The staggering immensity and biodiversity of the Amazon basin, the heartbeat of northern South America, provides lifetimes of opportunity for exploring birds and nature in rugged wilderness. Ecotourism has firmly taken root here and travelers can develop self-guided tours or take one of hundreds of nature tours available. The habitats in South America range from rainforests and cloud forests, deserts, grasslands, thornscrub, rivers, all the way to the glaciers of Patagonia.
Almost a third of the world's birds (+/- 3,000 species) are found in South America, which includes some of the most colorful and striking beauties in the world—hummingbirds, cotingas, tanagers, and macaws. Other notable families include potoos, screamers, Capuchinbirds, oilbirds, and the amazing cocks-of-the-rock. Classic sites in South America include Brazil's Pantanal, the right and left slope of the Andes, Manu National Park (Peru), the Santa Marta endemic regions in Colombia, and Argetina's Tierra del Fuego. Don't forget the Galapagos, an ecologically brilliant chain of islands five hours off the coast of Ecuador.