 03, 2014Back to top
Hello Chris, and I hope your New Year is off to a good start.
I’ve just returned from our custom tour with Eduardo and I want to tell you – he is a jewel! Very knowledgeable, approachable, friendly and seems to enjoy birding and helping other birders find and appreciate the birds.
I have graded this tour with an “A-“. The minus is because the food was not really very good nor tasty — with the exception of the last meal which was a delightful experience. But none of that is Eduardo’s fault. His guiding, listening and decorum were beyond reproach. He could many times describe where the target bird was, rather than just pointing and scaring it away. A true gentleman and very helpful when I needed help or clarification.
It would be a pleasure to go again with him. He was able to find 26 lifers for me when I expected at the most 19. Now my world list total is 7466 and counting!
He is trying to work something out for me in Peru, but that’s not until May – If we can come up with a feasible itinerary.
Meanwhile, know that you’re welcome to use any or all of this letter to encourage others to join your tours with Eduardo.
Stay well, keep birding. I plan to, too.
January 23, 2015Back to top
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.Back to top
Just a quick note today to let you know that mom (Eleanor) and I had a fantastic day with Dylan. First of all it was a great comfort to meet someone at the airport from the area who knows how to go about things. Dylan provided us with a splendid introduction day to the common bird families and antelope (plus a mongoose) at Rietvlie which was exactly what we needed after being cooped up on a plane for so long! He also capably described things about each family and then the species we were seeing. What surprised me was how knowledgeable he is about other species around the world which makes it easy for him to relate to our knowledge base. We had a splendid day talking about all sorts of things. You guys are doing everything right -Bravo! Your website came up first in a Google search and it’s very inviting which encourages an inquiry. Chris, you got back to me right away, and Dylan followed up with answers and then read perfectly what we needed. Thank you so much! I will most definitely recommend you to anyone coming to this part of Africa. Keep up the good work! Dylan, thank you! I look forward to coming back some day.
August 12, 2015Back to top
We went out to Marievale with Dylan to (re)connect with some South African birds after some years away from SA. It was a wonderful experience. Dylan was charming, helpful and incredibly knowledgeable about the birds. We saw over 50 species in a morning and learned a lot about the birds. We would highly recommend Birding Ecotours for an excellent birding experience.
March 19, 2015Back to top